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South West Coast Path: St Ives to Penzance 31

South West Coast Path: St Ives to Penzance

Overview

The South West Coast Path is England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath and National Trail and one of England’s national treasures. Stretching 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, the route curls around the entire peninsula of Devon and Cornwall and rounds the south-western tip of England at Land’s End and follows the southern shore through the dramatic scenery of Dorset. We are happy to offer some of the most interesting and scenic parts of the Southwest Coastal Path, featuring the Lizard Peninsula (the most southerly point of the British mainland) and St. Michael’s Mount; the section from St. Ives to Penzance as well from Clovelly to Tintagel.

Our St Ives to Penzance itinerary covers the South West Coast Path’s rugged and remote section in Cornwall, via Land’s End. This is a great route in its own right, a truly diverse and engaging walk. The north and west coasts of Cornwall have a unique atmosphere – a mixture of St. Ives’ charm, famously beloved of artists and home to a branch of the Tate Gallery, to some of the wildest and most dramatic scenery along the entire English coastline. Add to this the wildlife, from Peregrine Falcons to dolphins, the fascinating mining heritage, the exhilaration of standing at Land’s End, the magnificent open-air Minack Theatre, and the pretty fishing villages Mousehole and Newlyn, and you have a magnificent walking holiday.

  • The Lizard – the most southerly tip of Britain
  • Unspoilt countryside with abundant wildlife
  • Staying in picturesque fishing villages dotted around the coast
  • Tasty, local seafood
  • Secluded coves and golden sandy beaches

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive St Ives

This bustling seaside fishing town offers steep streets, great views, good surf and beautiful light that has attracted artists for centuries. The St Ives Tate Gallery, The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden are just some of the reasons why St Ives is called Cornwall’s cultural capital.

Day 2: St Ives to Zennor | 11 km / 7 mi

Day two starts with a gentle walk out of St Ives to Clodgy Point soon becoming a demanding hike of roller coaster climbs as you walk down towering cliffs into beautiful coves until you reach Zennor, described by D.H. Lawrence as “the most beautiful place, lovelier even than the Mediterranean”. The area around Zennor is designated both an Environmentally Sensitive Area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After reaching Zennor where there is very limited accommodation, you take the bus back to St Ives for a second overnight there.

Day 3: Zennor to St Just | 18 km / 11 mi

Taking the bus back out to Zennor, the path then continues its rollercoaster journey along the coast passing the remains of an ancient settlement and cliff castle at Gurnard’s Head and the site of an Iron Age cliff fort at Bosigran Castle. Seals are often spotted at the secluded sandy cove of Portheras Cove, and from Pendeen Lighthouse you can look out at one of the most dangerous stretches of the coast (for ships!), in Britain. The coast path continues to Cape Cornwall, the most westerly point of Cornwall where the Atlantic currents split. This area is also dotted with the ruins of the once-thriving tin mining industry. You can visit Geevor Tin Mine Museum and Heritage Centre at Pendeen along the route before heading inland to St Just for overnight. St Just attracts painters and potters and has some great cafes, pubs and a fifteenth-century church.

Day 4: St Just to Porthcurno via Land’s End | 19 km / 12 mi

The first part of the walk is a mixture of easy-open walking along high cliff-tops and short ascents and descents. Walk from St Just to Whitesand Bay enjoying spectacular views, perhaps a view of seals as well as a variety of seabirds such as Peregrine Falcons, Shags, Herring Gulls and Rock Pipits, to the lovely fishing village of Sennan Cove with a beautiful beach and great surf. Continue to Land’s End, the most southerly tip of Britain. Continue along the clifftops as far as the open-air Minack Theatre (performances May to September). Finally, the path continues – fairly steeply downhill – to the magnificent sands of Porthcurno.

  • Walking for the day: 12 miles / 19 km
  • Accommodation: Rockridge House or similar

Day 5: Porthcurno to Penzance | 18 km / 11 mi

Today first, you will enjoy a demanding but rewarding walk from Porthcurno to the sub-tropical cove of Lamorna. Passing through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the path changes quite dramatically as it crosses rugged cliffs, with some challenging ascents and descents, and then turns to easy walking on tarmac through Newlyn to Penzance. The historical association of artists with both Lamorna and Newlyn continues today as the area attracts painters, writers, potters and craftsmen.

  • Walking for the day: 11 miles / 18 km
  • Accommodation: Elmsdale or similar

Day 6: Departure

Departure after breakfast or extra nights upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations include a mix of charming small hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on four of the days (not included in St Ives – there are plenty of options locally for breakfast). When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

While not too demanding, the route follows the coast quite closely, and it includes plenty of elevation gains and losses and some steep sections (read more about difficulty grades). The route is well waymarked and easy to follow. A comprehensive guidebook and map are supplied. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of April until end-October. It is best enjoyed in the spring and autumn when there are fewer people on the trails; however, it is lovely during the summer months, too. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Bristol (BRS), London Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW) or Luton (LTN).

By train or bus
  • Trains run from London to St Erth (5 h), where you need to change trains to St Ives (15 min).
  • There is a direct train from Penzance back to London Paddington (6 h). Please check the Traveline website for timetables or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 5 nights in twin/double rooms with an en-suite or private bathroom (3-star hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses as listed in the itinerary)
  • 4 breakfasts (not included in St Ives)
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel – up to 20 kg per person
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information: personalised trip notes and maps (hard copy provided at first hotel; one set per room)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Breakfast on Day 2, lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

Gallery

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