This isn’t a long walk.
It’s around six miles.
But the cliff section is hard and the round trip will take you around 3 hours if you stop to look about as often as the scenery demands.
Zennor has always been a draw for me, and today we found a quote from DH Lawrence who lived there for a while. He said “At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself. Zennor is a most beautiful place: a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor hills and a big sweep of sea beyond. Such a lovely sea, lovelier than the Mediterranean. It is the best place I have been in.”
The poor fellow was hounded out unfortunately after being suspected of signalling a German U Boat in the first world war. Not surprisingly he didn’t bother coming back, but it was clear that his love of the Zennor of old was as strong as mine today.
It’s the end of the Christmas holidays and most of Britain has been blessed with a perfect cold clear winter’s day. Down here in the far west people are making the most of it and walkers are out in abundance. But as is so often the case, as soon as you get 10 minutes from any obvious attraction you have the world pretty much to yourselves.
We set out quite early and were among the first to park in Zennor. By the time we got back there were no spaces and it looked like a summer’s day, just 15 degrees colder.
The walk takes you from the village to the coast and along the cliffs to the east towards St Ives. There’s little level ground, but the effort is rewarded by stunning scenery, and plenty of wild life. Seals, cormorants and diving gulls are common, but here in spring you’ll see many visiting birds including stone chats, wheatears, chif chafs and all sorts of other beauties.
I love ravens and today we saw a magnificent pair taking the sun on the granite. I often see what are probably big carrion crows and wonder if they’re ravens, but when you see an actual one you know – they’re huge! And then there’s the curious deep throated call that’s unlike any other native bird’s.
After an hour and a half of cliff you finally reach River Cove and here head back inland and the contrast is extreme. You’re now walking up through a lush mossy glade of hardy scrub alder, willow, sycamores and more. I remember taking this path in the opposite direction in spring one year and being blown away by its beauty and the completely different atmosphere to the surroundings.
Next time we’ll walk through Trevail Mill, the first of the beautiful cottages you pass on this stretch of the walk. There’s a route to St Ives via the mill’s gardens.
Before you get up to the road take the right and downward option where three lanes meet and you’ll be heading back to the idyllic village of Zennor.
On the old church path back to Zennor you’ll pass Wicca Farm, Tregerthen Farm and Tremedda Farm, each of which seems to excel that which precedes it in its quintessential Cornish farmstead simplicity and beauty. You’ll also pass the remains of a simple chapel that has been derelict for over 100 years. Every time I see it I dream of being able to do something with the ruins, after all it’s only a 15 minute walk to The Tinner’s, what could be better?
This stretch has possibly the best stiles in West Cornwall, and that’s a heck of an accolade as there are many fantastic ones to compete with. Here are a couple.
The fields are interesting too. Not only ancient, but also strewn with stranded whales, huge boulders that the farmers are encouraged to leave in situ. Some really do look whale like too.
Today, 2nd January 2017, was a crisp and beautiful day. When the sun shone on us and we were sheltered I’d say the temperature was around 15 degrees. Go over the top of a ridge and plunge down a wind whipped north facing cliff edge and it’d drop quickly to around freezing. It was therefore wonderful to arrive at The Tinner’s and sit in its sheltered garden in full sun to sup a pint of their eponymous ale. What a shame they’d finished serving food!
Be sure to visit the simple and beautiful church with its famous Mermaid pew (now separated from the others so that you can better see its carving), and wander the churchyard too, spotting some famous names, as well as the unmarked graves of sailors lost to U Boats in the First World War.
I hope you love it as much as we did.