Circular-Walk from Porthcurno, Cornwall
Difficulty of Circular-Walk: Moderate. Part road/part footpath and coast path. Steep in places.
Time: Depending on ability, sightseeing and photo opportunities (there are many); about 1-3 hours.
Circular Walk from Porthcurno Beach Cafe
Circular-Walk: A Bit of Housekeeping First…
National Trust Sign of Porthcurno
It’s early April, the sun is shining and it’s very warm. A hat, sun cream and water are essential for a day like today.
Near the car park, at the bus stop, I found this National Trust sign (covered in a fine moss due to its position in the shade under the trees) letting me know the lie of the land. I took this photo using my mobile, just in case I would need it later.
As many walkers will be arriving by car and needing a car park, I’m posting this glamorous image of the car park’s Pay and Display machine and its accompanying sign. I know, not a thing of beauty, but nonetheless a necessary evil! All information is correct as of April 2018. There is also a public toilet block at the lower end of the car park, costing £0.20 a go (price correct at time of publication). Right! Circular-walk, here I come!
Porthcurno Car Park ‘Pay and Display’ with Information
Circular-Walk: First Foot Forward
With the housekeeping done, I’m finally on my way! Well…as far as the cafe, that is! It’s hard to resist and the route passes its front door. A visit to the Porthcurno Beach Cafe is a must for some refreshments before the walk and, on this occasion, to buy some sun cream, which I have forgotten to bring. I feel my face catching the sun already!
So, coffee, a slice of cake and some sun cream later… I’m actually walking! Oh dear…a hill! A very steep hill at that with bends to challenge any that Monte Carlo might throw my way. Fortunately though, at the top of the first stretch, before the first bend (maybe the cake wasn’t a good idea?), there’s a granite memorial bench with a fabulous view down across the beach and beyond. Time to catch my breath!
View Down Across Porthcurno Beach and Beyond
Onwards and upwards I go, around the chicane until I reach the top. To the left is the Minack Theatre, definitely worth a visit, but I won’t be visiting today, instead I’m continuing along the narrow lane called The Valley, towards St Levan Church passing some delightful bungalows and houses along the way. The lane is level here and the walking very easy. Soon the lane begins to descend and the church is clearly visible in the distance.
The Lane as it winds down to St Levan Church
Circular-Walk: St Levan Church
The church is very pretty and worthy of a few photos…
St Levan Church Door Flanked by Cheerful Daffodils
Sundial above granite portico.
What Time Is It? Sundial Above Granite Portico
St Levan Church Tower
Clean Yer Boots!
After spending lots of time at the church taking pictures, it was time to carry on with the walk. Exiting the churchyard the way I came in and heading across the lane, I found a track with a signpost pointing the way. Back to the coast we go!
Signpost to Coast Path
Circular-Walk: Southwest Coast Path
Continuing down along the track I pass a handsome house, Grey Gables on the right. Soon, the sound of running water can be heard and a granite slab bridge offers dry passage across a small stream.
Granite Slab Bridge
The track has now become a footpath, which after a short ascent arrives at a fork. I go left and continue along a long, level footpath. At this time of year the hawthorn is in blossom and the air is filled with its sweet scent and the collective humming of insects.
Hawthorn (May Tree/Mayflower) Blossom
Approaching the end of this section of footpath, I get my first glimpse of the sea again and I’m about to join the Southwest Coast Path at its Porthcurno to Porthgwarra (or vice versa) stage. This stage of the walk can be a bit challenging, but natural stone steps have been placed in particularly difficult areas to assist and a wooden bridge constructed to help cross the stream, the same one I crossed earlier near Grey Gables. This is where the little stream meets the big Atlantic! I’ve also spotted the ruins of St Levan Holy Well nearby and will explore before moving on.
First Glimpse of the Sea
Circular-Walk: Homeward Bound
The coast path is very busy today, lots of families out enjoying this beautiful spring day. The sounds of happy chatter and children’s laughter are carried on the warm thermals, under which contented picnickers on their plaid car blankets, sit soaking up the vino as well as the sun. The views are quite breathtaking!
The Southwest Coast Path and Porthchapel Beach
After scaling the cliffs and dizzy heights above Porthchapel Beach (don’t look down!), the path begins to climb up towards Pedn-men-an-mere, a large rocky promontory looking like it’s taking on the Atlantic and single-handedly too! Beyond lies the Minack Theatre, Porthcurno and…? Hmmm… my secret! I’ll let you know later!
Looking Back from Pedn-men-an-mere.
The final part of the footpath is easy going and the views just get better. From the top of Pedn-men-an-mere I can see the Minack Theatre and just visible through the haze in the far distance is The Lizard, Britain’s most southerly point.
View from Pedn-men-an-mere to The Lizard in the far distance.
From the Minack, it is possible to continue along the southwest coast path, which descends rather steeply to the beach below, or to a slightly higher footpath if returning to the car park. However, I’ve decided to avoid the steep path and return instead along the lane, chicane an’all, back to Porthcurno. Before doing so though, I stood at the top of the path and took this photograph of Porthcurno Beach far below. Look at the colour of the water… Stunning!
Beautiful Porthcurno Beach down below The Minack Theatre.
Circular-Walk: The Watering Hole, aka Porthcurno Beach Cafe
Although a relatively short circular walk, it packs a punch! A combination of that infamous Cornish air, sunlight, cliffs, coast path and amazing views all help to deliver a memorable walk. Walking down the hill towards the car park, I see the cafe. My secret’s about to come out! Earlier whilst buying my sun cream, I noticed the menu and couldn’t think of a better way to finish off a lovely walk and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine, than to sit out on the cafe’s terrace with a glass of sparkling Prosecco and a selection of delicious tapas.
Hey! “You only live once… Cheers!”
Welcome Sight – Porthcurno Beach Cafe
Circular-Walk: …And Finally
Owners of the cafe and lovely hosts, Sacha and Spencer, assure you a warm welcome. Make sure you visit when you’re next in Porthcurno…
Sacha and Spencer, Owners of Porthcurno Beach Cafe
Tel: 01736 811108