I was dumbstruck when I discovered there were no Cornish walks in the ITV1 programme “Best walks with a view with Julia Bradbury”. Is she mad?
The South West Coast Path is one of the world’s great walking trails, covering 630 miles of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset coastline. Wherever you start from, you’re guaranteed a brilliant walk. Come with me on one of the most picturesque.
The Trevone to St. Merryn stretch is is a relatively short walk, but in just over 4 miles it packs in gorgeous golden sandy beaches, amazing geological structures and some of the best views in rugged north Cornwall – plus a top-quality pub.
Start staring out to sea on Trevone Bay’s main beach, known as Porthmissen Beach. Although we’ll be heading in a southerly direction (to the left), it’s worth the steep climb on the cliffs to the right to see three of the Wonders of Cornwall.
First up you will see a huge hole in the middle of a lush green field. This is the ‘Roundhole’, a collapsed cave. If you think it looks pretty stunning from ground-level, imagine the aerial view from a drone or a plane.
It’s pretty dangerous up here and can get very windy, so don’t get too close to the almost sheer drop – several cows and sheep have come to a gruesome end by falling in over the years. It hasn’t always been like this – my wife’s granddad used to play in the hole when he was a schoolboy living in nearby Windmill in the 1930s. As well as schoolkids, the cave was popular with smugglers in days gone by, and would make a great filming location for BBC’s Poldark.
If you keep walking past the Roundhole, you’ll get to Porthmissen Bridge – this is not a bridge, but the name of a headland which is famous for its layered ‘Marble’ cliffs, pictured below with Trevose Head in the distance.
You’re almost at one of the most photogenic spots on the Cornish coast – Tregudda Gorge. Coastal erosion has led to a mini ravine with an offshore pointy stack which is actually classed as an island and has its own name, Middle Merope. There are waterfalls, streams, caves and more seagulls than I’ve ever seen in one place.
I could have stayed at Tregudda Gorge with my camera all day, as you might be able to tell, but it was time to move on. Before we do, here’s just one more photo from a previous visit.
Now it’s time to backtrack and cross the beach in Trevone. In summer, it can get heaving here but out of season you might even get the beach to yourself. After rejoining the coast path for a couple of minutes, you will get to Trevone’s other beach known as Rocky Beach – there’s not a lot of sand here, but as the name suggests you can have fun exploring the rock pools at low tide or even take a dip in the seawater ‘swimming pool’, below.
From here, the coast path skirts farmers fields on the approach to the popular Harlyn Bay, with views of craggy coves and the offshore islands known as The Quies. In summer, there’s not a lot of spare room on the beach at Harlyn which can be taken over by families with windbreaks, surf schools and the Kelly’s ice-cream vans shuttling from one side to the other. But out of season it’s another story – the beach is huge at low tide, so make the most of it if you get it to yourself.
Now you’ve got two choices – carry on walking to the next beach, the lovely Mother Ivey’s Bay with its RNLI lifeboat launch, or head to the pub.
Anyone who’s watched Julia’s Walks will know she ends up in a pub, and you’re about a mile and a half from one of the best country pubs I’ve been to. Just follow the road inland to the right from the humpback bridge to St. Merryn, where you will find the Rick Stein-owned Cornish Arms opposite the village church. It serves St. Austell Ales, and unsurprisingly the posh pub-grub is superb, although be prepared to wait a long time for a table (you cannot reserve here).
For more walks with a view, check out fellow blogger Restless Jo’s Monday Walk series.