Updated: May 22
When it comes to walks we’re spoiled for choice in this part of Cornwall but one of our favourites, no matter what time of year, is the stretch of coast path between Zennor and The Gurnard’s Head.
The route includes dramatic coastal scenery, old mining works and a prehistoric fort. What’s more, there’s a choice of two great pubs along the route.
Start your walk at the car park in Zennor, an ancient village nestled between the sea and the West Penwith moors. If you have time, do look into St Senara’s church. The current building dates back to the 12th century and on the end of one of the pews you’ll find the carving of the famous Zennor Mermaid. According to legend she fell in love with a local boy and lured him to sea. On quiet nights the pair can still be heard singing beneath the waves.
The Tinner’s Arm has been the village pub for 700 years. With its open fire and wood panelling, there’s always a warm welcome. If you’re visiting in summer we recommend sitting out in the beer garden.
To start the walk, follow the path past the church and onto the coast path where you’re immediately rewarded with spectacular views of rugged granite cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. Even on a calm sunny day, there’s something wild and unspoiled about this stretch of coastline.
A little further on you will see a rectangular hollow. This is the site of the medieval Treen chapel which was mentioned in the Domesday book. From here, the path takes you towards the Gurnard’s Head, a striking promontory shaped like the eponymous fish's head. During the Iron Age a hill fort was constructed here due to its excellent defensive position. You can still see the remains of the ditch and wall which protected the fort from invasion.
You can turn right to explore the Gurnard’s Head further or take the left hand path uphill towards another Gurnard’s Head, this one a pub. It’s a good spot for refreshments and welcomes dogs.
From here you turn left and make your way across the fields back towards Zennor. The field system in this part of Cornwall has its origins in the prehistoric period. The stone walls that enclose the fields are known as Cornish hedges
During the First World War the author D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda rented a cottage in Zennor. The couple were treated with suspicion due to the fact Frieda was German.
The late and brilliant Helen Dunmore’s first novel, Zennor in Darkness is a fictionalised account of the couple’s time in Cornwall.