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Four Top North Cornwall Coast Path Walks

With over 1000km of astounding scenery choosing a site for a stroll on the South West Coast Path can be a little daunting. So if you're not sure where to start out why not try these on for size?

Holywell Bay & Kelsey Head

Starts and ends at National Trust car park, Holywell

Distance: 4 miles (4.5 with sea-cave extension)

Time: Approximately 1¾ miles

Terrain: Mostly gentle coast path walking; some uneven paths and sand dunes

Facilities: WCs, shops, cafes and pubs at Holywell

This is a varied walk taking in both maritime and calcareous grassland, sand dunes and fenland habitats. Kelsey Head consists of three ancient walled enclosures and has a variety of archaeological remains including the low bank and shallow ditch of a cliff castle. Offshore is an islet owned by the National Trust called The Chick, and seals are often seen from the cliff. Holywell Bay is one of the finest sandy beaches in Cornwall. Backed by dunes rising to 200 feet, it is an extension of the huge Penhale dune system to the south. At the north end of the bay is a sea-cave known historically as St Cuthbert's Well and is only accessible at low tide. Within it can be found a natural spring and unusual lime-rich rock formations formed by water dripping through fissures above.

West Pentire and Porth Joke

Starts and ends at National Trust car park – Treago, Cubert Common

Distance: 1.75 miles. Optional extension to Vugga Cove

Time: Approximately 1¼ hours

Terrain: Some uneven paths and short, steep slopes

Facilities: Bowgie Inn just off the route, at West Pentire

If visiting in late June into July, be sure to look out for the abundant flowering poppies and corn marigolds conserved as part of the National Trust's Arable Weeds Project on West Pentire. The coastline is especially beautiful with Vugga Cove, an ancient fishing cove in a deep inlet, still with visible remains and rock-cut features; and the unspoilt Porth Joke. This is a beautiful sandy cove, remote from cars, kiosks and commercialism and is known locally as Polly Joke. 'Joke' is derived from the same source as the word chough, the crow-like bird once extinct in Cornwall but slowly making a come-back, including on the north coast. There are fine views from Pentire Point, with its ancient field systems, across the bays to Kelsey Head, East Pentire and Crantock Beach.

Cubert Common

Starts and ends at National Trust car park Treago, Cubert Common

Distance: 1.5 miles (2.5 miles including Porth Joke)

Time: Approximately 1 hour

Terrain: Gentle

Facilities: Nearest at West Pentire, Holywell or Crantock

Cubert Common is an undulating tract of sandy grassland, much used for riding. It is a registered ancient common and a Site of Specific Scientific Interest. Blown shell sand from the Holywell dunes has created a lime-rich soil and it is home to abundant wildflowers, especially cowslips, in the spring. Cattle wander freely in the winter to graze the less desirable vegetation to help conserve the wildflowers. Songbirds patrol the hedges, scrub and streamsides and skylarks chatter noisily above their grassland nests. There is a fine Bronze Age barrow on the southern side and in the damper meadows of the valley to Porth Joke grow species such as flag iris and marsh orchid.

Crantock and the Gannel Estuary

Starts and ends at National Trust car park

Distance: 2 miles

Time: Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour

Terrain: Some uneven paths and a narrow country lane

Facilities: WCs at the car park and Crantock village. Also pubs, shop and post office

The route takes in a variety of different habitats and scenery, including salt marshes, woodlands, wetlands, sand dunes and the habitat-rich grasslands of Rushy Green. The estuary is a great spot for spying over-wintering wading birds and wildfowl, especially at low tide, and for those interested in archaeology there is the ruined lime kiln at Penpol Creek. A walk along the southern foreshore of the wooded creek at low tide will reveal small quays, flights of steps, mooring rings and chains. Rising some five miles inland, and flowing past the Tudor manor at Trerice, the Gannel was extensively used by shipping until the 19th century, after which the narrow channel became too silted up with sand.

The Pentire Hotel is situated right on the South West Coastal Path, so if you are looking for Newquay hotels, you have come to the right place, at one of the top places to stay in Newquay right by Fistral Beach.

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