Thursday, 8 October 2020

Zennor to Gurnard's Head: a challenging short walk

This is a short walk but is a tough one due to the rocky, undulating path, which is boggy in places. Only about three miles in length, allow around 2 hours as it is very slow going, and I spent most of the time looking at my feet rather than the magnificent views, which are typical of this part of the north Cornwall coast on the Penwith peninsula.

Barbara and I did this last month, in the company of former Minerals Engineering publishing manager Dean Eastbury, and his friend Penny.  We barely managed to park in the tiny hamlet of Zennor, which is often busy in summer, after which we set off into the ancient landscape, with its small fields lined with tall stone walls and hedges, dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages.

The rocky coast path

Passing by small coves we eventually approached Gurnard's Head, its distinctive shape resembling the fish after which is is named. 

Near the promontory there is the first hint that not too far away to the south-west is the St. Just Mining District, with its famous submarine mines. The ruins above Treen Cove are of the Gurnard's Head Mine, also known as Wheal Treen, an old copper mine which worked a high grade lode in the metasediments ('killas') which extended beneath the sea. The only record of output is from 1853 when 25 tons of copper were produced, from ore grading 12% Cu.

Treen Cove

It was from here that we decided to leave the coast path and head off up the cliff to the distinctive Gurnard's Head Hotel, a familiar landmark on the B3306 from St. Ives to St. Just, widely regarded as the most scenic and remote road in the south west. 

There are few hostelries on this road, but the Gurnard's Head Hotel might be a good base for anyone wishing to walk the north Penwith peninsula from St. Ives to Land's End. Thankfully it also has a bus stop from which we gratefully took the bus back to Zennor.

More Cornish Walks
More on Cornwall
More on Cornish Mining



  1. I enjoyed being reminded of one of my favourite walks. I was due to do it with some friends on my 80th birthday but +covid 19 intervened. However, I am surrounded by stunning countryside and yesterday enjoyed a 2 hour walk in the southern part of the Malverns. No sea views but still very beautiful panoramic view of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Has the coastaL footpath in the Gurnards Head area been eroded in recent years?
    Keep well,
    Richard Edwards, Malvern, UK

    1. Thanks Richard. Yes this is a beautiful but tough little walk. Not much sign of erosion of the cliffs, but the footpath is certainly rough and undulating. Keep walking! I will always remember those great walks with you and Veronica, and the Buzzas, in South Africa in 2003


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