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Prussia Cove to Porthleven: 6 mile coastal walk

Review: 7 May 2023

We arrived at Prussia Cove early this month. It is four miles east of Penzance on the south coast of Cornwall but the width of England is only seven miles from north to south. It’s the fourth year we have travelled here, always gathering together this particular week of May with family and friends. It’s a highlight in our family calendar and a chance to relax, take life more slowly and explore old favourite routes and new exciting ones.

Prussia Cove to Porthleven is definitely an old favourite and on our second morning we stepped out of the cottage on to the coastal path which sits above cliffs that drop to rocks and crashing waves. There are hidden sheltered coves that look like they were made for swimming.  In May there are abundant wild flowers pouring over the edge of the cliff paths and there is the faint smell of coconut seeping out of the bright yellow gorse. It is a very special unspoilt place where nothing has changed much in the last 100 years. This is a walk that will fill the lungs and gives you a boost of energy that will last for days. The coast is visually breath-taking in its variety along the six miles. The white sandy beach of Praa Sands stretches for about a mile. This turns into steep cliff paths which are no gentle amble so be prepared for all weathers and all terrains. There is a nice balance of challenging hills that are always followed by terrain that allows recovery. The eventual arrival in Porthleven is very much appreciated. The cliff path turns into a lane lined with fisherman’s cottages. Your stride lengthens as you go down hill and then, round the bend appears the protected harbour and the Ship Inn built into the side of the hill. After a bracing swim from the harbour wall (there are little wooden hooks to hang your bags and clothes) we settle down for a good pint of beer in the sun, revived, refreshed, tired but very happy.

Flowers:  Three cornered leeks (an invasive species from the Mediterranean) & a sea of bluebells everywhere. Flowering Gorse bright on the cliff sides. Red campions. Bright drops of vetch. Speedwell, toadflax, stitchwort, cranes bill, sandwort. Violets turning their heads to the sun amongst other wildflowers that pierce the vivid greens with sharply saturated electric contrast.

Birds: The hovering kestrel and the urgent cries from the nesting gulls add to the sense of teeming natural life along the coastline. Lots of seabirds, oyster catchers, cormorants.

Swimming spots: Kenneggy Cove (be careful of the tide), Praa Sands, Porthleven harbour. Rock pools along the way, tide dependent. Porthcew below Rinsey Head.

Watering holes: Café on the beach at Praa Sands. The Ship Inn at Porthleven.The first pub that you come to. It is right on the harbour and you can swim just in front of it.

Picnic spots: Multiple! We like the rocks at the end of Praa Sands.

Parking: Prussia Cove car park or Porthleven (depending on which way round you do it). Get the bus back. It runs about every hour.


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