Route Section number 9:
St Ives to Padstow
The drive along the north coast of mid-Cornwall is probably packed with more trendy hotels, stylish beach bars and gourmet restaurants than any other stretch of the Southwest660. But even the coolest driftwood tables, hipster waiters and lobster salads can’t disguise that this is part of Cornwall’s wilder side.
The rocky headlands and vast sandy beaches of the north shoreline catch the brunt of Atlantic breakers and ocean-force winds, making the 60-mile shoreline a more inspiring and rugged version of the county’s gentler south coast.
That means the St Ives to Padstow route is an inspiring stretch that perfectly suits surfers, walkers and explorers… just as it suits fashionable foodies and boutique B&B bohemians. Look out too for the romantic ruins of stone towers and crumbling industrial architecture – they are intriguing clues to the region’s mining World Heritage Site status.
The best view on this stretch of the Southwest660 is the extraordinary seascape at Bedruthan Steps, on the B3276 between Newquay and Padstow. This wild stretch of coast is a completely undeveloped series of sandy coves guarded by wave-battered rock stacks and jagged outcrops. The stormier the Atlantic breakers, the more dramatic it looks. Steep steps down to the beach can be closed by rock falls but the view from the National Trust’s cliff-top path is world class.
During your trip
The Surf Beaches
From Gwithian Towans near Hayle to Constantine Bay near Padstow, this stretch of the Southwest660 offers an impressive sequence of big sandy beaches with big waves to match. That means there’s always plenty of space on vast sandy expanses like Porthtowan, Perranporth and Watergate beaches.
Escape the tourist trail
A short distance inland find the old mining towns of Camborne and Redruth. They are largely ignored by visitors – which makes them an interesting insight into the real Cornish industrial heritage.
The highlights include seeing the huge steam-powered machinery still in action at East Pool Mine and King Edward Mine. Then climb to the landmark monument of Carn Brea that’s visible on the skyline for miles. The Celtic cross at the summit was erected by wealthy mine-owners and the views from here are famous among locals, who often visit to watch the sunset over the sea.
Staying in the area
Harbour Hotel Padstow
- Self Catering
Watergate Bay Hotel
The Esplanade Hotel
Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa