Walk, run and swim - ideas for post lockdown activities

After weeks (ok, it does feel like months) of staying at home, we're all really looking forward to getting away and some outdoor time by the coast. Whether it's walking, or perhaps running, the section of the amazing South West Coast Path between Port Isaac and Constantine Bay always provide something special. Of course, you could also brave the cold, and give Wild Swimming a try, the quiet beaches are perfect, see our Favourite Swimming Beaches blog for more info. Our properties are superbly located with some on the Coast Path, and some with direct access to the beach.

Two coast path walks we particularly enjoy are described (loosely!) below, with links to the incredibly helpful and more detailed descriptions on the South West Coast Path's website. These all start (or finish) close to Polzeath, Padstow and Tintagel. We like to take a taxi to the start, and walk back, but you can of course do it the other way and arrange return transport. So many of our properties are perfect for walking -  take a look at our walking holiday ideas here. 

If you prefer taking things a bit faster all the walks could be classed as running trails, though I'm not a runner myself, so check Trail Running Cornwall's site for lots more information.


Walk One - Port Isaac to Padstow - 11.7 miles –

This walk starts in Port Isaac, (perhaps more recognisable as Port Wenn for watchers of TV programme Doc Martin, which is filmed here),  a perfect image of a Cornish fishing village under the shelter of the cliffs. The many headlands give panoramic views and towards the end of this stretch of the path it gets tamer and less rugged as it reaches the River Camel estuary. Sometimes, we decide we've had enough by the time we get to Polzeath, or take a short break there or in Rock, before getting the ferry to Padstow. (Don't forget to check the ferry times from Rock to Padstow.)

We start this section of the Coast Path (signposted) to the right of the Hathaway B&B, up the granite steps. You'll get a  last glimpse if Port Isaac before heading down into a valley, and of course up the other side via more steps.  

The path is well signposted with some interesting views along the way

  • If the tide is right - the rocks known as Cow and Calf.
  • Port Quin, a natural harbour which supported many generations of fishermen, until it is said that the men of the village disappeared, presumably at sea, and the women had to move away. It is still called ‘the village that died’ by locals
  • the 19th century folly - Doyden Castle (now used as a holiday home owned by the National Trust)
  • the arched holed rock which has been pounded and shaped by the tides
  • Rumps Point and its Iron Age fort (the path actually turns inland just before the Point itself, but its worth the detour) 
  • From Pentire Point, you see Padstow bay and the mouth of the River Camel

After Trebetherick Point, you can choose to walk across the bay if the tide is low, though you do have to cross a stream, so if the tide is coming in you should use the path further inland (as signposted). Eventually, the path gives way to dunes as you walk towards the car park at Rock Quarry; take the ferry over to Padstow, hopefully with time to visit some of the shops, art galleries, and many places to eat and drink.

If you need transport back to Port Isaac, the No. 11 bus goes from Padstow, changing at Wadebridge. Or a taxi (Abby is a popular choice tel: 01208 815399 or tel: 07704 792860)

Walk 2 - Padstow to Constantine Bay via Stepper Point

The walk is just over 10 miles (approximately 4 hours, not allowing for stops) so we usually make a day of it with time for a swim and picnic on one of the many sandy beaches (picking up some goodies in Padstow). Sometimes, we stop at one of the cafes/restaurants in Trevone or Harlyn Bay. At the moment, of course, we're not sure if they will be open, or maybe just doing takeaway, so make sure to check before setting off, speically if you're not planning on taking anything with you.

The path along parts of this stretch can be rocky and narrow in some places. Trevose Head gives you far reaching views of the sandy beaches for the picnic/swim stop. Constantine Bay is a favourite for many as you can watch the surfers take advantage of the waves.

Start the walk by the Ferry, and the path is clearly marked passing Gun Point, the path moves inland taking in marshy wetlands across a boardwalk (you can of course walk across the beach). You'll pass Hawkers Cove where in High Season, (non Covid-19 restrictions) you can get refreshments in the tea garden. Then on to the clifftops at Stepper Point. 

Again there are some interesting sights on the walk

  • Daymark Tower at Stepper Point
  • On a really clear day - Bodmin Moor and its distant tors.  You then arrive at Trevone (good opportunity for a loo stop) and a drink in the pub or one of the cafes.
  • Life boat station - this is usually open to visitors but do check opening times before making the detour
  • Lighthouse at Trevose Head

From Trevone the path leaves the main beach area and travels up Trevone Road bearing right onto the cliff round Newtrain Bay and down the steps in Harlyn Bay (another loo/refreshments opportunity). Leaving here you will notice the signs send you across the beach (access at low water) or take the path up the low cliff. Carrying on you will see the lifeboat station which you can take a detour too - it's usually open to visitors. The coast path takes you inland, through fields and up to the headland. Cross the access road and follow the sandy pathway downhill passing another crater named Round Hole on your way down to the sandy beach at Boobys Bay, carrying on from here steps lead down to the larger Constantine Bay beach. At the end of the beach there you will find a refreshment stop off point. Beyond the dunes the path rounds Treyarnon Head to cross Treyarnon Bay with more refreshment points. Onwards passing the youth hostel and the café the path drops down to the head of the beach.

Further information and full details of this route can be found here on the South West Coast Path's website, their route is actually a little bit further but we usually stop at Constantine, obviously you can carry on as far as your feet can take you!

Another option we like on this stretch is to take the coast path as far as Stepper Point then return via via Porthmissen and Trethillick - this cuts it down by about 4 miles, returning via lanes and across the fields (and the award winning Padstow farm shop at Trethillick - you can find more about our amazing Cornish food producers on our Top five Foodie Outings blog).  If you don't have the OS map, this walk is described on I walk Cornwall  with lots of additional information; they also have an App and you can download detailed routes for a small fee.


Cardinahm Woods, Bodmin

On days when the weather is a bit mixed, a trip inland to Cardinham Woods is another of our favourites. Its roughly half an hour drive from Polzeath and nearby places on the north Cornwall Coast. There's miles of trails, easy for all age groups, and some more strenuous. Cardinham offers more than just walking trails though - its a great place just to relax and enjoy the surroundings and for some, a place for some more strenuous action with dedicated mountain bike and running trails. 

Detailed information and maps of all the trails are available at Forestry Englands website.

Remember, take extra care wherever you walk (or run) - the Coast Path Safety Code gives great advice.

After walking, I do really love a dip in the sea - and with so many beaches to choose from, there's no excuse. Particularly when the weather starts to warm up a bit. Our favourite beaches are Daymer Bay and Baby Bay. The water is really calm in Daymer Bay - there's rarely any waves, the soft sandy beach shelves gently making it great for swimmers of all abilities. Baby Bay (Polzeaths little sister), is a great place for a swim away from the surfers and if you go early, there's every chance it's just you and the sound of the birds.

If you fancy a bit of tuition, or want some motivation and swim with a group, head to Port Gaverne where Cornish Rock Tors  are based. They run a huge range of different swimming (and other) activities. 


See the full selection of properties at West Country Beach Holidays


Any references to visiting shops, restaurants etc are of course all made in the hope that it is safe to, and that the Government has been able to ease the restrictions affecting these activities.