What are the best coastal paths in Cornwall for beginner hikers?

11 June 2024

As you prepare to lace up your walking boots and embark on your first hiking adventure, you may be wondering where you should set your sights. Let us take you on a journey through the picturesque landscape of Cornwall, a stunning county in the South West of England, famed for its breathtaking coastline and moderate walking trails that are ideal for beginners. As you explore Cornwall, you'll encounter magnificent beaches, secluded coves, and the South West Coast Path, one of Britain's longest and most loved national trails.

Lizard Peninsula Circular Walk

The Lizard Peninsula provides a unique hiking experience that marries the wild beauty of the coast with the tranquility of rural Cornwall. This circular walk is an easy introduction to coastal hiking, covering a manageable distance of 7.1 miles. Despite the relative simplicity of this trail, it offers spectacular views along the way that are sure to whet your appetite for more ambitious walks in the future.

Starting from the Lizard Village, you will walk through the National Nature Reserve, where you could catch glimpses of rare wildlife. From there, the path will lead you towards the coast where you'll find the Lizard Lighthouse, the most southerly point in mainland Britain. The panoramic sea views from this vantage point are a sight to behold. This path then circles back through the charming village of Lizard, providing a nice balance between coastal and rural views.

St Ives to Zennor Coast Path

The St Ives to Zennor Coast Path is one of the best beginner-friendly paths in Cornwall. This moderate 6.2 miles walk is filled with stunning scenery from start to finish. St Ives, known for its golden beaches and bustling artist community, is a lovely place to start your journey. From there, the trail meanders along the rugged coastal cliff tops to the quiet village of Zennor, passing prehistoric field systems and Bronze Age monuments along the way.

Along this trail, you will be treated to panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the chance to encounter wildlife such as seals and a variety of seabirds. The path offers a mix of flat stretches and gentle slopes, making it a manageable challenge for beginners. If the weather is on your side, you might even want to pack your swimwear and take a dip in one of the secluded coves you will pass along the way.

The Padstow Round

The Padstow Round is a circular trail that encompasses some of the best parts of the North Cornwall coast. This moderate walk is just over 7 miles long, ensuring an adventurous day out for beginner hikers. Starting from the bustling fishing port of Padstow, this walk takes you through country lanes, woodland, and along the coast, offering a diverse range of scenery.

One of the highlights of this trail is the breathtaking view from the top of Stepper Point, where you can look out over the Camel Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. The walk also takes you past Hawker's Cove, a quiet beach only accessible on foot, making it a perfect spot for a peaceful picnic or a rest stop.

The Perranporth to St Agnes Walk

This trail is a slightly more challenging but still manageable option for beginners. This coastal walk is approximately 3.5 miles long and takes you along the South West Coast Path, from the popular beach town of Perranporth to the charming village of St Agnes. This walk offers the chance to witness some of the county's mining heritage, with the remains of Wheal Coates, an old tin mine, situated near St Agnes Head.

The path offers stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean, and if you're lucky, you may spot seals and dolphins in the water. This walk includes some steep sections, but the rewarding views and the satisfaction of completing the trail make it well worth the effort.

The Fowey Hall Walk

The Fowey Hall Walk is an easy, family-friendly walk that covers just over 4 miles. Starting from the historic town of Fowey, the walk takes you up to the top of Hall Walk, a high woodland path that provides magnificent views back over the town and the estuary. The trail heads inland along a quiet country lane, before looping back towards the coast, passing through the charming village of Polruan.

This walk might be shorter than the others, but it certainly doesn't skimp on the views. From the wooded paths to the expansive estuary, there's a lot of beautiful scenery to take in. Despite a few steep sections, the overall level of difficulty is quite low, making it a perfect introduction to coastal hiking.

Cornwall's coastal paths offer a captivating blend of stunning scenery, wildlife encounters, and historical landmarks. The walks vary in length and difficulty, but all provide a rewarding experience. The Lizard Peninsula Circular Walk, St Ives to Zennor Coast Path, The Padstow Round, Perranporth to St Agnes Walk, and The Fowey Hall Walk are some of the best for beginner hikers, offering manageable distances and moderate levels of difficulty. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your bag, and prepare to explore the beautiful coastline of Cornwall.

The Kynance Cove to Lizard Point Walk

The Kynance Cove to Lizard Point walk is another excellent coast path for beginners. This trail is fairly short, covering a distance of just 2.8 miles, making it a perfect first hike for those new to the activity. The trail starts at Kynance Cove, a stunning beach known for its turquoise waters and white sands, before traversing the clifftops towards Lizard Point, the most southerly point of the British mainland.

The path offers awe-inspiring views of the Atlantic Ocean and the chance to see a variety of wildlife. As you walk, you'll traverse heathland and pass by multiple interesting geographical features, such as the Devil's Frying Pan, a collapsed sea cave. This coastal walk may be short, but it certainly packs a punch in terms of natural beauty. Despite having a few steep ascents, the trail is relatively easy, making it an excellent choice for beginner hikers.

The Port Isaac to Tintagel Coastal Walk

The Port Isaac to Tintagel coastal walk is a moderate trail that offers an intriguing mix of stunning scenery and historical landmarks. With a distance of 9 miles, this is one of the longer walks, but it can be completed at a leisurely pace in a day. Starting from the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac, the path navigates around the beautiful North Cornwall coast to Tintagel, a village steeped in Arthurian legends.

This coastal path takes you past towering cliffs, secluded beaches, and charming villages. You'll also get to see Tintagel Castle, a medieval fortification linked to the legend of King Arthur, perched dramatically on the cliff edge. This walk is slightly more challenging with some steep sections, but the breathtaking views and historical sites make the effort worthwhile. Despite being a longer walk, the path is well marked and the route is clear, helping beginners to stay on track.


Cornwall is a haven for hikers, offering some of the most impressive coastal paths in the UK. The South West Coast Path, in particular, is a treasure trove of walks, varying in difficulty from easy to moderate. For beginner hikers, trails like the ones discussed above, including the Lizard Peninsula Circular Walk, St Ives to Zennor Coast Path, The Padstow Round, Perranporth to St Agnes Walk, The Fowey Hall Walk, Kynance Cove to Lizard Point Walk, and Port Isaac to Tintagel Coastal Walk, offer an ideal introduction to the joys of hiking.

These walks provide a fantastic way to explore Cornwall's stunning coastline, enjoy breathtaking views, encounter native wildlife, and delve into the county's rich history. Each walk has its own unique charm, but all of them offer the opportunity to connect with nature and experience the therapeutic benefits of spending time outdoors.

Whether you're a local resident or a visitor, these coastal paths offer a wonderful opportunity to discover the beauty of Cornwall. So, don your walking boots and begin your hiking journey along these spectacular trails. The beauty of Cornwall's coast awaits you!

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