Monday, 5 October 2015

The South West Coast Path - West Cornwall: A review

Falmouth: Custom House Dock


Cornwall as a whole accounts for 287 of the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. The  South West Coast Path Association sensibly divides the county into three sections, South, West and North, and I have followed their lead. We finished West Cornwall some months ago, but I have only just found time to complete this review.

The West Cornwall section of the SWCP covers 120 miles between Falmouth and Portreath, and includes major milestones such as the Lizard Point and Land's End. I will highlight a few key impressions of this rich and rewarding part of the Coast Path. The individual stages we walked are listed below, with links to the original blog posts.

Milestones and impressions

After starting from the delightful town of Falmouth, Porthallow was our first major milestone, as it marked the halfway point of the whole SWCP. There is a substantial marker, but Porthallow itself is entirely unremarkable.

Soon afterwards we came to Lowland Point. It is a pretty spot, covered in wild flowers, notably thrift and bluebells, and just a few metres above sea level. We have passed many Points and Heads on the coast so far and this is definitely the lowest.

The next major milestone was the Lizard Point, which was a bit disappointing: a collection of shacks on a small rocky headland. We enjoyed the view across Housel Bay to the Lizard lighthouse which preceded it however.

We also enjoyed the west side of the Lizard with Kynance and Mullion Coves and then Portleven. Soon after this the coast began to change with the advent of remains of the Cornish tin mines and also larger sandy beaches such as Praa (pronounced "pray') Sands.

The wonderful St Michael's mount was almost hidden under grey cloud when we passed and it was frustrating to not even get a decent photo, let alone visit. There is not too much to say about Penzance, but we did love picturesque Mousehole, with its strange sandy beach within the confines of the small harbour.

Soon afterwards was one of our most favourite beaches - and we have seen a lot now - Porthcurno. viewed from near the wonderful Minack Theatre in the picture below.

Next up of was Land's End, but the less said the better about the monstrous shopping village which hides the actual end of the land from view. Cape Cornwall just along the coast was much more special.

And immediately beyond it is the main area for mining heritage at Botallack and Levant (below)

After Zennor the coast becomes more challenging and the section from there to St Ives was one of the hardest we have done. The view of St Ives and that lovely town itself made it well worthwhile however.

By contrast, the remaining sections, especially around Hayle were not so exciting, but did end with a wonderful view of a beach full of seals near Godrevy Point.


51 Falmouth to Helford Passage

52 Helford to Porthallow

53 Porthallow to Coverack

54 Coverack to Kennack Sands

55 Kennack Sands to Lizard Point

56 Lizard Point to Mullion Cove

57 Mullion Cove to Porthleven

58 Porthleven to Praa Sands

59 Praa Sands to Penzance

60 Penzance to Lamorna Cove

61 Lamorna Cove to Porthcurno

62 Porthcurno to Sennen Cove

63 Sennen Cove to Cape Cornwall

64 Cape Cornwall to Trevean Cliff

65 Trevean Cliff to Zennor

66 Zennor to St Ives

67 St Ives to Hayle

68 Hayle to Godrevy Point

69 Godrevy Point to Portreath

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