Discover challenging and dramatic walking trails shaped by the footsteps of traders, smugglers, saints and pirates. Cornish walking trails will reveal ancient tin mines, clifftop castles, timeless fishing villages and wild moors as you travel through a landscape of huge cliffs and hidden coves that goes back to the depths of time itself. In between the coastal drama, iconic harbours such as St Ives and Padstow give walkers access to some of the UK‘s best restaurants and coastal hotels. A county encircled by the wild Atlantic ocean, there is over 330 miles of spectacular world class coast path here taking you around the farthest corners of England - put simply it feels like walking on the edge of the world.
Stretching from coast to coast across the southwest of England, Devon is a richly diverse county with rugged shores and cliffs in the north, and classic Victorian seaside resorts in the south. In between you'll find tranquil green pastures, wooded gorges and the two dramatic wild moors in the National Parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Choose Devon for its walking variety, and you'll find that the popular image of cream teas and thatched cottages is true - but that Devon is so much more once you explore it on two feet. Coast to coast routes like the Two Moors Way will offer a journey through it all from the wild northern shores that inspired the Romantic poets to the maritime ports of the south coast.
Free your soul and clear your mind! Walking on the wild moors of these National Parks is a wonderful antidote to modern living. England's last true wilderness, Dartmoor offers 365 square miles of virtually uninhabited freedom with high moors and twisted dramatic granite tors a land of myths, ghosts and legends. Exmoor, its smaller and more gentle neighour, is 250 Square miles of near perfect and unique beauty, with high uplands swathed in heather and steep, wooded gorges and rushing streams. See Dartmoor ponies and Exmoor stags in these wildlife rich areas, home to 30 species of mammals and over 240 types of bird. The moors offer a unique opportunity for more challenging walking where the only human sound you will hear is the rhythm of your own breath.
Avoid the crowds and discover “Secret Somerset” missed by so many rushing headlong for the far South West. The 'land of the summer people' was named in a time when this area could only be visited in the summer months as the sea receded. Today its a rich, fertile and 'for real' landscape crowned by the fine walking ridges of the Mendip and Quantock Hills both protected areas of outstanding natural beauty. Rising up over King Arthur‘s Vale of Avalon along with the magical Tor at Glastonbury, walkers will find hidden gorges, wooded combes and the best inland panoramas of the South West. Also boasting its own Jurassic Coast Path, providing a gateway into the wilds of Exmoor National Park, Somerset offers walking routes without the crowds for those who want to find..... what the rest miss.
Dorset has a comfortable old world “English” feel to it and its walking routes traverse a rather more green and agricultural land of thatched cottages, cream teas.... and fossils ! Walkers here will find the more gentle rolling farmland, pretty villages and chalk ridges beloved by Thomas Hardy that sweep down to end abruptly at the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Here, alongside the sea, those after more challenging routes can take a walking holiday through time itself amongst the dramatic chalk stacks, cliffs and arches of the Dorsetshire fossil coast. An area that can be very busy in high season but often suits walkers looking for more gentle and less exposed walking than the far west of the region.
Wales offers some of the best walking and outdoor activities to be had anywhere in the world. The 870-mile Welsh Coast Path was only fully opened in 2012 and is the world's first walk along the entire coast of a nation. The terrain is on an equally grand scale with towering cliffs, vast stretches of unspoilt golden sands, imposing castles, offshore islands and to the north there is the backdrop of Snowdonia National Park with its stunning mountains. Wales in general offers walkers great value for money compared to more popular areas like Cornwall with walking options to suit everyone, from those who want the cosmopolitan restaurants and facilities of towns like Tenby and St Davids, through to isolated and remote forests and coastal hills that sit on the very cusp of the Snowdonian Peaks. Bursting with confidence and pride in its “Welshness”, its Celtic history, language and culture there has never been a better time for walkers to enter Wales.
The South West Coast Path is the UK's longest National Trail and one of the top ten walking routes in the world. It snakes, dips and rises continuously on its way through a staggering 1014km (630 miles) of pristine coastline, 450 miles of which is through nationally protected areas. It's a challenge too; walking the entire South West Coast Path is the equivalent to scaling Mount Everest four times! From towering cliffs to hidden coves, ghostly tin mines to lush subtropical wooded creeks. One minute a dramatic rock theatre hewn out of the cliffs, the next a prehistoric fossilized forest or a 20thC Art Deco Island Hotel. What sets The South West Coast Path apart from other trails is that around almost every corner is yet another surprise as you retrace the footsteps and histories of the tin miners, fisherman, smugglers, wreckers and the customs men who chased them.
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Note - This itinerary is for those wanting shorter distances to allow plenty of time to explore the mining sites fully. If you want longer walking days see our St Ives to Penzance South West Coast Path pages for standard and fast walking options through this section.
Suggested Rest Days - Zennor for the Ancient Stones of Cornwall walks - Sennen for beach / surfing lesons - Porthcurno for the Minack Theatre or beach
We tailor make itineraries and walks for all our customers so do ask away if you have your own ideas.
1 Extend the walk to Penzance or complete a circle to St Ives – Complete the Lands End Way by walking two extra days onto Penzance via the superb Minack cliffside theatre in Porthcurno. From here you can use the Pilgrims Path The St Michales Way to walk a further day inland back to St Ives passing St Michaels Mount and a less visited interior. CLICK HERE for details of The Lands End Way walk and The St Michaels Way
2 Extend the walk to Porthleven - Three walking days from Sennen will bring you to Porthleven on the edge of the Lizard where you enter the Tregonning and Trewavas district of The World Heritage Site.
