Cornwall Coast Path - Padstow to Newquay

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Bedruthan Steps - from the other end
Bedruthan Steps - from the other end
The section from Padstow to Newquay is another long section of around 24 miles. A stretch of exposed Atlantic coast brings you to Trevone, after which come the beautiful sandy beaches of Harlyn, Constantine and Treyarnon. What follows is some famously dramatic coastline, including Bedruthan Steps, massive rock stacks that can be seen from Carnewas, a popular National trust property where steep steps allow access to a series of rocky, and dangerous, beaches. The great views continue all the way to Watergate Bay, which leads you into Newquay. There is accommodation at Trevone, Harlyn and Constantine and a Youth Hostel at Treyarnon Bay.

The path starts on the left at the north end of the harbour in Padstow and makes its way back along the Camel Estuary and then up and along to Hawker's Cove, which is great for swimming if the tide is in. Climb up to the disused coastguard tower on the top of Stepper Point for fantastic panoramic views, including the granite tors of Bodmin Moor.

Harbour Cove - Padstow
Padstow beaches
Exposed cliffs, with only one steep descent and ascent, bring you to Marble Cliff. This stretch of coast is composed of bands of hard limestone and soft shale, giving rise to interesting rock formations such as the collapsed cave at Roundhole Point (the cave is known as Round Hole) and providing a summer habitat for Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes.

The path drops down to the car park at Trevone, a seaside village consisting of one long street surrounded by houses and ending at the sea. There are a number of guest houses and shops in the village, including a surf shop and a post office.

Trevose Head Walker
Trevose Head
The path passes behind a headland on the south side of the village before rejoining the collapsing cliff edge (the path is regularly re-routed as the cliff receded) and following it to St Cadoc's Point and the lovely, sandy Harlyn Bay. Here, the path runs along the beach except at high tide when it is covered and therefore necessary to use the road. There is a caravan site and a pub in Harlyn village, which is known for crescents of gold that were found by a labourer in 1865 on the cliffs above Onjohn Cove, to the south of the bay. The crescents, which have become known as the Lunulae of Harlyn, were later revealed to be grave goods probably dating from the early Bronze Age.

A slightly marred stretch of cliff (sewage works and an ugly caravan park) brings you to Trevose Head, home to a lighthouse that claims to have been the last to run on compressed air and paraffin. On a clear day you can see Hartland in Devon and St Ives in West Penwith from here.

Constantine Bay beach
Constantine Bay
A rocky scramble brings you to the beautiful and exposed sandy beach at Constantine, popular with surfers but often too dangerous for swimming. Here begins some of the wildest and most dramatic coastline in Cornwall. Beyond the beach the path winds around Treyarnon Point, before reaching another beautiful sandy beach and a youth hostel. As you continue around the coastline look out for the ramparts of an Iron Age fort and the remains of a ship that ran aground in 1969.

Fox Cove, Minnows Islands and the cove beyond them are all spectacular. There is a small shop at Porthcothan Bay, former home of D.H.Lawrence, and a café at Bedruthan Steps, a famous National Trust property which offers dramatic views over massive rock stacks that stretch into the distance along Bedruthan beach. A cliff staircase (closed in winter) offers access to a series of rocky beaches at low tide (swimming strictly prohibited).

Watergate Bay
Watergate Bay
A steady descent into Mawgan Porth, a touristy place with pubs, hotels, caravan parks and a sandy beach with high cliffs on each side. Go up the hill a little way along the road and rejoin the path to the right of a steep bend. Soon you will reach Watergate Bay, a sandy beach two miles long that has played host to National and International surfing competitions. The path continues at a high level above the beach, past the Watergate Hotel and 15-Cornwall, a restaurant set up by Jamie Oliver, to Trevelgue Head, actually an island that can be reached by a footbridge. If the tide is out you can walk into Newquay along the beach, or go along the road to Newquay town centre.