For this walk I was staying at the Blue Hills Campsite near St Agnes. I drive to Newquay first, as the bus connection works out better from Newquay to Perranporth than the other way. Actually I think I made a mistake at the time and thought there was only bus route when in fact there are two. One of them is frequent and one of them is not, and I was using the one that was not. Oh well. I soon find somewhere to park in Newquay – but at a price, and then head for the bus station.
I am confused because last time I was in Newquay the bus station was on the main road near the railway station. However it was no longer there, so I have to check the Ordnance Survey map and the sinds around the town soon get me to what is a new bus station and I find the right bus stand. The bus arrives on time and I’m pleased to see it is a double-decker bus, so I get good views of the coast I will be walking later in the day. Although the day had started mostly cloudy, the cloud is already beginning to lift and I am hoping for a good day of weather – which is exactly what I get.
The bus takes a little over half an hour and I get off in the main street in Perranporth, which looks rather run-down. I head through the town to the beach and what a contrast – this is a wonderful sandy beach, backed by a mixture of low cliffs and dunues. Unusually, a pub has been built in on the beach here, the rather unimaginatively named The Watering Hole. The view from the terrace is lovely although I wonder how much repair is needed after winter storms each year.
The beach is covered in tire tracks, I assume from where it has been cleaned and some people have climbed onto one of the rocks out to sea.
The coast path goes through the dunes at the back of the beach, but since it is not high tide I decide to walk along the hard sand near the shore line instead. A look at the Ordnance Survey maps suggest this is one long beach, Perran Sands. This is the case at low tide, but it is near enough high tide that the first set of cliffs, Cotty’s Point, blocks me from being able to get round, so I pick up the coast path at the north end of the beach. It is still quiet, a combination of the currently overcast weather and the fact it’s not yet the school holidays, I presume.
The path is mostly a sandy path through dunes and a bit hard going in places and as I am leaving the town beach I can look back and enjoy the views over it, as the sun begins to break through the clouds.
It looks like the town is quite a big resort, but I suspect rather quiet in the winter. I have gained a bit of height and soon I am rewarded with the most stunning view over Perran Sands. What a beach – a perfect sandy beach with dunes behind and the rows of waves coming in from the Atlantic. Like much of the North Cornwall coast, this is a popular surfing beach and even on a calm day like this you can see why.
The coast path here runs along various tracks around a large holiday camp that has been built in the dunes. The paths prove a bit of a maze and the coast path signs are not great and as a result I struggle to find the correct route. When I come to the main path down to the beach I decide to take that instead and walk along the beach, rather than the dunes at the back. I hope I can get back on the coast path at the end of the bay.
Although there are a few people on the beach near the steps down, once I’m a few minutes walk north from there it is largely deserted and I enjoy the lovely feeling of space, the gulls and the sound of the sea to my left. It is a wonderful start to the walk.
My concern about not being able to get on the coast path at the north of the beach starts to worry me though and at another path up throug the dunes and take it, to head back onto the official route of the coast path.
Away from the holiday camp now, this proves much easier to follow as there is only one obvious path now. At the north end of the beach there is access down to the beach again, so I needn’t have worried and I take it, to have one last paddle in the sea before I leave the beach.
It’s a cracking beach this, but I can’t spend all day so soon head back up onto the coast path. There is a surf lesson underway and the surfers have been practicing on the sand. They’d probably rather I wasn’t watching, as it looks a bit odd!
I reach the top of the cliffs and the coast path is a good path right around the top of the cliffs (Ligger Point) where I then come to another small cove, Hoblyn’s Cove. There is an unofficial path down to the beach here, and I’m impressed to see someone has made a rope ladder to get access to the beach! I decide against trying it though, I remember struggling to get up and down these at school!
Ahead is a rather ugly army camp of some sort and the area I am in has numerous warning signs about mine shafts, which I can see have been capped and fenced off. Cornwall was once a very industrial county with vast amounts of mining taking place – now virtually all gone, but I hadn’t realised it took place in this area too.
The army camp is behind a high wire fence and looks very run down and basic, with old Nissen huts and other portable looking huts. If it is still used, I imagine it is very cold and bleak in winter. Looking back I have a good view along the coast where I’ve been so far, and the sandy beach of Perran Sands is now out of sight.
As I head up onto Penhale Point there are all sorts of odd structures, although this one is particularly odd! I have no idea what it is, but think it is some sort of experimenatal radar, presumably connected with the army base I have passed.
Reaching the end of Penhale Point I can see I have another glorious beach ahead, Holywell Bay.
Out to sea are two little rocky islands, Gull Rocks, and I can see a line of foam in the sea where the waves have been breaking around them. As the sun has come out now, the sea is the most wonderful turquoise colour at Holywell and once more the waves are thundering to the beach – another popular surfing beach.
As at Perran Sands the beach is again backed by a large dune system, with a village behind, I suspect mostly holiday homes. Here a stream flows out onto the beach, so I have to had a little inland to get to a bridge over it. although it being such a nice day you could probably wade through quite easily.
Once over I take the path back down to the beach and can’t resist another paddle – this beach is just as good as it looked and the sea is surprisingly warm.
