Wow doesn’t begin to cover it.
Start: Carnewas car park, Bedruthan Steps grid reference: SW850690
Set off on this dramatic two-hour (4.5 mile) walk along coast and farmland footpaths and be staggered by some spectacular views of the Bedruthan sea stacks – allegedly the steps of a giant named Bedruthan – as well as beautiful sheltered coves and Bronze Age barrows.
Make sure you check the tide times here, as getting cut off at both Bedruthan and Porth Mear beaches is dangerous, and wear sturdy shoes that can handle slopes and uneven surfaces.
Be prepared for walking an unfenced cliff top. Dogs are welcome on this walk, though it’s leads on as there can be lots of livestock around. There’s a handy dog bin at Carnewas.
1.) From Carnewas car park, follow the footpath that runs from the information board east towards the coast path and continue down the stone steps. Trust me, you will be rewarded for making this rather challenging descent down the steep flight of steps (closed in winter) when you arrive at the beautiful – often deserted – Bedruthan Beach at the bottom.
Please note, it’s never safe to swim here at any time of the year, and remember to make sure you don’t get cut off by the tide. One of my friends had a narrow escape here last year, but not everyone has been so lucky.
During the winter, start your walk with a short detour along the path straight ahead and through the gorse for dramatic views along the coastline in both directions, then heading right and joining the path down the steps.
2.) At the bottom of the steps, pause to drink in the view or descend the cliff stairs for some time on the beach (closed in winter). Climb the steps again from the beach and carry on up the stone stairway with views of the beach and stacks to your left.
3.) Continue along the coast path, past the earthworks of Redclfiff Castle towards Park Head. Eventually, you’ll find yourself walking through a tamarisk hedge. Go through a kissing gate and then continue straight on, with the hedge on your right.
4.) Keep following the path until it forks after a bench. You can choose a slightly lengthier and sturdier scenic walk to the left by the cliff edge, taking in the headland, Bronze Age barrows and another cliff castle. This whole stretch of coastline is dotted with cliff castles and Bronze Age barrows thought to date from 1,200 BC to 2,500 BC. An example of a cliff castle can be seen at Park Head and shows two defensive banks separated by a ditch.
Alternatively, for a shorter route cut across fields on the grassy path to the right:
5.) Arrive at Porth Mear and take in the view of Trevose Head and the lighthouse, then go down the path and through the kissing gate. To get onto the beach, take the short path heading left. In stark contrast to the exposed cliffs you’ve been seeing, Porth Mear is a beautiful sheltered cove filled with rock pools. The path continues along the valley and is filled with reed beds. Regenerated by the National Trust, these support various wetland flora species including ragged robin and corn parsley, as well as loads of butterflies.
6.) Re-join the path and continue inland along the valley (if not spending time on the beach turn right to join the path following the valley). Listen to the chatter of the stream to your left and feel the shelter and milder air that the valley enjoys.
7.) Go through another kissing gate and continue diagonally across two grazing fields towards a gate with a stone stile next to it, which sits to the left of two yellow National Trust holiday cottages.
8.) Go through the gate and follow the tarmaced lane straight ahead of you towards the Park Head car park. As you reach the car park, turn right and through the kissing gate, then follow the right hand edge of the fields through two more gates.
9.) Turn immediately left after the second gate, and follow the path along the left hand side of two fields until you reach a further kissing gate.
10.) Go through the gate, back onto the path you took from Carnewas, with a view of Diggery’s Island. The climb down to Diggery’s beach is very steep, but well worth it if you’re feeling brave. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to climb back up safely before the tide comes in. Turn left to return back along the coast path to Carnewas.
“The stately rock towers of Bedruthan Steps are a haven for sea birds and an irresistible challenge for the county’s rock climbers.
Though the beach practically disappears at high tide, Bedruthan is always a spectacular spot for a cliff top stroll, and there’s a small National Trust café where you can seek shelter when the Atlantic wind gets up.”
Lonely Planet review of Bedruthan Steps