15 Best National Trust Walks in Cornwall to Experience Nature and Wildlife

National Trust Walks Cornwall

Visit picturesque Kynance Cove at the Lizard Peninsula on one of the best National Trust Cornwall walks – image: Rober Pittman

You’re at the right place if you’re looking for the most comprehensive list of the National Trust’s best walks in Cornwall to experience nature and wildlife.

I’ve researched over 80 walks and chosen the best for discovering wildlife and spectacular scenery in areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Before we set off, National Trust members support important conversation work and benefit from free parking at these places. Enjoy exclusive offers and discount National Trust membership today.

Let’s dive straight in!

The walks start from southeast Cornwall, go along the south coast and finish on the north Cornwall coast.

National Trust Walks Cornwall: Quick Links

  1. Cotehele Circular Walk
  2. Hendersick and Talland Bay Loop
  3. Polperro to Looe Coast Walk
  4. Lanhydrock Respryn Ramble
  5. The Dodman Long Loop
  6. Nare and Back Again
  7. The Lizard Coastal Walk
  8. Lizard Rarity Walk
  9. Silver Dollars, Shipwrecks and Scenic Views Walk
  10. St Just Walk
  11. Zennor Head Walk
  12. Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth Coastal Walk
  13. Carnewas at Bedruthan from the Bus Stop
  14. Pentire Headland Walk
  15. Rocky Valley Walk

Why not spend more time here with National Trust Holidays in Cornwall? From quaint cottages in picturesque fishing villages to remote accommodation away from the crowds, they have over 100 places to stay in Cornwall.

Cotehele weir in spring

Idyllic Cotehele weir in spring makes a relaxing short detour on Cornwall’s Cotehele circular walk – image © National Trust Images / Mel Peters

1. Cotehele Circular Walk

  • Distance: 1.7 miles (2.7 km)
  • Walk time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Start point: National Trust Cotehele Quay car park
  • Public transport: Bus route 79 Norris Green Roseleigh stop is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the start point

Explore ancient woodland, a wetland along Morden Valley and a charming weir on the Cotehele circular walk. Cotehele’s 247 acres support a diverse array of trees, plants, birds and mammals, so you’re in for a real treat.

Look out for barn owls, garden warblers, lesser spotted woodpeckers and sparrowhawks in the ash, beech, hazel, holly, oak and sycamore trees in the woods. And you’ll also see dormice nesting boxes in the canopy of the trees, where the National Trust is supporting the dormouse – an endangered species whose UK population has fallen by a third since 2000.

Among the tall reed beds at the stream, resident and migratory birds include reed buntings, snipe and woodcock, and reed and sedge warblers.

The meadow at the mill is beautiful during summer, with southern marsh orchids flowering amongst the grasses. Dragonflies dart and hover above the stream, and butterflies are abundant among the wildflowers.

Take a break on a short detour to Cotehele weir and listen to the relaxing sound of flowing water. A fish pass at the weir means you may see migrating salmon and trout.

Around Cotehele Quay at dusk, keep an eye out for tiny pipistrelles, Noctule, Natterer’s and Daubenton bats, which nest nearby.

In 2021, a National Trust project to restore a flood plain on the River Tamar hoped to attract invertebrates and worms; birds including curlew, little egret and redshank; ducks like teal and wigeon; and harvest mice and otters.

Highly recommended for its diverse habitats, the Cotehele circular walk is mostly accessible by wheelchair and pram.

Picture perfect Talland Bay in Cornwall

Talland Bay’s rocky shore is excellent for rockpooling, and its sheltered sandy beaches are ideal for families – image: Pete Edgeler

2. Hendersick and Talland Bay Loop

  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
  • Walk time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Start point: National Trust Hendersick car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 72, 72A, 73, 77, 428, and 481 Tencreek Waylands stop is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) from the start point

The Hendersick and Talland Bay loop is the first of many scenic National Trust coastal walks in Cornwall. Starting inland, it takes you onto the South West Coast Path before looping back through a country lane.

From Hore Point, you’ll enjoy spectacular panoramic views across Whitsand Bay to Rame Head. From the headland, look out for Dartford warblers, linnets and whitethroats. While in summer, the coastal fields are a colourful carpet of pink.

