This is the first day of a few days I am spending continuing along the North Cornwall Coast. I therefore drove here from home, arriving at Constantine Bay just after midday. I had a good journey and even managed to get a space in the tiny car park that serves the beach, although this might have something to do with the weather. Better still the car park is free (it’s not for nothing Cornwall regularly tops the list of councils that make the most from car parking). Sadly the weather is overcast with a light drizzle and windy, and this continues for most of the day, so I won’t be spending much time on the beach. Constantine Bay is a lovely beach, a wide sandy beach backed with dunes. Like most beaches in Cornwall it is known for it’s surfing.
The coast path starts off easily enough with a wide path around the low cliffs and just a few hundred metres along I come to the next beach, Treyarnon Bay. This is another great sandy beach with a few dunes, but rockier than Constantine Bay. There is a large caravan park at the back of the beach, which is a shame though.
The coast path follows the back of the beach crossing a small stream and then climbs onto slightly higher cliffs. There are three rocky little coves here, named Wine Cove, Pepper Cove and Warren Cove. All are rocky, although there might be some sand at low tide, although there is no access. The first name at least I suspect refers to the smuggling that used to be common on the South West coast. The windy weather is whipping the sea up and causing lots of white horses. I love watching the sea when it is like this, and the sound is also wonderful.
Winding round the three rocky coves I soon reach the slightly sandier cove of Fox Cove, which has a caravan park and campsite behind it. I don’t think there is access to this beach either, which is a shame (well unless you have a boat, anyway).
The coast now becomes more rugged with a few rocky outcrops and a sandy beach, known as Minnows Islands. It is a lovely spot despite the weather, which has got worse with the rain now getting heavier. It can’t distract from the rugged and spectacular nature of this coast though.
Rounding another few bays soon brings me to another good sandy bay, Portcothan. I have been here once before when on holiday in Padstow so I can at least remember it in sunnier weather. This is a long but narrow beach with just a few houses lining the south side of the beach. The beach is quiet, probably as a result of the weather.
It is an easy walk around the north side of the beach and at the back the coast path briefly follows the coast road, as there is another stream out onto this beach. Once over the stream the coast path leaves the road and runs along the bottom of the gardens of the houses on the south side of the bay. Soon I am back at the mouth of the bay and the weather has cleared a bit to give me a good view back over the beach.
There are some rocky islands at the mouth of the harbour and it makes me wonder how they have survived when the rock around them has all eroded away. The coast path rounds the headland to a little rocky bay, Porth Mear. Sadly the weather has returned to rain, now quite heavy so it is does not look very appealing.
Back on the cliff top there are some more islands just off the coast, Trescore Islands. The south side of Port Mear the cliffs get higher, giving a bit of a climb out of the bay and a good view. I can see back around the coast to Trevose Head.
A short distance later there are some more rocky inlets this time with a cave. Soon I round Park Head to Mackrel Cove, which does not sound very nice. Off the headland are two little islands, called Cow and Calf – there are quite a few rocks called this around the coast! Ahead I can see the sandy beach of Diggory’s Island and Bedruthen Steps.
I have been looking forward to this bit of the coast because I remember visiting Bedruthen Steps on a childhood holiday and remember it as a beautiful unspoilt and virtually deserted beach. At Diggory’s Island there is no access to the beach although I think it is possible to walk around from Bedruthen Steps at low tide.
Rounding the small headland I am then at Bedruthen Steps. There is no beach here at low tide but thankfully the tide is out enough to reveal a lot of sand which, as expected, is desrted. This is a lovely and very specacular setting but I think the steps down to the beach put off a lot of people. At the main beach of Bedruthen you can see the rows of waves heading into the coast, which must have pounded out all the rock stacks over the years. Despite the weather this spot is as good as I remember it, a wonderful unspoilt location. I head south along the cliff top and soon enjoy an equaully spectacular view to the north, of all the high rocky islands.
As I am now nearing the car park there are a few more people on the beach, but it is not what you would call crowded. There are a lot of steps down to the beach, but I don’t let that put me off so head down to the sands. I walk south along the beach a short way and find a section of beach where no one but me has walked all day, as well as a rock almost totally covered in shells. Despite the weather I really enjoyed this part of the walk.
There is then the downside of the climb back up, but it doesn’t take long and I enjoy a last view back north along this beach.
It is just as well I do, since a little further south the weather starts to close in and it becomes misty. This is the downside of not living close to Cornwall I have to take time off and take pot luck with the weather and today it seems my luck is out. The coast becomes a little stepper although still not what I would call strenuous and soon I have another great beach ahead, Mawgan Porth. This is a great walk for beaches and one I suggest on nice weather could be split over two days, so you can spend some time on each of the beaches. It is not the weather for stopping long today though, sadly.
Oddly the beach is called Mawgan Porth but the village is called Trenance. It is the largest place I have passed though on this walk, although it is still not a big place.
Once more there is a little stream flowing out onto the beach, so the coast path briefly joins the road at the back of the beach. Once round the road turns away inland and the coast path leaves the road to follow the cliff tops around. The high cliffs round another good sandy beach, Beacon Cove but this is another beach with no access except by boat, but it looks wonderful down there.
Another small little headland brings me round to Stem Cove although there is no sand here. Looking south from here I can now see over Watergate Bay, another wonderful beach – there are so many on this part of the coast. I now have around a half a mile walk along the beach at Watergate Bay where I end the walk.
I have been to Watergate a few times before but like Padstow this is becoming known for it’s celebrity chef status, in this case Jamie Olivers’ 15 restuarant. This has taken over what I think was the building I remember as the Fat Willys Surf Shack on my last visit and I am also disappointed to notice some ugly and rather out of place blocks of flats have appeared here since I was last here too, which is a shame. As I am leaving Watergate Bay I can see a line of blue sky in the distance, despite the fact it is still raining, albeit it lightly now.
I take Western Greyhound bus 556 back to Constantine and drive on to my overnight accommodation. Once I arrive back at Constantine the weather has changed and it’s now blue sky and warm sunshine, what a change in just an hour, but a shame it was too late coming for this walk.
This is a great walk and I have enjoyed it, despite the weather. This is a particularly good walk for a warm sunny day though, as so many great beaches are passed on the way.
Here are the details of the public transport needed for this walk.
Western Greyhound service 556 : Padstow – Windmill – Harlyn Bay – St Merryn – Constantine Bay – Porthcothan – Trenance – Mawgan Porth – St Mawgan – Newquay Airport – Watergate Bay – Porth – Newquay. The bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday and around 5 times on a Sunday. The buses serve Newquay railway station and most buses also connect at Padstow with service 555 to Bodmin Parkway railway station.