Self-guided Cornwall Walking Tour
At a Glance
Immerse yourself in England’s beautiful South West with this self-guided walking tour of Cornwall
Hiking from bustling Padstow to scenic Charlestown, enjoy a week of breath-taking views, towering cliffs, golden beaches and charming coastal villages. Explore the headlands that inspired Poldark and traverse ancient stretches of the 630-mile South West Coast Path. Marvel at the mysterious Lost Gardens of Heligan, catch the ferry over the Camel Estuary and feast on Rick Stein’s famous fish and chips.
Discover the real Cornwall. With awe-inspiring panoramas around every corner, cosy B&B accommodation and all the support you might need for a week of incredible walking, Active England promises a Cornish experience you’ll never forget.
Arriving into Bodmin Parkway railway station for 2pm, our friendly local guides will meet and transfer you to the stunning harbour town of Padstow. After a full introductory briefing, you’ll set off toward Hawkers Cove. A quiet beach at the mouth of the River Camel, with white sand and crystal-clear water, the gentle coastal walk to this picturesque spot is the perfect way to stretch your legs before venturing out on the longer routes you’ll tackle during the tour. With the afternoon drawing to a close, make your way back at a leisurely pace for your first evening in Padstow. Widely regarded as a culinary haven, you’ll find no shortage of outstanding places to eat, but we recommend a traditional British supper of fresh-caught fish and chips. Alternatively, for a particularly special night out, consider booking a table at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant.
From Padstow, catch the foot ferry across the Camel Estuary to the small seaside village of Rock, hiking to the dramatic Pentire Head via the charming town of Polzeath. Crossing the sand dunes, along the way you’ll come across the partially buried St Enodoc Church. Still in use to this day, Sir John Betjeman once famously wrote that its peculiar spire was “bent like a crooked witch’s hat.” From here, walk the idyllic beaches of Polzeath and Daymer Bay, before returning to rest up for a second evening in Padstow.
Heading out along the coastal path, climb the cliffs up to Stepper Point, passing the observatory as you enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and estuary. Be sure to watch out for peregrine falcons, the fastest birds in the world, which have been known to nest in the area. Likewise, take some time to chat with the volunteers at the observation hut, which charts the fascinating history of the Doom Bar: a sandbar at the mouth of the estuary of the River Camel, where hundreds of ships over the years have perished, this legendary location has been immortalised in Cornish folklore. From here, explore the glittering coastline and local beaches, passing through Trevone, Harlyn Bay and Constantine Bay before catching the bus across the headland for your final evening in Padstow.
Leaving Padstow behind, you’ll swap the North coast for the South coast and transfer to the gorgeous Charlestown. A pristine example of a late-Georgian working port, and one of the many filming locations used for Poldark, you’ll be staying for the next two nights in cosy local pub, The Rashleigh Arms. Setting out for today’s walk, head toward the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan, before continuing along the coast to the beautiful port of Mevagissey. If you arrive in time for lunch, we recommend The King’s Arms, famous for its incredible local lobster. Take plenty of time to explore, before returning to Charlestown for some well-deserved R&R.
Start the day by catching the public bus to the idyllic Polkerris beach. With golden sands and calm blue water, enjoy the picture-perfect scenery as you walk to the charming port town of Fowey, via Polridmouth Cove. The setting for Daphne’s Du Maurier’s classic gothic novel, Rebecca, literary fans might even enjoy the opportunity to visit Du Maurier’s house, before looping back around via the Bodinnick Ferry. With the tour now almost at an end, catch the bus back from Fowey for a final evening in Charlestown.
After a relaxed breakfast in Charlestown, a short taxi ride will take you to St Austell railway station for your onward travel.
Old Custom House, Padstow
Holding prime on Padstow's South Quay, the hotel overlooks the medieval harbour full of fishing boats. Just the place if you love fresh, quality food and drink while soaking up one of Cornwall’s finest seascapes.
Rashleigh Arms, Charlestown
Award-winning bed and breakfast situated in the iconic fishing village of Charlestown, a stunning coastal destination that has been featured in a variety of films and TV series, including the Cornish favourite, Poldark. Pop in for a pint of award-winning ale or get cosy with a bite to eat from the delicious menu that champions local produce.