3 Start your walk in Perranporth - 3 extra days will allow you to fully explore the St Agnes and Portreath areas of the World Heritage Site taking in the inspiring scenery and heritage on the North Cornwall Coast as you follow the South West Coast Path into St Ives and the start of the Mining Heritage Walking Trail.
The Beach Path to St Ives runs right through the heart of the mining area at St Agnes and in addition gives easy access to the whole Cambourne, Redruth and Mineral Trails area. Walkers will pass through the exposed mineral seams and precarious cliff workings at Cligga Head before moving onto the fascinating Blue Hills Tin Streaming mines at Trevellas Coombe where you can still see the Tin being crushed and extracted. Build in an overnight stop at Trevaunance Cove and not only will you stay in a stunning location where a classic surfing beach meets the old harbour ruins but you will also be able to wander inland to explore the mining town of St Agnes. St Agnes is an affable spot with its rows of cottages, galleries and cafes for the modern day visitor, its chapels and Miners Institute a reminder of its past. Don’t miss the St Agnes Museum with excellent displays and interactive collections that cover the areas mining, culture and heritage.
The stark and iconic engine house stands proud and high over the sands at Wheal Coates will be instantly recognisable – there are probably more photos of this than anything else in Cornwall. However a picture can’t replace being there with the stupendous views complimented by the sound of the waves that can be heard crashing on the rocks far below through a grate over the open shaft. Head a few hundred yards up the heather slopes and you can explore much larger mine remains that no postcard can show you.
Camborne, Pool and Redruth are names synonomous with Cornwalls Mining History towns that grew up around the industry and for the South West Coast Path walker heading for St Ives a rest day in Redruth or Portreath will give you time to explore these less visited locations. - Visit Cornish Mines and Engines where you can explore the interiors of two complete engine houses or the collections of tin processing equipment at the award winning King Edward Mine Museum.
You can take a mine tour at South Crofty Mine see the restored winding engine at East Pool Mine or if you prefer the open scenery hire a bike (or walk) onto the former tramways, The Mineral Trails - in just four miles the Great Flat Lode Trail section has the highest concentration of historic mining sites anywhere in the world wild. Finish the day on the moor at Carn Brea where you can climb the towering granite ridge to visit its poignient dark monunment to lost miners which dominates the whole area.
Padstow to St Ives on the South West Coast Path requires between 5 and 7 days walking though short break options around the mining areas are possible. CLICK HERE for details of the full route and Contact Us to discuss how to incorporate the World Heritage Sites on the walk.
After leaving St Michaels Mount (itself formally a tin traders stronghold) you enter into the Tregonning and Trewavas Heritage Mining Centre. The South West Coast Path takes you right past the stunning restored Engine Houses of Wheal Trewarvas and Wheal Prosper with the chance to explore both of these giants which grip the Cliffside looking out towards The Lizard.
Despite its name Wheal Prosper was never particularly productive and only traded for six years, those who remember Poldark might recognise it however as it was partically rebuilt for this serial.
Take a rest day on the route at Porthleven and you can head a short distance inland to visit another side of the mining. The National Trust Stately Home at Godolphin House demonstrates the huge wealth the mine owners took out of the pits to fund their fantasy houses - The National Trust's Lanhydrock Estate near Fowey is another example another also well worth visiting.
Penzance to Falmouth on the South West Coast Path requires between 5 and 7 days walking though short break options around the mining areas are possible. CLICK HERE for details of the full route and Contact Us to discuss how to incorporate the World Heritage Sites on the walk.
Half way through the walk to Plymouth you enter China Clay Country. Inland white capped clay mountains (locally known as the St Austell Alps) dominate the skyline and The South West Coast Path brings you straight into Charlestown with its preserved Mining Harbour, usually holding several Tall Ships. This place is so well preserved it is still used by filmmakers for the likes of The Three Muskateers and Treasure Island. It remains one of the finest examples of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century industrial harbour works in Britain and an overnight stay here is a delight. Visit the Museum in the harbour and you can walk through some of the old China Clay Tunnels used to load the ships. For those with a big interest in China Clay a only a few miles inland is Wheal Martyn and the China Clay Museum, a fascinating place with extensive old workings combined with still working pits where you can see modern China Clay production in process.
Inland of the South West Coast Path around Par it is also easy to include a diversion to the lush and hidden Luxulyan Valley.
Here you will find heritage sites that include a three mile leat, constructed to power the many water wheels and water pressure engines at Fowey Consols Mine, a walk along a the canal and tramway which was used take the copper ore to the purpose-built harbour on The South West Coast Path at Par. The most impressive feature within the Valley is undoubtedly the Treffry Viaduct, an imposing granite structure which carries both a leat and tramway route high above the rushing steams in the Valley floor. Close to the world famous Eden Project you can with a rest day in Charlestown take in both attractions.
Falmouth to Plymouth on the South West Coast Path requires between 7 and 10 days walking though short break options through Charlestown are possible. CLICK HERE for details of the full route and Contact Us to discuss how to incorporate the World Heritage Sites on the walk.
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