The Zennor to St Ives Walk is one of the best coastal walks in Cornwall. Right from the get-go, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of Pendour Cove from Zennor Head. From there, you’ll meander along the stunning coastline, eventually reaching Clodgy Point and Man’s Head, where you’ll enjoy an incredible view of St Ives.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Zennor to St Ives Walk. As well as talking about the highlights of the walk, we’ll cover details about what to expect and helpful things to know before doing the walk. We’ll also discuss route variations and other great walks nearby. Finally, we’ll tell you about other worthwhile things to do in the area.
Anyway, before you read this guide, feel free to watch our 2 Best Hikes in Cornwall video.
We hope you find this guide helpful. Another must-do coastal path walk in Cornwall is the Lizard Coastal Walk, which explores the mindblowing Kynance Cove.
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Zennor to St Ives Walk Guide
If you like coastal walks, the Zennor to St Ives Walk should be high on your to-do list when visiting Cornwall. Certainly, this coastal trail is one of the best sections of the South West Coast Path. Of course, you’re welcome to walk in either direction. The St Ives to Zennor Walk is perhaps the most popular route option and direction to walk in. But, personally, we decided to do the Zennor to St Ives Walk for no particular reason other than it suiting our itinerary better at the time.
Anyway, in whichever direction you walk, you’ll obviously still see the same amazing attractions along the way. In this guide, we’ll obviously focus on the walk starting in Zennor and finishing in St Ives.
What to Expect on the Zennor to St Ives Walk
Before we dive deep into the route details, let’s briefly cover what to expect on this adventure. Admittedly, the question we get asked the most is – how long is the coastal walk from Zennor to St Ives and vice versa? Well, the Zennor to St Ives walk time is usually around 3.5–4 hours as the distance is approx. 11.5km.
In terms of Zennor to St Ives walk difficulty, we’ve personally rated this walk as easy. That’s because the trail is really simple to follow and doesn’t have any technical sections. Sure, there is some elevation gain and a fair distance to walk. But, overall, in the grand scheme of things, the walk isn’t too difficult and should be manageable for most.
Taking place in the stunning Cornwall Area of Natural Beauty (ANOB), you can expect glorious coastal landscapes and views. Technically speaking, you won’t be walking in a national park. But, the area has the same status and protection as a national park. So, expect plenty of breathtaking natural scenery during the walk.
Zennor to St Ives Walk Map and Essential Stats
- Type: One-way
- Distance: 11.3km
- Time: 3.5–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 370m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Zennor Bus Stop
- Map: Wikiloc
Zennor to St Ives Walk Highlights
During the Zennor to St Ives Walk, there are numerous natural landmarks to enjoy. Initially, from Zennor Head, you’ll have spectacular views of various bays and coves such as Pendour Cove. In between Zennor Head and Clodgy Point, there are many points of interest that we’ll cover in the trail description below. Although, it’s worth pointing out, that from Clodgy Point, which is near the end of the walk, you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of St Ives and its coastline. Without further ado, let’s talk about the highlights of the Zennor to St Ives Walk!
You’ll start in the small village of Zennor in west Cornwall. Head north through the quaint village towards Zennor Head. Once you reach the coastal path, you’ll see a National Trust sign labelled ‘Zennor Head’. Continue straight and northwards to head towards the end of the headland. This is where you’ll start enjoying the most mind-blowing coastal views.
Indeed, exploring Zennor Head is one of the highlights of the entire walk to St Ives. From Zennor Head, you’ll enjoy outrageous views southwards towards Pendour Cove. You’ll also catch a glimpse of Veor Cove further in the distance. At Zennor Head, you’ll also enjoy epic coastal rocks. So, it’s not just about the views out to Pendour Cove! On the headland itself, there are fascinating landforms to see.
Pendour Cove (Zennor Cove)
As mentioned, in a southerly direction, you’ll enjoy a series of spectacular coves spotted along the coastline. The closest cove is Pendour Cove, which is also known as Zennor Cove. This cove is actually inaccessible. From Zennor Head, you’ll enjoy the best vantage point for Pendour Cove and its splendid scenery. Personally, Beck and I arrived at Zennor Head at sunrise. So, we had particularly wondrous skies parading over Pendour and Veor Coves.
