Everyone knows that Cornwall is a major holiday destination; it’s hard to beat for that traditional summer seaside holiday but if you are a keen walker or even a ‘just starting out’ walker then Cornwall is one location not to be missed.
Cornwall is unique for many reasons, out on a limb and not really English at all but proudly Celtic, with its own culture and history and the most breathtaking landscape. One of the things that makes Cornwall very special is that it is surrounded on three sides by the sea and so any costal walk you choose is going to be oceanside with the most tremendous views of the coastline and access to endless beautiful beaches and coves.
The South West Coastal Path is the longest UK National Trail and the Cornish part of it- The Cornish Coast Path – totals 330 miles. It offers a vast terrain with ancient moorland, prehistoric remains and stone circles, ruined tin mines and the most spectacularly scenic backdrop which accompanies every stage of your journey.
It is impossible not to be transfixed by the beauty and history of the landscape that has long captivated writers from Thomas Hardy to Rosamund Pilcher and countless numbers of artists all seeking to capture the magic and mystery of this remarkable place.
The Cornish Coastal Path is divided into sections and some visitors take a different section each time they visit, a chance to see a new part of the county and stay in a different place.
Each section of the path offers something different in terms of terrain, landscape and points of interest. Visitors who have walked the entire 330 miles often comment on the sheer variety of what they have seen as well as the beauty. These are the five main sections of the Cornish Coastal Path:-
- The North Cornwall Coast Path – Hartland Quay to Padstow
- The Mid Cornwall Coast Path – Padstow to St. Ives
- The Land’s End Trail Coast Path – Ives to Penzance and the Cornwall Mining World Heritage Walk – St. Ives to Sennen
- The Lizard Coast Path – Penzance to Falmouth
- The South Cornwall Coast Path – Falmouth to Plymouth
Each section of the path has something unique to offer and there are challenging climbs for the more experienced and adventurous walker or gentler routes for the less ambitious. In Cornwall, you are never more than twenty miles from the sea and there are three fabulous inland coast to coast paths which offer walks right across the county from the north to the south coast:-
The Smugglers Way and Bodmin Moor – this route crosses the county from Looe in the south to Boscastle in the north taking in the remote and rugged, Bodmin Moor. This is a path for more experienced wakers and takes in the peaks of the moor, Rough Tor and Brown Willy.
The Saints Way – this is a more gentle walk than The Smugglers Way and heads from Padstow in the north to Fowey in the south, two of Cornwall’s best-loved harbour towns. Follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims and holy men who were travelling from Ireland to mainland Europe. The route is littered with points of interest including holy wells, churches and Celtic crosses. The footing is quite kind and consists of old droves, green lanes and hidden creeks, ideal for walkers who want a bit less of a physical challenge
The St. Michaels Way Walking Route – this walk takes just a day to travel from coast to coast and can be added to the Land’s End Coast Path to form a circular walk It links the iconic St. Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay with the exotic harbour town of St. Ives. A less publicised and well-known route, enjoy the views from Trencom Hill and some surprising lush green valleys hidden away from the tourist throng.
With it’s mild and temperate climate, Cornwall is a location that welcomes walkers all year round. Walking out of season will allow you to see the drama and excitement of the winter storms and show you a completely different side to Cornwall plus you can avoid the crowds of the summer season. There is nothing quite like an atmospheric clifftop walk with a dramatic sky and boiling sea with a cosy Cornish cottage to retreat to at the end of the day and a delicious seafood supper in a local pub.
Walking holidays don’t’ have to be linear; basing yourself in one location gives you a chance to explore all the other things that Cornwall has to offer and there is plenty of temptation and interest if you fancy a days’ rest from the hiking boots.
How to plan a Cornish walking holiday
All the sections of the coastal path offer spectacular walking but if you are a beginner and don’t want anything too challenging or don’t want to walk every day or too far then this will dictate which part of the path to walk.
When it comes to choosing accommodation, why not pick a location towards the centre of the stretch of the path you want to walk and base yourself there, in a pretty Cornish village or a farmland location? You can then walk the path in either direction and also take advantage of exploring inland and visiting some of the other attractions Cornwall has to offer. Spend your rest and relaxation time in a classic whitewashed stone cottage in a pretty village in a shaded green valley, overlooking a picturesque harbour or sheltered creek.
There are literally dozens of inland walks which you can add to your holiday itinerary – not all the great walking in Cornwall is coastal – with loads of online information to help you pick from a menu of great walking locations to suit your party and the distance you want to walk that day. Don’t forget your dog can accompany you on your walking holiday in Cornwall and there are loads of fabulous cottages which happily welcome guests with their four-legged family members.