Cornwall is Britain’s most south-westerly county, yet in spite of its far-flung location, it attracts roughly 15 million day visitors every year – with miles of wild coastline, picturesque river estuaries, amenty-rich towns and villages and tempting waters, it’s easy to see why.
Cornwall’s proximity to the Gulf Stream makes the county a favourite holiday destination in summer. But winter is a great time to visit, too – the roads are quieter, the towns and villages more relaxed and the footpaths largely empty.
Mousehole harbour, on the coast path to St Michael’s Mount ©Getty
The South West Coast Path runs the length of the Cornish coastline and is a great way to explore the area. Regardless of your designation, drop on to the coast and a trusty SWCP waymarker will be there to guide you on. And there are some beautiful inland routes as well.
To help you get out there and start your own adventure, we come up with a list of our favourite paths, from short Cornish classics to all-day hikes:
St Michael’s Mount, South Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount ©Getty
This nine-mile coastal walk begins at Lamorna Cove, winding along the South West Coast Path past the ‘prettiest village in England’, the coastal town of Newlyn and bustling Penzance, ending at iconic St Michael’s Mount. Route and map.
Zennor Head, North Cornwall
The stunning view westwards from Zennor Head on the north coast of West Cornwall on a typical summer evening ©Getty
This circular walk heads through farmland and woods before emerging on to the towering granite cliffs of Cornwall’s north-west coast – a dramatic section of the South West Coast Path, home to seabirds, wildflowers and Atlantic waves. Route and map.
Lizard Point to Mullion Cove, South Cornwall
Kynance Cove lies between Lizard Point and Mullion Cove ©Getty
From colourful wildflowers and glowing azure waters in spring and summer to the atmospheric wind and waves of autumn and winter, this walk from Lizard to Mullion in Cornwall is guaranteed to awaken your senses. Route and map.
Pentire Head, North Cornwall
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” wrote poet Laurence Binyon as he sat on the cliffs at Pentire Point in 1914 ©Getty
This 3.5-mile circular walk around a Cornish headland has it all – dramatic geology, a wealth of wildlife and a secluded cove with a hidden secret. Route and map.
Loe Pool, South Cornwall
Loe Bar and Loe Pool, the largest natural body of fresh water in Cornwall ©Getty
Cornwall’s largest natural lake runs deep with history and legend, but it’s the diversity of the trails that trace the banks of The Loe and the richness of its wildlife that make it such a special place. Map and route.
Trebarwith Strand to Port Isaac, Cornwall
Port Isaac Bay, Cornwall ©Daniel Graham
This section of the Cornish coast path involves a lot of ups and downs – but those who choose to walk it will be rewarded with magnificent views over Port Isaac Bay, wildlife encounters and pretty seaside villages. Route and map.
Wadebridge, North Cornwall
Above the River Camel and Wadebridge ©Getty
Explore the gorgeous Cornish countryside surrounding the historic town of Wadebridge via the Camel Trail. Route and map.
Boscastle, North Cornwall
Boscastle Harbour ©Getty
Follow a footpath through a dramatic flower-filled valley and verdant woodland, over the River Valency and along high clifftops, starting and finishing at one of Cornwall’s prettiest fishing villages. Route and map.
Falmouth to Mylor, South Cornwall
Falmouth harbour ©Getty
Enjoy clifftop views over the moody English Channel with a short coastal walk before warming up at one of Mylor Yacht Harbour’s eateries. Route and map.
Perranporth, North Cornwall
Surfers enjoying the sunset at Perranporth ©Getty
Investigate a World Heritage Site that combines rugged cliffs and surprising industrial treasures on a seven-mile walk along the Cornish coast. Route and map.