The famous South West Coast Path from St Ives to Zennor.
A challenging (*) but very rewarding walk with magnificent views and rich in wildlife and historical interest. A fine wildflower walk in spring, when the squill and dog violet in the coastal grasslands are followed by orchids and tormentil. The thorn bushes rising from the freshly-unfurled bracken are alight with blossom, and wheatears and stonechats call from their black branches. In autumn it’s a great place for birdwatching, as the flocks of kittiwakes and terns flying past can sometimes include storm petrels, even a rare and dainty Sabine’s gull. (* not challenging for Ade, Rodga nor Tim – “a walk in the park”)
Film commissioned by St Ives Holidays
Walking the South West Coast Path should never be seen as an easy undertaking unless you have prior knowledge of the route. This walk in particular includes as much length and ascent as many a high level fell walk with much of the climbing left to the end of the route. Combining an inland walk along the “Tinners Way” the route takes you to St Ives where you have the option of exploring the town before returning along the coastal path.
Park in the small car park at Zennor (grid ref. SW 454384) and pick up the path that begins at the western end of the churchyard and make for Tremedda, the first of a number of farms that are passed on the outward leg of the route. Many of the small fields with their stone walls date from prehistoric times and they certainly add character to the landscape: St Ives to Zennor.
Reaching Tremedda continue to Tregerthen where the path maintains its almost straight line as it continues to Wicca where a farm track leads to nearby Boscubben. Stay with the track past the farm for about 50 metres and take the path over a stile on the right. At Trendrine you have to pass through the farmyard keeping the house on your right. Navigation is easy with Trevessa the next target across some more fields.
At Trevessa turn left on to the lane and then immediately right by Little Trevega to take a path that cuts across some fields to reach the lane again. Climb the stile into the lane, turn right, and after 200 metres turn left on the Tinners’ Way to Trevalgan farm.
The path goes to the left of the farm with the Trowan, the next farmstead, in a straight line ahead. Continue in the same direction to reach a crossroads of paths (grid ref. 502405). You can shorten the walk here by turning left to reach the costal path at Hellesveor Cliff. However we continue ahead staying with the footpath for a further half kilometre to reach the outskirts of St Ives. You reach a road and this leads you down to Porthmeor Beach.
After exploring St Ives perhaps including a visit to the Tate Gallery you need to locate the coastal path at the western end of Porthmeor Beach and follow this back to Zennor. As mentioned in the introduction this section of path is not easy with many switchbacks from the shoreline to cliff top. You soon learn as the first climb starts shortly after leaving St Ives where a steep ascent helps you regain the route taken by those using the “shortcut”.
On the initial section there are some wonderful retrospective views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy lighthouse and beyond. The path becomes more rugged and reaching Pen Enys headland the view back is superb. Trevega Cliff is occupied by a trig point (91 metres) and after this the view west to Pendeen lighthouse begins to improve.
Forward progress can be slower than the map suggests and from Mussel Point the view to Zennor and Gurnard’s headlands helps boost your spirits. At least the end of the route is in sight although the toughest section is yet to be covered! From Tregerthen the path can only be described as spectacular dropping down to the shore before soaring upward again to the cliff tops.
Reaching Zennor point the temptation is to take the short cut over the headland but you are recommended to stay true to the coastal path before clambering up to the trig point to enjoy the view. With a kilometre remaining the path to Zennor village follows a valley, which leads to the church and the Tinners Arms.