Route Section Number 8:

Penzance to St Ives

The far corner of the southwest peninsula is perfect for a meandering coastal roadtrip. West of Penzance and St Ives there are no towns or dual carriageways – just a fascinating selection of remote villages, rocky shores and wild moorland.

It’s a perfect demonstration of why we recommend taking smaller coastal roads. Most visitors speed across the middle of Penwith on the largely anonymous A30. It leads straight to the expensive car park at Land’s End alongside crowded fast food outlets and souvenir shops. If they drive back the same way they probably won’t see anything memorable all day.

Instead we recommend SW660 drivers explore the coastal roads. You’ll discover some of Britain’s most beautiful and rugged coastal views and drive entirely within an area of outstanding natural beauty. Those A30 speedsters miss some extraordinary sights, including an open-air theatre carved into a cliff and mine workings so special they have been UNESCO World Heritage status.

Your Route

Mining in Cornwall

The Devon and Cornwall Mining World Heritage Site includes old workings spread across large areas of both counties. Follow the whole SW660 to see most of the best ones.

The most spectacular mine works are here though, clinging to rugged cliffs in the far west of Cornwall. At the National Trust shoreline of Botallack and Levant you’ll spot engine houses that served as prominent locations in TV’s Poldark series and at Geevor visitors can don hard hats to explore a tin mine where tunnels extend a mile under the sea.

During your trip

Route Highlights


The first thing to note about this picturesque fishing village is how to pronounce it: locals say ‘mowsul’ – never ‘mouse hole’. The narrow streets do make you think of a mousehole though.

The Penwith Landscape

Cornwall’s far west has a distinctive landscape, more like Dartmoor than the rest of the county’s green farmland. It’s due to its granite rocks and remote windswept geography.


On a sunny day Porthcurno beach seems Mediterranean, its white sand sheltered by high cliffs facing a turquoise sea.

Land’s End

In some ways all the roads of the South West seem to lead towards this one jagged headland sticking into the Atlantic.

St Ives

This old fishing town has become West Cornwall’s star attraction thanks to its selection of sandy beaches, quaint harbourside pubs and restaurants, and a famous artsy heritage.

Ancient Sites

Penwith is dotted with a mysterious array of ancient monuments. The stone walls of the Iron Age village of Chysauster occupy a pretty hillside north of Penzance while Zennor Quoit burial chamber looks out into the Atlantic from high moorland. Men-an-Tol is a huge granite stone with a hole through near Boskednan. Crawl through the hole to test its legendary curative powers. Find the 19 standing stones of the Merry Maidens ‘dancing’ alongside the B3315 and take your camera to capture the dramatic Lanyon Quoit prehistoric monument near Madron.

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