Cornwall Coast Path - St Keverne to Falmouth

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This 19-mile stretch starts at St Keverne, a village slightly inland from the infamous Manacles, a notorious offshore reef that extends for one nautical mile South of Manacle Point. These submerged or partially submerged rocks, now a popular launching-place for divers, have caused literally thousands of shipwrecks over the years. The reef was so dangerous that it warranted its own lifeboat, and the path passes the old lifeboat house, now disused.

Porthoustock beach
Porthoustock beach

Porthoustock has relied on quarrying since the late 19th century. During the war the quarries were used to build wartime airfields and the hamlet narrowly survived a German bombing raid in 1940. The quarrying has affected the area in many ways, some less obvious than others. The Giant's Quoits, a fantastic natural rock formation that once stood on Manacle Point, are now to be found slightly inland, having been moved due to the expansion of the quarries in 1967.

Boats on Porthallow Beach
Boats on Porthallow Beach
As a consequence of the quarrying the official route from Porthoustock travels away from the sea, although there is an unofficial coast path now freely available thanks to the landowner. Leave the village via a track past the entrance to the beach. Assuming it is high tide and you cannot go down to Porthkerris Cove, keep with the track as it bears left, offering spectacular views of Falmouth. The track eventually joins a road before the path leads off through open-access land to meet the official route at Porthallow, where there is a beach and seasonal refreshments.

Gillan Creek - Morning Light
Gillan Creek
On around Nare Point and down to Gillan Creek, which can sometimes be forded at low tide, although take care not to get caught out! The alternative is a longish (about 2.5 miles) diversion around it, nearly all of which is road.

Once on the opposite bank head back along the creek to St Dennis Head, which sits at the mouth of the Helford River. This is a gorgeous, verdant ria that passes Trebah and Glendurgan gardens and is home to Frenchman's Creek, immortalised by Daphne DuMaurier. Follow the south bank of the river inland after Dennis Head until you come to the Ferry Boat Inn. From here there are seasonal ferries across the Helford Passage. Out of season you will need to take a taxi or add 15 miles to your journey!

Helford is extremely popular and it is wise to book food and accommodation in advance as pubs and guesthouses tend to be very overcrowded in summer. There are no shops.

Durgan on the Helford
In summer, ice creams and souvenirs greet you on the north side of the river. At the picturesque Durgan village bear right and then left at the school. There is a small beach at Durgan and another at Porthallack. It is possible to take a short cut and miss out Rosemullion Head, but there are fine views for those who have the energy.

Continue past the National Trust property of Nansidwell. The path bears left just before a beach, bringing you out onto the road again at Maenporth, where refreshments are available in season. Continue past Swanpool and Gyllingvase beaches and around the headland beneath the historic Pendennis Castle before entering the lively student town of Falmouth.