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.

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Don’t miss

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.

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Route Highlights

Hayle

Hayle is one of Cornwall’s surprise packages. It’s the opposite of Padstow’s culinary chic. Instead, this former industrial harbour town is a glimpse of the old Cornwall. It was a centre for smelting tin with its industrial relics forming part of the mining World Heritage site.

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. 

Newquay

We can’t hide the fact that Newquay is the biggest party town along the whole southwest660 route. Some will love the surf bars, crowds and music, others will immediately press the accelerator and head for quieter spots.

Padstow

This quiet fishing village at the mouth of the River Camel has been transformed within a generation to become a major tourist attraction. Locals who’ve seen the sudden changes call it ‘Padstein’ celebrating how celebrity chef Rick Stein has put it on the foodie radar.

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.

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