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!
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.
Cameras and sound equipment next to ‘Ross Poldarks’ mine.
The airing of the new adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark reminded me that I still had photos to upload from my summer trail running around West Cornwall (OS Map 102 Land’s End). The South West Coast Path around West Cornwall is fantastic any time of year. But in summer with the wild flowers out last year it was exceptional. The icing on the cake was stumbling across the set of the BBC’s latest adaptation of Poldark.
Props for the Poldark set being stored ready for use in a field near Botallack.
When I arrived they were on a break from filming and the security guard sunbathing against a Cornish hedge was more than happy for me to have a look around as long as I didn’t disturb him.
Brown Willy Downs looking up at the south side of Brown Willy tor.
There aren’t many mountains in the South West of England but Brown Willy and Roughtor are about as close as you can get without leaving Cornwall.
Brown Willy and the view towards Colliford Lake.
Windswept barren bog and grassland, inter-spaced with hard granite tors, a challenging environment for a run or walk; but also surprisingly a place of real beauty and of contrast. No wonder this landscape has inspired authors and poets for centuries. The most famous of which has to be Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Anyone who has read this book will be able to experience the menacing foul mood of the moor in bad weather described in the book. Wet, muddy, dark. But also when the sun comes out from behind the mizzle; a landscape of colour. Reds, creams, and browns against a dazzling blue sky.
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.
According to the organisers the Eden Project Marathon is
“… a multi-terrain course around Eden, the race follows a challenging route through areas of spectacular mining heritage and beautiful countryside landscapes.”
From the time you enter the car park of the Eden Project you know this will be a well organised event. The marshals very efficiently directing the hundreds of cars into the many car parks. Once parked you are marshalled onto the bendy buses. The car parks being epic, it is a 5-10 minute bus ride before you reach the baggage area. The joining instructions clearly state that you should allow 45 minutes between arriving at the car park and the start of the race; this is good advice. Once in the baggage area it was off again quickly to catch another bus to the start area.
Not too much queuing required for the toilets at the Eden Marathon.
Once in the start area it was down to the usual marathon rituals. Luckily there were virtually no queues for the portaloos. The marathon and half marathon start 30 minutes apart. With only 230 runners in the marathon the starting area was not too crowded. With 700-800 half marathon runners starting half an hour later I am sure the queues for the portaloos grew much larger after we left.
Getting ready to start. On the starting line of the Eden Project Marathon.
As the start time drew nearer we started to line up for the inevitable safety briefing.
“When you get to the canal the environment agency says all runners must walk for 10 ft along the canal”we were dutifully informed.
Apparently part of the canal path had fallen into the water. The environment agency had rigged up scaffold steps into the adjacent field to divert the marathon route. Unfortunately the night before heavy rain had flooded the field, the route was now to be diverted back to the canal path. But for safety all runners must walk! You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
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!).
Mine building at Poldice on the coast to coast mineral tramways trail (Cornwall).
Route: Coast to Coast Mineral Tramways Trail from Devoran to Portreath.
Terrain: Cycle trail, road
Farmland, mining heritage, ‘mining moonscape’
Max Height: 114m
Min Height: 4m
Total Asc: 198m
Total Desc: 191m
This trail’s distance of 11 miles makes for an out-and-back of 22 miles; perfect for marathon training.
Old chimney stack Bissoe trail.
For those used to Cornwall’s scenic coast, golden beaches and lush green farmland the mineral tramway offers a new landscape to explore. In parts more moonscape than landscape, where you are never far from a reminder of the areas fascinating industrial history.
Capped mine shaft on the mineral tramways trail (Cornwall).
It is hard to believe that only 150 years ago the whole area was one of the most industrialised areas in the world. Tramways and Railways traversed the route. Following the contours of the valleys which echoed to the sound of mining stamps and the toil of thousands of men below ground and women and children above ground. In the intervening 150 years, the smell of coal and laboring bodies has subsided and nature has slowly taken a hold. It is a testament to the power of nature and (perhaps given the current global environmental issues) reassuring to see that nature has the power to erase most of man’s past mistakes and mismanagement. Yet even the power of nature has been unable to heal all of the scars inflicted on this land in the name of profit and the pursuit of mineral riches.