Winter walks in Cornwall.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my job involves immersing myself in nature. Swimming off the rocks every morning and walking along the shoreline with our two dogs; Ruby, a small and elderly Jack Russell with enormous character and a feisty personality, and Teddy, a super relaxed and laid back Cockapoo. I am surrounded by inspiration and often my best ideas happen when I’m not sitting at my bench. My coat pockets are usually filled with fragments of seaweed, pebbles and broken shells collected on my walks - and from these come the shapes and forms that are at the heart of my designs.
Being outdoors, the slow transition from summer into winter can be felt daily as the temperature of the sea drops, and the wind picks up on the cliffs. A lot is said about Cornwall in the summer; and I suppose it is what the county is most famous for - but anyone who lives down here all year round would agree that as the days get shorter, and the temperature falls, there is something incredibly special about a salty breath of cold sea air, or the might of an Atlantic storm.
In a funny way I look forward to autumn, it’s quieter and I can enjoy the beaches and cliff top walks alone…and there’s nothing like putting on my favourite jumper, wooly socks and big boots again.
In that spirit, I thought I’d share are few of my favourite Cornish winter walks, all of which include a good pub or cafe for a stop along the way!
Parking your car at the Tinner’s Arms in Zennor, and then wandering onto the South West Coast Path, you will suddenly find yourself on one of the most dramatic and beautiful coastlines Cornwall has to offer. Purple heather draping the sides of granite pitted cliffs, the sea beating at the rocks below. Walking east, towards St Ives, after about 20 minutes of walking there is a fork in the path - and turning sharply right, you can loop round and eventually find yourself where you started. Which is just as well, as the Tinner’s Arms is one of Cornwall’s cosiest pubs. Make sure that you get a table in the fire-heated, and really rather beautiful bar room. The atmosphere there on a windy winter’s night is unmatched - and there are regular nights where local bands play folk songs until late.
Not far from the Tinner’s is another one of the North Coast’s best walks. The Gurnard’s Head is a ragged peninsula, proudly poking out of the coastline between Zennor and Pendeen. This stretch of the South West Coast Path is home to some of the most incredible and inspiring walks in the UK, and never fails to excite. A particular favourite is from The Gurnard’s Head pub, through the fields and past the cows, and West towards Pendeen. Frankly, either way will be a beautiful walk - but the stretch of cliffs from The Gurnards to Pendeen is one of those places that feels as though it changes every time you walk there. You never get tired of it, and each time you see something new. The Gurnard’s Head pub is one of, if not, Cornwall’s finest pub. Bright orange, and visible for miles, there is nowhere better for a Sunday lunch - or better still a well deserved ‘dark and stormy’.
My love for the North Coast runs deep - it is the first place in Cornwall that I visited as a student, but this said, wherever you end up on the Coast Path from Penzance around to St Ives you will never be far from somewhere magical. The South Coast, and its picturesque fishing coves and sleepy villages is rich with good walks - and one of my favourites is along the Coast Path by Logan Rock. Surprise, surprise there is a good pub there too - so on your return from your adventure you can warm up by the fire.
The last three walks are all on the Coast Path - they are close to cliffs, and can sometimes be quite hilly. As much as I love the drama of a sea breeze on the top of a Cornish cliff, sometimes it is good to take it easy - to go somewhere more relaxing, and perhaps more appropriate for those with dogs (who are worried about cliffs!). Godrevy is on the stretch of beach that is closest to the studio. Miles of sand, sand-dunes and in the summer, sand-castles - but in the autumn and winter, at low-tide it is a magnificent place to visit. When my kids were growing up, we walked here religiously - in fact it was here that I picked up the stones and shells that I used for my first piece of work - the Rock Drawing Necklace. It is a National Trust car park - and a short walk onto the beach. The cafe is fantastic – great coffee, brilliant brunches.
If you have visited West Cornwall in the summer you have probably visited Sennen. The famous surfing beach attracts tourists in their thousands over the summer months - but much like Godrevy it transitions beautifully into autumn. At low tide, the wide sandy beach is perfect for walking a dog - and later into the winter, parking your car in the car park and (safely) watching some of the dramatic Atlantic storms land is spectacular. If you don’t fancy getting sandy shoes, you can walk up onto the headland - and West to Land’s End. This was a favourite for my two boys as they grew up - as the walk features its very own shipwreck, the RMS Mulheim. Sennen is home to some lovely cafes, as well as the Old Success Inn - so much like my other favourites there is somewhere to warm up out of the wind!
If you get down to Cornwall in the the winter I hope that you enjoy trying out these wintery walks - perhaps we will bump into each other on the coast path!