Cornwall has always been a favourite holiday destination and its dramatic coastline, picturesque villages, vibrant culture and sumptuous cuisine. For those visitors who have travelled to the region, the benefits of a Cornish holiday need no explaining, but for our international friends, who have yet to explore outside of London, a visit to Cornwall will give you a very different taste of English life. In this article, I describe one of my favourite walks in Cornwall and thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting the area.
Parts of the walk between St Agnes and the Jericho Valley have been trodden so often by my sturdy boots, that they practically know their own way. It’s one of my favourite stretches of coastal path for its spectacular views across the turquoise waters to the huge stretch of beach at Penhale; the ever-present tang of salt hanging in the air; the dramatic cliffs bordered with a mosaic of gorse, heather and thrift; plus it conveniently links my house with the beach, the pub and my favourite seaside restaurant.
St Agnes Walk
St Agnes was once a busy centre of mining activity, the relics of which are dotted all around this walk. Today it is still a very community-minded village with a friendly population boosted during the summer by the visitors attracted by the village’s charming unspoilt character, its beautiful coastline and popular beach. The village is well equipped for walkers, with some beautiful, quintessentially English cottages and hotels, and some superb restaurants which take advantage of Cornwall’s fantastic local produce.
On this walk you’ll first head southwards on the coast path up a fairly steep climb away from the picturesque Trevaunance Cove. Just above the beach if you peer down at low tide you’ll see the scattered stones of the former harbour walls, deposited when storms swept it away in 1915/16. At a higher tide with a gentle swell you may see one or two of the resident seals putting in an appearance.
Continuing along the coast path you’ll be rewarded with amazing views – careful though, some of the drops are quite sheer in places. You’ll pass a number of capped mine shafts and a couple of benches where you can enjoy the view of Bawden Rocks, also known as Man and His Man. Every summer daring swimmers from the village swim the mile out to this rock and back.
After about half a mile along the coast path you head inland and up towards the Beacon, the 192 metre high hill that overlooks St Agnes. Legend has it that a giant called Bolster could stand with one foot on The Beacon and the other on Carn Brea six miles away. If you fancy a detour then trek up it for some fantastic views from Padstow in the north, to the clay country and south to St Ives.
Otherwise the route skirts the bottom of the Beacon, and then follows a path to St Agnes village. Here locals bustling about their day-to-day business will be brushing shoulders with day-trippers and holiday makers. Stop for a browse around some of the fascinating arts and crafts galleries, or pause for a coffee outside the St Agnes Hotel. If you feel like staying overnight, there is some lovely holiday accommodation in the area, as well as a very high standard of local pubs and restaurants.
Next you’ll see the quirky row of sea captain’s cottages known as Stippy-Stappy, then follow the road for a short time before you descend off left into Trevellas Combe. Follow a crystal clear stream in and out of woodland, you will pass the remote Jericho Cottage, once owned by John Opie, the famous Cornish artist. This is where we got a fright when a grass snake slithered across the path in front of us.
You emerge out of the valley at Blue Hills Tin Streams, where you can see a working water wheel and tin smelting in the traditional way. Then perhaps stop at Trevellas beach for a paddle. Head up the steep hill to the left of the beach. It’s a toughie this one, but there’s a strategically placed bench half way up! At Easter this area is buzzing with an array of classic cars racing their way around a track.
You can get round this walk in a speedy two and half hours, but I think you should allow about four. In that time you’ll have journeyed through centuries of life in this colourful part of Cornwall and should go home with a real taste of how this friendly community has evolved in that time.
- Distance: 4.5miles
- Grade: Moderate
- Maps: OS Landranger 203, reference 721 515. Walk taken from Classic Walks Cornwall 1 ( published by Cornwall & Devon Media, £5.99)
- Parking: Leave your car at the car park in Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
- Refreshments: St Agnes Hotel, for coffees and pub food opposite the church; Driftwood Spars for a pint in their beer garden just a few metres from the beach.
- Distractions: Galleries and shops in St Agnes village; Blue Hills Tin Streams, St Agnes, 01872 553341
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