West Cornwall is home to some of Cornwall’s most cherished places, St Ives, Penzance and Sennen to name but a few, are all nestled in this part of the Duchy.
With atmospheric fishing coves, impressive headlands, engine houses, turquoise waters, and historic remains, there’s so much to discover on foot. While the walking scene may be dominated by the South West Coast Path, clocking up your step count doesn’t have to be dictated by the coast. Cornwall has so much to offer walkers, from pretty parklands to winding river walks.
We have rounded up five of our favourite walks in West Cornwall. Just make sure you reward yourself with a post-stomp pasty or a pub pitstop.
Way-marked walk sign with violets at Godolphin, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images Juliet Turner
Distance: 1 mile
This gentle one-mile riverside walk takes in two wooden troll bridges and an abundance of wild flowers and is situated on the historic National Trust owned Godolphin Estate. It’s a flat route which begins at the footbridge that crosses over the River Hayle. If you’d rather take on something with an incline, Godolphin Hill on the south-westerly reaches of the estate. On a good day you’ll be treated to some of the best views in Cornwall, looking out over St Ives Bay and St Michael’s Mount.
On the Estate, the Piggery tea-room (open daily 10-4pm) offers a place to reset with a coffee and slice of cake.
Where to park: The most practical place to park is Godolphin’s car park. Unless you are a National Trust member or Blue Badge holder, you will need to pay for parking.
Distance: 3.9 miles
Pretty Perranuthnoe is a quaint village and home to a stunning beach. At low tide it’s sandy with some shingle, while at high tide it’s mostly claimed by the sea. This circular route follows the coast path from the village, and offers the best of both worlds as you take in stunning panoramic coastal views as well as countryside charm. A moderate walk – but we’d suggest walking boots unless it’s particularly dry – it takes less than two hours to complete.
You’ll pass a number of small coves as you reach Cudden Point, where you will be treated to panoramic views across Mount’s Bay. To the right look out for the iconic Michael’s Mount and Penzance, while to the left on a clear day you can see Loe Bar and the Lizard. March on to see Prussia Cove, which is the collective name for four small coves – Piskies, Bessy’s, King’s and Coule’s. The walk back is further inland over fields with views over St Michael’s Mount. On your way back call in at The Victoria Inn – you can’t miss it as it stands pretty in pink. It’s thought to be one of the oldest inns in Cornwall dating back to the 12th century.
Where to park: Just before you get to the beach there is a car park on the left with an overflow field opposite. Charges apply to both.
Turquoise waters and purple heather at Zennor Head, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images Sarah Davis
Distance: 1.5 miles
This short walk offers a bit of everything as you head from the quaint historic village of Zennor up to the headland for breath-taking panoramic views. Take a left after the famous Zennor Church following signs to the coast path and head for the sea. When you reach Zennor headland take a moment to look east and west out to the stunning turquoise waters. You may spot kestrels along the cliff, and grey seals have been known to hang out in the coves below. For flora and fauna lovers, visit during the autumn to witness the purple heather and yellow gorse which blanket the cliff side.
If you’re staying in St Ives, or simply fancy more of a challenge, you can alternatively start the walk from the popular harbour town. It’s around 6 miles from St Ives to Zennor, but you can get the bus back.
Where to park: Zennor village car park, which charges £1 to park via an honesty box.
The abandoned beam engine houses of the Crowns section of Botallack Mine near St Just, Cornwall. The steam-driven engines were used for pumping water, and conveying ore and miners up and down, when the St Just area was an important centre for mining tin, copper and other minerals. ©National Trust Images David Sellman
Distance: 3.7 miles
Ramblers will need to dedicate around three hours to this historically rich and visually rewarding walk. It sees you soak up the glorious South West Coast Path but more significantly you’ll see the remains of two of Cornwall’s ‘champion mines’, Levant and Botallack.
As you elevate this walk does take in some steep steps, so it can be challenging in parts but on the whole it’s an easy walk. Dotted with beautiful ruins, this walk begins at Levant where you’ll see the first set of Engine Houses. The route follows the coastal path, where you’ll see the second set of Engine Houses and loops back through the Cornish countryside. This walk offers dramatic views and an insight into Cornwall’s impressive heritage.
Where to park: There is a small car park at Levant, which is run by the National Trust (fees apply to non-members). Alternatively, extend your walk by half a mile and park for free at Geevor.
The Wheal Prosper engine house perched on cliffs at Rinsey Head near Porthleven, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images John Dietz
Distance: 1 mile
The Rinsey walk is not to be missed when in West Cornwall. While it’s only a mile long you’ll see a plethora of sights along the way, taking in mining heritage, seascape, and pretty plant life dotted around the cliffs.
You’ll begin your walk at the Rinsey car park and follow the coast path, where you’ll be treated to three old engine houses with World Heritage Site status and stunning views across to Mount’s Bay and St Michael’s Mount to the west. Rare plant-life includes dodder, a red/orange parasitic plant and you may also see Cornish choughs flying overhead, or as this is a known area for dolphin spotting, keep your eyes peeled for those too.
Where to park: Rinsey car park is small so we’d recommend getting there early. Unless you are a National Trust member or Blue Badge holder, you will need to pay for parking.