The best walks in North Cornwall

Date Posted: 12 Nov 2021

Cornwall’s craggy coastline doesn’t get much more dramatic than the stretch around north Cornwall. While the walking scene may be dominated by the South West Coast Path, a good ol’ stomp in the Duchy doesn’t have to be strictly sea dependent. Cornwall has so much to offer walkers, from moody moors to magical woodlands.

Widemouth Bay to Crackington Haven

Distance: Depending where you start in Widemouth Bay, this walk is around 6 miles

Not for the faint-hearted, this is a challenging walk which sees you undertake
steep and deep valleys, rolling green hills and striking inclines. In return you’ll be spoilt for views.

Around the half way mark into this challenging stomp, you’ll reach Butterfly Valley – a name given by the locals – where you can spot the many butterflies in the steep stream valleys. The highest point of this stretch is at you reach the end at Crackington Haven, where the dramatic cliffs of Pencannow Point, stand at around 700 feet, and are some of the highest cliffs in the county.

Where to park: There are many car parks in Widemouth Bay. We’d recommend starting at the viewing point in Widemouth Bay, the car park is free and means you’ll take in the view of Widemouth Bay’s beaches as you start your venture.

Rough Tor and Brown Willy

Distance: This circular walk is approximately 5 miles. If you’re looking to shorten this to Rough Tor’s summit is about 1.5 miles.

Swap sea views for scattered granite, grazing ponies and thigh-burning tors at atmospheric Bodmin Moor. This walk is just over 5 miles, and while it is strenuous in parts as you approach the peaks, it’s manageable and can be taken at a leisurely pace.

You’ll stumble across remnants of history on this unworldly rugged walk, from the very beginning as you step over a double-span clapper bridge made of granite. As you incline to Rough Tor, when you reach the summit at an impressive 1,313 feet above sea level, catch your breath and let the panoramic views consume you. The second part of this jaunt will see you drop into the valley and ascend to Cornwall’s highest point Brown Willy, 1,378 feet above sea level.

Where to park? There’s a car park at the entrance to Rough Tor which is free to use.

Visitors walking on the granite stepping stones across the River Valency at Boscastle, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images Chris Lacey

Valency Valley Boscastle

Distance: The full route is 4 miles in total.

This pretty National Trust walk takes you on a 4-mile route where you’ll see the harbour, woodland, meandering river and a pretty church nestled in the trees taking in all the best bits of Boscastle. A dog-friendly walk, it’s a moderately easy jaunt where for the majority you’ll feel totally secluded from the world, surrounded by nature.

If you’re not up for completing the whole course then hop across the granite stepping stones over the river just over half way through.

Where to park? Boscastle’s main car park is where this route starts so it makes most sense to park there, but you will have to pay.

Visitor on the cliff top at Sandymouth, Cornwall. © National Trust Images Ben Selway

Bude to Morwenstow

Distance: This walk is about 8 miles
There’s no denying that this clifftop coastal walk is a challenge with plenty of inclines to negotiate as the dramatic coastline wiggles against the sea, as you head north. The recommended route by the South West Coast Path is to start at Hartland Quay and walk to Bude but that’s over 15 miles and will take up the majority of the day. This route is tough enough as you feel the burn at Northcott Mouth steps, but the views are well worth it. You’ll also see Bude’s famous sea pool, pretty beaches Sandymouth and Duckpool along the way and GCHQ’s impressive satellite dishes in the distance.

There are plenty of ways to shorten this walk which may be worth bearing in mind if you’re hiking back too, either starting or ending at Northcott Mouth or Sandymouth.

Where to park? If you do choose to start at Bude we’d recommend parking at Summerleaze car park as it’s the largest in the town, but you will have to pay.

Padstow and Stepper Point

Distance: This walk is just over 5.5 miles.
For a walk which is accessible for most, the Stepper Point walk from Padstow provides pretty coastal scenery without having to climb great heights. The footpath is clearly marked and you’ll be treated to far-reaching views out to Doom Bar, a sandbar at the mouth of the estuary of the River Camel. The stone tower that sits on top of Stepper Point is known as the Daymark, which is a highlight on this walk. Depending on what time you take on this stroll, if the tide’s out you can walk along the sandy beach at certain points.

Where to park? The Harbour car park in Padstow is the best place to start this walk, you will have to pay for parking though.

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Categories: Cornwall Walks

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