8 Cornish pub walks you need to try

South West Coast Path in Cornwall. Picture by AlbertPego

South West Coast Path in Cornwall. Picture by AlbertPego - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cornwall boasts some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK, from breathtaking coastlines, secluded woodland and rolling greenery. Whether a pint of real ale, a glass of wine or a slap-up meal is what you’re after, we have found you 8 places to stop off and enjoy a much-deserved pit-stop

1. St Michael’s Mount to St Ives

This superb walk uses the coastal path and St Michael’s Way to make a wonderful, scenic coast-to-coast route. Begin at St Michael’s Mount, owned by the National Trust and island home of St Aubyn’s and head to Trencrom Hill where you’ll find a memorable vista over St Ives Bay and the Hayle Estuary.

Conclude the walk in St Ives at historical Sloop Inn (one of Cornwall’s oldest and most famous pubs). In the summer there is plenty of outdoor seating with views across the harbour. In the winter, the cosy interior of the pub is a welcoming spot to unwind with a post-ramble pint of Cornish ale.

2. Gorran Haven to Mevagissey

The invigorating coastal circuit to Mevagissey starts at the pretty fishing village of Gorran Haven with its pilchard cellars and 16th century quay. It includes two fine beaches and Dodman Point, at 114m (374ft) the highest headland on the South Cornish coast. Looking westwards to the Lizard, eastwards to Fowey and north over the white hills of China clay country to Bodmin Moor, Dodman provides a magnificent panorama.

Once you reach Mevagissey, the Harbour Tavern will be there to greet you, with window views overlooking the harbour. Tuck into a comforting fish finger sandwich whilst you congratulate your walking efforts with a well-deserved pint.

3. Rosemullion Head circular walk

This four mile walk starts and finishes at St Mawnan Church car park and includes spectacular views of Rosemillion Head at the mouth of the Helford River, with secluded coves, lush garden estates and the beautiful Helford Estuary. A lovely walk in springtime, when there are bluebells and wild garlic beneath the trees and a vivid assortment of wildflowers in the coastal grassland on Rosemullion Head. Make time to visit the gardens at Carwinion, Trebah and Glendurgan.

Complete your walk with a roast lunch at The Red Lion pub in Mawnan Smith. The pub is full of traditional Cornish character and it even has rooms upstairs should you wish to turn your rest bite into an overnight stop.

4. Bodmin Moor

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Starting at the Jamaica Inn, this stimulating there-and-back moorland walk includes Cornwall’s two highest tors, Brown Willy and Rough Tor. Benign in summer sunshine, Bodmin Moor bears a wild and brooding character under louring winter skies – not least among the granite piles on Rough Tor, where Daphne du Maurier’s novel Jamiaca Inn reaches its dramatic and violent climax. The views from here are superb and ample compensation for the rough and rocky footing on this route, which can be very wet in parts.

No walk on Bodmin Moor is complete without a pit stop at the Jamaica Inn. Its history is haunted but don’t let that put you off as the steak and ale pie is the perfect way to end your walk across the moor.

5. Zennor and Zennor Head

From Zennor Churchtown, follow the track north-west to Zennor Head, a great place for romantic sunsets over the sea, before heading back again. Legend has it that a Breton princess, St Senara, founded a church in Zennor more than 1,400 years ago. Parts of the present building date from the 12th century. Its most famous treasure is the Mermaid chair, made with medieval bench ends.

After your walk, head with a sharpened appetite, to the 18th century pub, the Tinner’s Arms. This pub is the heart of village life in the Cornish village of Zennor, and inside the pub is traditional and characterful with ocean views of the Atlantic coastline.

6. Bude Canal

From the Tourist Information Centre in Bude, the canal towpath offers an easy, well surfaced walk suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs so bring the whole family along. The towpath extends 2.5km inland and 500m down to the sea lock. This is a good bird spotting walk (part of it’s a nature reserve), so bring binoculars and a camera with a fast telephoto lens if you can. Species include kingfisher, moorhens, mallards, heron, reed bunting and willow warblers.

The Brendon Arms is close to the Tourist Information Centre where you started your walk, and has a well-stocked bar and plenty of tasty pub grub on the menu.

7. Cardinham

This fairly easy walk through woods and fields in the green countryside west of Bodmin Moor has plenty of interest en route, including a historic church, an unusual mine chimney and a Norman castle. Pleasant through the seasons with wildflowers in spring and autumn colours, it offers shade on a hot day, but is well-sheltered against winter winds. We begin and end in Cardinham Woods, a popular area with families and well provided with marked trails, toilets and parking.

Conclude the walk in nearby Blisland at the Blisland Inn, a pub with home cooked food on the menu and a bar with plenty of ales and ciders behind it.

8. Sennen Cove

This gentle walk from Sennen Cove explores Whitesand Bay and offers superb coastal views on both the inland return and the short extension to the Old Coastguard Lookout. Low tide is ideal as it gives the option of walking the sands. Sennen Cove is sheltered from prevailing winds by the cliffs of Pedn-men-du, whilst its small fishing fleet is further protected by a strong granite breakwater.

On your return from Whitesand Bay to Sennen Cove, make sure you pop into the Old Success Inn for something to eat and drink. The grilled Cornish lobster with garlic butter and fries is worth the calories you worked so hard to burn off.

This article was updated by Martha Griffiths in July 2021.