Beyond Pendour Cove, you’ll catch a glimpse of Veor Cove. Admittedly, you won’t enjoy as expansive views of Veor Cove compared with Pendour Cove. But, in reality, the series of coves, including both Pendour and Veor Coves is what’s most spectacular, rather than one single cove alone. After taking in the gorgeous views of Pendour and Veor Coves, it’s time to head in an easterly direction across Zennor Head. By doing so, you’ll stumble upon sensational far-reaching northerly coastal views.
Passing Various Peninsulas, Coves and Wicca Pool Waterfall
After walking around Zennor Head, you’ll continue east towards St Ives. The ensuing part of the Zennor to St Ives Walk has many coves and peninsulas to explore. We won’t name all of the different coves. But, one particular point of interest is the Wicca Pool Waterfall. Personally, this little-known natural attraction was one of our favourite features of the walk. We didn’t get any close-up photos of the waterfall, but we did get some great video footage! Check out our YouTube video at 2:02 to see this awesome waterfall.
Certainly, it was during this mid-section of the walk that Beck and I did some speed hiking. As we were enjoying our workout along the stunning coast, the beautiful views just kept coming, one after the other!
What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking at a fast speed for whatever reason you like. Find out more about it here.
Seal Island, St Ives
Certainly, between Zennor Head and St Ives, one of the main landmarks you’ll notice is Seal Island. Facing out towards the sea, at the Treveal Cove Viewpoint, you’ll see a couple of small islands around 300 metres away. Unfortunately, from the coastal trail, you’ll be too far away to see the beautiful sea lions, that live on the island. Indeed, St Ives’ Seal Island would make for an unreal boat trip if you ever got the chance.
The Merry Harversters Stone Circle
As you approach Clodgy Point, you’ll pass the Merry Harversters Stone Circle. As the name suggests, it’s a circle of stones! But, this stone circle is by no means a historical or ancient monument. The Merry Harversters Stone Circle was apparently created by the owners of Trevalgan Holiday Farm. Honestly speaking, Beck and I didn’t take too much notice of the Merry Harversters Stone Circle during the walk. Indeed, the stone circle isn’t a highlight of the Zennor to St Ives Walk.
Anyway, after passing the stone circle, you’ll pass Travalgan Cliff and a point known as Pen Enys Point. Next to this point, you’ll find the lovely Porthkervis.
Just before you arrive at Clodgy Point, you’ll pass a marvellous stretch of coastline known as Porthkervis. From the coastal path, you’ll enjoy crystal-clear turquoise waters splashing against the cliff walls. Given the clearness and brightness of the water, you might even think you’re in the Medittarenean! But, no, the chilly winds will immediately remind you that, indeed, you’re at Porthkervis in Cornwall.
After passing Porthkervis, you’ll soon pass another point called Hors Point. Following this point, you’ll soon arrive at the superb Hellesveor Cliff.
In the preceding section of the trail before Clodgy Point, you’ll follow a path adjacent to a fine stretch of cliff. This section of the cliff is known as Hellesveor Cliff, which is a rugged and raw slanted cliff wall usually covered by grass and shrubbery. Below Hellesveor Cliff and scattered along the shoreline are huge rocks that have fallen off the cliff walls. Certainly, Hellesveor Cliff is an impressive stretch of coastline.
After passing by Hellesveor Cliff, you’ll finally arrive at Clodgy Point. From Clodgy Point, you’ll start to have a clearer view of St Ives, The Island and Porthmeor Beach. Indeed, reaching Clodgy Point means you’re nearing the end stages of the coastal walk. But, before you head to St Ives, you’ll walk to Man’s Head, which is another stellar vantage point.
Man’s Head: WWII Pillbox
Compared with Clodgy Point, you’ll have even better views of St Ives from Man’s Head. Better yet, at Man’s Head, you’ll find more fascinating rock formations. As well, you’ll see a WWII pillbox, which you’ll be able to explore inside. With Porthmeor Beach in the distance, the pillbox is certainly surrounded by gorgeous coastal scenery.
After leaving Man’s Head, you’ll gently descend towards Porthmeor Beach – one of the best beaches in St Ives. At this point of the Zennor to St Ives Walk, you can choose to explore Porthmeor Beach, The Island, Porthgwidden Beach, Bamaluz Beach and Porthminster Beach. Otherwise, having arrived in St Ives, it’s also possible to complete the walk by heading to the town centre.