And on the coastal fields in the summer months, you’ll see a colourful carpet of pink restaharrow, blue pale flax and purple vervain.

Along the way, it’s well-worth stopping at the natural, picturesque beaches of Portnadler and Talland Bay. Secluded Portnadler remains unspoilt as it’s more difficult to access from a steep path. In comparison, Talland Bay has two scenic coves with easy access to the beaches.

Portnadler Bay is a perfect place for rockpooling at low tide, with broad and shallow pools and rocks to turn. Here you’ll find brittle stars, decorator crabs, shore clingfish (known locally as Cornish clingfish or Cornish suckerfish), urchins, sponges, sea anemones, and all manner of sea creatures.

Talland Bay has different pools to explore along its rocky shore and larger tidal pools where you may see colourful corkwing wrasse and pollack. The craggy coves are excellent for exploring by snorkelling, and the sheltered beaches are ideal for families.

Discover the south Cornish coast and marine life on the Hendersick and Talland Bay loop walk.

Rock pools in Cornwall

Between Looe and Polperro, there are plenty of places for rockpooling, including Portnadler and Talland bays, and Hannafore and Samphire beaches – image: Paul Symes

3. Polperro to Looe Coast Walk

  • Distance: 5.5 miles (8.8 km)
  • Walk time: 2 hours and 30 mins
  • Start point from Polperro: Crumplehorn car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 34, 230, and 251 Polperro Crumplehorn stop is 1 min from the start point

The Polperro to Looe walk is a superb coastal experience with stunning vistas, secret coves and rockpooling. After a steep climb out of the idyllic fishing village of Polperro, the gradients become more gentle on the South West Coast Path to the picturesque town of Looe.

You can admire this beautiful stretch of coastline from the clifftops viewpoints at Downend Point, Hore Point, Aesop’s Bed and between Samphire and Wallace Beach. Nestled into the hills, Talland Bay is picture-perfect with its distinct green and purple Darmouth Slates rock formations and crystal clear water.

This outing is excellent for rockpooling, with four places to explore at Talland and Portnadler bays (covered in the ‘Hendersick and Talland Bay loop’ above) and Samphire and Hannafore beaches.

One of the best spots for rockpooling in Cornwall, Hannafore Beach’s rocky gullies and pools are brimming with life. Uncovered by the tide twice daily, you’ll find furrowed, hairy, and scorpion spider crabs, squat lobsters, prawns, sea anemones, sea squirts, sponges, stalked jellyfish, starfish and other sea life.

The Polperro to Looe coast walk is popular, and there’s plenty to enjoy for nature and wildlife lovers. However, car parking at Polperro is pricey. I recommend doing the hike in reverse if you’re driving, starting at Looe.

Kingfisher with fish

Around Respryn Bridge on the River Fowey in Cornwall, you may be fortunate enough to see an elusive kingfisher – image: James West

4. Lanhydrock Respryn Ramble

  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Walk time: 30 – 40 mins
  • Start point: National Trust Respryn Bridge car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 10, 11, 11A and 76 and by rail from Bodmin Parkway Station is 1 mile (1.6 km) from the start point

The Lanhydrock Respryn ramble takes in splendid scenery along the River Fowey and semi-natural ancient woodland. The circular route is an excellent opportunity to see one of Britain’s treasured birds – the kingfisher.

Despite its beautiful and striking colours, the kingfisher is challenging to see. Most of the time, they’re sat patiently on a low branch over the water, waiting for their next meal to come along.

Look out for flashes of bright blue and copper colours as they dart along the riverbank or dip into the water. In Cornwall, this part of the River Fowey is one of the spots you’ll most likely see this elusive and enigmatic bird.

Also, keep an eye out for dippers feeding on the bottom and wagtails pottering about on the riverbank looking for food. At dusk, Daubenton bats hawk over the water catching insects. And if you’re lucky, you may see otters here.

Higginsmooor Wood has magnificent 400-year old lichen encrusted oak trees. In spring, the lovely smell of wild garlic flowers fills the place.

The Lanhydrock Respryn ramble is one of many National Trust walks at Lanhydrock, where you can also see palmate newts, beautiful bluebells and an avenue of beech trees.

