Section 4. Porthcurno to Penzance - Cornwall Coast Path
Distance 11.5 miles - Grade 7 miles strenuous and 4.5 miles easy - What these grades mean.
Today you walk possibly the most stunning and scenic sections in West Cornwall - a parade of picturesque golden coves with the path spending much of the morning traversing the cliff top above the waves.
The first steep climb is up to infamous Logan rock and the Treryn Dinas Iron Age Fort high above the churning waves. The Rock was locally known as an enigma of balance, “one man being able to rock all 60 tonnes of it”! The Navy’s Lieutenant Goldsmith had heard it said the rock could not be dislodged and decided to prove otherwise with his men. The rock duly fell, causing an outcry in 1824. Local guides, known as pinkers as they used to pick the sea pinks from the cliffs to sell, were furious at this potential loss of guiding income and in the ensuing row Goldsmith was labelled a vandal and the Admiralty ordered him to replace the rock at his own expense. Somehow the 60 tonne lump of granite was hauled back into place where you can see it today... but it lost its rocking motion in the process.
Drop into Penberth, an unspoilt fishing village of a few scattered cottages around a stone slipway at the end of a deep wooded valley where you can view the restored capstan which was the original method of hauling the boats up the slipway. Wander above the whiter than white Tater-du Lighthouse and onto to Lamorna Cove and a chance to visit the notorious Lamorna Wink Inn. Walking onto Mounts Bay, a more peaceful undulating coast path passes Carn-du Head, covered in pink sea thrift and through Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve, a haven for butterflies and insects which glide through a rather unusual area of planted Monterey Pines.
At Port Spaniard you cross the spot where a formidable 16C Spanish raiding party ,intent on revenge for the defeat of the Armada, landed in 1595 before moving on to destroy virtually every building in Mousehole, Paul, Newlyn and then Penzance.
A return to a road for the first time in days is made just before Mousehole a place which Dylan Thomas called The Loveliest village in England. It certainly boasts a stunning harbour, narrow alleys surrounded by whitewashed cottages and courtyards full of flowers. Its name taken from a smugglers cave just south of the town. It makes a good lunch stop and if you stop here for food you should try the local speciality Star Gazy Pie (try The Ship Inn) served with the heads of the fish sticking through the pastry of a large pie ..“or star gazing”. Around Penlee point you will come across the memorial gardens at the lifeboat station for the Penlee Lifeboat tragedy which devastated the community here at Christmas in 1981 when all hands were lost trying to rescue the Union Star. From here the new cycle walkway takes you on into Newlyn
Newlyn was Cornwall’s first artist’s colony and the Newlyn Art Gallery is on the coast path and costs nothing. Better still, wander past what’s left of the small medieval quay beside the new fishing fleet's harbour with its nets, boats, and boxes of fish. Newlyn is Cornwall’s, indeed England’s, busiest fishing port. Pause here and see the variety of catch brought in every day. Back on the walkway it’s not far to Battery rocks and the Art Deco swimming pool which announce your arrival in Penzance and unless you are heading on round the bay to St Michaels Mount and the inland path back to St Ives you end your coastal journey in the sheltered and hospitable town of Penzance.