Hike the Cornish coastal trail past evocative relics of the former tin-mining industry; discover prehistoric stone circles on the windswept moors. We move your bags each day.
A self-guided walking tour
2017 dates: April to mid-October, starting on any day.
Duration: 5 or 7 nights.
Grade: 5 night tour: moderate to demanding; 7 night tour: moderate.
Tour prices: See “Tour prices” below.
Tour code(s): W5 or W7; W5E or W7E (with private bathroom throughout).
The 5 night tour is intended for those who wish to concentrate on completing the coastal path walk between Mousehole and St Ives, and is MORE strenuous and demanding than the 7-night tour, which allows more time to explore the numerous fine prehistoric sites away from the coast, or to take the coastal walk at a more leisurely pace. The coastal walk (5-day tour) involves distances of up to 18km/11 miles/7 hours per day over rough terrain on narrow paths with many short steep ascents and descents. However days can readily be shortened by using buses or taxis so don’t worry if you have less than a week to spare!
W5, W5E: Night 1 Mousehole; 2 Porthcurno; 3 St Just; 4 Zennor; 5 St Ives.
W7, W7E: Night 1 Mousehole; 2 Porthcurno; 3 & 4 St Just; 5 Zennor; 6 & 7 St Ives.
Accommodation. Specially selected small guest houses or ‘B&Bs’. One or two nights may be at a small hotel. En suite or private facilities can be guaranteed throughout the tour on payment of a supplement.
Meals included. Breakfast each morning; other meals can be obtained locally without pre-booking.
Dogs. It may be possible to bring a well-behaved dog on this tour. Please enquire.
Extra nights. These can be included at any point on the tour at the time of booking the holiday. We charge cost price plus a commission. On the 7-night tour we already include second nights at St Just and St Ives. This allows time at St Just for extra walks, to explore the fascinating little town and (for those interested in industrial archaeology) to visit the remains of tin-mining industry on the coastal cliffs at Geevor. An extra day at St Ives, which offers a choice of galleries, cafes and beaches, also provides an opportunity for a visit to St Michael’s Mount as well as for more hikes. An extra day at Zennor allows time to walk over the moors to the fascinating iron-age village of Chysauster (in the care of English Heritage); on the way you also pass the quoits (Neolithic tombs) of Zennor and Mulfra. Porthcurno has a fine beach, as well as the Minack clifftop theatre. Less fit walkers find a rest day at Porthcurno beneficial in order to regain their strength for the demanding walk round Lands End to St Just! A night can also be booked at Marazion in order to visit St Michael’s Mount (reached by boat or via a tidal causeway, castle closed Saturdays), which is also easily accessible in a day from Mousehole or St Ives or other points on the tour.
This tour can be accessed easily by train. Start the tour via Penzance rail station; end of tour St Ives or Penzance. There are direct trains from London Paddington to Penzance (5.5 hrs; to return from St Ives change trains at St Erth or Penzance). There is also an overnight sleeper train service (not Saturday nights) between London Paddington and Penzance with a choice between a comfortable seat and a berth (bed) in a two-berth cabin between London Paddington and Penzance. The sleeper berths must be pre-booked.
From Penzance rail station it is a short bus or taxi ride to the first night’s stop at Mousehole. At the end of the tour there is a frequent bus service (less frequent on Sundays) from St Ives to Penzance rail station, as well as a rail link from St Ives to the main line stations at St Erth and Penzance.
The main international airports for southern England are near London: Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW). These airports have shuttle rail and/or bus links to the main line railway at Reading station. All trains from London Paddington to Cornwall stop at Reading about 30 minutes after leaving London.
There are also regional airports with some international services at Bristol and Exeter. There are direct trains to Penzance from Bristol Temple Meads and Exeter St David’s rail stations.
Cornwall now has its own airport at Newquay, with flights from London Gatwick and other UK airports. The most convenient way to reach the start of this tour at Mousehole from Newquay airport is by taxi, which should be booked in advance when you know your flight arrival time.