Peregrine falcon nest on Cornwall's coastal clifftops

At Dodman Point — the highest headland on Cornwall’s south coast — stick around for a while, and you may see a peregrine falcon – image: Judith

5. The Dodman Long Loop

  • Distance: 4.7 miles (7.5 km)
  • Walk time: 3 hours
  • Start point: National Trust Penare car park
  • Public transport: Bus route 23 from Gorran Haven Rice Farm stop is 1.4 miles (2.3 km), or bus route 423 Boswinger Seaview stop is 1 mile (1.6 km) from the start point

An exhilarating walk with gorgeous views, the Dodman long loop encompasses Dodman Point, the highest headland on South Cornwall’s coast. The circular hike along the South West Coast Path and inland tempts you with two seaside diversions.

Hemmick’s natural and pretty sandy beach is worth visiting for its hidden coves, and it’s quiet all year round. On the right side of the beach, you can explore rock pools exposed at low tide.

You can experience astounding expansive views across Hemmick Beach, Veryan Bay to Nare Head, the Roseland, and the Lizard Peninsula’s eastern side on the cliff walk to and at Dodman Point.

If you linger for a while at Dodman Point, you may be lucky enough to see peregrine falcons – one of Britain’s most evocative birds of prey and the world’s fastest animal. And look out for gannets diving into the sea and stonechats on the surrounding heathland.

National Trust Dartmoor ponies graze on the cliffs to encourage flowers to flourish as part of their conservation efforts.

Further along the cliff, there are fine views of Vault Bay. If you fancy wild swimming and even going nude, this is the place to do it, as Vault Beach is popular with naturists.

Stop off for ice cream at Gorran Haven Beach and admire the traditional fishing village before the countryside walk back.

Sweeping coastal views and the chance of seeing a peregrine falcon makes the Dodman long loop an excellent nature walk in Cornwall.

Scenic Carne Beach is ideal for families

Scenic family-friendly Carne Beach has rock pools to explore, and a gentle slope into the sea makes it perfect for swimming – © National Trust Images / Hugh Mothersole

6. Nare and Back Again

  • Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
  • Walk time: 2 hours and 30 mins
  • Start point: National Trust Carne Beach car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 50, 227, and 499 Treworlas Pendower Turn stop or bus route 51 Veryan Pendower Road stop are both 1 mile (1.6 km) from the start point

Setting off from the Roseland Heritage Coast, the Nare and back again walk combines breathtaking views with beautiful coastal and countryside scenery.

Inland at Carne Beacon — a Bronze Age barrow — you can enjoy fantastic panoramic views of Gerrans Bay to the west, St Austell and the china clay hills to the east, and St Agnes Beacon north.

Further on, you go through a delightful wooded valley. And scramble down to secluded Kiberick Cove for a worthwhile detour to have a pretty beach to yourself.

Jutting out to see on the coast, Nare Head rewards you with impressive views of Roseland, including the white houses of Portscatho. If you’ve packed your binoculars, look out for shags, seagulls, guillemot and razorbills on Gull Rock around 1/3 mile (0.5 km) out to sea.

Finish up on the golden sands and natural Carne Beach. It’s a gentle slope into the sea, which makes it ideal for children. The rocks on the far left of the beach are great for snorkelling, and there’re rockpools at low tide.

A list of the best walks in Cornwall is not complete without the picturesque charm of the Roseland Peninsula. The Nare and back again walk is an excellent way to appreciate this peaceful area.

National Trust volunteers show visitors wildlife at Lizard Point

National Trust volunteers show visitors the local wildlife from the watchpoint at Lizard Point, Cornwall – image: © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

7. The Lizard Coastal Walk

  • Distance: 7 miles (11.2 km)
  • Walk time: 3 hours
  • Start point: National Trust Kynance Cove car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 34, 230 and 251 Lizard Kynance Cove Turn stop is 1 mile (1.6 km) from the start point

The Lizard Peninsula’s unique and diverse habitats make it one of the best places in the country for wildlife and nature. The Lizard Coastal Walk is highly recommended, combined with dramatic clifftop scenery, rare plants and wildlife.

Cared for by the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Lizard National Nature Reserve forms many areas.

