Section 5. Portreath to Gwithian (or Hayle) - Cornish Coast Path Route
Distance 7.5 miles to Gwithian or 12 miles to Hayle - Grade - Moderate - What these grades mean.
A steep climb this morning takes you up to Western hill with grand views back to St Agnes Beacon and Kelsey Head. From here you wander above the crashing, tumultuous breakers on cliff tops and high meadow full of primroses and dog roses in season.
At the oddly named Ralphs Cupboard you will find an awesome chasm, a deep cave whose roof has collapsed. Locally, depending on who you ask, Ralph was either a wrecker who used the cave for securing and storing his ill gotton gains or a Giant known as “Wrath” who lay in wait for passing ships and towed them back to the cave to devour the sailors – either way a place to avoid for those out at sea!
The path switchbacks into the Carvannel Valley passing the waterfall at Porthcadjack Cove before reaching the high level Reskajeage Downs which give great views of the Crane Islands offshore that were once linked to what is left of Crane Castle, another headland hill fort.
The names get more dramatic as Deadpan’s Cove leads you through the gorse to Hells mouth. The latter is well named with its 200 feet sheer drops to the sea far below. It’s a veritable cauldron of relentlessly attacking and crashing waves and gloomy sea caves that boom loudly as the air is forced out of them by the waves far below you.
Your first views of St Michaels Mount on the other side of Cornwall now appear as you climb on past groups of semi wild Shetland ponies to the Trig Point at Navax point. This area is famous for its seals and Mutton Cove beach is one of the best places for spotting them in Cornwall. Below you the cliffs are peppered with caves used by the seals giving birth and it’s often easy to spot them basking in the sun as you walk on towards Godrevey Point.
Offshore now the exposed and dramatic Lighthouse at Godrevey built in 1859 guards the deadly reef known as the Stones and frames fantastic views across to the end of the trail at St Ives that looks tantalisingly close until you realise you need to walk round the great sands at Hayle to reach it. Virginia Woolf spent her childhood holidays at St Ives staring back at this spot and from it took the inspiration for her book “To The Lighthouse”. Inland, Gwithian is a pretty thatched village with one of Cornwall’s best beach cafes for lunch.
Three glorious miles down the "Towans" (sand dunes) beyond Gwithian you reach the town of Hayle and the alternative option for your overnight stay tonight.