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26 March 2022

St Ives walks and beyond

by Craig Burkinshaw

St Ives walks and beyond are all on our doorstep. Tugging on your walking boots and exploring Cornwall on foot is the only way to embrace its natural beauty, history, and wildlife. And lucky for us, the South West Coast Path, which conveniently runs past Three Mile Beach, offers some of the most stunning scenery in Britain. I’ve picked five of my favourite local walks and included a mix of lengths and difficulties, so there’s something to suit everyone. Each walk is tried and tested – taken from The South West Coast Path website – and the links give you detailed directions.


Top Tip

The iWalk Cornwall app is another brilliant way to navigate the county’s best walks. Using GPS, it guides you step by step, gives you history and nature facts as you go, and even puts you right if you stray off-track. The app is free, but there’s a small one-off cost for each walk you download.

A stroll to Godrevy Head

This is a must-do walk from Three Mile Beach, taking in our beach and the coastal views over St. Ives Bay and the lighthouse on Godrevy Island. When you reach Mutton Cove, you may well see seals pulled up on the rocks, particularly in the autumn. In fact, this whole stretch of coast is good for seal spotting, and there’s also a chance you might spy dolphin pods in St Ives Bay. Please note that stopping off at the Godrevy Café for ice creams is a compulsory part of this walk.

How far to starting point? Start at Three Mile Beach.

How long? 2 miles approx.

How difficult? Easy.

Upton Towans and Gwithian Towans circular walk

This is another short walk, chosen to help you get acquainted with the unique, wild landscape of the dunes around Three Mile Beach. You’ll enjoy exploring the little sandy paths. You’ll pass the quaint Jam Pot café. You’ll discover the tiny village of Gwithian, with its pretty church. And you’ll see across to St Gothians Sands Nature Reserve with its pools that attract big flocks of migratory waterbirds.

How far to starting point? Start at Three Mile Beach.

How long? 2 miles.

How difficult? Easy.

Gwithian to Hayle walk, including the Towans

This walk follows the Coast Path all the way through the dunes to Hayle, returning along the beach. It’s a longer one, but it’s mostly flat. Please note that the website directions start at Hayle, not Gwithian, so you’ll need to do it in reverse. The walk takes you through the beautiful Towans (the Cornish word for sand dunes), designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their geology and wildlife. A fifth of all Cornwall’s plant species can be found in this one relatively small area, and the plants support abundant birdlife and many species of butterflies and moth. On the way, you pass through Upton Towans, also known as Dynamite Towans, which was home to one of Britain’s largest explosive factories during the war – nothing left to be seen of this now though. You’ll also pass alongside the Copperhouse Pool RPSB reserve within Hayle estuary, which is an excellent spot for birdwatching.

How far to starting point? Start at Three Mile Beach.

How long? 6.5 miles.

How difficult? Moderate

Lelant to St Ives walk

This stunning coastal walk follows the route of the railway line that connects Lelant to St Ives. I think this is one of the most beautiful parts of Cornwall with its three white-sand beaches all in a row. The first is Porthkidney, which is dog-friendly all year round and backed by dunes. Next is stunning Carbis Bay, where you might be tempted to drop in for refreshments at the hotel. Next up is Porthminster Beach – where the lovely café is another good place to rest your feet. The walk ends in St Ives, where you can enjoy a pleasant hour or two pottering around the town. To get home, just catch the train for a scenic ride back to Lelant.

How far to starting point? 15-minute drive to Lelant train station.

How long? 4.5 miles.

How difficult? Moderate.

Reskajeage and Tehidy walk

This seven-mile walk features some steep climbs and rough paths, so it’s one for the more experienced hiker. We normally start at Hell’s Mouth, a craggy Cornish cove just along the coast, to the north of Three Mile Beach. From there, you head inland through the Red River Valley and Tehidy estate, finally rejoining the coast path at North Cliffs and Reskjeage, where you’ll hear the noisy seabird colonies in the cliffs. A highlight for me is the Red River Local Nature Reserve. It’s hard to imagine that this peaceful area of woodland and waterways used to be a noisy mining industrial landscape. Look out for foxes, badgers and, if you’re lucky, otters. I also love the ancient Estate of Tehidy that was owned by the Bassetts, a wealthy, local mining family. It’s a superb area of woodlands full of winding paths to explore.

How far to starting point? 15-minute drive to Hell’s Mouth car park.

How long? 7 miles.

How difficult? Challenging.

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