An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Distance: 6.3 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 10 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Cornwall (north coast)
  • Terrain: Coast path; tidal beach and easy scramble (optional)
  • Access: South West Coast Path; optional walk on Bedruthen beach on an outgoing tide
  • Height gain: 317 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 106
  • Starting point: National Trust Carnewas Car Park (GR SW 849 689)
  • Accommodation/food:

    Great cakes and cream teas at Carnewas tearooms at the start of the walk. Plenty of accommodation in nearby Padstow and Newquay, and along the coast in between

  • Island Summary:

    Bedruthen Steps offers some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Britain. At low tide there is a beach with golden sands and turquoise sea water pools that sit invitingly around the bases of its dramatic sea stacks, whilst at high tide it becomes a seething mass of Atlantic waves pounding the rugged cliffs.

    This circular walk includes stunning views of the islands of Bedruthen from the high cliffs of the South West Coast Path, as well as an optional low tide walk along Bedruthen beach, with the further option of extending the route to swim in the beautiful low-tide lagoon between the Trescore Islands and the mainland, just north of Porth Mear Cove. The return route heads inland, before a final stretch along the coast path.

    If you plan to descend the stairs to Bedruthen beach always check their state of repair with the National Trust first to see if they are open.

  • Look out for:
    • Spectacular sea stacks
    • Bathing in sun-warmed pools
    • Swimming in the beautiful lagoon of Trescore Islands
    • Cream teas at Carnewas Tearooms
    • Wildlife-filled rock pools at Porth Mear
  • Route description:

    The circular walk along the South West Coast Path around Bedruthen Steps, is one of the most spectacular coastal walks in Britain. It starts at the National Trust Carnewas car park and tearooms and heads along the coast path to reach the steps down to Bedruthen beach (optional). Once on the beach, at low tide (preferably an outgoing tide), it is a straightforward walk exploring the many sea stacks to reach the last sandy beach below Pentire Steps. There are two easy scrambling routes up the cliff back to the coast path, as described in the downloadable directions.

    Once back on the top of the cliffs the coast path continues to a footbridge* at Porth Mear, where the return route turns south and tracks west of the stream to reach Pentire Farm and the National Trust’s Park Head car park. From here a path leads back to the cliffs, where the South West Coast Path returns to Carnewas.

    *The route can be extended north to swim in the beautiful lagoon between the Trescore Islands and mainland, west of Porthcothen. Cross the footbridge and continue along the coast path until you are about level with the south of the islands. Here you’ll find routes down the cliffs to enter the water.

  • Getting there:

    The best way to access Bedruthen Steps is from the Carnewas car park. To get there take the B3276 north of Newquay, turn left into the lane opposite the Inn at Bedruthen

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