I decide again to walk over the beach rather than take the coast path through the dunes at the back. As the dunes give way to low cliffs I take the last path back up and rejoin the coast path. After a bit of a climb I get a wonderful view back over the beach. I have the low headland of Kesley Head ahead which gives me a view of the coast ahead. There is another rocky little island out to sea here, this one called The Chick for reasons I don’t know. Once on the top of the headland I can see another sandy beach ahead, with low grey cliffs beyond. This is the oddly named beach of Porth Joke. It’s lovely though, being small and totally undeveloped.
There is again a little stream flowing onto the beach, so the coast path goes round the back of the beach to cross it.
Again I can’t resist heading down onto the beach and into the sea. As I expected, because of the lack of car park and other facilities the beach is far quieter, mostly with surfers. This is another really wonderful beach and I’m certainly being spoilt with both good beaches and good weather on this walk.
I soon leave the beach and pick up the coast path again which lives up to it’s name, going right around the edge of the cliffs onto the low headland of Pentire Point West. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the next headland is called Pentire Point East. From this headland I get a good view back to Porth Joke.
Continuing I round the low rocky cliffs of the headland to get views of the next beach, Crantock.
This is another stunning beach and again totally unspoilt, as the small village is set back around ¼ of a mile from the beach. It again has dunes along the back of it. To continue in the same theme, there is also a rocky island out to sea too, tihs one called The Goose, again for reasons I don’t know. I head down onto the sands again for a paddle – well it saves my feet getting too hot. The sea is beautifully clear here too and I spend a bit of time on the beach here, enjoying the surf, fresh air and beautiful scenery.
At the western end of the beach I am nearly at Newquay but unusually the South West Coast path has 3 routes here, depending on the tide.
This is because I need to cross The Gannel river. At the lowest tide it is possible to cross on a low bridge (which is submerged once the tide comes in). Otherwise a ferry runs, but this does not operate all the time or if the tide is too high. If you are unlucky enough to find this is the case, you have to take a diverson around half a mile inland to another bridge. But this is also covered near high tide so if it is you have to head even further inland, meaning you walk about 3.5 miles to get around the river!
Thankfully I am in luck and I think it must be nearly low tide, since I can use the lowest of the crossings, the bridge. I walk across it, but the river looks so shallow I suspect you could wade it. So I do. I find it is so low I can easily wade it. So I cross back on the bridge once more and then take the steps up the hill.
I am bit a surprised to end up in the garden of cafe, but it is the official low tide route, as there is a sign. I get a good view from the top looking up stream along the River Gannel, a very sandy river although I am glad I didn’t have to walk all the way around it.
It reminded me a bit of the River Camel near Padstow, only on a smaller scale, as that is also very sandy.
Oddly the official route of the coast path ahead misses out the headland of Pentire Point East. But there is a good path around it, so I follow that, getting a good view back to Crantock.
Ahead is the famous Fistral Beach, where surfing championships are regularly held, with the imposing Headland Hotel at the far end of the beach. I pass the car park and then take the steps down onto the beach.
Although I have reached the edge of Newquay this is a wonderful beach which is mostly undeveloped along it’s length. I’ve made better than expected time so again spend some time on this lovely beach as I’m fortunate to have such good weather. At the north end of the beach I rejoin the coast path and head round the Headland Hotel. Some bungalows have sprung up since I was here last and these are apparantly self catering cottages that are part of the hotel. The coast path misses out Towan Head for some reason, but I don’t taking the path out to it’s end for the good views.
I soon pass the white painted Huers Hut as I then pick up the road around another large hotel and down to the main town of Newquay.
The harbour has a bit of water in and looks attractive as does the town.
I head down to Towan Beach and past the island again, which has a Union Jack flying today. I continue to Tolcarne Beach. Although I have walked this coast before it is such a nice day I don’t want to stop and with the tide being out, I can walk along the beach between all these little beaches. As I head up to the headland at the end of the beach looking down I see someone has drawn an enourmous penis on the beach. Well we are in Newquay, I suppose.
I walk the short distance from the beach back to my car to finish the walk. I have very much enjoyed this walk, as I was blessed with stunning weather and it passed many beaches. When I walked from Constatine to Watergate Bay before I was a bit disappointed the weather did not allow me to make the most of the beaches so I’m glad on this walk which also passes so many wonderful beaches the weather was is in my favour.
I decide not to eat in Newquay, as it doesn’t look very appealing and instead head down to Trevaunance Cove and have a nice meal and a pint of their in-house brewed beer at the lovely Driftwood Spars pub here. In the evening I head onto the cliffs nearby to watch the sun set over the beach into a cloudless sky. It is a wonderful way to end the day.
Here are the details of the public transport needed for this walk. There are two relevant routes.
Western Greyhound route 547 : Newquay – Perran Sands – Perranporth – St Agnes – Porthtowan – Portreath – Hayle – Lelant – Carbis Bay – St Ives with a peak summer extension to Zennor, Gurnard Head, St Just, Lands End and Sennen Cove. Summer only service with one bus each way daily until late September.