Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

South West Coast Path - Marazion to Porthleven

Old Tin mine

An 11 mile walk along the Cornish section of the South West Coast Path between Marazion and Porthleven

A fairly easy section of coast walking along the cliffs from Marazion to Porthleven. There are a few challenging climbs but nothing too drastic. With disused tin mines, the surfing beach at Praa Sands and the charming buildings around Prussia Cove there's plenty to take in along the way.

Marazion to Porthleven Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
MarazionView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
PorthlevenView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
11 miles
Walk difficulty
A few challenging climbs


Mill Lane Camping and Caravan Park, PorthlevenView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Mill Lane Camping and Caravan Park, Mill lane, Porthleven, Cornwall TR13 9LQ


First Group - Bus Service
Service Number
2 - First Group service between Penzance and Falmouth

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
15:00 to 20:00
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Persistent rain before the walk with ever brightening skies.

Walk Notes

This was the 11th day of a two week walking holiday along South Cornwall section of the South West Coast Path using a base-camp at Porthleven and public transport to get to and from each days walk.

This turned out to be the last full days walk of the expedition along the southern Cornish Coast. It was not meant to have been that way but the weather turned against us once again and with an impending storm forecast for the Friday evening we had decided to leave the county a day early. This was a good decision judging by the scenes witnessed on national news programmes once we returned home.

In the full two weeks of walking we had not achieved our aim which was to walk from Plymouth to Lands End. This is probably the first walking expedition that I have not completed the expected distance. The ultimate reason for this was the weather. We had storms, gale force winds, pea-soup fog and persistent and torrential rain. In general I don't mind what the weather may throw in my direction and have walked through the worse of all weathers on previous walks but ultimately safety had to be considered on these unknown paths that navigate around the cliffs. Through both Dorset and Devon we had kept to our targets despite rain and fog but this year the weather had been considerably worse. In all it was the worse summer weather I had experienced for a very long time.

Looking on the bright side, we now have something to really look forward to, knowing that we will inevitably return to Porthleven in order to walk the missed sections of the coast path. The route from Helford to the Lizard and Mousehole to Lands End are a real enticement and the village of Porthleven, the small Porthleven campsite, the Spingo beers at Helston and the public transport were all first class. And the walks were outstanding when the weather became more clement. Sadly those days were few and far between on this expedition. Just cant wait to get back there!

This particular days walk very nearly did not happen. The day started dull with a heavy blanket of grey cloud giving persistent rain from the moment dawn beckoned. The weather forecast held little promise for the rest of the day. Not to be disappointed we decided to spend the day on the buses using the 3-day rover ticket we had purchased to get us to and from the days walks. At least this would give a view of some of the villages that we will inevitable walk through on future visits. The First Group buses enabled us to get to Penzance from where an open top bus went onto Lands End. By this time, luckily, the rain had turned to intermittent drizzle. Then for a brief hour there was clear blue skies and sunshine as we took a brief walk from Lands End to Senan Cove. This is only a mile or so but at least it was something. The open top bus returned back through St Ives and across to Marazion, arriving there at lunch-time. The weather had at least brightened up and a brisk breeze was drying things out. It was low tide which enabled a walk across to St Micheal's Mount and it was there that the decision was made to make the most of the brightening skies and walk back to Porthleven. This was a worthy decision as the late afternoon and early evening saw some blue skies, sunshine and despite the frequent quagmires to negotiate along the way, the walk was outstanding. The Tin Mines, the buildings at Prussia Cove and the scenery made it all very much worth it.



Follow the well marked South West Coast Path trail which is marked with the usual National Trail Acorn waymarkers.

The path can be found on the east side of Marazion, by a cemetery. It descends down to a little beach from where theres a clamber back up the cliffs. From here on it is just a case of following the way markers all the way through to Porthleven.

St Michaels Mount
St Michaels Mount


The Kings Arms, Marazion View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Kings Arms, Marazion

The Kings Arms is located on the main road at the heart of the ancient market town of Marazion and dates from the early 18th Century. It is a St Austells hostelry and offers the usual St Austell ales together with varied menu of home cooked food including pasties, sandwiches and meals with fresh Newlyn fish dishes being a speciality.


This busy pub was very friendly. Excellent sandwiches and the ale was top notch.

Sandbar, Praa Sands View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Sandbar, Praa Sands

A modern seafront bar frequented by surfers and holiday makers. Home cooked Mediterranean style food plus food theme nights, Sunday carvery all prepared from the freshest local produce. A selection of ales including Skinners and St Austells.


I am not a lover of modern plastic type bars, but all the same what this bar lacks in history and charm it makes up for in the views. I was surprised to find a selection of ales on offer as so many modern bars only offer keg beer. The Skinners Betty Stoggs was refreshing and well kept.

