There’s nothing like a fresh breeze and some Vitamin D to cure those winter blues, and winter walking in Cornwall is a fantastic way to explore some hidden corners of our wonderful county when they’re at their quietest and unspoilt best.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best winter walks in Cornwall, and suggesting a few options for the coming months that’ll get you out and get you fit and ready for the emergence of spring. Winter is a wonderful time in our county. Not only are there fewer people around, but there’s a vitality to the air and a rawness to the great Cornish coastline that is sure to impress. Read on to find out our recommendations for where to take a hike in Cornwall this winter.
Perranuthnoe to Prussia Cove
Walk the rugged coast path to Perranuthnoe to watch the surfers, have a dip and grab a bite to eat in the Cabin Beach cafe, which looks out over the breaking waves. Also be sure to check out the popular Victoria Inn
Then head back to Prussia Cove, with breathtaking views of the ocean as you walk (keep an eye out for the inquisitive wild ponies that roam freely here).
Prussia Cove was once a smuggler’s haunt; now it’s a wonderfully peaceful place to have a picnic and a swim in the sea.
Porthleven to Rinsey Head
A dramatic, unspoilt stretch of coastline that takes you from the town of Porthleven to the wild beauty of Rinsey Head. This part of the coastline is not without its reminders of the dangerous nature of the sea around here – expect big waves in winter and the odd climb on muddy and moderately rough paths. It’s about 6 miles – so be sure to treat yourself to a well-earned pint in one of the award-winning pubs once you return to Porthleven. Also keep an eye out for the Cornish Chough – they’re known to be abundant in this area.
Talland Bay to Looe
This is a 5 mile loop that introduces a slightly softer side of the Cornish coastline – with a good amount of inland woodland to take in too. The active fishing harbour of Looe plays host to a number of great pub and lunch spots, but be sure to stop at the lovely Portnalder Bay and head down the wooden steps for a quick winter swim if you’re feeling brave!
Porthgwarra to Gwennap Head
The very south west of the county and a world unto itself, the diminutive old fishing village of Porthgwarra is the starting point for this walk – be sure to check out the hole made in the caves for 19th century fishermen to draw seaweed from the rocks for their crops. Head uphill and along the coast to the Gwennap Head National Coast Watch lookout station, and the day markers that warn passing ships of the Runnelstone rock pinnacle out to sea. The cone to the seaward side is painted red and the inland one is black and white. When at sea the black and white one should always be kept in sight in order to avoid the submerged rocks nearer the shore. If the black and white cone is completely obscured by the red cone then the vessel would be directly on top of the Runnel Stone. The landmark was erected by the Corporation of Trinity House in 1821.
Boscastle Magical Mystery Tour
If you like a hike steeped in myths and legends, it doesn’t get better than this all-day Cornwall explorer hike.
Start in Tintagel and follow the jaw-dropping coast path to reach the beautiful fishing village of Boscastle, home to the very curious Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft. Stop for lunch at the Harbour Lights cafe next door, whose specialty is locally-caught fish.
Head across fields to reach St Nectan’s Glen, where there’s a spectacular tall waterfall and a pagan shrine to discover. From here you can hike to the coast to reach wild Rocky Valley, a deep coastal gorge complete with plunge pools and ancient maze-like stone carvings in the rocks.
Carn Galver Coastal Loop
This is a shorter stroll, but it rewards the walker with wild and windswept Cornish coastline and never-ending views of the ocean and the cliffs.
Start and finish at Carn Galver tin mine, one of Cornwall’s iconic ruined mine shafts. This stretch of the coast is also great for spotting wild birds.
If you want a whole day hike with a pub pitstop, lengthen this walk in order to reach the small village of Zennor and the famous Tinners Arms. The walk comes back via more gentle green fields, but still in sight of the coast.
Kynance Cove Loop
Start with the sweeping cliffs and turquoise waters at Kynance Cove and follow the South West Coast Path. The path is more challenging than it looks on a map, with some climbs, but you’re rewarded for your efforts with amazing new views around every corner.
Reach the ‘Devil’s Frying Pan’, a sea cave that the ocean crashes through in rough weather, then cross inland and walk back to the cove.
If you time the ending of your walk for low tide, you can go and seek out the Mermaid’s Pool, a beautifully still rock pool that’s a wonderful spot for a cooling dip after your hike.
This is for obvious reasons a bit of a summer favourite, but in winter this area takes on a totally different feel – perhaps in a way because it’s normally so busy in the spring and summer seasons. The views across the coastline beyond is mesmerising in winter – be sure to check out ‘The Rumps’ on this walk, the remnants of an Iron Age hill fort at the edge of the world.