Best short walks in Cornwall

Places to Go

Best short walks in Cornwall

Lined with 422 miles of glorious coastline and packed inland with scenic spots aplenty, Cornwall is big on natural beauty. And there's no better way to soak up the sights than by heading out on a hike. With so many vistas to take in, it’s little wonder so many visitors spend their holiday in walking boots!

Whether you're holidaying with little children or just looking for a quick jaunt while daytripping, Cornwall is home to plenty of short, easy, and wonderfully accessible walks across the county’s north, south, and western reaches, so you can bask in Cornish beauty with ease. 

Check out our round-up of the best short and accessible walks in Cornwall and start exploring this stunning county one relaxed mile at a time…

North Cornwall


Cardinham Woods

One of the accessible walk paths in Cardinham Woods in Cornwall

Best for: Family-friendly trails

• Distance: 1.7 miles

• Time: 30 – 40 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Cardinham Woods

• Parking: Cardinham Woods car park

• Landmarks: Lady Vale Bridge, Gruffalo Sculpture Trail

Tucked into a scenic valley, this mixed woodland features a range of different trails to suit everyone from runners and cyclists to those exploring on horseback. It's exceedingly family-friendly too, with a fully kitted out play park, not to mention Gruffalo sculptures enticingly dotted along the Lady Vale walk (1.7 miles).

A Forestry England woodland, there's also a Badger Forest School for children who want an immersive nature experience or, for a less formal approach, you could download an activity pack ahead of time to keep little ones entertained while you explore the dappled trails.

Those with limited mobility can hire the Tramper, an all-terrain mobility scooter, which is straightforward to use across a variety of terrains whatever the weather. You can arrange hire through the Countryside Mobility Scheme, with single session and annual passes available. 

But how best to explore? We recommend you start with the Lady Vale walk, the woodland’s most popular streamside stroll. The trail hugs the river upstream towards the bridge named after The Chapel of Our Lady, which stood beside the river during the 12th century. Kids will love spotting the Gruffalo sculptures, while water-loving dogs will enjoy the easy stream access.

If the little legs in your party tire quickly, you can cut the walk short by crossing the centenary bridge to make it back to the car park, reducing the loop to an easy 0.9 miles. Afterwards, head to Woods Café or grab an ice cream for an extra refreshing post-walk treat.

If you love Cardinham and are hankering after more tree-lined strolls, check out our guide to the best woodland walks in the county.


Bude Canal and Marshes

Bude River winding its way to the sea

Best for: Historic settings and birdwatching

• Distance: 1 mile

• Time: 30 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Bude Tourist Information Centre

• Parking: Crescent Long Stay car park

• Landmarks: Bude Marshes Nature Reserve

If you'd like a side of engineering history with your beauty, take a walk around Bude Canal and Marshes. This award-winning site is nestled into the centre of the seaside town of Bude, conveniently located behind the Tourist Information Centre.

The terrain is flat and tarmac, making it wonderfully wheel-friendly, and the traffic-free stroll is great for those with little explorers. Need a hand getting around? There are two transit wheelchairs to hire for the day or week from the Tourist Information Centre. Call in advance to book.

As part of the walk, you'll explore Bude Marshes Nature Reserve, which is packed to the rafters with local flora and fauna. Keep an eagle eye out around the wetlands and you might spot geese, herons, kingfishers, shrews, voles, otters, frogs and toads.

To access the walk, turn left out of Bude Tourist Information Centre and head for Bude Canal. Once on the canal, keep the water to your right and you'll come across a Bird Hide to your left. Fully accessible, keen bird watchers will be in their element watching the marshes below for action.

Once you’ve had your fill of birdwatching, head out of the hide and keep walking until you reach Truscott's Bridge to the left. Walk over the bridge and follow the trail around to the left. You'll continue until you reach Pethericks Mill, where you can cross the river over an old railway bridge. Lastly, you'll hop back onto the canal towpath and end up where you started.

