Walk 2 - Porthcurno to Penzance

Land's End to Porthcurno Back to South Cornwall Coast Path index Penzance to Porthleven

The Walk

A comfortable distance of ten miles lays in store today, although there are several steep descents and reascents in the first four miles that will sap your stamina somewhat. Incredibly, the walk involves over two thousand feet of ascent. The scenery is by no means as dramatic as yesterday's, but the lonely coast between Porthcurno and Lamorna is still quite stunning. Fields and pastures accompany the path to the landward side, while the coast consists predominantly of scrub-covered slopes with rocky shorelines. Penberth and Lamorna are the only villages along the first stretch, though the beautiful woodland glades of St Loy's hide a cluster of houses and cottages.

Once you reach the headland beyond Lamorna Cove the nature of the walk changes completely. You enter Mounts Bay, a broad sweep of coastline leading right round to Lizard Point, some thirty miles away on foot. The eastward-facing coast of the bay is much more benign than anything you have met so far and the first couple of miles lays through a predominantly wooded nature reserve. After climbing a steep flight of steps to the old coastguard lookout above Penzer Point the path hits a vehicle track for the first time, and eventually comes out onto a motor road leading down into the village of Mousehole (pronounced Mowzle). From here on it's a simple road walk up over Penlee point to Newlyn, the headquarters of the Cornish fishing industry, and then the seafront promenade into Penzance itself.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 11.45 miles / 18.3 km
Total ascent: 2180 ft / 664 m
Total descent: 2273 ft / 693 m
Estimated time: 4 hrs 24 mins

Map:  OS 1:25000 Explorer 102, Land's End

Click on any thumbnail image in this gallery to display the corresponding full size image. The images are access protected through a cgi script to prevent hotlinking. If you encounter problems while trying to view the full size images, please read the access advice page.


    Beach cafe/shop on road from east side of beach up to Minack threatre

    First Western National service 1 Porthcurno, Mon-Sat and Sundays/bank holidays
    Sunset Coaches service 345 Penzance - Porthcurno, Mon - Fri

If you missed either the Minack Theatre or the Cable & Wireless telegraphy museum yesterday you should make another attempt to see them today. Neither attraction should be missed.

Porthcuno from the east

*   The Minack Theatre website
Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
   CATA Cornwall - Porthcurno

Leave Porthcurno beach by the track leading directly away from the beach and then turn right across a stile. The path reaches the top of a rather scrubby slope, marked as Percella Point on the map, from which the views of Logan Rock are superb.

The coast path out of Porthcurno;  arriving at Percella Point;  Porthcurno from Percella Point

Three views of Logan Rock from Percella Point

Coast path near Logan Rock;  rock scenery at Percella Point;  nearing Logan Rock

Logan Rock

Arriving at Logan Rock;  the rock seen end-on

You can walk out to Logan Rock, a worthwhile diversion if you can spare the time, because the rock formations are really quite special. The name of Logan Rock properly applies to one single boulder, which apparently can be rocked on its base. All the guidebooks tell of a naval officer who, in the last century, rocked it a little too hard and sent it crashing into the sea. The Navy took a dim view of this and ordered him, at his own expense, to hire a gang of workers and winch the thing back up again.

Logan Rock photo album

From Logan Rock walk onwards to Cribba Head, from where you descend to the fishing village of Penberth.

Coast path at Cribba Head;  Cribba Head;  retrospective view of Logan Rock


Penberth from the west;  Penberth cove

Penberth is a charming little place, National Trust owned, and much is made of its unspoilt nature. The downside is that there are no facilities here of any kind except for a toilet hut. Another climb upwards and eastwards out of Penberth cove leads on to the next cliff top, where a rough track leads around LeScathe Cove; look out for the tiny vegetable plots cut into terraces on the slopes. Round the next corner is Porthguarnon Cove.

Leaving Penberth;  LeScatheCove; LeScathe from the east

Porthguarnon Cove

Porthguarnon Cove

If you've been attempting to make it from Land's End to Penzance in one day, this is the point at which you realise that you've taken on too much. The path drops a couple of hundred feet to the floor of the cove and climbs straight out again; the reascent is, almost without doubt, the steepest you'll meet on the entire end-to-end walk. I renamed it "heartbreak cove" on my first visit in 1995; by the time I had struggled up to Trevedran Cliff on the far side it was approaching 4 p.m. and I knew that I wasn't going to make Penzance that day.

The ascent out of Porthguarnon

Porthguarnon Cove from the east

Campsite at Treveren Farm, 500 meters inland after climbing out of cove (see OS map)

Trevedran Cliff

Trevedran is an area of rough grassland liberally choked with gorse and bracken, and is the first real example of what I call "can't sit down" country... in other words, if you feel like a refreshment break after struggling up here from Porthguarnon you can't, because there's nowhere to sit off the path.

