1st July 2019
Stand atop craggy cliffs, gazing a dizzy 300-feet down to waves crashing against the rocks below. Just north of Godrevy lighthouse, Hell’s Mouth is a place of untamed beauty; where ships have foundered, cliffs have crumbled into the ocean, and fulmars dance on currents of air rising between rugged ledges. Close to the haunted Deadman’s Cove, this is a staggering location to clap eyes on Cornwall’s coastal panorama at its wildest.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and Cornish piskies as you explore the magical Rocky Valley and St Nectan’s Glen. Park at Trevethy (between Tintagel and Boscastle) and walk via St Piran’s Church, following the River Trevillet through the leafy glen to a thundering 60ft waterfall. It’s believed that, as part of a ritual to turn them into knights, King Arthur’s squires passed through the rock arch and dropped into the plunge pool of St Nectan’s to be cleansed.
Dubbed Britain’s equivalent of Australia’s Twelve Apostles, here a series of mussel-clad towers rise from golden sands. Many visitors simply stare at these rock giants from the cliff tops, but it’s worth waiting for low tide to descend the 140-something steps and experience the immensity of the scenery with your toes in the sand. After the calf-busting walk back up, you can reward yourself with a Cornish cream tea at Carnewas Tearooms.
Protected from the Atlantic swell by the rugged promontory of Porth Island, Porth Beach is popular with families for swimming, SUP-ing, rock-pooling and picnics. But step over the footbridge onto Porth Island and you can explore a far more rugged domain that was once an Iron Age settlement. Peer down into the wishing well pool, soak up stunning views of Newquay’s coastline and follow the spit of land to the blowhole, where clouds of sea spray explode from the rocks at mid-tide.
A huge contrast to Cornwall’s coastal wonders, head to the wild territory of Bodmin Moor to climb the 420m to the top of Cornwall’s highest peak – Brown Willy. The rolling moorland is littered with prehistoric remains, and once you reach the summit you’ll be rewarded with far-reaching views of the countryside and coast.
If you can brave a knee-wobbling descent and don’t mind mingling with the naturists, at Pedn-Vounder you can take a dip in an iridescent-blue lagoon surrounded by white sands. A low-tide beach backed by towering cliffs, this breath-taking beauty is overlooked by the huge granite boulder of Logan Rock, and the sparkling water is some the cleanest, and clearest, in the UK.
If you want to escape the crowds and blow away the cobwebs, strike out along the coast path out of New Polzeath, and head for the twin-headed promontory of The Rumps. Far from the beach brigades, here you can discover the remains of an Iron Age fortress, capture far-reaching views of the coastline and lookout for puffins on The Mouls (the island that lies off the eastern headland). Just make sure you hold onto your hat on a windy day.
About a mile from Land’s End and only accessible on foot, Nanjizal is a wild and secluded cove where the sea laps beneath the Song of the Sea rock arch. When winter swells rage it’s an awesome sight to behold and you’ll probably be in the company of more seals and sea birds than humans; while on calm summer days coast path walkers trickle by and are lured into the sea caves and the turquoise plunge pool beneath the arch.
This natural pool carved into rocks hemming Treyarnon beach, is a picturesque place to take a dip without having to battle the surf. Paddle, rock jump, do a few laps, or simply explore the surrounding rock pools, before basking on the boulders like seals, to warm up before a picnic on the turf-topped cliffs.
Avoid the camera-wielding crowds at Land’s End and head for nearby Cape Cornwall, where the Atlantic currents divide. Here you can climb to the landmark chimney atop a rocky peak, and enjoy views of Land’s End, Brison Rocks and the World Heritage mining coastline, with little more than sea birds for company.