Walk - Polmanter - Lelant

3.4 miles (5.5 km)

Polmanter Touring Park Polmanter Touring Park

Moderate -

Walk to Lelant and catch the train back to St Ives. A walk to blow away the cobwebs, travelling alongside the railway line high above St Ives Bay, through an area noted for rare wildflowers, migratory birds and novelist Dame Rosamunde Pilcher OBE. In the fifth and sixth centuries a number of Celtic saints are said to have established chapels here, and the ancient pilgrim route St Michael's Way follows a parallel path across the railway. Look out for medieval crosses in the churchyard at Lelant. There is not too much ascent or descent but the path can be exposed to sea winds so wear warm clothing.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Polmanter Touring Park

1.5 miles from St Ives, we offer the perfect base to explore West Cornwall offering award-winning camping facilities and 2 luxury apartments.

The Painters Cottage

Small friendly guest house set in historic former artist's residence with arts and crafts period features. Ideal for exploring West Cornwall and the South West Coast Path. One night stays, 4 full ensuite rooms. Evening meal available

Carlill Guesthouse

Stylish modern ensuite rooms. Few minutes to coast/amenities. Long parking available

The Western Hotel

In the heart of St Ives with good breakfasts, comfy rooms and live music at night. Just steps away from the harbour, local art galleries and Coast Path. Baggage transfers.

Cohort Hostel

Newly renovated hostel: Centre of St Ives & minutes from the coastal path. Dorms & private rooms, free WiFi, kitchen, TV room, lounge & bar.

Ayr Holiday Park

We offer luxury holiday caravans, s/c apartments, touring & camping pitches with amazing views and facilities. Less than half a mile from beaches, town centre & harbour. Town centre 10 minute walk from the park or a short bus/taxi ride.

Beachpads

Three stunning holiday homes (2 x 4-Bed & 1 x 2 Bed) located on the Coast Path, at Lelant in St Ives Bay with absolute sea and beach front position, unrivalled vista.

Tamarisk Guest House

Tamarisk is only 10 minutes' walk from Porthmeor Beach and Town Centre. Away from traffic and situated on a delightful lane leading onto the cliffs carrying the south West Coast path.

Creekside B&B

Creekside B&B in Hayle welcomes you warmly with ensuite rooms, free wifi & a tasty breakfast. Transport links, cafes, restaurants & shops are nearby.

Trevalgan Touring Park

Located just 2 miles from St Ives town centre, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a wondrful peaceful atmosphere. Ideally situated to explore the delights of the West Cornwall peninsula.

Sandbanks Holidays

Nestled in the sand dunes of St Ives Bay, surrounded by National Trust conservation areas, with direct access to the coastal road and the A30, sandbank is an ideal location, whatever your personal holiday passion. 

Sandbank House B&B

Nestled in the sand dunes, surrounded by conservation areas, with direct access to the coast road and A30, we are in an ideal location whatever your personal holiday passion.

The Tinner's Arms

Built in 1271, The Tinners Arms has been at the heart of Zennor for over 700 years. Pub, restaurant and small B&B.

Mountview Hotel

Ten minutes from the Coast Path. Open all year. B*B includes a full Cornish breakfast. Dogs welcome and free of charge.

Nanterrow Farm

Found in the heart of a 100 acre farm, this charming late Georgian farmhouse sits within a traditional country garden in a quiet, traffic free valley.

Mount Haven

19 beautiful en-suite rooms, restaurant, treatment room, and Terrace Bar with sea views across Mount's Bay

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Explore In Cornwall

We provide guided day and half day walks on the South West Coast Path across Cornwall and other parts of the Trail. These are guided by Steve Crummay who has 30+ years experience of working in Cornwall's amazing coast and countryside.

Wild Rambling

Guided walking adventures. Experience stunning views and fascinating history of the coast and countryside of St Ives and Penwith.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

This walk provides two options on how to reach the South West Coast Path.

Either travel down into St Ives using the bus service and begin the walk from the centre of St Ives or walk from Polmanter down to the South West Coast Path at Carbis Bay.

From Easter to September there is a dedicated bus service from our park to Royal Square in St Ives. This is up to hourly in the peak season dropping to a few times a day towards the end of the season. The First Kernow Bus route 16 also runs between Halsetown and Royal Square, St Ives with a journey time of less than 10 minutes all year round.

Take the Polmanter bus from our touring park entrance. This goes right into the centre of St Ives to Royal Square.

  1. Walk eastwards along Gabriel Street towards the sea. Cross over the road into the narrow Street an Pol. After crossing over the next junction into Westcotts Quay, you will reach the sea and the South West Coast Path. Turn right past St Ives Art Club and keep the sea on your left for the rest of your walk!
  2. Follow The Warren past St Ives Railway Station and above Porthminster Beach to the National Trust land at Porthminster Point.

Porthminster ('chapel cove') is named after a medieval chapel which stood here until the early fifteenth century, revealed around 1875, when the construction work on the railway line unearthed a number of shallow graves in the sand (see the Carbis Bay Walk). There is some debate about whether the Porthminster chapel was set up by St Ia or by St Uny.

  1. From Porthminster Point cross the railway line on the footbridge, and head up the steep path, turning left at the top. Passing the black-and-white Baulking House, carry on up the tarmac path towards Carbis Bay.

The Baulking House, or 'huer's hut', is thought to date from early in the nineteenth century. A huer was a lookout, stationed at a key location above the water to keep a watch for shoals of pilchards arriving in the bay. When he spotted a shoal, he would 'raise a hue and cry' and use hand signals to direct the fishing boats to the spot.

The alternative option starts at Polmanter

Leave Polmanter at its northern end and cross the field to meet Steeple Lane. Turn right and follow Steeple Lane twisting left and right until you meet the main St Ives road.