Coast path at Trevedran;  Trevedran Cliff

Cliff scenery at Trevedran

The coast path at Trevedran

Take care not to miss the signposted path that leads downwards and to the right, about 900 yards after ascending from Porthguarnon. Although it appears to be a diversion it's the correct path and to stay on the main track would eventually lead you inland towards Trevedran village. The new path winds downwards towards St Loy's Cove.

The path to St Loy's Cove

St. Loy's Cove

Approaching St Loy's Cove;  St Loy's Cove

St Loy's comes as quite a surprise, as for the first time on the walk you enter an area of woodland and lush vegetation. Several desirable houses shelter within this oasis, though you don't realise they are there until you've already passed them. The path drops to the cove through woods, crossing the access driveway to the houses, and comes out eventually on a very stony beach. At high spring tides this section could be tricky.

Woodland scenery in St Loy's Cove

The path emerges on to the rocky beach at St Loy's

The coast path climbing away from St Loy's Cove towards Boscawen Point


Coast path approaching Boscawen Point;  St Loy's Cove from Boscawen;  Boscawen

The stony beach leads around to the minor headland of Boscawen Point, where the path begins to climb upwards again through an area of open woodland. Once you reach the clifftop again the path meanders through a mile of what is probably the least remarkable scenery of the walk so far. The first lighthouse in Cornwall, named Tater Du, can be seen halfway down the slope to your right as you pass the access path. This path is not a right of way.

The path to Lamorna from Tater Du

You'll probably be looking for a suitable place to stop for lunch by now. The rocky tor just past Dorminack Farm is probably the best choice. Here you can leave the path, get out of whatever breeze might be blowing, settle down on level turf and have yourself a good view while you eat.

The path from Tater Du to Lamorna


Lamorna Cove is not much over half a mile away but lies unseen until the last few yards of the approach. The path drops almost to the shoreline just past your lunch stop and becomes very rough for a time. If it's raining, or has recently been raining and the path is still wet and slippery, those of you who are not completely sure-footed are advised to avoid this section and take a local path around the top of Tregurnow Cliff. The reason becomes apparent just after you round Lamorna Point itself, where for two or three yards the path is exposed to a sudden vertical drop immediately to your right. Concentrate on where you're putting your feet and you'll be perfectly OK, and nineteen out of twenty people will think it of no consequence, but be warned that this section can be remarkably tiring particularly if you're trying to make Penzance in a single day from Land's End.

Lamorna Cove

Lamorna Cove itself appears quite suddenly and is a surprising hive of activity. There is a quayside here, a shop and cafe, and a short walk inland leads up to the village proper. If you're able to spare time out for some off-coast walking while you're in Cornwall then the woodlands of the Lamorna valley are splendid rambling country.

Quayside cafe and shop

Hotel/inn in village, maybe some B&B.

  Sunset Coaches service 345, Lamorna - Penzance  (see also First Western National service 1, which calls at Lamorna Turn)

The path out of the cove, heading towards Carn Du, makes its way between trees initially and then climbs a terrace of pink granite that seems to glow in the afternoon sun. As you approach the headland the gradient eases and the nature of the walk changes completely as you turn the corner into Mount's Bay.

Leaving Lamorna Cove; Coast path to Carn Du

Coast path to Carn Du

Carn Du


Mount's Bay, which you have just entered, sweeps all the way round to the Lizard, some thirty miles and two days away by coast path. If the air is clear most of the major features of the bay will be in view, particularly the first "resort" beach of Praa Sands, and the long, low sand spit of Loe Bar further east. For the first time you're following an east-facing coastline and it's an entirely different scene to the shattered cliffs of the Atlantic coast back at Land's End. The scenery here is benign and gentle and you now traverse through the mixed grassland and woodland of Kemyel nature reserve as you make your way towards Mousehole.

Two views of Kemyel Nature Reserve

For the next mile the path wanders uncertainly up and down through the wood and, despite the pleasantness of the scenery, the switchback nature of the route can become tiresome. You will already have caught sight of the daunting flight of steps leading up the cliff some way ahead and your heart will sink every time the path rises up the slope, only to fall again to the shoreline. But eventually the steps are reached, and conquered, and you follow the clifftop path to the disused coastguard station above Penzer Point.

Spaniard's Point

From the coastguard lookout the path widens into a vehicle track for the first time as it traverses above Spaniard's Point; said to be where a raiding party had a minor mishap in 1595 before going on to wreak havoc in Mousehole, Newlyn and Penzance.

Coast path at Spaniard's Point

The vehicle track now joins a motor road, at a point seven miles out from Porthcurno and twelve from Land's End, and this road is followed down into the centre of Mousehole. From here you should get your first views of St Michael's Mount, a dramatic island laying a little way offshore two miles east of Penzance.


