Hikes in Cornwall

Date Posted: 6 Jun 2024

By Natasha Harding

Without doubt Cornwall has some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK – with the south coast often being referred to as the Cornish Riviera – and what better way to enjoy the scenery than on foot?

Whether you fancy strolling on coastal paths, beaches or through tiny villages there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Personal trainer and keen hiker Eloise Skinner said: “In my opinion, Cornwall is fantastic for hiking because of the variety of the routes and the views are always beautiful, varied and inspiring.”

Here Natasha Harding has chosen ten of the best hikes the county has to offer.

South West Coast Path


Distance: 4 miles

The South West Coast Path between Bude to Widemouth Bay is a pretty straightforward route to follow – as you’re going in a straight line the whole time you’re walking – but be aware it’s a steady incline that looks deceptively easy until you’re on foot. You’ll enjoy the stunning scenery along the way as the Atlantic is constantly by your side. The terrain is fairly easy underfoot, especially if you’re wearing walking boots or sturdy trainers.

Sennen Cove to Land’s End


Distance: 3 miles

The walk, which begins from Sennen Harbour car park offers spectacular views and lots of wildlife to look out for. During spring there are wildflowers as well as shags and cormorants offshore. In the autumn, you’ll see flocks of seabirds. It’s not too arduous as it’s mainly flat, apart from one long climb from Sennen to Maen Cliff (and Maen Castle which includes the Iron Age fort with almost sheer cliffs on two sides and a steep slope on the third). There are three options for the return which you can choose accordingly – depending on your ability and stamina.

Boscastle and Tintagel Circular


Distance: 10 miles

One for experienced hikers with a lot of energy as this circular trail is pretty challenging and takes a good five hours to complete. However, it’s worth the effort – especially for bird watches. The walk begins at the Cobweb pub by the River Valency in Boscastle (past Boscastle Harbour where you can swim and see the ‘Devil’s Bellows’ at low tide. It then follows the coastal path passing by the seabird colonies around Trevalga, Rocky Valley and the secluded sandy beaches of Benoath Cove and Bossiney Haven before reaching Tintagel (where you can cross the historic footbridge from the mainland to Tintagel Castle). The way back takes you through the countryside and a wooded area including St Nectan’s Waterfall.

Crackington Haven


Distance: 3.1 miles

Beginning in the tiny village of Crackington Haven and following the coastal path, keep an eye out for the traditional Soay sheep and rare wildflowers as you take in the breathtaking scenery as you travel. It’s pretty tough going in places due to the steep inclines and many steps near Tremoutha and Strangles but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views, golden sands and intriguing rock formations.  You’ll circle back and descend alongside a stream into a peaceful ancient woodland with hanging valleys which get pretty muddy after rain. Reward yourself with a drink or two in the fabulous Coombe Barton Inn in the village or a coffee in The Cabin at Crackington.

Polzeath to St Enodoc Church


Distance: 3.7 miles

A relatively easy walk that begins in Polzeath.  You will make your way along the coastal path while enjoying some beautifully scenic views overlooking Hayle Bay, before following the trail to a viewpoint overlooking Daymer Bay and the Camel Estuary and onto St Enodoc Church – which was once so deeply buried in the sand that entrance for services was through the roof. As well as many, many glorious coves en route, the countryside around Trebetherick and Roserrow with views of Pentire Point is something to behold.

Pentewan Valley Trail


Distance: 3.5 miles

The flat and fairly easy walk is a combination of woodland, paved and grass terrain and follows the old Pentewan railway between St Austell and Pentewan. There are various places to pick up and start the trail as it forms part of the National Cycle Network where you can extend your walk by hiring a bike at Pentewan Valley Cycle Hire and riding towards the town centre and Eden Project if you wish.  It’s a very popular route for families, runners and people cycling and there is a lot to keep the kids entertained along the way – think bridges for Pooh sticks and lots of trees to climb. 

Carne Beach to Nare Head


Distance: 4 miles

Carne Beach, about 20 minutes drive from Truro is one of the few beaches in the county that doesn’t get too busy. The wonderful Nare Hotel, considered the most comfortable in Cornwall, has unspoilt views of the area. To walk from Carne Beach to Nare Head, follow the circular route, which begins uphill and takes you to Carne Beacon and towards Pennarin Point before looping around, following the coast bath back to the beach. The views are great, the mud, not so great, so decent boots are advisable. Things to look out for on the way include a Bronze Age barrow, an Iron Age earthwork and a Second World War decofy bunker.

Morwenstow Coastal Loop


Distance: 3 miles

Beginning at Rectory Farm Tearooms, which serve a wonderful cream tea, walk through the churchyard before taking the path in Morwenna Valley and follow the signs for the Coast Path. The most wonderful scenery is all around you as you hike, with cliffs as high as 450ft leading you to the highlight being Hawker’s Hut, built out of driftwood from shipwrecks and made famous by Reverend R S Hawker of Morwenstow who sat in his hut smoking and writing poetry. Before you head back, stop and savour those views from Cambeak, Tintagel, Pentire.

Cadgwith Cove to The Lizard


Distance: 7 miles

Cadgwith Cove is a stunning village and fishing port in South Cornwall and walking to the Lizard, the most southerly point in Britain is fairly straightforward.  The route follows the Coast Path from Cadgwith around the Devil’s Frying Pan (a 200 foot deep hole in the cliffs formed many years ago when a cave collapsed) and Polbarrow to Church Cove. From here, the route passes a number of landmarks including the Coastguard Lookout, and the Lizard Lighthouse. The return route is mostly across the fields and passes through (two ancient churches and the holy well dedicated to the Celtic Saint Ruan accused of being a werewolf).

Colliford Lake


Distance: 4 miles

Colliford is the county’s largest inland water and although it’s just moments away from the A30, it’s so quiet that you’ll feel as though you’re miles from anywhere. There are three hiking options all offering views of the moors – the 4 mile option starts at the parking area and follows a waterside trail along the shore to the dam and valve tower. Because it’s so unspoilt, it’s a haven for wildlife; during the summer you might see swifts, swallows, house martinis and sand martins and during the winter, Gideon, goldeneye, lapwing and snipe.

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