The Ship Inn, Porthleven View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Ship Inn, Porthleven

A true Cornish pub built into the rocks at the entrance to Porthleven. This 17th century Inn has a history of smuggling and it is thought that it had secret passages though none have ever been found. Home made food from an extensive menu plus daily ‘specials’. The pub is declared to be a chip free zone with all meals cooked to order..


A rustic old pub with plenty to cast ones eyes over on both walls and ceiling. A real charming old local. Sharps Doom Bar was the only ale on offer on this occasion but very nice. Very busy and popular.

The Atlantic Inn, Porthleven View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Atlantic Inn, Porthleven

The Atlantic Inn sits high on the cliffs overlooking Porthleven harbour. Home cooked food including local seafood and homemade steak pies. As well s Skinners and St Austells ales there additional guest ales on offer.


Although we did not visit this inn until our last evening in Porthleven it is worth mentioning. You have to go out of your way to find the pub but it is well worth the effort. Very friendly with welcoming staff and locals. The food was excellent, we opted for an early evening meal deal that entitled us to a 'free' bottle of wine which was very good value. The whole grilled sea-bass was outstanding and the spiced potatoes certainly left a memorable kick to the palate. The evening was rounded off with a few pints of Betty Stoggs which was a fitting end to our two weeks in Cornwall. Only wish we had found this inn earlier.

Prussia Cove
Prussia Cove


St Michael's MountView in OS Map | View in Google Map

St Michael's Mount is one of the most famous of Cornwall's landmarks, and is steeped in both legend and folklore. This tidal island located 400 yards off Mount's Bay has stunning panoramic views from Lands End and The Lizard. The island contains a picturesque harbour and a spectacular castle with majestic gardens.

There are tales that The Mount, as it is locally known, may have been the 'Mictis of Timaeus' as mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia. According to local legend St. Michael, the Archangel, appeared to local fishermen on the Mount in the year AD495 and it was from this encounter that the island took its name.

A monastery was established as early as the 8th century and became a resort for pilgrims, whose devotions were encouraged by Pope Gregory. The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century and in 1275 an earthquake destroyed the original priory church which was rebuilt in the late 14th century and is still in use today. The priory was seized by the Crown, when Henry V went to war in France and it became part of the endowment for the Brigittine Abbey of Syon at Twickenham in 1424.

In 1954, the then current owner, 3rd Baron St Levan gave most of St Michael’s Mount to the National Trust. The St Aubyn family retained a 999-year lease to inhabit the castle and a licence to manage the public viewing of its historic rooms. This is managed in conjunction with the National Trust.

A local legend tells of a giant named Cormoran who once lived in a cave on the Mount. The legend states that it was Cormoran and his wife Cormelian who were responsible for the construction of St Michael's Mount, building it from granite taken from the West Penwith Moors. When Cormoran fell asleep from exhaustion, his wife tried to sneak a greenschist slab from a shorter distance away. Cormoran awoke and kicked the stone out of her apron, where it fell to form the island of Chapel Rock. Trecobben, the giant of Trencrom Hill near St Ives, is said to have accidentally killed Cormelian while throwing a hammer over to St Michael's Mount for Cormoran. He and Cormoran buried Cormelian beneath Chapel Rock.

Cormoran was greatly feared by the locals as he would frequently wade ashore and steal cows and sheep to feed his gargantuan appetite. One night, a local boy called Jack rowed out to the island and dug a deep pit while the giant was asleep. As the sun rose, Jack blew a horn to wake the angry giant who staggered down from the summit and, blinded by the sunlight, fell into the pit and died.


Prussia Cove SmugglersView in OS Map | View in Google Map

One of the most famous smugglers of The Mounts Bay area, and possibly of all Cornwall was a man from Prussia Cove named John Carter. He was known as the 'King of Prussia' and was the most successful and notorious smuggler in the area between 1777 and 1807 running his profitable smuggling operations with his two brothers, Harry and Charles. Even the name Prussia Cove is taken from his exploits having originally been known as Porthleah.

John Carter ran his operations using three small inlets – Pisky’s Cove, Bessie’s Cove and Prussia Cove which gave natural advantages of being sheltered and secluded. It is said that some of the many caves around the coves were connected to the house above by secret passages. Even though being involved in a shady occupation, John Carter had a reputation for honest dealing. One story tells of how on an occasion when he was away, the excise officers confiscated his booty of tea to the Penzance custom house. On his return, Carter and his men broke into the stores at night and carried off all the confiscated cargo, without touching a single article which he did not consider belonged to him.

Strata in the cliffs around Trmearne
Strata in the cliffs around Trmearne


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-02-05


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