Personally, Beck and I were heading to Lizard for the Lizard Coastal Walk in the afternoon. So, we didn’t explore The Island or any of St Ives’ beaches. But, if you’re keen on exploring more of St Ives, here’s a rundown of what you’ll see!
The Island, St Ives
After walking along the soft sand of Porthmeor Beach, continue north and join one of several trails ascending The Island in St Ives. No, The Island is not actually an island. It’s yet another headland along this stretch of the beautiful Cornwall coast. Previously known as Pendinas, St Ives’ The Island provides great views back down Porthmeor Beach and over the town of St Ives itself.
After exploring The Island, it’s time to head to the next sandy beach along the coast. Next up is Porthgwidden Beach. It’s a tiny golden sand beach nestled between The Island and Bamaluz Beach. Certainly, during summer, Porthgwidden Beach can be rammed. If that’s the case, you may want to continue a little further along the coast to reach a beach with a bit more legroom.
A short distance away from Porthgwidden Beach, you’ll arrive at Bamaluz Beach. Similar to Porthgwidden Beach, Bamaluz Beach is another tiny sandy beach. Especially at high tide, there isn’t much left in terms of space for the towel! Before taking a rest, we recommend continuing a little further south to Porthminster Beach, where you’ll have a larger beach to enjoy.
For those who have explored St Ives and its beaches from Zennor, the final highlight is Porthminster Beach. Heralded as one of St Ives’ best beaches, you’ll have plenty of room on this relatively long stretch of sand to do as you please. Will it be lunch, a snooze or a swim? Whichever you choose, Porthminster Beach is a fine destination to relax after the Zennor to St Ives Walk.
Although, you may choose to wind down in the lovely seaside town of St Ives itself. But, keep in mind, that St Ives gets extremely busy in the summer. So, it’ll be your personal preference as to whether you’ll hang around at St Ives or head somewhere quieter in Cornwall!
Things to Know Before Doing the Zennor to St Ives Walk (Logistics)
Now that you know all about the Zennor to St Ives Walk, let’s talk about some of the logistics for your trip. Let’s start with getting to Zennor in the first place.
How to Get There (Directions)
We recommend initially driving to St Ives yourself and then catching a bus to Zennor. In terms of parking, you won’t find any free parking options in St Ives. But, in saying that, there are plenty of paid car parks dotted around the outskirts of the main hub of St Ives.
Personally, we recommend Trenwith Car Park. It’s a large car park with plenty of space, particularly during the off-season. It was also much cheaper than we had expected, costing only £2.20 (as of 2021) for less than 4 hours between 8am–6pm. Although, this parking rate only applies from 1 November to 31 March, which is a great reason for doing this hike outside of peak season. The prices for parking go up extortionately between April and October.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online.
St Ives to Zennor Bus
From St Ives, you’ll catch the 16A bus to Zennor. Thankfully, Go Cornwall Buses run a service from St Ives to Zennor, which takes around half an hour. Basically, you’ll alight at the village of Zennor here. From there, you’ll take the road north heading into and through the small village. Soon enough, you’ll join the coastal path at Zennor Head near Pendour Cove. For the latest information on the St Ives to Zennor bus, click here.
Dogs are allowed on the Zennor to St Ives coastal walk. Although, there are a few areas of livestock. In particular, the area near the Merry Harvesters Stone Circle, around Trevalgan Cliff is sometimes used for grazing. Also, in 2021 at least, there were some ponies along the trail, somewhere between Trevalgan and Clodgy Point. So, make sure to have your dog on a lead when appropriate.
As mentioned, most people actually do the St Ives to Zennor Walk as opposed to the Zennor to St Ives Walk. In addition, there are some other route variations involving this coastal trail. Let’s look at all of these trail variations below.
St Ives to Zennor Walk
Basically, instead of walking from Zennor to St Ives, you can choose to walk from St Ives to Zennor. In all honesty, this is fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t go into any further detail. Although, for your reference, please find a St Ives to Zennor Walk map.
Bus From Zennor to St Ives
In terms of logistics for the St Ives to Zennor Walk, you’ll need to get the Zennor to St Ives bus. In fact, it’s the same bus as mentioned previously, which is run by Go Cornwall Buses. Once you’ve finished the walk in Zennor, head here to catch the 16A bus to St Ives. For all of the latest information, check out the Zennor to St Ives bus timetable.