Afterwards, explore the town’s boutiques and eateries, play on one of its many beaches (the sea pool is a must), or swot up on your local history at the Bude Castle Heritage Centre.


Camel Trail

The flat and accessible path at the Camel Trail in Cornwall

Best for: Fish and chips

• Distance: 2.4 miles

• Time: 55 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Old Town Cove/Padstow

• Parking: Old Town Cove (follow signs for Old Town Cove from St Issey)

• Landmarks: Camel Estuary, the National Lobster Hatchery, Camel Valley Vineyard

When it comes to level walking with idyllic views, you can’t beat the famous Camel Trail. This 18-mile trail tracks a disused railway line between Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow, and its flat paths are well-maintained and perfect for wheelchairs and pushchairs alike.

Due to the length of the trail, it also lends itself well to exploration by bike. You can hire bikes, including kit to make the experience more child-friendly, at each of the towns on the trail.

And when it comes to things to do and gawp in awe at, the Camel Trail delivers. Depending on the section you explore, you might enjoy spectacular views of the Camel Estuary, the National Lobster Hatchery, or Camel Valley Vineyard. Keen birdwatcher? There is even an accessible bird hide alongside the trail near Wadebridge.

Looking for a short but impactful stroll? The beauty of the trail is you can explore as much or as little as you like. Simply head in one direction and then turn back when you reach your desired halfway mark. But, if you’d rather the satisfaction of reaching an end destination (Padstow for fish and chips would be our choice), you could always catch a bus back. There are buses available in many of the towns along the route, and you can find timetables and tickets at Traveline South West.

If you’d like to try out a specific walk, we recommend parking up at Old Town Cove, which is located a mere few steps from the trail. Almost immediately you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views across the River Camel and then it’s just 2.4 miles into oh-so-pretty Padstow, which is packed with glorious beaches, Michelin starred eateries, and the National Lobster Hatchery.

South Cornwall


The Wheal Martyn Clay Trails

The historic mine at Wheal Martyn in Cornwall

Best for: Sculpture-lined strolls

• Distance: 1.9 miles

• Time: 45 minutes to an hour

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Wheal Martyn/Tremena gardens

• Parking: Wheal Martyn

• Landmarks: Industrial heritage including a kiln drier and railway line

Much of the area surrounding St Austell is characterised by the clay tips and pits landscape, affectionately referred to locally as the Cornish Alps. There's no better way to immerse yourself in the 250-year-old clay mining industry than a walk around The Clay Trails.

Explore these parts and you’ll marvel at the vibrant turquoise damns, coloured by fine particles of mica in the water. Absorb the impressive view of towering clay tips and wander past historic and listed buildings like the drying chimneys.

But there's more to the area than just the China clay industry. This hardworking, industrial landscape has been given a new lease of life with careful environmental management and is now home to a range of wildlife including birds of prey like kestrels, kites, and buzzards. Artistic types will also love the series of sculptures along the trails that nod to the rich history and community of the area.

Sections of the trail are mostly flat and smooth, making them accessible for a range of explorers including pushchairs and those on a four-wheel scooter. One of our favourites easy and scenic walks is the Wheal Martyn to St Austell route. It's a 1.9-mile trail known as the Green Corridor and takes in a range of mining heritage features along the way.

Make sure you pop into the UK's only China clay mining museum at Wheal Martyn where you can explore the interactive Discovery Centre to learn more about this rich and historic industry.


Trelissick to Roundwood Quay

The view of Roundwood Quay surrounded by trees from the beautiful National Trust gardens at Trelissick

Best for: Floral displays and river views

• Distance: 1 mile

• Time: 30 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy with a few moderate sections

• Starts/ends: Trelissick

• Parking: Trelissick

• Landmarks: Iron Age promontory fort, 18th-century quay, 1750s manor

Not only is this charming spot family-friendly, but Trelissick garden is also a visual powerhouse packed full of interesting and exotic plants and sweeping views across the River Fal.

