3 walks in SW Cornwall and 3 good lunches

I’ve written about my love of Cornwall before, much of it related to my own mining heritage and exploring the county with my husband rather than just for short family visits to see my grandparents.  This October we stayed at Umber, BoHo Cornwall – a 1 bed self catering apartment on the outskirts of St Just, minutes from the views of Cape Cornwall and in an area littered with beautiful views and beautiful decaying engine houses and stacks.  BoHo Cornwall was something we stumbled upon through Classic Cottages and really is a home away from home.  Everything in the apartment is either John Lewis or better, and going away needs to at the very least match what you are used to at home.  The location is something else – all you can hear is cow’s mooing and the wind in the trees.  This really is a luxury self-catering spot and whilst it might not have its own sea view (the other apartment on the grounds called Ochre does) its location more than makes up for that.

Umber

Some basics on Cornwall food and drink first – Camel Valley, without wishing to sound like a broken record… stop here as you go past Bodmin and stock up on amazing fizz and some really good whites.  Secondly, pasties; have a bad one or an ‘ok’ one and you will wonder what the fuss is about.  However, stop at Etherington’s in Scorrier and you get the real deal – my 87 year old Gran (who has made her own for maybe 75 years) says these are the best that she has found apart from hers, so they must be good.  And you can be sure that the field to plate statistics are pretty good here as well.

OK – so this bit of Cornwall is not for you if you don’t want to put on a pair of walking boots and work up a sweat along the coastal paths.  But if you want to really feel like earning a good lunch then keep on reading. We did a few different walks a couple of which had some good lunch stops that were surprisingly good.

St Just to Morvah and back

From St Just, head towards Cape Cornwall, but peel off towards Kenidjack and Botallack instead.  From here you then head over towards Levant, Geever and on to Pendeen lighthouse.  There are a staggering amount of mining relics to admire and peer down into the ground from.  Geever is more modern and allows you to see how recently mining finished in the area. After Pendeen there is a little bay called Portheras Cove which is stunning and I can’t imagine ever being busy.  We had it to ourselves and there are plenty of rocks to perch on and enjoy a cuppa.  I can imagine this is beautiful in the summer as even on a cloudy October day the sea was azure.  It’s a good stretch, particularly because there is a fair bit of up and down and plenty to stop and look at along the route.  After the beach, we headed inland (due to the amount of water falling from the sky) to a little tea room and gallery in Morvah to wait for the rain to pass.  Walking back to St Just is much quicker along the road and a few inland path ways.  We didn’t stop for lunch this day (taking instead a soup in a flask which was particularly good given the less than ideal weather) but the tea rooms in Morvah had some homely treats and St Just has some good pubs for a sharpener.  I hear that The Cook Book is one of the better places to enjoy a hearty lunch in St Just.  It’s also worth walking out through Cot Valley to the sea and out onto Cape Cornwall – stunning spots and whilst each have similar views out to the Brisons and the Scillies, each are different in their own way. Cot Valley has some very interesting geology which is different to the other bays.

Zennor to Gurnard’s Head

Another quiet part of the coastline.  Park in the carpark next to the Tinners Arms in Zennor and head along the coast path towards Gurnard’s Head.  Plenty of up and down, no tin mines as with the walk above, but a really ragged coastline to gawp at.  There are a couple of little bridges across small valleys that command great views and also make good tea/coffee stops if you are carrying a flask.  The piece de la resistance here is Gurnard’s Head which is a rocky outcrop into the sea which is a great scramble – and is apparently where the marines do some of their climbing training.  Great views into nearby coves from the top of the rocks here.  Better still there is a pub called the Gurnard’s Head.  And I think it would be fair to say it is a gastro pub. I’d suggest pre-booking.

Gunard's Head

We were lucky as we arrived early, but the dining room quickly filled up with those that had pre-booked behind us.  For such a quiet area miles from anywhere, this place clearly doesn’t need to advertise beyond word of mouth. Amazing food, very well thought through menu and very good value as well.  Really cute setting with lots of art work in the dining rooms and a real selection of different tables and chairs which add to the charm alongside incredibly friendly staff.  The walk back to Zennor across the fields is only about 30 minutes so much quicker than the coastal route.  We also stopped near Rosemergy on the way back to St Just, just a few miles inland and there are lots of stone circles and standing stones to see.

Porthgwarra to Porthcurno

The starting point epitomises a smugglers cove – just stunning and so quaint.  We saw plenty of seals here.  Lovely caves to hide from the rain in and incredibly steep but pretty slip way – very photogenic.  I imagine the views from Gwennap Head are pretty, but we headed in the opposite direction.  The cliff path here is very pretty, and changes very quickly, and is different to those above.  The sea bed here is predominantly sand and so the moment the sun comes out the views is spectacular with azure sea along the coast – you can kid yourself you are in the Caribbean if you are in a spot sheltered from the wind, the view is that good.  Climb down into Porth Chapel beach – it isn’t easy – but it is oh so worth it as this beach is something else. White sand, sheltered and stunning.  Entry is a scramble so this will never be busy – useful to remember for the busier summer months.  From here continue along the coast past the Minack Theatre (if you get the chance to see a show then take it, but from experience I would suggest that you take cushions and warm clothes for an evening sitting) and down onto Porthcurno beach.  Again stunning – but I imagine busy in the summer.  There is a cafe here, but it was closed when we were there.  Better still – UK toilets of the year 2006! Head back to Porthgwarra over the fields, stunning views above St Levan, and much quicker.  There is a sweet little cafe in Porthgwarra which does great coffee and has the friendliest spaniel (don’t sit on her seat, or she will sit on you for attention!).  We drove over to Mousehole for lunch and ate at The Old Coastguard.

The Old Coastguard

This is owned by the same team as the Gurnard’s Head.  Similar but different too.  Stunning views across to Marazion and great food of course – the menu was slightly quirkier but incredibly enjoyable – again with friendly staff.  Great village for some shopping, and not spoilt in the way that Padstow could be said to be.  If you get to go for the Christmas lights then I recommend it – switch on mid-way through December for 50th anniversary year

One other place to visit – Fifteen (Jamie’s) at Watergate bay.  Watergate bay feels itself to be a tad overrun with people, apartments and hotel accommodation etc – this is no longer a quiet retreat so was a bit of a shock to the system en route home from staying on the Cape.  However Fifteen has come on and is now offering a real choice of dining options which thankfully includes mezze and cocktails (which wasn’t on offer a few years ago) alongside the 7 course tasting menu and a lunch menu, all with a great view of the beach.  Not as Cornish as the 2 places we thoroughly enjoyed above, but a good addition to the Newquay area…

Gorgeous walks on some really remote bits of Cornwall, with nearby good food to enjoy.  Can’t wait for the next visit!

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