Cape Cornwall

OS Explorer Map: 102
Start Ref: 353 318
End Ref: 353 318
Grading: Medium
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 2hrs

Cape Cornwall is the only `Cape` on mainland Britain, and until the advent of the Ordinance Survey, was thought to be the most westerly point (a title it lost to its near neighbour Land`s End). Cape Cornwall is also known in Cornish as Pen Kernow, but its actual native name was `Kilgoodh Ust` meaning `goose back of St. Just`.

Parking at the Cape, is in a National Trust car park, which has toilets and a cafe as well as a dog bin. The cafe, called Little Wonder Cafe, has an interesting price list outside. Have a read and hopefully you will enjoy the free item at the bottom of the price list as Dad and I did.

Dad and I left the car park and headed down the steep and massive granite steps and found ourselves almost immediately at the beautiful Priest`s Cove with its tidal swimming pool and colourful boats, securing us a great photo of the Cape. Following the path slightly inland and then back to the coast, so that we skirted the golf course, we walked up past the houses until walking to the end of the path, we find ourselves in a small car park with a Trig Point. Crossing the tarmac, we follow the granite marker which indicates back to Cape Cornwall and on to Land`s End. It is the Land`s End coastal path which we are going to take and we find that we will pass the impressive Ballowall Barrow. For history geeks (like me) this is a must see as it is most impressive Chambered Cairn which I have had circled on my map since I first heard about it.

An image of a small boat and fishing gear near the water's edge

Once you tear yourself away from the barrow, continue on along the track, which slowly begins to descend as it heads inland. We start to pass by mine shafts – dog owners and owners of young children should keep both on a lead! After one such shaft, which has a lovely circular granite wall around it, the path descends quicker and we are then given an option of following the coastal path (strangely inland) or turning sharp right and following the path down to the road just below us. This is the path we are going to follow, and once at the road we are again going to turn right and continue down to Porth Nanven, keeping the little stream on our left.

Porth Nanven is home to protected, ice age weathered stones, and has a very interesting information board telling the geographical history of this area. After taking yet more photos, we are going to return up the road and step off to our left on the same little path until we come back to the spot where we had the option of following the coastal path inland.

A rocky beach with seaweed covering some of the rocks

Here, we notice a small path leading up the side of the valley at a slight diagonal (right) making this a cross roads of paths, and it is this uphill path that we are going to follow. Beware, as in places it is a little steep, is covered in lush green vegetation and has one of the largest stone stiles I have so far clambered over. After the second stone stile, we find ourselves in a small field which we are going to follow up, keeping the hedge line on our right. At the end of this field we go through a gate and find ourselves on a wide path.

At this path we are going to turn left and follow it until it narrows and splits left and right. At this point we take the right hand branch and follow until the path again splits left and right. This time we head left keeping the large chimney stack in front of us.

As we head towards the chimney stack we find ourselves emerging onto a road and find that Ballowall Barrow is now on our left, and we have the simple task of retracing our path back towards the car.

A tall cylindrical brick building on the cliff over looking the sea

However, this is not the end of the walk, as once at the car park, we now have the finishing bonus of Cape Cornwall itself. Do not walk straight down the road and onto the path though. On the other side of the road we find a small gate which takes us in the direction of Porth Ledden, where you may well see seals. As we enter this field we will see the ruins of St. Helen`s Chapel and it is past this that we head as we now make our way towards Cape Cornwall. Over a small stile we find ourselves on the Cape itself and have the option of walking straight up to it, or following around and up.

Dad and I took the longer path, and we were both glad that we did, as we were able to get very close to a pair of feeding Chough, who were far less impressed with two specimens of the human race, that we were of these exquisitely coloured national symbols of Cornwall. After watching them for an age, we walked on up to the stack on the top of the Cape. Here we find that the Cape was gifted to the National Trust by a certain American Corporation who make Salad Cream, Tomato Ketch Up and Baked Beans!

A cough bird. Black, with a long red and downwards curving beak

After yet more photographs, Dad and I descended down to the road and back to the car park to finish our walk.

I hope that you enjoy this walk as much as Dad and I have.