St Ives walks to Zennor, Hayle, Lelant and Carbis Bay holiday cottages

St Ives walks to Zennor, Hayle, Lelant and Carbis Bay

Kate W 14 July 2023

The captivating coast of St Ives is something very special. The town has been built up on a spit of land that stretches into the sea so that St Ives is surrounded on three sides by golden sandy beaches.

This layout has led to a unique phenomenon, the St Ives light, which is particularly stunning due to the reflective quality of the combined sea and sand. This lighting has drawn and inspired artists for centuries and is a big reason why St Ives is known as the creative capital of The Duchy.

The fantastic landscape can be discovered by car or boat, but we know that the very best way to take in the beautiful scenery of this region is on foot. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to scenic walks around the beautiful St Ives coastline and beyond. Find a route below to inspire your walking adventures around St Ives.

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St Ives to Zennor

St Ives to Zennor

Length: 8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

We’re beginning with the longest, toughest walk on our list to give you a real challenge during your holiday. Of course it can be broken down into smaller sections so don’t let its length put you off – it’s a fantastic route and one of the most scenic walks in St Ives to conquer.

Overall, it will take around 3 to 4 hours to complete. The first half of the walk is more moderate along the cliff path, while parts of the walk are trickier, and it gets especially hard-going towards the end of the trail. Towards the end of the route, the path rises steeply from the coves into the cliffs, with a few rocks to be navigated across here and there.

Despite the challenge, the route is well worth the effort as the views are spectacular and the walk is rich in wildlife and historical interest, taking you to areas of the coast that are not normally accessible by any other means.

  • The path starts at Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, heading out past the Bowling Green to Clodgy, and is well marked and relatively easy to follow.
  • Shortly after passing Clodgy Point, you may notice the old ruins of a building on the seaward side, once belonging to an old leper colony. This gave Clodgy Point its name with the Cornish for 'klav' and 'ji' meaning 'sick house'.
  • The path then rises past cliff tops before descending towards the cove-laden seafront. On the way you will see the Carracks or Seal Island as it is known locally, and may well see the boat trips from St Ives stopping there for visitors to watch and meet the seals.
  • When you reach Zennor Point and are nearing the end of this walking route, it is tempting to take the short cut left over the headland to the village. If you do, you will miss out on the last part of the coastal path, which takes you up to Trig Point to enjoy the final views, before following the path up the valley to Zennor. Enjoy a well-earned pint at The Tinners Arms before taking the bus back to St Ives.

Legend has it that if you sit above Mermaid Cove at twilight on a summers eve, you might just hear the singing of a man who fell in love with the mermaid of Zennor and followed her out to sea. We can't vouch for whether this is true, but couldn't say that it isn't either – so keep an ear out!

As there are no towns or villages along the route, and with little mobile phone reception around the cliffs, please make sure that someone knows where you are and when you are expected home, and don't forget to take appropriate walking gear, bad weather clothing and drinking water.

Circular walk west from St Ives

Circular walk west from St Ives

Length: 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Now for something a little gentler – a much more peaceful trail for a relaxing holiday ramble. This is a pretty, circular walk along the coast path towards Zennor, turning inland at Hellesveor Cliffs before returning to St Ives, with an optional extension around the island to turn it into a figure of eight.

  • Starting at Porthmeor Beach Car Park, join the South West Coast Path past the Bowling Green with the sea on your right.
  • Continue along the footpath through the kissing gate at Clodgy Point, past Mans Head, following the yellow way marks up the hill, and then swinging slightly left by the stone walling.
  • Follow the coastal footpath (ignoring the right hand lower paths) until you reach Hor Point and Hellesveor Cliffs which are marked with a National Trust sign, approximately 1 mile after setting off.
  • Turn left here up the track heading away from the sea. After approximately 300 metres turn left over the stile marked with a black and white post and follow the path heading back towards St Ives. This path will then become Burthallan Lane. Continue along this lane past the Garrack Hotel to the T-junction at Alexandra Road, around half a mile from the stile.
  • Turn left and follow this road as it zig-zags back towards Porthmeor, eventually heading down Porthmeor Hill to the car park where you began.

If you still have energy to burn, you can extend this route by just over a mile or so to walk around The Island and back. 

