Explore the wild beauty of Penwith in West Cornwall, with its rugged rolling landscape and far-reaching Atlantic views.
A short car journey from the start of the walk is the Gurnard’s Head. It’s the perfect place to start the day – fuel up on coffee in the large sunny garden of the homely inn, taking your time to soak up its dramatic moorland setting.
Zennor Head on the north coast of West Cornwall ©Getty
1. Life on the farm
St Sentra’s Church is believed to have sat on its hill in tiny Zennor Churchtown for over 1,400 years. Take a look inside before you start your walk, and don’t miss the famous wooden bench that portrays the Mermaid of Zennor, inspired by the Cornish folk tale.
Join the path next to the church and head through the fields. You will pass through the farmsteads of Tremmedda, Tregerthen, Wicca and Boscubben. Tremmedda is a working dairy farm, producing the delicious Moomaid of Zennor ice cream, while Tregerthen, now owned by the National Trust, is where DH Lawrence lived during the First World War.
2. Historic mill
The track will lead you past Treveal farmhouse and down to a cattle grid above Treveal Mill, a Grade-II listed building dating back to the 17th century. Turn left here and follow the footpath to River Cove, which sits at the mouth of a deciduous wooded valley, thick with ferns and lichens. It is a regular stopping place for intruiging birds on passage such as firecrests and marsh harriers.
Waves roll over The Carracks at River Cove ©Getty
Stroll on to the heathland cliffs and when you reach the South West Coast Path, turn left. Directly opposite, less than half a mile offshore, is a rocky island outcrop called The Carracks, home to a colony of grey seals.
From here there are breathtaking views of the Zennor coastline and its rugged cliffs – a perfect place to pause and drink in the sunshine.
As you walk through the maritime grassland and heathland you may well spot stonechats, shags and diving gannets.
From the clifftops, look out for gannets arrowing into the Atlantic ©Getty
3. Stunning sea views
Continue past Wicca Pool – where granite was once quarried and where DH Lawrence used to swim – looking out for seals as you pass, and walk past Tregerthern Cliff towards Zennor Head.
Here, take the left fork and continue inland across Zennor Cliff. Make sure you pause to take in the spectacular seascape: to the west lies Pendour Cove, where legend has it that Matthew Trewhella was lured to his death by the Mermaid of Zennor.
To the south is Zennor Hill, which used to house a stone quarry from where local granite was used to build much of St Ives, as well as the walls of Falmouth Harbour.
4. Back to the pub
Turn left again and cross the granite stile. Walk along the track past the coastguard’s house at Carn Cobba, and head towards Zennor Village, passing the farm and arriving back at Senara’s Church.
Gurnard’s Head, two miles west of Zennor ©Alamy
Drive back to the Gurnard’s Head for a very warm welcome, not to mention a perfect place to eat, drink and watch the sun set over the beautiful backdrop of Penwith.
The Gurnard’s Head, frequented by locals and visitors alike, is a conscious step away from modern life. Its sunburst-yellow interior and cooling flagstone floors allow you to soak up the atmosphere as you relax with a pint.
Main image ©Getty