Many of us dream of trekking along the South West Coast Path. But its very length – 630 miles of stunning coastline – can seem daunting to an inexperienced walker.
If you’ve always fancied completing a section of the trail, why not base yourself in Penzance and walk around the coast to Land’s End?
Below, I describe a 3 day walking itinerary, using local summer bus services from Penzance. Each walk is less than 8 miles in length, and should be within the capabilities of most people while still leaving enough time and energy for sightseeing. You don’t need to be terribly fit, but you should be able to walk up to ten miles, and be prepared for a few steep slopes and some uneven ground.
You will need either proper walking shoes, walking boots, or a good pair of trainers. On steep or rocky paths you may find a walking pole helpful. Sections of this coastline are isolated and I suggest you carry a small backpack with snacks and plenty of water. Pack a waterproof jacket, just in case. And don’t forget to take your camera!
Day 1: St Michael’s Mount to Mousehole (7 miles / 11 km)
From Penzance, catch a bus to Marazion and tell the driver you want to get off at St Michael’s Mount. If you time the tides correctly, you will be able to walk over to the island. If the tide is high, you can catch the ferry. Spend the morning looking around the Mount, and the afternoon walking back along the beach to Penzance. Continue onwards around the esplanade to the fishing village of Newlyn. From there follow the path to the beautiful harbour at Mousehole (pronounced Mouse-el). There is a regular return bus service from Mousehole back to Penzance.
Day 2: Mousehole to Porthcurno (8 miles / 13 km)
Catch an early morning bus to Mousehole. This section is beautiful but involves some tough walking. Be prepared for rocky scrambles and plenty of up and downs. The beach at Porthcurno is lovely and, if you have time, you can visit the famous open-air Minack theatre – but don’t miss the last bus back to Penzance, which leaves just before 6pm.
Day 3: Porthcurno, through Land’s End to Sennen Cove (6.5 miles / 10.5 Km)
Catch a morning bus from Penzance to Porthcurno. The walk starts out tough, but becomes easier as the day progresses. You will discover some amazing little coves – including the cave tunnel at Porthgwarra. Land’s End is the most westerly point in England and is usually teeming with tourists. You will want to take a selfie photograph in front of the famous signpost. From here, a gentle path leads to the beautiful surfing beach of Sennen Cove. After a rest in one of the beachside cafés, you can catch the 1A service back to Penzance.
Buses are a great way to enjoy a walking holiday. But remember rural bus services are irregular and timetables will vary according to the season. Some services don’t run in the winter, and some don’t run on Sundays. You may have to walk a little distance inland to find a bus stop.
Always check bus times in advance with Traveline, either via the internet, with a smart phone app, or by telephone on 0871 200 22 33.
Although the South West Coast Path is well signposted, I always like to carry a proper Ordnance Survey map in case I lose my way, or in case I want to cut a walk short or extend it further. The OS Explorer Map 102 covers the area.
This gentle three-day walking trip covers 21 miles and gives you a taste of the South West Coast Path. You might consider continuing your walk up to St Ives, a further distance of 23 miles, which you could break into two or three shorter segments.