Mousehole, pronounced "Mouzel", is the first substantial habitation on the South Cornwall Coast Path. It's the first example of what you will come to regard as a "typical" Cornish fishing village, with its steep, narrow lanes and compact buildings. It's fortunate that the placehas not become over-dependent on the tourist industry, though the first cluster of "proper" shops on the route will doubtless be welcomed by those arriving on foot. Painters and photographers find the stone harbour irresistable.

Two views of Mousehole Harbour;  Mousehole "beach"

Inns, shops and cafes.

Inns, B&B and guest houses

    Bus Times from Mousehole to Penzance

*  Penzance Travel Tips - Mousehole

Road walking is involved all the rest of the way into Penzance now. A little of it can be avoided by using the sea wall a couple of hundred yards north of Mousehole harbour, but it's all too easy to miss the last set of steps back up to the roadway and find yourself at a dead end.


The road leaves Mousehole and climbs over Penlee Point, from where you get your first unobstructed view of Penzance.

Much of the history of the Cornish coast concerns shipping and shipping disasters; wrecks, salvage operations and smuggling feature strongly. This long and occasionally colouful history, however, does actually mask the fact that the worst shipping losses have taken place relatively recently. None can have been more unfortunate than the loss of the Penlee lifeboat as well as the ship whose crew she was trying to rescue, the Union Star, on Christmas Day 1981. Both ships foundered and none of those aboard either ship survived. A memorial garden has replaced the Penlee lifeboat station and the area is now served by a new station at Newlyn.

Penlee memorial garden


The mile and a half of road walking from Penlee Point to Newlyn comes as something of a rude shock after the peace and quiet of the cliffs and coves back beyond Mousehole. Newlyn will do nothing to dispel it. The greater part of Cornwall's remaining fishing fleet is based here and the harbour fairly bustles. Newlyn isn't a picture postcard village like Mousehole - it is dedicated to the support of the fishing fleet and the road round the north side of the harbour winds between unloading sheds, processing plants and engineering and repair shops. There are more conventional amenities here if you care to poke around; shops and inns, a couple of excellent seafood restaurants as you would expect, a very picturesque river bridge and an art gallery of national repute. Also at Newlyn is the site of the former Ordnance Survey Tidal Observatory on the end of the south pier, the reference point from which all of Britain's survey heights are based.

Newlyn Harbour

Inns and B&B; but Penzance is very close.

*  Penzance Travel Tips - Newlyn


Take the pedestrian route through the car park at the rear of the Newlyn art gallery and you emerge, almost without warning, on the first stretch of the Penzance seafront promenade. The towns were once seperate but have now effectively merged into one and Newlyn has become a geographic suburb of Penzance. The first few hundred yards lays along the front of a windswept public park that always seems to be doing its best to revert to beach, but once past this you reach the paved area and the seafront hotels and town houses. This end of town (known as Wherry Town) is very opulent.

Entering Penzance;  Newlyn from Penzance;

 Three views of the gardens

The official coast path keeps to the seafront beyond the promenade though I consider this to be an unrewarding route as it takes you through the harbour and docks area and misses the heart of the town completely.

The seafront promenade in Penzance

St Michael's Mount from the promenade

Turn up left before you hit the end of the promenade and lose yourself in the little maze of residential streets south and west of the town centre. There are some rewarding crannies to discover such as streets of colourwashed Regency townhouses, and green paradises such as the semi-tropical Morrab gardens, probably seen at their best in spring.

A Morrab Gardens photo album

Penzance's residential streets

In the centre of town, adjacent to the rather splendid Town Hall building (now a bank) is the statue of Sir Humphrey Davey, a local engineer credited with the invention of the miners' safety lamp. It's a reminder of Cornwall's industrial heritage and, should you wish to learn more, there are several museums in town with exhibitions and displays dedicated to the mixed fortunes of the Cornish tin mines and the desperately hard lives of those who laboured within. Penzance's main shopping thoroughfare, Market Jew Street, runs eastwards from the town hall down to the railway and bus stations. If you do take a stroll round by the harbour be sure not to miss the Trinity House Lighthouse Museum, which tells the story of the development of lighthouses around the English and Welsh coasts and has plenty of working exbibits, up to and including those of modern satellite

Penzance town centre

Market Jew Street - Penzance's high street

Cliff Road and the railway station

    The western terminus of Brunel's Great Western Railway, Penzance has InterCity connections all over Britain including direct services to Plymouth, Bristol, London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

    First Western National service 2, Penzance - Helston - Falmouth
    First Western National service X7, Penzance - Marazion - Helston - Falmouth - Truro - St Austell

  Plenty of hotels, guest houses and B&B. Youth hostel. Campsite near heliport terminal on road to Long Rock.

    Plenty of pubs/inns/cafes/coffee shops. Seafood restaurants. For a steakhouse/pizzeria try the Hungry Horse.

*  Penzance Travel Tips
*  Penzance On Line

Land's End to Porthcurno Back to South Cornwall Coast Path index Penzance to Porthleven
This page last updated 9th April 2005