In part 3 of our hike in Cornwall, we hiked along sandy beaches to Perranporth. Here, we continue on with our hike.
Perranporth to Newquay
Perranporth is at the head of another long, wide, and glorious sandy beach. It was a joy to start our day by hiking down the beach.
Perranporth beach is two miles long and straight as an arrow.
Past Perranporth beach, the coastal path goes around a headland. There are excellent views here.
The next beach is Holywell Bay, a favourite filming location for the BBC/PBS series Poldark.
We walked down the beach a bit but it was not possible to scale the cliffs at the far end. Rather, it was necessary to plod up the dunes behind the beach.
At the start of the headland we climbed across a stile.
From the headland there were excellent views back across Holywell Bay. There was a bench, and we stopped for tea and scones.
We sat for a while and enjoyed the wonderful views and weather. I took lots of pictures.
Poly Joke beach is at a narrow inlet between two headlands. To cross the inlet it was necessary to detour inland a bit.
Once we rounded the West Pentire Peninsula we could see Crantock Beach, and we could see the outskirts of Newquay in the distance.
We walked up Crantock Beach and followed the River Gannel upstream. The coastal path follows a bushy trail on the shoreline, but due to low tide we were able to walk on the beach. About a mile upstream we found a make-shift bridge across the river. This bridge is impassable at high tide. There may be a ferry service, but the ferry is seasonal. Be sure to check tide tables and the ferry schedule before setting out on this hike.
On the other side of the river we entered the suburbs of Newquay. The streets in this suburb are designed to discourage through-traffic, and as a result it’s a bit of a maze. We ended up backtracking a few times before we found our way across and into downtown.
Newquay is the largest coastal town in this part of Cornwall. With its arcades, tacky souvenir shops, and beggars in front of the pubs, Newquay has a grittier feel to it than the quaint Cornish villages and towns we’d hiked through so far. We bought a few bottles of cider in a shop called “bargain booze” next door to our hotel. We stayed in the Legacy Hotel Victoria, a grand old Victorian-age hotel. The hotel hasn’t been maintained that well, and there are scuffs and scrapes everywhere that could use repair. But the price was right, and despite scathing online reviews by past guests we really enjoyed our stay here. I’m glad we booked two nights here. I didn’t mind the rough-around-the-edges feel of Newquay.
Newquay to Mawgan Porth
After having enjoyed a stretch of beautiful weather we were due for a change. The next day we woke up to dark, threatening clouds. According to the forecast, however, rain wasn’t due until the late afternoon or evening. So we decided to go for the next hiking section.
We hiked through Newquay, its northern outskirts, and then the countryside. The trail followed the escarpment and we had good views of the beaches below. Most of these beaches had only one access, and due to cliffs it wasn’t possible to walk the beaches between the headlands. That was okay, though. This trail provided a bit of a change.
The scenery was outstanding.
Just before Mawgan Porth we stopped for tea and a scone.
At Mawgan Porth I checked my bus schedule. A southbound bus was due in 20 minutes, and we decided to catch this bus. Our next opportunity to catch the bus would be in Porthcothan, which would require several more hours of hiking, and with only several buses per day we’d be looking at a return well into the evening. With rain in the forecast we decided that hiking on was not such a good idea. Instead, we spent the afternoon in Newquay doing laundry.
Those hiking on past Mawgan Porth will see the Bedruthan Steps.
The next day turned out to be rainy, so it was a good thing we didn’t have any hiking planned. In the morning we walked along Newquay’s seafront to Fistral Beach, and in the afternoon we took a bus to Padstow.
Padstow is a fashionable resort town where well-heeled tourists come to indulge in culinary delights. Padstow was put on the gastronomic map by celebrity chef Rick Stein, , and we’ve watched many of Rick’s programs on TV. Rick likes to travel around, sample local food, and then cooks up a local dish for the viewers explaining the recipe. Rick Stein has built up quite an empire for himself and his family. He has three restaurants in Padstow, a cookery school, several gift shops, and he owns and rents out more than a dozen cottages around town. Some of the locals call the town “Padstein.”
