Take a walk along Cornwall’s north coast, from the isolated Trebarwith Strand Beach to the steep, higgeldy-piggeldy streets of Port Isaac.
The South West Coast Path traces some of Britain’s most beautiful coastline – and this 11km/6.8-mile walk (22km/13.6-mile return) from the narrow valley at Trebarwith Strand to the bustle of Port Isaac is one of Cornwall finest sections.
It’s a long day out, and those keen to break the distance might consider asking a willing friend to pick them up at Port Isaac – or, if time allows, why not stay the night and return to Trebarwith strand the following day with a renewed perspective of the trail?
South West Coast Path near Trebarwith Strand ©Daniel Graham
Begin at the parking area and follow the road downhill, branching right to the Port William Inn. Just before the pub, take a sharp left, continuing uphill on the South West Coast Path. You’ll soon reach the crest of Dennis Point, 100m above sea level, with far-reaching veiws to the north and south.
In summer, soft grass reaches across the path and the smell of seaweed sits in the air. Rabbits bolt for their burrows, skylarks chirrup overhead and blankets of white clover and thrift, the latter a month beyond its best, wash the hillside caramel brown.
Late summer on the slopes beside Dennis Point near Trebarwith Strand, Cornwall ©Daniel Graham
2. Stacks and islands
Drop into the valley above Backways Cove then ascend to the top of Start Point. The coast path traces the flat-topped Treligga Cliff for 1.5km then descends to Tregardoch Beach.
Sea stacks at Backways Cove, west of Trebarwith Strand, North Cornwall ©Daniel Graham
3. Clifftop stroll
A steady climb brings your to Tregardoch Cliff, where the footpath undulates for about 1km with farmland on your left and the sea on your right. Over the next 2km, the path traverses four valleys – the first at Jacket Point, the second unnamed, the third at Delabole Point and the fourth at Barrett’s Zawn.
4. Gugs, holes and coves
With Port Isaac Bay spread out before you, continue over the round bulk of Bounds Cliff, 145m above the sea, for about 1km. The next 1.5km takes you along the higgledy piggledy bluffs above St Illickswell Gug, Rams Hole and Cartway Cove. Coast path soon becomes paved, then depends to a road.
Port Isaac Bay ©Daniel Graham
5. Village views
Turn right on to the road then shortly after left, following coast path signs down a grassy trail, through houses and on to another road. Tack a right into the village of Port Gaverne. There a one of two places to refreshments in the small village but a little more variety, continue on to Port Isaac.
6. Coastal port
Turn right and swiftly left, hugging the stony beach before rising on a narrow road to the outskirts of Port Isaac. Turn right at a side road, passing a parking area. The road sticks to the outer edge of the headland, narrowing to a sealed path as it descends among slate rooftops, white walls and tourist shops spilling with paintings of lighthouses and driftwood clocks to the centre of Port Isaac. Enjoy a A beer at The Slipway, or one of the many other cafes, restaurants and bars.
Low tide at Port Isaac ©Daniel Graham
7. Back to Trebarwith
Return the way you came. In summer, the afternoon sun casts long shadows. Tractors mumble, their grass-spinning drawbars offering dinner to the gulls, and a goldfinches – red faced and yellow winged can be seen perched beside the path on the fence.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.