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Winter Walks on the South West Coast Path

Winter Walks on the South West Coast Path

Whether bracing or gentle, a coastal walk blows away the cobwebs. Even in the depths of winter, venture from the fireside to spot sunbeams or rainclouds far out to sea. Go closer to hear the almighty crash of waves and feel spray on your cheeks, or stand back and survey the glistening blue expanse. Whatever the season, the elements fulfil and inspire.

Windy walks in Cornwall

Driftwood is perched above the South West Coast Path, the UK’s longest National Trail. It crosses Porthbean cove beneath us and spans 630 miles of coastline, including glorious walks along the Roseland Peninsula in both directions.

The peninsula is, quite justly, lauded for its stunning scenery. Although surprisingly, it’s still little known amongst visitors. The majority head to surf spots on the North Coast. True, our waters don’t offer the breaks of Newquay— but Roseland is a paradise for creatives, adventurers, and ramblers alike.

Here are five wonderful walks on the South West Coast Path.

St Mawes

St Just in Roseland to St Mawes

Route and map here. St Mawes is a 10-minute drive and St Just in Roseland a 7-minute drive from the hotel.

Driftwood overlooks Roseland’s eastern coast, but several miles of rolling hills take you to its western ‘coast’, an ancient network of estuarine creeks. Called the Carrick Roads, they date to the end of the last Ice Age, when rising sea levels engulfed the valley to form one of the world’s deepest natural harbours, at Falmouth.

This circular 6.1-mile walk begins at St Just in Roseland churchyard. The Church was reputedly founded around 550AD and its history is as palpable as the salt-tang of the Carrick tide. The churchyard is studded with local granite inscribed with biblical passages, within subtropical foliage planted by the Victorians. Enjoy a crisp wander then turn seaward along wooded creeks and quiet inlets.

The estuary’s deep, undisturbed waters are a haven for Grebes and other sea-going birds over winter. On cold mornings, a mist gathers over the water, and darting birds become arrows of life in the stillness.

When you reach St Mawes, look around Henry VIII’s castle and warm up over a hot chocolate in a seafront café. Return on footpaths with cross-country views of rolling fields and the sea to the south east.

DID YOU KNOW? St Mawes Castle was part of a chain of fortresses commissioned by Henry VIII in 1539, to defend Britain from an invasion threat from Catholic France and Spain. St Mawes guarded the strategic anchorage of Carrick Roads alongside Pendennis Castle.

Coast Path

Driftwood to St Anthony Head and Back

8.2 miles circular. This is a variation of a walk from Portscatho to St Anthony’s Head, route and map here.

There’s no need to defrost your car or negotiate any lanes, this walk is on our doorstep. Begin on the SW path at Porthbean, and take in glorious sea views to your left. Skirt the high cliffs around Porthcurnick beach and enter Portscatho. Stroll along The Lugger, the village’s seafront promenade, and listen to boats clink in the harbour within the crook of the breakwater. The small arm of rock was built to protect boats after the shipwrecked Carl Hirschberg was dynamited off the rocks in 1891. Calm days make the water look harmless, but the turquoise wash hides dangerous reefs.

The wide sweep of Towan beach unfolds a mile later, then the path drops along Greeb Point cliffs, which skirt a beach charmingly called Peter’s Splash. Continue along Killigerran Head and Porthmellin Head, with the enticing curve of Porthbeor beach below. You are then rewarded with around an hour of level coast path before you reach St Anthony Head. Look out for porpoises and seals between Zone Point and St Anthony Head. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a rare Atlantic white-sided dolphin.

St Anthony Head offers a beautiful jaunt in its own right which requires less time and energy.

Winter walking

Kiberick Cove, Veryan Castle and Carne Circular

Route and map here. Pendower beach has parking and is a 15-minute drive from us or a 1.5 mile (30 minute) walk on the SW coast path.

This 5.3-mile walk is a perfect mix of coast and countryside. For an area that arguably has no inland, Roseland is blessed with verdant farmland, pretty villages, and ancient woodland. The Lizard shelters it from the Atlantic; it is amongst Cornwall’s gentlest countryside.

Begin at Pendower Beach and keep the sea to your right as you head towards Nare Head. Pass Mallet’s Cottage and then round the headland to spy distinctive Gull Rock out at sea. After Kiberick Cove the route heads inland along peaceful lanes over to picturesque Veryan village then Carne.

Driftwood Beach

Variation: Driftwood to Portloe

This is a section of a longer walk, route and map here.

Part of the magic of Roseland is the steady presence of the sea. It reflects winter’s low light and enriches its palette. Even on grey days the water is often vibrant with trails of silvery-gold and undertones of green and purple.

The SW coast path keeps on giving. At each headland, the rock shelves away to reveal another cove; another headland; another horizon. This walk begins at The Driftwood and heads across the stunning coastline to Portloe, which John Betjeman called ‘one of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages’.

Start on the SW path at Porthbean, keep the sea on your right. The coast path offers diverse sea views: glimpses through copses, blue haze beyond gorse studded pastures and foaming, surging water over the rocks. Highlights include ancient Carne barrow, thought to be almost 4,000 years old, and Creek Stephen Point, which offers an expansive view of the bay across Pendower and Carne beaches. Nare Head lies across the horizon, dividing sea from sky.


Portloe to Caerhays Castle

This is part of a longer walk, route and map here.

Explore more of the peninsula by walking northeast from Portloe Head to Caerhays Castle, a gorgeous estate with award-winning spring gardens that reopen on the 17th February 2020.

At parts, the coast path climbs over rugged cliffs that fall away to rock-pools and bottle-green shallows. Other sections creep along at sea level, following the seagrasses that edge the sand.

Caerhays Castle is a must-see if the castle or gardens are open, if not Porthluney Cove boasts a magnificent view of the castle framed by rhododendrons. The cove is beautiful.

Stay at the Driftwood


Driftwood is a true coastal retreat, a beautiful seaside boutique hotel in Cornwall. Perched on the South West Coastal Path close to St Mawes and Portscatho overlooking Gerrans Bay, it is the perfect spot to unwind and soak up some vitamin sea.

Enjoy your stay and leave the details to us. We can provide you with a flask of tea or hot chocolate and a packed lunch. For something extra special, we can package our Celebratory Hamper For Two in a rucksack ready for a splendid picnic on the coast path. 

We are nestled in seven fabulous acres, with Porthbean beach beckoning at the end of a pretty woodland path. When you stay with us, pure escapism and relaxation will be on tap from the moment you arrive.

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