6 Winter Walks in Cornwall (with Hot Chocolate at the End)

Frosty, crisp and a bit sparkly, or deserted, windblown and raw: winter walks in Cornwall are always packed with atmosphere and stunning countryside or coastal views. This year, it’s more important than ever to get outside into the fresh air as months of lockdowns, social distancing and Covid-19 take their toll. So, heave yourself off that comfy sofa, get out on a mini-adventure and free your mind, body and soul – you may even be rewarded with a hot chocolate or something stronger for your efforts. Here are six ideas to get you started – pack a Thermos just in case any of the venues we’ve suggested are temporarily closed because of Coronavirus restrictions.

1. Easy-peasy: Polzeath to Rock via Daymer Bay

This easy-peasy walk is perfect if you’ve overdone it on the turkey and fizz.  In normal years, you could first wander around TJs and Ann’s Cottage in Polzeath and perhaps purchase some surfy attire, but Covid-19 will probably mean that the shops will be closed. No matter – you’re out for exercise and bracing sea air anyway. 

Follow your nose up past the beach car park and along the path outside the Cracking Crab and watch the surfers doing battle with the elements in the breakers below. Take in the heady views across Polzeath beach as the long lines of stunning waves roll in. Amble along the cliff path, and as you come across Daymer, you’ll be able to see Rock and Padstow in the distance. Daymer’s golden sands are perfect for a little play if you have kids in tow. You can choose to venture inland across the golf course to inspect the dramatic sunken church of St Enodoc, climb the (steep) Brea Hill for unrivalled panoramic views or hug the beach all the way to Rock, where there are a variety of cafes and a couple of pubs to satiate your hunger and thirst – we like the Mariners and the Blue Tomato.

Daymer Bay, Rock

2. Serious views: Cawsand to Whitsand Bay

If you’re looking for solace, space and stunning views after an intensive festive break with your nearest and dearest, head to Cornwall’s ‘forgotten corner’ and take the South West Coast Path from the pretty fishing village of Cawsand to Whitsand Bay. This walk takes in both sides of the Rame peninsula, from the expanse of Plymouth Sound with its view of Drake’s Island, around rugged Rame Head to the vast golden sands of Whitsand Bay. Marvel at the windswept chapel perched high on the cliff, where two watchmen were paid to keep an eye out for the Spanish Armada, and the Napoleonic fort down below at Polhawn. Stop off for a delicious lunch at the View restaurant. The Clifftop Cafe at the top of Tregonhawke Cliff offers more informal fare, but both serve up food and drinks with life-affirming sea views that go on forever.

3. Fun and festive: Crantock Beach 

The newly refurbished Bowgie Inn, perched on the West Pentire headland, is a great place to start and finish this circular walk. The Bowgie (which means ‘cowshed’ in Cornish) overlooks the golden sands of Crantock Beach, near the popular surfing and family destination of Newquay, and has great views over the ocean. Enjoy a 3.5 mile amble along the coast path, which includes Crantock Beach, Vugga Cove and occasionally seals playing in the waves offshore. Then return to the Bowgie and warm up in the new, statement 360-degree bar, which has been designed to maximise the gorgeous views – and there’s loads of space for socially distanced festive drinks, too.

Polly Joke beach, Crantock

4. Ancient history: The Hurlers on Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moor can be read in two ways depending on your mood: bleak and inhospitable or majestic and invigorating. After a period of excess following the festive break, let’s go with the latter and head out for a wild, bracing and head-clearing moorland ramble. This one is short and full of ancient mystery and intrigue. Park at Minions, near Liskeard, and hike about a quarter of a mile to the Hurlers, three late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone circles arranged in a line, and one of the best examples of ceremonial circles in the South West. According to legend, they are the remains of men petrified for playing hurling on a Sunday. Head onwards towards the Cheesewring, a strange rock formation that looks like a pile of giant rounded bricks piled on top of one another – the result of millions of years of wind, rain, frost and snow eroding the surrounding softer rocks. Continue to a huge quarry, which supplied the stone for Tower Bridge. Back in Minions, you’ll find tea shops and cafes to replenish you as well as the highest pub in Cornwall.

5. Oodles of atmosphere: St Ives to Zennor

This walk takes in yet another spectacular section of the South West Coast Path and culminates at a village famed for St Senara’s Church and its mermaid. 

Starting from St Ives head, go west past Porthmeor beach and the Tate Gallery. You’re then greeted by wonderful coastal scenery with dramatic cliffs rising hundreds of feet above the sea, beautiful beaches and delightful coves as you take in Hor Point, Pen Enys Point, Carn Naun Point and Gala Rocks. There are also views over to the Carracks, home to seals. At Zennor Head, follow your nose away from the sea towards the little village of Zennor, which DH Lawrence called ‘the most beautiful place: a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor-hills and a big sweep of lovely sea beyond… It is the best place I have been in’. High praise, indeed. Refuel at the low-ceilinged 13th-century Tinners Arms, then go back through the countryside, making it a 12-mile round trip, or book a taxi from Zennor for the return leg.

Porthmeor, St Ives

6. Life’s a beach: Trevone to Constantine

Crisp air, blue skies and beautiful beaches – the perfect ingredients for a festive family walk. Start from Trevone beach – you could even head in for an extremely bracing dip if it’s sunny. Dry off and stay warm by rounding Trevose head, where there are simply stunning coastal views. You’ll have reached Padstow lifeboat station and the sheltered beach of Mother Ivey's Bay. Continue along the coast to Harlyn Bay and watch the surfers playing in the breakers. Carry on along cliffs where there have been numerous Bronze Age finds, including gold jewellery. Return along a network of lanes and footpaths back to Constantine, where you’ll find another gorgeous beach and Coastal Coffee. Enjoy hot chocolate and more while gazing out across the sea.