Discover Cornwalls best trails. With over 250 miles of continuous coast path, areas of outstanding natural beauty, prehistoric burial sites and abandoned mine trails, Cornwall is a great place to go trail running, hiking or walking. Get out there and enjoy the experience!
With the rise of ‘slow food’ and digital detoxes is it time you tried ‘slow running’? I am not talking about altering your running speed, but instead ditching the GPS and being fully immersed in your run. Feeling every step as the slow food protagonists would encourage you to taste every mouthful.
I stopped wearing my GPS watch a few years ago and immediately felt relief from the tyranny of checking my pace. The pursuit of PBs had made running a chore and resulted in a string of niggling injuries and aches. Once freed from ‘time’ running became something done purely for enjoyment. Fartlek (“speed play” in Swedish) really does become play when you stop using your timer and its irritating beep, instead skipping and running between trees and landmarks on a whim. When something becomes play we are more likely to enjoy it, and do it again.
There cant be many wilder more remote sections of the South West Coast Path than the section between Cape Cornwall and St Ives. Stunning scenery, pot marked with mine shafts and crisscrossed with fossilized field systems laid out in the Bronze Age.
The Goss Moor multi-use trail is a 7 mile (12 km) circular route around the Goss Moor in Cornwall. This trail is covered by OS Explorer Map 106 Newquay & Padstow which you can view using the link. The map on the information board below also gives information about the trail (just without the full contour detail you get from an Ordnance Survey map).
Map of the 7 mile circular Goss Moor route.
Now a nature reserve the moor has previously been the site of medieval alluvial tin extraction, sand extraction and most famously the old route of the A30; Cornwalls main transport artery.
Goss Moor – infamous site of the old A30.
This long straight 2 lane road was the main route in and out of Cornwall and was infamous for bottle necks leading to it often being referred to as Cornwalls largest car park (due to the hours many spent sitting there in stationary traffic). During the solar eclipse in 1999 some entrepreneurial young Cornishmen even walked up and down between the stationary traffic selling cold bottles of drink and snacks such were the queues encountered.
The old surface of the A30 has now been turned into a cycle/multi use trail.
Once you get past the Manor House and manicured lawns of the National Trust gardens at Trelissick (near Truro, Cornwall; OS Explorer Map 105 Falmouth and Mevagissey) you can find some great trails around the Fal River. This route is 8.45 miles and takes in the views around the King Harry Ferry, Roundwood Quay and Coombe.
If you want a coastal path route with lots of short ascents on muddy trails why not try running or walking the South West Coast Path between the river Fal and the Helford River.
Looking out to the mouth of the Helford River.
Despite only reaching a maximum height of 51 metres (168 ft) the 17.5 mile route manages to clock up 734 metres (2408 ft) of ascent and descent.
Hill profile looking like a crocodiles teeth. Courtesy of mapometer.com
The cliffs on this section of the south Cornish coast are gently sloping and regularly intersected by small river valleys and beaches. There are many highlights along the route such as the bustling port of Falmouth with it’s lively bars and streets. The beaches of Gyllyngvase, Swanpool and Maenporth, and the picturesque Helford River estuary. For this walk you will need OS Explorer Map 103 The Lizard.
The beautiful scenery and wildlife around the College and Argal Reservoirs near Mabe and Penryn have always been attractive to local people in the know about this hidden gem. Now the area has benefited from a considerable facelift with improvements to the existing footpaths, improved drainage and new bridges complimenting the existing facilities such as a children’s play area, toilets and car park. In 2014 a new cafe (Caffe Torelli) added to the reasons to visit this South West Lakes Trust managed site.
View from the car park at Argal Reservoir, Penryn, Cornwall.
Following the ancient tracks of the St Michaels Way you find yourself imagining the journey taken by those original pilgrims many years ago.
The Magic of St Michaels Mount, Cornwall.
History, folklore and an atmospheric landscape combine in this cross country coast to coast way-marked route. It is believed the route was originally used by pilgrims travelling to the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain from Cornwall, Ireland and Wales. European funding and the combined efforts of Cornwall County Council saw the route ‘reopened’ in 2004 with new signage. All of the new signs on the route have the symbol of a stylised scallop shell making it easy to tell if you are on the right path. A decade later the route is still well marked. However I would not recommend attempting the full route without a map as there are a few places where the signs have fallen down or are missing. There are also plenty of other footpaths that traverse the route (which are all worth exploring on a trail run) however without a 1:25000 OS map you may find you significantly add to the distance of your run if you don’t know the area (OS Explorer Map 102 Land’s End available on Amazon Weatherproof version also available!).