Section 2. Porthcothan to Newquay - Cornish Coast Path Route
Distance - 11 miles Grade - Moderate then easy through Newquay - What these grades mean.
Superb coastal scenery with easy walking today as your trail hugs the edge of the cliffs high above a seemingly endless procession of rocky coves, craggy stacks and sea carved caves.
Before reaching the Iron Age Fort at Trescore Island you pass man made caves in the cliffs, still displaying huge iron spikes and hoops - a legacy of the “free trade” gangs that cleaned up the wrecks in the area.
A short steep drop brings the lovely Porth Meor Valley, a little rock pooled cove with reed beds and small ponds before a steady climb back up the cliffs to the National Trust protected heath land at Park View. Stay observant - this wonderfully open space is Peregrine Falcon and oystercatcher country.
Beyond it you reach the wild and tortured rocky stacks of Bedruthan Steps, the iconic Victorian Cornish Postcard image popular with the arrival of the first travellers via the new railway at nearby Newquay. The rocks retain their stunning panorama, with the name referring to the exhilarating flight of steps that lead you down through the cliffs to the beach below (sadly currently closed due to instability).
Local legends tell of The Giant Bedruthan who was said to have used the stark offshore islands as stepping stones. Whilst the Queen Bess stone no longer resembles Queen Victoria after a vicious winter storm took off part of her head, she remains a prized climb for the country's best rock climbers. Another gigantic stack, the Samaritan rock refers to The Good Samaritan - a ship wrecked here in 1846 at the time of the potato famine. It's plundered goods were seen as a godsend by scores of hungry locals, though many of them paid for their scavenging with a spell in the fearsome Bodmin Jail.
The Southwest Coastal path then passes over the remains of an ambitious but doomed attempt to build a sea canal, before it drops to the dunes and beach at Mawgan Porth, a popular spot with its acres of sands and welcome facilities.
It’s nothing, however, compared to the next jewel at Watergate Bay. A fantastic sweeping section of beach with over 2 miles of golden sands, caves and rocky cliffs. Surfing and other extreme sports, including sand kites and sand buggies are the modern additions to the striking scenery here. For those wanting some luxury consider an overnight stop at the fabulously positioned Watergate Bay Hotel. For those not able to afford the stay, the clever walker can always make a late start and stop off for lunch at the restaurant or the excellent Beach Hut Cafe below the cliffs - try the hot chocolate - one of the best in Cornwall.
High cliffs end the day as you follow the tops to Trevelgue Head. A short detour allows you to cross the footbridge onto the exposed island headland which boasts the most fortified iron age castle on this coast, with a series of seven ramparts protecting it. Search here as well for the huge cave known as the Banqueting Hall and a dramatic blow hole well worth seeing when the waves pick up. From the headland Newquay beckons and it’s easy walking, the path taking you alongside the first of the 9 beaches that cushion the town.