St Ives to Zennor Return Walk
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a return walk. Never mind the bus then! Certainly, if you’re a keen hiker looking for more of a challenge, then doing the return walk is a great option. By doing so, the hike would turn into an approx. 22.5km walk with over 600 metres of elevation gain, taking anywhere between 7–8 hours. Otherwise, we’d recommend catching a bus at the end of the one-way walk to save you the trouble.
St Ives to Zennor Circular Walk (Includes Coffin Path Through Fields)
Another popular option is the St Ives to Zennor Circular Walk. Instead of doing a return walk along the coast, you’d return via the Coffin Path (AKA the Zennor Churchway), which leads through a series of fields. Simply referred to as the St Ives to Zennor or Zennor to St Ives Coffin Path, the path basically links a number of farmsteads together. From all accounts, the coastal part of the circular walk is by far the more exciting trail. With that said, we don’t necessarily recommend the St Ives to Zennor Circular Walk.
Other Walks Starting in Zennor
For an easier walk starting in Zennor, consider the Zennor Head Walk. Simply, starting and ending in Zennor, you’ll complete a loop walk of the headland, taking in lovely views of Pendour and Veor Coves. If you’re looking to explore further west of Zennor along the South West Coast Path, you could walk from Zennor to Gurnard’s Head.
Alternatively, you could actually start the walk in Gurnard’s Head and walk to St Ives via Zennor. To get a sense of what the Gurnard’s Head to St Ives looks like, check out the interactive map.
Related Coastal Walks Nearby: South West Coast Path
The Zennor to St Ives Walk is just one tiny section of the 1,014 km (630 mile) long South West Coast Path. This long-distance trail explores Sommerset, Exmoor, North Devon, South Devon and Cornwall. It starts in Minehead in Somerset and ends in Poole in Dorset.
Of course, there are many other brilliant sections of the South West Coast Path in Cornwall. Without laboriously listing all of the options, we’re going to simply recommend perhaps the other best walk in Cornwall. In our opinion, it’s the Lizard Coastal Walk. So, make sure to do this one, before or after the Zennor to St Ives Walk! Otherwise, if you’re looking for something closer to the walk discussed in the guide, you could consider covering more of the South West Coast Path near St Ives.
St Ives Walk (St Ives Coastal Path)
The St Ives Walk, also known as the St Ives Coastal Path simply refers to the paths following the coastline around St Ives. Of course, by doing the Zennor to St Ives Walk, or vice versa, you may have already covered this walk. If you’re looking for some additional walking after getting to St Ives, you could continue on the South West Coast Path to Carbis Bay. The St Ives to Carbis Bay Walk is an easy walk, that’s approx. 2km in length, taking 20 to 30 minutes one-way.
Other Things to Do in the Area
As you’ll finish the walk in St Ives, it makes sense that you’ll explore this well-known Cornish seaside town. Did someone say Cornish pasty? Although, if St Ives is a bit too busy for your liking, we’ve handpicked two other great options for things to do nearby – visiting a splendid beach and old-worldly pub!
Explore Zennor Beaches
Unfortunately, there isn’t actually a beach in Zennor in Cornwall. The closest beach to Zennor is Portheras Cove, which is around a 10 minute drive south of Zennor. Located between Morvah and Pendeen, Portheras Cove is a stunning beach, that’ll be much quieter and more serene than the beaches in St Ives.
When it comes to pubs in the area, Tinners Arms is a solid choice. Located in Zennor, the pub amazingly dates back to 1271! By heading for a drink at Tinners Arms, you’ll certainly find yourself amongst the locals and in one of Cornwall’s best pubs. Also, attached is a 19th Century cottage, if you wanted to stay the night!
These are our five hiking gear essentials for this walk.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Make sure to also pack water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat! For a longer hiking gear list, read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.
- Best time of year to visit: of course, hiking in summer means warmer weather and less chance of rain and wind. But, this walk is still fine to do in winter. If anything, the trail will be far less crowded! In addition, parking in St Ives is way cheaper in the off-season too.
- Trip planning: in our previous trip to Cornwall, we had only one day to explore as we were in Exeter for a wedding. Sure, it would be great to explore Cornwall over multiple days. But, even just one day of exploring beautiful Cornwall is better than none!
- Why not try Get Your Guide? if you’re looking for great tours in Cornwall and in the UK, head to Get Your Guide below.
To read more about the two best hikes in Cornwall and how to logistically do them both one day, read here.