St Ives has some stunning places to walk. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just out for a short stroll, sometimes, the simplest days out are the best. When the weather’s clear, one of the nicest ways to spend a day here is to pull on your boots, fasten your backpack, and head off in search of some scenic walks In St Ives. Here are three walks around the town that take in some glorious coastal views.
Knill’s Monument above St Ives is an excellent place to start, especially If you like your scenic locations to have a quirky history. The Monument is a 50ft tall granite obelisk high up on Worvas Hill in Steeple Woods. The imposing monument was commissioned in 1782 by eccentric local mayor John Knill, who intended it to become his mausoleum. The last work of Royal Crescent architect John Wood, the monument proudly displays Knill’s coat of arms (vividly coloured since its recent restoration) and his cheery motto, Nil Desperandum.
Unfortunately, John Knill died and was buried in London, so never got to make full use of his spectacular mausoleum. However, he did leave a lasting legacy as well as the monument: he established a quinquennial ceremony involving ten young dancing girls from St Ives, two black-clad widows, and a fiddler to play the Furry Dance. This rather unusual custom continues to this day.
The views from the top of Worvas Hill are breathtaking. To get there, strike out eastwards to Carbis Bay. Look out for the Cornish Arms, which is about a mile from St Ives town centre. Take the road next to the pub, Steeple Lane, and carry on along this for half a mile. It’s a short walk in total, but quite a steep one in places. Pack refreshments for the summit!
The coast path to Zenor is one of the more challenging walks In St Ives. This is a walk for the stout-hearted and stout-booted only. One of the most spectacular stretches of the South West Coast Path, if you only get chance to walk a few miles of the 630-mile path, pick this section. Take the coast path from Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, and strike out towards Zennor. It’s a rugged walk, and you’ll need to watch your step as well as the view – so take time to pause and admire the walk’s many scenic spots.
Highlights include the Man Rock at the start of the walk in St Ives – you’ll know which one we mean when you see it! Look out for the ruins of the Klavji (literally “sick-house”) the old leper hospital, whose name has gradually become “Clodgy Point”. You’ll also see Seal Island, and stop to admire the ocean at the Trig point. Head inland toward Zennor – and the welcome sight of the Tinners Arms.
After some reviving refreshment, head back the way you came, or follow the inland path back to St Ives. This is known as the “Coffin Path”, the route of many local villagers’ final journeys to St Senara’s church (the road wasn’t built until the early 1800s). Alternatively, there’s a bus service into St Ives.
To find out more about this stretch of coast path, see the South West Coast Path’s guide.
St Michael’s Way is one of the more popular walks In St Ives. A 12-mile path running from Lelant near St Ives to Marazion, home of St Michael’s Mount. It was established in 1994, based on research into possible old overland routes taken by pilgrims and traders to avoid the dangerous seas around Land’s End. The Way goes around Trencrom Hill, a Neolithic hill fort: divert up the hill for amazing views over both Penwithian coasts and across towards Trevose Head and St Austell.
You can pick up the walk at Carbis Bay, and head off either to Penzance or Marazion. You can catch buses from both these places back to Carbis Bay and St Ives (the 17B service has open-top buses during the summer), or work out something clever involving friends and cars… Alternatively, park in the small car park at Trencrom and walk a shorter section of the Way; or get the branch line train to Lelant, and follow the Way back to Carbis Bay.
*Cornish for walk