Cornwall Coast to Coast: Wild Walking Around St Ives and Penzance

The westernmost reaches of Cornwall are a sea-salty delight – this is a place of glorious sandy bays, craggy clifftops, smuggling intrigue, fishing heritage and artistic flair. Here, the South West Coast Path performs some of its most audacious moves, while ancient pilgrimage routes run right across the county.

Sublime St Ives (on Cornwall’s north coast) and the old port of Penzance (on its south) make great bases for a two-centre break – both are easily accessible by train and both have a wide range of lovely shops, restaurants and cafes. We will take care of luggage transfers and directions, so all you have to do is enjoy the walks that lead around and between them – a series of routes that will showcase some of Cornwall’s best bits, from internationally renowned galleries and bustling harbours to idyllic coves (perfect for swimming) and hidden gems.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Days

4

Distance

Walks from 6.5km to 15.25km

Difficulty

Moderate

Landscape

Rolling Countryside / Connecting Villages & Towns / By Water

Theme

History / Food & Drink / Wildlife / Pilgrimage / Coastal

Activities & Experiences

Walking / Water Fun / Heritage

Cornwall Coast to Coast: Wild Walking Around St Ives and Penzance

Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break in Cornwall. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.

Tour details

This itinerary is being operated by Active England, who specialise in active holidays across the country, including self-guided walks. Active England takes the hassle out of getting outdoors so you have more time to enjoy it.

Active England will arrange your whole tour: you just need to arrange transport to your first location.

To find out more about this itinerary and make an enquiry or a booking, click on the Enquire Now button at the top of the page. The Save to My Rucksack button allows you to save itineraries to view later.

Included

  • Three nights accommodation.
  • All breakfasts.
  • Maps, Ride With GPS instructions (downloaded onto your phones).
  • Restaurant and attraction recommendations.
  • Luggage transfers.
  • Transfers as specified.
  • Emergency support.
  • Walking poles.

NOT INCLUDED: International flights; cancellation insurance; transfers to and from the start and finish of the trip; items of a personal nature; lunches and dinners.

Itinerary

Explore Cornwall on foot, with four days of self-guided walking along stretches of the South West Coast Path and along ancient St Michael’s Way. This trip takes in high cliffs, dazzling beaches, charming seaside towns, world-class art galleries and a fairytale tidal isle, with plenty of chances for sampling fine Cornish produce en route.

Day 1 To St Ives

Arrive into St Erth station (connected to London by direct train) and then change for the short, scenic Bay Line to St Ives – if you can, sit on the right-hand side to best watch the golden sands and turquoise waves glide by.

Jump off in St Ives, dump your bag, and spend a delightful afternoon looking around one of Cornwall’s prettiest towns. Nose down the alleys, lined with independent shops, cafes and abundant art galleries – St Ives is renowned for its magical light, which has attracted painters for centuries.

Or, if you fancy stretching your legs, take a lovely loop walk through the town, along the beaches and out to the surf-crashed headland; as well as invigorating sea views, you’ll pass artistic icons including the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum.

Finish the day with dinner, overlooking the harbour, and watch the sun sink into the sea.

Walk: 6.5km. Overnight in St Ives.

Day 2 St Ives Escapes

Hop on the train for the eight-minute seaside ride to Lelant Saltings, and the follow the South West Coast Pat back to St Ives. This gently rolling route passes a medieval church, rippling dunes, glorious Carbis Bay (perfect for swimming) and Porthminster Beach (home to a very chic cafe) before entering St Ives itself. Grab lunch at one of the enticing spots along the harbour or seafront, and then continue your explorations around town.

Or, for those looking to walk further this afternoon, head west towards Zennor and circle back. Rugged, undulating, extraordinary – this is one of the Coast Path’s finest sections.

Walk: 7.25km & 13km. Overnight in St Ives.

Day 3 Pilgrimage to Penzance

Today, walk right across Cornwall. St Michael’s Way runs coast-to-coast from St Ives to Penzance, a rural, inland route that is part of a network of ancient pilgrim trails that lead to Santiago de Compostela.

Hike via old churches and country lanes, climbing historic Trencrom Hill for views that stretch right across Cornwall. Finish in the historic port town of Penzance – explore its cobbled streets and Georgian terraces, and find a spot to sit to gaze out over Mount’s Bay.

Walk: 15.25km. Overnight in Penzance.

 

Day 4 Penzance to Marazion

Your last day’s walk is a lovely, leisurely, level path that heads east along the coast towards Marazion, with views across Mount’s Bay the whole way. Keep an eye out for birds.

The quaint village of Marazion has plenty of options for lunch. Then, in the afternoon, head over to the castle-topped island of St Michael’s Mount – cross the causeway on foot (tide permitting) or catch the little ferry. Originally the site of a Benedictine Chapel, this great granite crag is rich in history and swirled by legends; the panorama from the ramparts – across to Land’s End and Lizard Point – are hard to beat.

End your trip here or walk back around the bay – we will help you organise your ongoing travel either from Marazion or Penzance.

Walk: 6.5km-13km. Return home – we will help you organise your ongoing travel arrangements.

Accommodation

We have handpicked a selection of country hotels and B&Bs in ideal locations along the beautiful Cornish coast, with great access into towns and lovely views over the harbours and ocean. There are many quality restaurants and gastro-pubs in each location and your hotels are the perfect place to rest your legs and relax during the evenings while on your tour.

Food & Drink

Cornwall is renowned for great seafood, real ales, Cornish pasties and cream teas. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink around St Ives and Penzance, from traditional pubs to seaside cafes and high-class restaurants – we will provide suggestions.

Activities

This tour is rated three out of five for difficulty meaning it’s appropriate for guests used to going for a good walk and able to handle an incline or two. The terrain covered is varied, with some gently rolling hills and a few steeper sections that will be a bit more demanding. Rewarding views are guaranteed.

Walks
  • St Ives loop, 6.5km
  • Lelant Saltings to St Ives, 7.25km
  • St Ives loop, via Zennor, 13km
  • St Ives to Penzance, 15.25km
  • Penzance to Marazion, 6.25km

Experiences

Mix walks with other experiences in Cornwall.

Coastal England

The South West Coast Path wraps right around the shores of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, and will be part of the England Coast Path.

Travel

There are regular direct trains from London to St Erth. From St Erth the Bay Line runs to St Ives. Penzance is also connected to London by Great Western Railway

 

Advice

This tour is rated three out of five for difficulty meaning it’s appropriate for guests used to going for a good walk and able to handle an incline or two. The terrain covered is varied, with some gently rolling hills and a few steeper sections that will be a bit more demanding. Rewarding views are guaranteed.

We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.

Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside

Countryside Code

COVID-19 Guidance

Interactive Map

Click here to access the interactive map

Maps, Guidebooks & Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.