  • To do this continue on towards the beach and then on past the iconic art gallery, the Tate St Ives. Follow the road as it turns away from the beach then turn left onto Back Road West, past the Porthmeor Studios and St Ives School of Painting.
  • When you reach the Fish Pye Pottery, turn left into Porthmeor Road and follow the road as it sweeps right, then turns another sharp left down the vehicular access to the beach.
  • Before you reach the sand, take the path back up again towards The Island. Follow the path that circles around The Island, keeping St Nicholas Chapel on your right and the sea on your left.
  • Passing the National Coastwatch Institution lookout on your left, take the path left and you’ll come to a set of steps which will take you on to Porthgwidden Beach.
  • When you reach the beach, stay on the walkway and continue past the huts and café. At the other end of the beach, head back up another set of steps to head around the car park (with the car park on your right) in the direction of St Ives Harbour.
  • Follow the path as it bears right following the ornate lamp posts, and then head up the steps leading up to the St Ives Museum that’ll be on your right hand side.
  • From the top of the steps follow the road briefly to the left before taking the second turning on the right to head down Back Road East, and follow this road all the way back to Porthmeor Car Park again.

Circular walk east from St Ives

Circular walk east from St Ives

Length: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

This is a relatively easy walk from St Ives Harbour that takes you past a range of beautiful St Ives settings. It leads you past Hain Walk, Carbis Bay, The Belyars and Porthmeor Beach, so bring your camera along for enchanting sights and sea views as you enjoy this coastal walk.

  • Starting at St Ives Harbour, head to the Lifeboat House and follow the path beside the building, keeping the sea to your left as you head towards Porthminster Beach.
  • After passing Porthminster, continue to climb up the path crossing the railway line and continuing up a steep section, before coming out at Hain Walk.
  • Continue straight ahead, following Hain Walk, and you’ll pass by the Baulking House where they used to keep a look out for the pilchard shoals.
  • While heading downhill towards Carbis Bay Beach, about half a mile from the Baulking House, you’ll come across a fork in the path. Take the right hand fork to head uphill and through the kissing gate. Continue on until you reach the main St Ives Road, and turn right heading into St Ives for approximately 200 metres until you reach The Cornish Arms pub.
  • Cross the road here and turn up Higher Tregenna Road beside The Cornish Arms (not the narrow Steeple Lane that is immediately left again).
  • Head up towards St Ives School, noting Knills Steeple on your left. Continue straight on past the school, through a wooden and metal gate and down the lane past the golf course.
  • At the T-junction turn right then quickly left up Trenwith Lane heading towards the Belyars Bowling Green. Follow this windy country lane for approximately half a mile eventually passing houses on the left. Continue straight on past St Ives Veterinary Surgery, keeping the vets on your right as you head down to the main road.
  • Go over the pedestrian crossing and turn right down the hill, then quickly left to follow the road signposted to Porthmeor Beach Car Park and Tate St Ives.
  • Follow this road as it zig-zags back towards Porthmeor, eventually heading down Porthmeor Hill to the beach and then continuing on past the Tate St Ives gallery.
  • Follow the road as it turns away from the beach and turn left down Back Road West, past Porthmeor Studios and St Ives School of Painting.
  • Just past/opposite the St Ives School of Painting turn right into Norway Square, and zig-zag straight on back to the harbour. Complete this walk with a well-earned drink at the historic Sloop Inn on your left.

Lelant to St Ives

Lelant to St Ives

Length: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

This easy walking trail takes you into St Ives from the pretty village of Lelant. Hop aboard the train to Lelant and set off along this trail which takes in sea views, sandy beaches, a delightful swim spot and a section of railway too.

  • From St Ives, take the train to Lelant and walk back along The Saltings, which turns left becoming Green Lane and leading to the church.
  • Take the footpath next to the church which passes over the golf course and railway line to the Sand Dunes and Porthkidney Beach (don't forget to duck if you hear someone shout FORE). This is a lovely place to stop for a swim in the summer but be sure to use the lifeguarded areas as there can be strong rip currents near the mouth of Hayle Estuary.
  • Where the footpath crosses the railway line turn left – from here getting back to St Ives is simply a case of keeping the sea to your right and taking the footpath. The path will take you over the dunes, around Hawke's Point, crossing the railway line over another footbridge, and then following the route on to Carbis Bay Beach.
  • From here, take the path below the gardens of the Carbis Bay Hotel and back over the railway line again, which will lead you onto Hain Walk. This is a long section of walk with more lovely coastal views, and eventually, you’ll reach Porthminster Beach signalling that you’ve arrived back in St Ives.

Holiday cottages in St Ives

Search through our wonderful selection of holiday lets in St Ives and discover a charming base for your walking adventures. We have delightful cottages with sea views, holiday homes just metres from a sandy beach, and big properties with games rooms so you can bring the whole family along on your next St Ives holiday.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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