On Lizard Point, National Trust Wildlife Watchpoint volunteers help you discover marine life and birds. A popular daily highlight is the Atlantic grey seals sleeping in the water and hauling themselves onto the rocks offshore. And throughout the summer, look out for dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and the occasional whale.

The National Trust’s powerful telescopes also help you spot sea birds, like gannets, guillemots, razorbills, shearwaters and skuas flying offshore. While closer by, buzzards, Cornish choughs, kestrels, oystercatchers, peregrines, ravens, stonechats, swallows, turnstones, and whimbrels are some of the birds, you can see.

The clifftops are full of blue, pink, and white wildflowers like campion, squill, and thrift in spring. And into summer, quirkily named bloody cranes-bill, dropwort, ladies bedstraw, milkwort and self-heal carpet the floor.

Top off your day with a swim or paddle at stunning Kynance Cove. Its brilliant turquoise water, white sand, and vivid red, green and white serpentine rock formations make it one of Cornwall’s prettiest beaches.

The Lizard coastal walk’s huge variety ranks it high for the best National Trust walks in Cornwall for nature and wildlife.

Cornish choughs feed on the clifftops in Cornwall

The Lizard Peninsula is home to rare plants and wildlife, including the Cornish chough bird, whose numbers have improved recently – image: Andrew

8. Lizard Rarity Walk

  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Walk time: 30 mins
  • Start point: National Trust Church Cove car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 34, 230, 251 and L1 Mullion Cricket Club stop is 1.9 miles (3 km) walk by road, or 2.6 miles (4.2 km) walk via the South West Coast Path from the start point

The short Lizard rarity walk set in an AONB has rare flora and fauna and breathtaking views of the Lizard Peninsula’s west coast. It’s home to wildflowers scarce in the rest of Britain and four plant species on The Lizard you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

A colourful canvas of green-winged orchids, sea campion and spring squill cover the cliffs in summer. Take a closer look, and you may find rarer fringed rupturewort and spring sandwort.

The Lizard is also home to uncommon invertebrates, like oil beetles, that are incredibly challenging to spot. And if you’re lucky, you may see an adder basking on paths or rocks.

While enjoying the fantastic coastal views of Ogo Dour Cove and Vellan Head, look out for Cornish choughs feeding on the grass. Thanks to the National Trust, RSPB and others, choughs that had disappeared for fifty years in Cornwall now number over 100.

And if you’re lucky, you may spot seals and even basking sharks at sea.

The Lizard rarity walk is first-rate for wildflowers and wildlife too.

Scenic Dollar Cove on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

Natural unspoilt Dollar Cove has rockpooling and makes an ideal spot to relax after a coastal walk in Cornwall – image: Kernowfile

9. Silver Dollars, Shipwrecks and Scenic Views Walk

  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Walk time: 30 mins
  • Start point: National Trust Church Cove car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 34, 230, 251 and L1 Mullion Golf Club stop is 0.6 miles (1 km) from the start point

The silver dollars, shipwrecks and scenic views walk on the Lizard is notable for its bird spotting and rock formations. It’s a short tour with an exciting diversion for birders to Gunwalloe Cove.

Dollar Cove (also known as Jangye Ryn) is a pretty, unspoilt beach with a dramatic contorted strata of multi-coloured cliffs and rocks. The formations stretch out to sea, creating attractive rock pools at low tide.

In early spring, sand martins appear and make their nests in the blue and sand coloured cliffs. And bring your metal detector as occasionally silver dollars from the wreck of a 17th-century Spanish galleon have been found here.

From Halzephron Head, admire the fabulous views to Loe Bar, Porthleven, and further afield across Mounts Bay to Penzance and St Michaels Mount. Keep your eyes peeled for Cornish choughs and overhead kestrels, peregrines and ravens patrolling the coastline.

Take a short detour inland to Gunwalloe Marsh, a nationally important wetland and reedbed. It supports many birds, including reed, sedge and grasshopper warblers, and the rare Cetti’s warbler. In summer, martins and swallows come to the marsh to feed on airborne invertebrates.

Set in an AONB, the silver dollars, shipwrecks and scenic walk is perfect for bird watchers and relaxing at a natural beach.