Turn left on the main road and then carefully cross the road and turn right down Treloyan Park Road.

 Follow the road down towards the sea until the road splits itself around a tree lined grass island. As the road splits, there is an alleyway footpath on your left. Follow this footpath, crossing Venton Road and down to the south West Coast Path.

  1. Reaching the Coast Path, turn right and head towards Carbis Bay.
  2. As Carbis Bay beach comes into sight, cross the railway bridge to head down the path towards the beach, bearing left before you get there to go behind the car park and onwards up Beach Road.

Carbis Bay Hotel was built in 1894 by the Cornish architect, Silvanus Trevail, in response to the boom in seaside holidays following the arrival of the railway. On the beach below, visible at low tide, are the wrecks of three ships, all grounded the year before, during an overnight storm in November which came to be known as 'the Cintra Gale'.

Lelant-born author Rosamunde Pilcher set many of her novels in the area, with Carbis Bay Hotel itself featuring in 'The Shell seekers' and 'Winter Solstice' as 'The Sands Hotel'. Originally writing for Mills and Boon under the pseudonym 'Jane Fraser', Pilcher's first novel in her own name, 'A Secret to Tell', was published in 1955, and a further 20 novels followed between 1965 and 2004. Several of her books have been filmed, using various locations around Cornwall, and a mini-series was made of the novel 'Coming Home', with some of it being filmed in Lelant. She was awarded the OBE in 2002 for services to literature.

  1. Pick up the Coast Path again to the left at the top of the hill and go down the steps to follow the footpath around Carrack Gladden.

The 60-metre cliffs around the headland at Carrack Gladden are of metamorphosed Devonian slate, and the acidic soil above them supports a range of vegetation, including grassland and scrub, and the nationally scarce maritime heathland, a habitat of gorse and bracken surrounded by ling and bell heather, giving a brilliant vista of purples and yellows during the summer and autumn. A number of rare plants grow here, including soft-leaved sedge, ivy broomrape and the delicate, vividly green maidenhair fern. The whole area has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as a result of the biodiversity of its species, known as the Hayle Estuary and Carrack Gladden SSSI.

  1. The path approaches the railway line above Porth Kidney Sands. Carry on along the Coast Path above the beach and stay with it as it winds through the dunes.

The long stretch of golden sand at Porth Kidney can be reached around the point from Carbis Bay at low tide, but be aware that the tide comes in very quickly, and strong currents make the water unsuitable for bathing near the estuary. It is backed by a large area of dunes, dune grassland and dune scrub, again exhibiting a wide range of unusual wildflowers, thanks to its sand being rich in lime from crushed seashells, with traveller's joy and wild privet ranging through the widespread marram grass. Other particularly important plants include mountain St John's wort and the Hebridean orchid with its lavishly speckled pink flowers.

On the far side of the railway line is St Michael's Way, a 12½-mile coast-to-coast walking route, which starts in Lelant. This was a prehistoric route allowing sea travellers to avoid the treacherous currents around Land's End by crossing the peninsula overland instead. Later it was used by pilgrims on the network of routes leading across Europe to one of the world's most important Christian places of pilgrimage, the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela in north western Spain. It is the only British footpath to be designated a European Cultural Route in modern times, and it ends at St Michael's Mount by Marazion.

  1. Towards the end of the dunes cross the railway on the footbridge and follow the path up through the golf course to St Uny's Church. Stay on the marked path and watch out for golf balls.

The area's SSSI designation also recognises its importance as a feeding and roosting habitat for a wide variety of birds. The Hayle Estuary is Britain's most south-westerly estuary adjacent to the important bird migration routes traversing the peninsula, and its mild climate provides feeding grounds for flocks of wildfowl and wading birds when other estuaries are frozen.

The West Cornwall Golf Club is the oldest golf club in the Duchy and was established in 1889. It has spectacular views across the water to Godrevy Lighthouse and a prevailing wind which gives players a range of challenges. It is especially known for the warm welcome it gives to visiting players and it has a restaurant with full facilities.

The earliest written reference to St Uny's church was in 1170 when it was mentioned as 'The Church of Saint Euni' by Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Built of granite, it replaced an earlier wooden structure and was extended during the fourteenth century, when the present nave and south aisle were added. Like many other churches in Cornwall, it displays a letter from King Charles thanking the parishioners for their staunch support during the English Civil War. There is also a fine east window depicting Cornish seabirds as well as Cornish saints.

There is much debate about the Celtic saints who arrived here during their rush from Ireland, Wales and Brittany to support their fellow Christians in Cornwall, beleaguered by incursions of the pagan Anglo-Saxons. The patron saint of Saint Ives, St Ia, is said to have established a hermitage locally which later became the Parish Church of St Ia in St Ives; but some commentators believe that it was St Uny who brought the religion to the district. There again, Lelant is named after Saint Anta, whose name is given to the Church at Carbis Bay, and it is said that she had a chapel on the rocks at the entrance to the estuary.

Look out for several medieval crosses in the churchyard. There are many of these throughout Cornwall, and they were widely used in the Middle Ages to mark the way to holy places, although sometimes they were simple waymarkers at the junctions of ancient paths or even simply boundary markers. They usually appeared in the form of the Celtic ‘wheeled’ cross, thought to have been a way of incorporating the pagan sun motif into the Christian cross, and they were used by the Celtic missionaries to attract pagan sun worshipers to the new religion.

  1. Carry on along the path through the churchyard, bearing left at the gate to follow the road downhill towards the railway, passing the old station house in its Great Western livery of cream and brown to turn into the station beyond. Take the train back to St Ives Station and then retrace your footsteps back to Royal Square to catch either the Polmanter site bus or the First Kernow 16 back to Polmanter.
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