From Porthcurno to Minack

NEAREST LOCATION

Porthcurno

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

3.5 miles (5.7kms)

ASCENT
164ft (50m)
TIME
2hrs 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Easy
STARTING POINT
SW384224

About the walk

Land's End may be the ultimate visitor destination in Cornwall. It is the most westerly point certainly and its cliffs are nothing less than spectacular; but for the true aficionado of coastal scenery, the granite cliffs of Porthcurno and Porthgwarra, to the south of Land's End, are hard to beat for their beauty and sculpted form. The area has an even more esoteric distinction. Gwennap Head, at Porthgwarra, is the most southerly point on the Land's End Peninsula. The Atlantic tidal flow divides at the base of Gwennap's spectacular Chair Ladder cliff, one flow running eastwards up the English Channel, the other running north, up St George's Channel between Britain and Ireland. Partly because of this, Gwennap Head is sometimes known as 'the Fishermen's Land's End', a title that rather puts the other Land's End in its place.

Golden cliffs

This walk starts at Porthcurno, where a sweeping expanse of almost white shell sand lies at the heart of an arc of golden granite cliffs that embrace the small bay. On the south side lies the rocky coxcomb of Treryn Dinas, or Logan Rock. To the north is the famous Minack Theatre, built within the rocky ribs of the headland. The final section of the walk passes the Minack, but first the route leads inland and across fields to the splendid little church of St Levan, couched in one of the few sheltered spots on this robust coast. Below the church, a shallow valley runs down to Porth Chapel Beach, more besieged by tides than Porthcurno, but still a delightful place, especially in summer. Again the beach here is left for later in the walk, whose route now leads along the coast path and then climbs inland before dropping down to Porthgwarra Cove, where tunnels and caverns in the cliff were carved out by farmers and fishermen to give better access to the narrow beach. From Porthgwarra, you head back along the coast path to Porth Chapel (for a visit to Gwennap Head). The path leads you down past the little Well of St Levan. Below here there is a rocky access path to the beach.

Spectacular steps

The route of the walk leads steeply up to Rospletha Point and then to the remarkable cliff-face theatre at Minack. From here, the most direct way down to Porthcurno Beach is by a series of very steep steps that may not suit everyone. But if you don't mind the vertiginous experience, the views really are outstanding. You can avoid this descent by some judicious road walking. Either way, Porthcurno's glorious beach is at hand in the cove below you.

Walk directions

From Porthcurno car park, walk back up the approach road, then just before Sea View House, turn sharply left along a track and follow it to reach cottages. Keep around to the front of cottages. Go through a wide gateway in the wall opposite, then follow a path through the middle of a field past a granite cross and through a wooden gate.

Enter St Levan churchyard by a granite stile. Go round the far side of the church to the entrance gate and on to a surfaced lane. Cross the lane and follow the path opposite, signed to Porthgwarra. Cross a footbridge, then in about 55yds (50m), at a junction, take the right fork and follow the path, keeping ahead across a field, to merge with the main coast path and keep ahead.

Where the path begins to descend towards Porthgwarra Cove, branch off right up five wooden steps. Reach a surfaced track by a house and turn up right, then at a road, turn left.

Go round a sharp left-hand bend, then at a footpath signpost, go right down a grassy path and cross a stone footbridge. Continue uphill to reach a bend on a track, just up from large granite houses.

Turn left, go over a stile beside a gate, then continue down a surfaced lane to Porthgwarra Cove. Just past the shop and cafe, and opposite a red telephone box, go right down a track, signposted 'Coast Path', then follow the path round to the left. Just past a house, go sharp right at the junction and climb up the steps.

Continue along the coast path, partly reversing the previous route past Point 3. Keep right at a junction, and eventually descend past St Levan's Well to just above Porth Chapel Beach. (Dogs should be on a lead.) Follow the coast path steeply over Pedn-mên-an-mere, and continue on the coast path to the Minack Theatre car park (see What to Look Out For).

For the surefooted, cross the car park and go down the track to the left of the Minack complex, then descend the steep cliff steps, with great care. When the path levels off, continue to a junction. The right fork takes you to Porthcurno Beach and back to the car park. A less challenging alternative to the cliff steps is to turn left out of the Minack car park. Follow the approach road to a T-junction with a public road. Turn right, watching out for traffic.

Additional information

Coastal footpaths

Granite sea cliffs and inland fields and heath

Dogs should be kept under control on beach and fields, and under close control on clifftops from March to July to avoid disturbing nesting Cornish choughs

AA Walker's Map 10 Land's End & The Lizard

Porthcurno, St Levan and Porthgwarra

Porthgwarra and Porthcurno

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About the area

Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.

In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.