What our guides say...
This trip is a fantastic way to see the English Caribbean at your own pace!
- All accommodation on a Bed & Breakfast basis
- Route Maps via RWGPS
- Route support
- Transfers on day 4
- Pre and post tour briefing
We have handpicked the best family run, independent and country hotels, pubs and guest houses. Cosy and with informal dining, these country hotels are friendly and relaxed, with great menus with locally sourced food and ales. Our handpicked accommodation is 3* with the option to upgrade to 4* for an additional cost.
This tour is rated moderate, meaning it’s appropriate for guests who enjoy a good walk and can handle an incline or two. You’ll cover varied terrain, enjoying some rolling hills and a few steeper walks which are slightly more demanding. Daily distances range from 4-10 miles. Rewarding views are guaranteed!
Walking poles can be provided if required
Pick-up location: Bodmin Parkway railway station. Our holidays are designed to be completely relaxing, with the start of our tours sitting within easy reach of London, Bristol or the Midlands. Our local Active England guides will pick you up from Bodmin Parkway, a direct 4-hour train journey out of London, before transferring you to Padstow. If you would like to arrive a day ahead of the tour, we would be very happy to help you an organise an extra night’s accommodation in Padstow.
End-of-tour location: St Austell railway station, which has direct rail links to London Paddington.
Where is Cornwall?
Cornwall is in the far South West of England, bordered by the famous English Channel and Celtic Sea. Known for its natural beauty, rugged coastline, idyllic coastal villages, beaches and walking and cycling trails, Cornwall is an outdoor enthusiast’s ideal playground!
What is the best way to get to Devon and Cornwall?
The best way out of London and into Cornwall is by train. From Paddington direct to Bodmin Parkway in 4 hours. The South West is also easily accessible from Bristol and the Midlands by train. If you prefer to drive, there is station parking available at all train stations. To get a bit deeper into Cornwall, it is easy to get a taxi from the train station.
Can I join a walking tour as a solo traveller?
All our trips are open for single travellers to join, these trips are a great way to meet social, like-minded people, active and looking for a great holiday. Over 30% of our guests travel alone. Solo guests have the option to have a room on their own or share with another guest.
How hilly is Cornwall?
There are hills, but with hills come great views and it means you feel like you’ve earned your fish & chips, cream tea or Cornish pasty!
Why choose a self-guided holiday?
With exceptionally well-planned routes, our self-guided tours are designed to suit the independent traveller or groups of travellers; those who wish to walk at their own pace and speed. With Ride With GPS and maps, we detail all of the points of interests, lunch stops, cafes – and of course pubs! Walk at your leisure, safe in the knowledge that a support team and emergency support vehicle is always on standby.
How fit and active do I need to be to come on a walking tour?
Our trips have different length route options varying from 4-10 miles on average.
What’s the weather like Cornwall?
Changeable! Cornwall has a much more tropical climate than the rest of England so it is often warmer and wetter – it’s not uncommon to have sunshine and showers in the same day, or even the same hour! It’s generally very pleasant and settled during the summer.
Want to extend your trip?
Ease into your holiday with a few days exploring London or add an extra week to discover the charm of the Cotswolds.
What’s the Number?
Nearly everything has a carbon footprint. Together with ecollective, we’ve measured the carbon impact of not only every tour we operate but our entire business. We’ve taken into account greenhouse gas emissions across the business including office, travel, website, vehicles, accommodation, activities, food, suppliers…
What does the number mean?
We’re going to improve this by measuring and reducing our footprint each year. That means working with our suppliers to make changes that have a more positive impact on us and the planet. What does this look like in reality?
- Redesign trips to reduce our carbon impact
- Working closely with all our suppliers across England to join us on our decarbonisation journey
- Switching up our vehicle fleet to electric
- Investing in projects that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere for any emissions that remain.
We’ve got a long way to go but we’re on our way to net-zero
We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We’ve taken ownership of our carbon footprint and are on a mission to reduce our emissions year on year.