There couldn’t be two towns in England more different than Padstow and Newquay. In Newquay, punters quaff pints of Boddingtons while watching footy on the tele, and they gorge on greasy donairs at 2 am. Meanwhile in Padstow, elderly tourists park their Landrovers and Jaguar SUVs in the car-park by the harbour before feasting on lobster thermidor at Rick Stein’s restaurant, sipping a glass of Chablis or perhaps a Sémillon.
Rick Stein not only has a fancy seafood restaurant, but he also has a fish-and-chips shop in town, which we decided to try. We started with some shucked oysters, followed by battered plaice with chips. It was possibly the best fish and chips we’ve had. Certainly a cut or two above the JD Wetherspoon’s, which we’d visited in Newquay the day before. Not that there’s anything wrong with Wetherspoons. But Rick’s fish and chips was supérieur.
When we dashed out to the restaurant we got caught in a downpour. Afterwards the sky cleared and a rainbow appeared over Padstow Harbour.
It cleared in the evening and we went for a walk around Padstow. Here is Diana in front of our B&B.
I took some blue-hour photos at Padstow Harbour, devoid of tourist crowds at this time of the day
Padstow to Constantine Bay
From Padstow we did a hike southward, towards Newquay, in the direction that people usually hike the Southwest Coast Path. This scenic hike on a well-maintained path ended up being one of our favorites.
We woke to a partly cloudy and windy day. We started our hike in Padstow Harbour.
We hiked along the River Camel estuary towards the sea.
At the head of the estuary is a wide bay. The water here was a bright blue, due to a sandy bottom reflecting the sunlight.
This bay is enclosed by two headlands on either side that jut far out into the sea. On the west side, where we were hiking, is Stepper Point. We hiked the trail around the tip of it. It was very, very windy out there.
Near Trevone Bay there is a sinkhole where a sea-cave has collapsed. The sinkhole looks like a crater, with seawater sloshing around at the bottom. It’s behind Diana in this picture.
The scenery was very nice at Trevone Bay, and we found a bench for a tea break.
The next beach was at Harlyn Bay.
We hiked down the beach and there seemed to be no exit, and we were worried about having to backtrack. However by dodging some waves we were able to get around the rocks, and we then scrambled up to the path.
Ahead we could see Trevose Head, another long headland.
There is a lifeboat station near the tip of Trevose Head. The scenery was impossibly beautiful here, and I took a lot of photos.
At the very tip of the peninsula was a pretty lighthouse.
Beyond there we hiked to Constantine Bay where we caught a bus back to Padstow.
In part 5 of our Cornish adventure, we rent a car and explore the coastline of northern Cornwall.
- In Perranporth we stayed at the Seiners Arms. Recommended.
- In Newquay we stayed at the Legacy Hotel Victoria. Recommended. Although there are scuffs and scratches, this grand hotel evokes days gone by, and the antiquated plumbing is just a part of that. At 40 quid per night (no breakfast) I think we got a great deal. The ocean-facing rooms are considerably more expensive and are not worth it in my opinion. I also recommend having breakfast at the hotel. However I cannot recommend the adjoining Mexican restaurant that’s associated with the hotel – it’s a very strange interpretation of Mexican food.
- In Padstow we stayed at B&B 20 Duke Street. This friendly and cozy B&B books through airbnb. It’s very close to the bustling inner harbour, yet on a quiet street without much noise. The owners are very friendly and accommodating. Highly recommended.
Perranporth to Newquay is 10.5 miles, provided that you don’t get lost in Newquay like we did! This distance assumes a straight-line path through Newquay. If you were to hike around the Pentire Peninsula and Fistral Beach, add another couple of miles. We had a look at Fistral Beach while staying in Newquay.
Newquay to Mawgan Porth is 6 miles. Most people hike on to Porthcothan, which is 10.5 miles from Newquay.
Padstow to Constantine Bay is 11.5 miles. Most people hike on to Porthcothan, which is 13.5 miles from Padstow.