It was several years ago that I read an article in the Dutch hiking magazine 'Oppad' about the South West Coast Path from Minehead on the Atlantic Coast to Poole on the Channel Coast.
Since then it has been on my list of hikes to explore. This year I was able to combine work in Truro with a 7 days hiking vacation with a friend.
From Perranporth to Marazion covered 73.9 out of the 630.4 miles of the total length of the path!
Saturday April 16th - Perranporth to Portreath
From the hotel outside of Perranporth we first had to walk to the downtown beach to get the trail. Immediately impressed by the views and the steep cliffs that we had to climb at the start of the trail. Looking back gave us a great view of the beach and the village that we were leaving behind us.
At the end of Tregundy Lane we saw the first sign of the South West Coast Path and learned that an (upside down) acorn is used on the signs.Now we knew we found the right track and another 20 kilometers of stunning views ahead of us.
When we reached Trevellas cove as indicated on the first signpost we had to walk down and inland to cross the stream and back up the cliffs again.
There were several more steep descents and climbs on this beautiful first day with great hiking weather.
For 2 experienced hikers in Dutch lowlands it was a challenge to reach the top of those cliffs..
Sunday April 17th - Portreath to Hayle
Monday April 18th - Hayle to St. Ives
Tuesday April 19th - Day of rest in St. Ives
Wednesday April 20th - St. Ives to Pendeen
Thursday April 21st - Pendeen to Land's End
Saturday April 23rd - Lamorna Cove to Marazion
Friday April 22nd - Land's End to Lamorna Cove
When leaving Porthreath I was surprosed to see the boats we saw the day before in the harbour on the sand! Then I remembered that the tide on this coast is so different from the Netherlands with high difference between high and low water.
Inmediately after leaving the village the coastal path took us to the top of the cliffs where we had a good view of beaches and shelters for birds where people only can come by boat.
Soon Godrevy Lighthouse on a rock at the eastern side of St. Ives bay turned out to be our beacon for the next few hours.
There were several places where the path was going down steep to a stream coming from the inland that we then had to cross over stones and then going up the next cliff.
When we reached the cliffs of Hells Mouth there was a nice cafe close to the track for a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich!
Before we reached the lighthouse we had a surprise by seeing seals on the beach below us. Most of them just layinh there but others were playing in the surf.
After we had a look at the lighthouse on the island the coastal path was turning south towards Hayle.
We crossed an area that looked like a tidal inlet that disappeared by silting. Just before Hayle there were nice beaches and sand dunes where we took a nap laying in the sun.
Hayle is on the Hayle river and we had to walk into town to find the White Hotel. The nice surprise in the hotel were the old man's rock band playing that night, comfy room and good food.
From Hayle we first needed to follow the river inland until we found the first bridge to cross. The river is small but the estuary wide.
The path then passes east of Lelant village partly along the railway track from Penzance to St. Ives. North of Lelant it runs along the beach again.
We had a coffee at Carbis Bay Beach Club and although the hike was short we did feel a bit tired. We already hiked around The Island peninsula as part of the long track to do after leaving St Ives.
At the harbour area we enjoyed a nice lunch.
Our guest house was at the Terraces before entering St Ives and we had a nice dinner at the Pedn Olva Hotel in front of the guesthouse with a great view over St Ives Bay.
Before the longest trail to come we had a rest day in St Ives. As I woke up early I made a walk as took some pictures around sunrise.
The toughest of the 7 days hike!
22 kilometers (13.7 miles) to reach Pendeen with limited facilities and 'escape routes'.
The weather was as great as the previous days, partly clouded, 18C and wind 3/4 Bf.
But it was on this days that we sometimes struggled with the wind walking over stones in swamp like areas.
At times it was difficult to find the track but my GPS was great help.
With only food and drinks we carried ourselves we arrived at the North Inn around 6 pm.
The pub and the large B&B rooms in the backyard were agreat place to stay. We had a nice dinner and breakfast and a few beers with the locals.
In Cornwall the mining industry is never far away which was clear after leaving Pendeen.
Today was the first day with an overcast sky but we did not have any rain.
We had a tea in the Old Success Inn in Sennen Cove before starting the last short climb to Land's End.
