Seven bays in seven days

Have you explored the famous ‘seven bays’ of Cornwall yet? The seven bays is a collection of seven stunning beaches surrounding the village of St. Merryn in North Cornwall, starting at Porthcothan Bay (near Newquay) and ending at Trevone Bay (near Padstow). The bays stretch across seven miles of coast path, and are linked by beautiful coastal walks, scenery and wildlife.

The seven bays are Porthcothan, Treyarnon Bay, Constantine Bay, Booby’s Bay, Mother Ivey’s Bay, Harlyn Bay and Trevone Bay. Stay in one of our retreats along the stretch or in the heart of Padstow. Seconds from the South West Coast Path, spend the week exploring this area, a bay per day.

Here’s our suggested itinerary for the seven bays in seven days.

Go snorkelling at Porthcothan

There’s nowhere better to start your sandy-soled adventures than at Porthcothan. Hunker in the dunes for a picnic or follow the cliff-flanked sands to the emerald horseshoe pool. This pristine beach is usually crowd-free and a haven for swimmers and bodyboarders, but its starring role as Nampara Cove in BBC’s Poldark series has – understandably – put its beauty in the spotlight. However, if you take a low-tide wander to the southern end the beach you’ll find a secluded smuggler’s cove, and nudge your way even further around the headland to reach a huddle of islets that make a dreamy spot for snorkelling.

Jump into the tidal pool at Treyarnon

Dune-backed sands, rolling waves, easy access and plenty of nooks and crannies for splashing and paddling make Treyarnon a popular family beach. Seek out the tidal pool hidden in the mussel-clad rocks, where you can make a splash and have a swim, and flop out on the rocks like a seal to warm-up. Then pitch your windbreak and light the barbecue, have a picnic on the cliffs, or bag a bench at Treyarnon YHA for an ice-cold beer teamed with sea views and live music sessions (throughout summer).

Ride the waves at Constantine

Take a barefoot walk along the wild, surf-lashed sands of Constantine Bay, where you can roll down giant sand dunes and hunt for shells and sea glass along the shoreline. One of Cornwall’s finest surfing beaches, there’s a reef break for expert surfers, as well as sandy-bottomed peaks along the beach. Grab your boards, buckets and fishing nets for a day of wave-riding and rock-pooling, then make camp in the shelter of the dunes for a barbecue as the sun sets.

Go rockpooling at Booby’s Bay

Just around the rocky spit from Constantine awaits the rugged little gem of Booby’s Bay. At high tide there is little to see but rocky, wave-smashed ledges, but wait for the tide to drop and discover a magical beach smattered with rock pools and sandy nooks, where you can bask and watch expert surfers take on the waves, and scour the shore for crabs and cowry shells.

Push on along the South West Coast Path from Booby’s Bay to Trevose Head, looking for dolphins, seals and seabirds as you wander along the wild, scrub-topped headland to the lighthouse.

Bask on Mother Ivey’s Bay

Far from the busy beachside car parks and café-backed sands of Cornwall’s more popular beaches, the secluded Mother Ivey’s Bay is a sublime sandy cove where you can leave the crowds behind and lap up the tranquil beach vibe. Sheltered by the Merope Rocks and framed by stunning coastal views, it’s the perfect place for wild swimming and sun bathing in the pillows of sand. According to legend, the bay takes it name from a white witch who cursed a local family – however, it’s difficult to believe that any evil curse was spun from this beach paradise.

Paddleboard at Harlyn Bay

A mecca for serious surfers looking to escape the heavy Atlantic swells in winter, come summer Harlyn serves up gentle waves that lure beginners into the crescent-shaped, sandy bay. As well as surf schools and hire on the beach, you can also have a go at stand-up paddleboarding. Get your balance with a SUP lesson, then head out to explore the bay and rocky headlands. You don’t have to hit the ocean to make the most of Harlyn; simply stroll along the spacious sands (dogs welcome year-round) and follow the coast path past the remains of an Iron Age cemetery, towards the lighthouse at Trevose Head.

Swim in the sea pool at Trevone

Between Harlyn and Padstow you’ll find the Blue Flag beauty of Trevone Bay, a gently shelving beach surrounded by cliffs and little alcoves where you can hideaway and soak up the scenery. If you’ve got a bit of surfing know-how, head out for wave; if not take a ramble and see what you can find in the extraordinary rock pools hidden to the west of the beach. There’s also a gorgeous natural sea pool, perfect for a safe, sheltered dip at low tide.

Check out our other locations and other retreats across North Cornwall.