Discover more about the Lizard Peninsula’s unique flora and fauna at Natural Lizard. And to explore more of the area, check out the National Trust’s walking on the Lizard guide.

Swimming in tidal pools created by Cornish miners

Enjoy a once in a lifetime wild swimming experience in a tidal pool created by miners at Porth Ledden, Cornwall – image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

10. St Just Walk

  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
  • Walk time: 2 hours
  • Start point: National Trust Botallack car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 7, 18 and A17 Queens Arms stop is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from the start point

Explore the scenic coastline, heathland and wetland through one of the Cornish Mining World Heritage sites. And if you time the St Just walk right, you can enjoy a once in a lifetime wild swimming experience.

The spectacular coastal views, rugged landscape, and historical and industrial sites make this walk unparalleled. Nestled into the rocks just above the sea, I highly recommend visiting the Crowns Engine Houses, my favourite place, to get a sense of the area’s mining heritage.

At Kenidjack Headland, the National Trust has introduced Dexter’s rare breed cattle to encourage wildflowers and habitat suitable for choughs.

Look out for beautiful metallic blue male and shiny green female demoiselle – a type of large damselfly – at Cather’s Pool, a restored wetland habitat in the Kenidjack Valley. Bats frequent this area at dusk, and in the daytime, you may get lucky and spot an otter.

Before leaving the coast, take a short detour to Porth Ledden for one of Britain’s best wild swimming experiences. Pullandase – as it’s called – is no ordinary tidal pool; it’s man-made created by miners using dynamite.

Its seductive beauty makes it an unmissable adventure around 5 metres by 5 metres and 3-4 metres deep. Named after the miners who created them, Pullandandase is significantly bigger than other pools nearby.

What’s more alluring than a dip in a tidal pool with the sea and Cape Cornwall as a beautiful backdrop? To enjoy this wild swimming experience at Port Ledden, you’ll need to time your visit 2-3 hours on either side of low tide.

Natural beauty interwoven with mining heritage makes the St Just walk a must-do in West Cornwall.

A special thanks to Greg Martin, a Cornwall-based photojournalist, for his wild swimming story and for letting me use his wonderful photo. See more of Greg’s excellent work on Facebook and Twitter.

Scenic view looking west from Zennor Head

Turquoise waters, craggy headlands and purple heather at Zennor Head, Cornwall – image: © National Trust Images / Sarah Davis

11. Zennor Head Walk

  • Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
  • Walk time: 45 mins – 1 hour
  • Start point: Zennor village car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 7, 16A and LAND Zennor Turn stop is 0.2 miles (0.3 km) from the start point

Experience the wild beauty and kaleidoscope of natural colours on the Zennor Head Walk. The jagged landscape, picturesque coves, far-reaching Atlantic views and a bounty of flora and fauna make this a fantastic trip.

The short ramble starts at the village; watch out for soaring buzzards flying overhead on the path. Despite its small size, Zennor parish supports a vast range of fauna and flora, including an impressive 100 species of birds.

On Zennor Headland, breathe in the fresh Atlantic air and wonder at the spellbinding views. Look left across the turquoise and white foamed coves, the deeper blue sea, and the ever-changing colours of the craggy headlands as far as Gurnard’s Head. It’s breathtaking all year round, particularly in autumn, when yellow gorse and purple heather blanket the floor.

From the cliffs, keep an eye out for kestrels hovering above, grey seals bobbing in the coves, and you may see dolphins too.

The marvellous Zennor Head walk and the surrounding area have some of Cornwall’s best coastal walks.

Seals playing in the sea at Godrevy, Cornwall

Seals playing in the surf at one of their favourite spots — Godrevy on Cornwall’s north coast – image: image: Charlie Marshall

12. Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth Coastal Walk

  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
  • Walk time: 2 hours 30 mins – 3 hours
  • Start point: National Trust Godrevy car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 151 and ATLA Gwithian Red River Inn stop is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) from the start point

The Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth coastal walk is an exhilarating trek from the far eastern end of St Ives Bay to the ominous Hell’s Mouth. There’s nature and wildlife in abundance and stunning scenery at this AONB.