Tour code W5:
5 nights tour, ES or private facilities most nights: £495. SRS*: £110. STS**: £140.
Tour code W5E:
5 nights tour, ES or private facilities every night: £540. SRS*: £140. STS**: £170.
Tour code W7:
7 nights tour, ES or private facilities most nights: £605. SRS*: £135. STS**: £165.
Tour code W7E:
7 nights tour, ES or private facilities every night: £665. SRS*: £165. STS**: £195.
Please read these notes below on pricing:
- Extra nights £55 per person per night. At Zennor or St Ives £65. Single room £75 per person per night.
- SRS* = single room supplement (applicable when 3 or 5 persons book together).
- STS** = solo traveller supplement (applicable when booking is for one person only)
Prices quoted are per person on basis of two people in double or twin-bedded rooms. Included in the price are bed and breakfast each night, with baggage transfers, maps and route directions. ‘ES’ (en suite) facilities means that there is a private bathroom with shower or tub and toilet within the main door of your room. ‘Private facilities’ means that the private bathroom may be outside the main door of your room. When the booking is made for a party of 3 or 5 customers, a single room supplement is payable. When the booking is made for a single traveller, a solo traveller supplement is payable. Note: normally a maximum of 1 single room per booking.
Most visitors to West Cornwall see little except Lands End itself which is regrettable as the whole of the granite coastline on either side of Land’s End, between Mousehole and St Ives, offers magnificent landscapes and seascapes, including perhaps the finest coastal scenery in England. In spring the cliff-top path is bordered with masses of wild flowers, notably the cushions of pink sea-thrift.
Almost every mile provides some new contrast or point of interest: the remains of former tin mines perched on the sea cliffs around Botallack; the open-air theatre overlooking the beach at Porthcurno; ancient dolmens (stone-age burial chambers), stone circles, standing stones, iron age hill forts and other prehistoric remains; and and of course the unceasing swell of Atlantic waves breaking on offshore reefs or crashing at the foot of the cliffs.
Tucked away near the western extremity of England at Cape Cornwall is the little town of St Just-in-Penwith, formerly a centre of the tin-mining industry, now a picturesque backwater with a real old-fashioned Cornish pub, dark wood panelling and all. The St Just district is now part of the Cornish Mining UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. See http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/
The narrow, winding streets and picturesque fishing harbour of St Ives have long attracted painters and sculptors such as Augustus John and Barbara Hepworth; and the town now has its own permanent branch of London’s world famous Tate Gallery.
The famous open-air theatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno has performances from Monday to Friday evenings from late May until September.
A second night at Zennor allows time for a rest, or to walk to the fascinating iron age village of Chysauster. The celebrated monastic island of St Michael’s Mount, reached by a tidal causeway from Marazion, is accessible in a day from either Mousehole or St Ives; accommodation can also be booked in Marazion.
Daphne du Maurier’s Vanishing Cornwall is available in paperback while her famous short story The Birds is set on the north coast at a location somewhat resembling Zennor. Journey to the Stones by Ian Cooke is an inspiring text on the archaeological monuments of the Lands End peninsula, several of which we visit on this tour. A delightful book for young children is The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber; our tour starts by Mousehole’s claw-like harbour wall.
More images of this tour…How to Book
Other coastal hiking tours
Discerning Traveller offers other coastal walking tours in England and Wales including:
An easy-to-moderate hiking tour along the coast path of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Follow the coastal trail from the Skomer bird reserve to the great cathedral of St David’s.
…map and route descriptions were very exactly worked out! (the best that we have ever known).Mr and Mrs Honifogl
We had a wonderful time. We loved Cornwall, the coastal path and the walking. We were not really ready to end when we reached St.Ives… The map and directions made us feel quite comfortable about being on our own…we saw kestrels and a couple of seals… the flowers were glorious… [The accommodations]…were great. Each was different from the other and all the proprietors were interesting and very hospitable. While the rooms were often small, each location had its own charm…The Discerning Traveller met our needs perfectly.Ms D.Maccario & Ms E.Fein
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