Cornwall Coast Path - St Agnes to Portreath

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Trevaunance Cove - St Agnes
Trevaunance Cove - St Agnes

The stretch between St Agnes and Portreath, a mere seven miles, is characterised by bizarre place names - Tubby's HeadTobban HorseSheep Rock - and picturesque remnants of the mining industry. St Agnes is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, as well as being one of the twelve designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Cornwall. St Agnes village is a bustling, youthful place, full of surfers, musicians and artists. Various pubs play host to a range of local music, from DJs to folk singers, and the community survives through the winter, which cannot be said for every Cornish coastal village - a good place to spend the night.

The path climbs left beyond the Trevaunance Point Hotel and continues at a high level to St Agnes Head, which is a breeding ground for kittiwakes. You pass over a cliff top strewn with unusual mine workings, before circumnavigating St Agnes Beacon, an isolated peak owned by the National Trust that stands 629 feet above sea level. On a clear day the view from here takes in 23 miles of coastline and 32 church towers.

Wheal Coates - Towanroath Engine House
Wheal Coates

Godrevy lighthouse enters the panorama as the path passes the Towanroath Engine House, part of the Wheal Coates estate. This is one of the best-known and most picturesque groups of cliff top mine buildings in Cornwall, now owned and managed by the National Trust.

The path drops steeply down to Chapel Porth, another popular surf spot, with toilets and a seasonal café. A steep climb out again past more mineshafts before a satisfying clifftop stretch leads you to Porthtowan.

View from Chapel Porth cliffs
Chapel Porth beach
The name derives from the Cornish 'Porth' and 'Tewynn', meaning Cove of sand dunes, and although the village has been slightly spoiled by tourism, the beach is still beautiful and at low tide extends from Chapel Porth all the way to Tobban Horse. Porthtowan is popular with surfers, there is a bar near the beach and a number of options for food and accommodation.

Portreath Beach from West Hill
Portreath Beach
Go left up a narrow road and rejoin the path as it heads south, along a crumbling and potentially dangerous cliff edge, strewn with yet more mine workings. A steep descent via some steps into a valley known intriguingly as Sally's Bottom, and up again to a cliff top that is home to another military camp. The path runs alongside a rather unattractive fence for a mile or so before reaching a road that leads to the harbour at Portreath.