Godrevy is one of the best places to see marine life in Cornwall. A colony of grey seals is visible on the low tide beach from the cliff tops above Mutton Cove. Along the coast, look out for more seals bobbing in the coves, bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise; and basking sharks and exotic ocean sunfish are infrequent visitors.

Thanks to the National Trust’s conservation efforts, the Knavocks heathland supports many wildlife and wildflowers, including rare species. Their Shetland ponies munch through gorse and grass stems, clearing the way for flowers.

You’ll find rare wildflowers among the heather and gorse, like St John’s wort, white bell heather and purple eyebright. And look out for adders basking on the paths in their favourite heathland habitat.

Beautiful rare silver-studded blue butterflies live on the Knavocks and typical coastal downland species, including common blue, dark green fritillary, meadow brown, and small heath. In summer, you can see striking black and red spotted burnet moths and hummingbird hawkmoths.

Godrevy is a birder’s paradise. Listen to the skylark’s beautiful song on the heath in the spring and summer breeding months. And brightly coloured stonechat, linnets, pipits and whitethroats feature all year round.

On the cliffs and rocks offshore, resident birds include fulmars, guillemots, razorbills, and gulls. While kittiwakes, petrels, shearwaters and skuas are blown towards the headland by the wind.

Kestrels are common at Godrevy, and you may see peregrines. St Gothian’s Sands Local Nature Reserve has numerous resident and migratory birds for more bird watching.

Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth coastal walk offers an abundance of wildlife and impressive high clifftop views of St Ives Bay, Godrevy Lighthouse and Hell’s Mouth.

Discover Godrevy’s wildlife and more at Paul Dining’s exceptional YouTube channel.

Trescore Islands in Cornwall are excellent for snorkelling

You’ll see plenty of sea life snorkelling the channel between Trevose Islands and the shore, near Porthcathan Beach – image: Philip Goddard

13. Carnewas at Bedruthan from the Bus Stop

  • Distance: 3.3 miles (5.2 km)
  • Walk time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Start point: National Trust Carnewas at Bedruthan Steps car park
  • Public transport: Bus routes 56 and ATLA Tregona Bedruthan House Hotel stop is 0.2 miles (0.3 km) from the start point

The National Trust’s Carnewas at Bedruthan from the bus stop walk combines a dramatic rocky coastline, a naturally sheltered cove and an ideal beach for families. And with rockpooling, snorkelling and wild swimming along the way, it’s superb for discovering sea life.

The spectacular series of Bedruthan Steps rocky sea-stacks from the clifftops is a breathtaking view. The sea pounding the rocks has created one of Cornwall’s most iconic stretches of coastline.

Porth Mear’s river valley provides plenty of nature and wildlife. The tranquil valley’s lush vegetation and reedbeds support small birds like bullfinches, warblers and whitethroats. Lizards and toads also thrive, and overhead hovering kestrels are looking for their next prey.

Porth Mear cove’s deep rock pools are ideal for seeing fish, like blennies, Cornish clingfish, gobies, and striking turquoise-striped corkwing wrasses. Also, you’ll find a variety of crabs, such as hermit, porcelain and shore.

Further along, the sheltered channel between Trescore Islands and the shore is excellent for snorkelling. The resident kelp forest is a haven for fish and spotting spider crabs, and if you’re lucky, a playful seal may join you. To access the area, swim around from Porthcothan or Porth Mear beach.

Protected by rocks at either end of the bay, the golden sandy beach at Porthcothan is one of Cornwall’s best for families. RNLI lifeguards patrol the sea, and kids will love exploring the river and coves.

A diverse mix of things to see and do makes Carnewas at Bedruthan from the bus stop one of the best Cornwall National Trust walks.

The Rumps impressive twin headland on the Pentire walk

The Rumps dramatic twin headland on Iron Age earthworks is one of the most impressive views of Cornwall’s best walks – © National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

14. Pentire Headland Walk

  • Distance: 3.4 miles (5.4 km)
  • Walk time: 2 – 3 hours
  • Start point: National Trust Pentireglaze or Lead Mines car parks
  • Public transport: Bus routes 10 and 95 (Sundays and public holidays only) Polzeath Beach stop is 0.7 miles (1.1 km) from Pentireglaze Haven, where you can pick up the route

The Pentire Headland walk takes you on a wild journey along the unspoilt coast with stunning scenery. Bring your binoculars for this trip to spot birds and sea life on the way.

