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Monday, 4 January 2016

Walk 155/156 St Just to Zennor/ Zennor to St Ives

Walk 155/156 St Just to Zennor then Zennor to St Ives (Cornwall)

(Third leg of English coastal walk – Lands End to Bristol)

Map: L/R 203
Distance: Walk 155: 12 miles or 18 km; Walk 156: 8 miles or 14km.
Difficulty: Demanding
Terrain: cliff coastal paths sometimes rocky and muddy underfoot -care needed
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: A few buses run along the main road between St Just and St Ives and then a walk into Zennor Check with Traveline.

Two walks are included here as there is not very much to write about the second. I would not advise trying to combine the walks unless you are super fit and can start very early - there are several demanding sections which are often rocky and can be muddy as well.

Walk 155

Follow the road from Tregeseal near St Just to join the coastal path to the north of Cape Cornwall. This stretch has disused mine shafts so no venturing off the path. There are chimneys and old mine works with a restored one open to visitors near Pendeen. It can be accessed easily from the path. Geevor tin mine includes a museum and underground tours along some of the 85 miles of tunnels. Outside there is a restored 19th century waterwheel. The demanding conditions of tin mining in the past are brought to life. If you have time it is well worth a visit.

Continue along the path to Pendeen Watch. The lighthouse to the seaward side of the path is 100 years old and was automated in 1995. The fog horns can be clearly seen.

The path winds its way along a number of coves including the large but remote Porthmeor Cove. After a few miles, the path passes Gurnard's Head. This is reputed to have got its name from being shaped like a Gurnard fish.

Approaching Zennor Head there is some tricky rocky terrain. There is a link from the path into Zennor. The village is said to get its name from Senara who was a local saint. The church is also named after the saint and dates back to Norman times. At the end of of one of the benches in the church is a picture of a mermaid. This derives from a local legend about a mermaid who was supposed to have enticed a parish singer to a watery grave in the fifteenth century. John Wesley, the 18th century founder of Methodism, also has connections with the village. D H Lawrence once lived here with his German wife but the pair had an unhappy time and left after being suspected of spying and signalling to a German submarine. The Wayside Folk Museum with its working water wheel is a good place to learn about the area.

Walk 156

Walk out of Zennor to the coastal path. This is a pleasant enough section with sea views. The next major landmarks are Clodgy Point and Porthmeor Beach to the west of St Ives. Inland, back from the beach is Tate St Ives which opened in 1993. Well worth a visit if you like art.

Continue around St Ives Head or The Island. In the middle ages there was a fortress on top of here and later fortifications were built to guard against a possible invasion by Napoleon. There is also an old chapel which is still used. In the 1960s the whole area was nearly turned into a car park and was only saved by a campaign which resulted in the issuing of an injunction against the local council.

Over the head is a small beach and further around are the remains of Wheel Dream tin mine. A road at the rear is called Wheel Dream where there is a museum.

More about St Ives on the next walk.

Photos show: the coastal path near Geevor Tin Mine; the lighthouse at Pendeen Watch; the water wheel at Zennor Museum.

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