A quandary faces the visitor who does not have two weeks to visit the magnificent coast of Cornwall – to go North or South? The best solution is to enjoy the delights of one this year and return for the other in the next.
Cornwall devotees argue the merits of one coast against the other yet the fact is that they each share similar features; both are periodically blasted by winter storms, both can conjure up dazzling summer days, both have stunning beaches, both can test the walker’s stamina. The difference lies in the aspect. It is the South that slopes more gently towards the sun, whilst it is the North that stands proud against the sea. The South offers shelter to exotic, non-hardy plants as the North takes the constant pounding of the surf. The South is more populated than the North.
St Ives on the North Coast is well served by direct line from London and stations North and is an excellent launch pad for a North Coast hike. A day walk threads through narrow streets then climbs above Porthmeor Beach before joining the famous South West Coast Path. Turning inland at a ragged line of offshore rocks, the Carracks, the landscape reveals traces of Cornwall’s industrial past and the geological features that form the County’s backbone. From the granite stacks of Rosewall Hill, the view sweeps over the golden beaches of St Ives Bay all the way to St Michael’s Mount. A taxi transfer leapfrogs up the Coast to Mawgan Porth where the route takes in the fine sands of Bedruthan Steps and Porthcothan Beach before heading into Padstow by the back roads.
The next leapfrog is to Port Isaac and the tiny Port Gaverne. This leg is quite tough so bring a pair of trekking poles to protect the knees, especially on the steps into Trebarwith Strand, but, ahh, what a day! Tintagel hosts the hiker for two nights, with a lovely walk through the cool and shady St Nectan’s Glen to Boscastle and back.
One final footnote, the superb Lizard defies categorisation. Geographically it is aligned to the South but geologically it feels like the North. Whatever you do, don’t miss it!