I wanted to do this part of the coastal path was to see Land's End.
As a navigator in my early working days I have sailed around the lighthouse several times.
The Land's End hotel was nice but in this 'off season' restaurant and bar close early!
On a grey morning and in a light rain we started our 2nd last day on the coastal pasth. The views are quite amazing and have something mysterical in this type of weather.
The white shed that was converted in a shop was one of the surprises today: they sold us tea and cakes that we could consume out of the rain in a barn in the back.
Even in the rain there were many grades of brown, red and yellow in the plants on this stretch.
At Portgwarra Beach we had to cross a slope were fishing boats were pulled up.
We came across some amazing rock formations ashore as well as on the seaside!
We passed Penberth river and later walked up the river to Lamorna Cove Hotel. What was amazing were the many trees, plants and humidity on the banks of these rivers. This was not found in other plces before.
We had a cottage at Lamorna Cove Hotel but unfortunately at this time of the year there were no services in the hotel. We managed to get dinner at the Lamorna Wink pub and buy some drinks.
As the hotel was also not serving breakfast (we occupied a cottage next to the hotel) we collected all the eneregy bars from our backpacks and completed it with tea and juice bought from the pub.
After leaving Lamorna Cove the landscape started to change, the cliffs became less steep and we saw the other side of the bay with Penzance and St. Michaels Mount, our final destination.
We had tea and croissants in the village of Mousehole and later a light lunch outside of the Yaght Inn in Penzance.
Th final strech to St. Michaels Mount was flat and apart from the cloud over the islands quite boring. As the tide was running in we decided not to walk to the island and instead enjoyed a drink in the sun on the terrace of the Godolphin Arms to celebrate the completion of a great 7 day hike before taking the bus back to Penzance to find our guest house.
Travel and luggage transfer
From Amsterdam we flew British Airways to London Gatwick and from there Flybe to Newquay Cornwall Airport. The same route on the way back. There always appears te be a few hours layover in London Gatwick either going to Cornwall or coming back.
At Newquay Airport we took a taxi to the first guest house in Perranporth. From Penzance we took a train to Truro and rented a car as I had to work there for a week. From Truro bus or taxi are the other options to get to Newquay Airport.
From Penzance there asre also busses to Newquay and Airport.
We stayed in hostels and hotels and our luggage was transferred by between them. Very convenient to start walking with your daypack knowing that you luggage will be picked up during the morning and deliverd to your destination before you arrive! In some cases the bags were already in the room!
South West Coast Path
In general it was very easy to find your way along the path with many signs marking the path. Sometimes you would have preferred to see a sign earlier to confirm you are on the right track.
In those cases I was happy to have the route on my GPS which I prefer above reading directions from a paper.
Only a 2 times I realised we were 'lost' and I was happy to have the track on my hand held GPS to guide me back to the trail.
I created the tracks myself following the route that is perfectly shown in Google Maps and then converting Google tracks to Garmin tracks.
There are many hotels, guest houses, cottages and B&B places along the route. I selected the places we stayed for their location on the route not wanting to walk more miles of the track to find it. My only 'mistake' was the St Georges Country House in Perranporth that was actually 1 mile out of town and off the track.
All of them were booked through Booking.com except for the North Inn in Pendeen that I arranged through email with the owner on the basis of B&B.
In all places we stayed the hosts were friendly and the rooms from acceptable to good. The room in the Carlyon Guest House was small but in the Porthreath Inn as well as the North Inn big.
We really enjoyed the pubs and food of the Porthreath Arms hotel (Portreath), White Hart Hotel (Hayle), North Inn (Pendeen) and Lamora Wink (Lamora Cove).
It was disappointing that at the Land's End hotel the lounge, bar and restaurant closed at 10 pm and also the lights in the lounge went out so the only place to be was the (not too big) room. It was the most expensive of the places we stayed.
At the Lamorna Cove Hotel we had a great cottage (bedroom, living room, kitchen) but no services or shop to buy groceries.
List of accommodations
If the hotel has a website the links below will lead to that external page. If not it leads to Booking.com
The , Perranporth
The , Portreath
The , Hayle
The , St. Ives
The , Pendeen
The , Land's End
The , Lamorna Cove
The , Penzance