At the start point, greater horse bats – one of Britan’s rarest bats – emerge from an old lead-silver mine at sunset. And on the South West Coast Path, keep an eye out for peregrine falcons that nest on the clifftops.

Looking back at The Rumps twin headlands after you’ve passed them towards Pentire Point is one of Cornwall’s most impressive coastal views. The site of an Iron Age hill fort, its unique green landscape, rugged cliffs, and the wild sea is picture-perfect.

You may see puffins and gannets on The Mouls, the tiny island offshore from the westerly Rumps headland, with binoculars. Often referred to as Puffin Island, it’s one of the last remaining places where puffins breed in Cornwall.

At Pentire Point, reward yourself with fantastic scenes west across the Camel Estuary and Trevose Head lighthouse in the distance, and The Rumps and as far as Tintagel Castle looking east. If you’re fortunate, you may see dolphins and seals from here.

Explore Pentireglaze Haven’s rock pools, and Polzeath Beach’s gently shelving sand and lifeguards is an excellent spot for a swim. Polzeath’s reliable waves is also a popular and safe place to learn how to surf.

The Pentire Headland Walk is refreshing, peaceful and ideal for getting away from it all.

Pretty waterfall scene on the Rocky Valley walk

A waterfall at the picturesque upper section of the Rocky Valley walk before it opens to marine grasslands and high cliffs – image: foamcow

15. Rocky Valley Walk

  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Walk time: 30 – 40 mins
  • Start point: Lay-by near Rocky Valley
  • Public transport: Bus routes 95, 181, 182 and 212 Halgabron Turn stop is one minute from the start point

The Rocky Valley walk follows the meandering Trevillett River from idyllic woodland to the wild sea. Although it’s a short walk, the varied riverscape scenery supports many types of flora and fauna.

In the upper, more humid section, 160 species of mosses and liverworts thrive. While near the sea, the grassland encourages vivid displays of wildflowers, particularly in spring and autumn.

The natural rocky stream is an ideal habitat for dippers and pied wagtails, which breed here. If you’re fortunate, you’ll see badgers, foxes, otters and voles who also make the place their home. And graceful roe deer are frequently seen in the valley.

There’s a large population of striking, tropical-looking scarlet tiger moths along the walk. And rarer thrift clearwing moths whose larvae develop the plants which give them their name.

The picturesque, verdant stream with waterfalls opens up to a dramatic slate stacked canyon at sea. Towering over 70 feet (21 m), don’t get too close to the sheer cliff drops when waves come crashing in. The headland offers stunning views across the west to Bossiney Cove and Lye Rock from a safe distance.

The Rocky Valley walk’s unique riverscape habitat makes a lovely ramble.

I hope you enjoyed my comprehensive guide to the best National Trust walks in Cornwall to experience nature and wildlife. Check out my National Trust membership offers for all the latest deals.

More Ways to Help You Enjoy Nature and Wildlife on Walks in Cornwall

Here are more valuable resources to local organisations and charities that play a crucial role in conservation and help you discover flora and fauna in Cornwall.

To discover more of the best walks in Cornwall, I recommend:

  • South West Coast Path – charity and official guide to the UK’s best-loved and longest national trail
  • Ordnance Survey – digital and printed maps, walking guides and more
  • iWalk Cornwall – over 250 walks in Cornwall (many are circular) with detailed routes available by app
  • The Cornish Bird Blog – Cornwall’s hidden places and untold stories from a Cornish freelance writer and blogger
  • Cornish Walking Trails – a fun and infectious couple who record Cornwall walks on YouTube

Image credits and thanks to National Trust, Kynance Cove – Rober Pittman, Talland Bay (edit) – Pete Edgeler, rockpool – Paul Symes, kingfisher – James West, peregrine falcon – Judith, Cornish chough – Andrew, Dollar Cove – Kernowfile, wild swimming – Greg Martin / Cornwall Live, seals – Charlie Marshall, Trescore Islands (edit) – Philip Goddard, and Rocky Valley – foamcow.