From Portreath to Tehidy Woods




4 miles (6.4kms)

459ft (140m)

About the walk

The sea cliffs near Portreath in mid-Cornwall, are made up of unstable shale and sandstone. Yet their very friability lends them to the formation of fantastic offshore islands and ridges of marginally harder rock. From the edge of the cliffs a flat platform of land, Carvannel Downs, once submerged beneath the sea, runs inland. It is a featureless landscape except where the dark curtain of Tehidy Woods breaks the profile.

There can be no greater contrast than that between the bare, windswept cliffs and the enfolding trees, and this walk samples both environments. The walk starts from Portreath's popular beach and harbour and soon leads on to the awesome cliffs to the west of the village. You stroll along the edge of the flat, heath-covered Carvannel Downs aware always of the 260ft (80m) cliffs only a few steps away. Below lie vast rock islands dotting the inaccessible sands of Western Cove.

The Horse is a breathtaking ridge of rock and grass that projects from the cliff face and makes up the east wall of Ralph's Cupboard, a vast, dizzying gulf that belies the quaintness of its name and that is said to be the remains of a huge cavern whose roof collapsed. Do not be tempted to go too near the edge of the cliffs, especially in windy weather. Far ahead you can see Godrevy Lighthouse on its rocky island.

Beyond Ralph's Cupboard, a name that may derive from a one-time smuggler, or from an old Cornish word, the path leads steeply down into Porthcadjack Cove. Here a thin stream of water pours over the lower cliff edge where 19th-century smugglers used to hoist their contraband from the beach using elaborate pulley-systems.

Beyond, above Basset's Cove, the route turns inland and draws you into the enfolding trees of Tehidy Woods, once the estate of the Basset family who were famous mine owners. The Bassets planted extensive woodlands around their Georgian house and these now mature woods still offer shelter and security after the exhilarating exposure of the cliffs.

Walk directions

Turn right to cross the bridge opposite the car park and then right up Battery Hill, signposted ‘Coast Path’. Follow the lane uphill to its end at houses above the beach. Go left in front of garages, signposted ‘Coast Path Gwithian’.

Follow the path through a gate and then keep straight uphill to the cliff top. Don't go too close to the cliff edge. Turn left and follow the path round the cliff edge above Ralph's Cupboard. Continue by steep paths into and out of Porthcadjack Cove.

Reach a car parking area above Basset's Cove. Follow the broad track inland, then at the public road, cross over and turn right for a short distance.

Turn left through the North Cliffs' car park and continue down a tree-lined track. Turn left at a T-junction and keep on the main track, ignoring branches to the left and right, to reach another T-junction by houses. Turn left along a broad track.

Keep ahead on the main track to reach a junction and four-way signpost. (A café can be reached in 0.25 miles (400m) down the right-hand signposted track.) On the main route, keep straight on, signposted 'East Lodge'. Reach a junction by a seat. Go right and continue along the track beside the golf course.

About 40yds (37m) beyond the end of the golf course section, at a junction, bear off left into woods, signposted East Lodge Car Park and Portreath. Stay on the main path to soon reach the car park and a public road.

Cross the road diagonally right and then go left, following the sign 'Mining Trail', between wooden posts with red marks. Keep to the good track ahead. At a four-way signpost, just before chalets, keep ahead and follow a surfaced road to the bottom of the hill.

Turn left, then in a few paces turn right down a concrete track. At Feadon Wildlife Centre go sharp left by a public footpath sign and follow a path down through woods, keeping to the main path, to reach a surfaced road. Just past 'Glenfeadon Castle' (a holiday home) turn left, pass beneath a bridge, then at a junction keep ahead along Tregea Terrace and back to Portreath Beach car park.

Additional information

Good coastal path, woodland path, farm tracks

Precipitous sea cliffs and deep woodland

Dogs on lead through grazed areas

OS Explorer 104 Redruth & St Agnes

Portreath Beach; Basset’s Cove; plus three at Tehidy Country Park – North Cliffs, South Drive and East Lodge

Portreath and South Drive car parks

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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.

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