Our walk of choice to make the most of these stunning scenes? Trelissick to Roundwood Quay. A bite size, 1-mile route (though there are a couple of steeper sections), this stroll is the perfect choice for little legs. The walk takes in the historic parkland, oak-lined stream, and the Iron Age promontory fort and 18th-century quay at Roundwood. You'll also enjoy riverside views and have a chance to spot wildlife like egrets, shelduck, and kingfishers.

If you’ve got limited mobility, there is one powered mobility scooter available to hire (call in advance) for use in the garden, along with two manual wheelchairs that can be used on a first come first served basis.

Once you've wrapped up exploring outside, head to Crofters Café for an afternoon tea or peruse the book shop. Inspired to look after your own garden? Head to the plant shop to stock up on seasonal plants and garden decorations.


Fowey to Readymoney Cove

Views of the beautiful waterside town of Fowey

Best for: A stroll and a swim

• Distance: 0.6 miles

• Time: 15-20 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Fowey/Readymoney Cove

• Parking: Options in Fowey and Readymoney Cove

• Landmarks: St Catherine’s Castle

Fancy combining a beach wander with literary legend? Head to Fowey, which has long been associated with the author Daphne du Maurier who lived locally. Today, the exceptionally pretty seaside town runs an annual Festival of Arts and Literature, where you can delve into your favourite literary worlds.

Starting from the centre of Fowey, make a beeline for the Esplanade and, with the estuary on your left, head out of the town centre. Follow this track for half a mile and you'll arrive at Readymoney Cove. The area is a popular spot, Dawn French used to have a house nearby and there is also a nearby cottage where Daphne du Maurier lived during the Second World War.

The beach itself is small and sheltered, offering the perfect spot for paddling or, for bigger kids, swimming as the swimming platform is always popular entertainment here. Make sure you check the tides before you go, though, as at a high spring tide there is no beach left to explore. Afterwards, pop into Readymoney Beach Shop for a light lunch, coffee or thoughtful souvenir.

The south-easterly beach is overlooked by St Catherine’s Castle, one of a pair of artillery forts built in the 1530s to defend Fowey Harbour. If you're up for a further leg stretch, you can walk up to explore. The route includes a challenging steep climb through woodland that gets muddy in wet weather, so it’s not wheel-friendly.

West Cornwall


Penzance to Marazion

People walking up the stone causeway to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall

Best for: Dramatic coastal views

• Distance: 2.2 miles

• Time: 45 minutes to an hour

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Penzance / Marazion

• Parking: Harbour Long Stay Car Park

• Landmarks: St Michael’s Mount

If you're up for a coastal path that delivers reaching sea views with minimal effort, the short and sweet stretch from Penzance to Marazion is a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike.

Perfect for wheelchairs and pushchairs alike, this lovely path is one of the most accessible walks in Cornwall and boasts stunning views to boot! The route is almost totally flat with a smooth surface path promising a relaxed journey. But better yet, the views deliver at every step, with sweeping vistas over Mount’s Bay and out to St Michael's Mount, the Lizard, and Mousehole.

Along the way you'll pass beaches beckoning for a swim and the famous saltwater lido at Jubilee Pool, as well as a range of eateries and pubs perfect for a quick bite to eat. You can also check out the Bird Reserve in Marazion, which attracts a range of rare birds including water rails and bitterns.

Once you arrive in Marazion, you'll be struck by the captivating view of St Michael's Mount. If you want to explore a little more at low tide, you can cross the ancient causeway. The actual island and castle are tricky to navigate if you have limited mobility, though a Tramper is available to hire for a fee, which will make the village area accessible.


Tehidy Country Park

A carpet of bluebells beneath the trees at Tehidy Woods with people walking in the background

Best for: Wheel-friendly woodland wanders

• Distance: 0.5 mile

• Time: 15-20 minutes

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: South Drive Car Park

• Parking: South Drive car park, but there are also car parks at North Cliff and East Drive

• Landmarks: Tehidy House

If you're after a wooded wander, you can't go wrong with Tehidy. The largest area of woodland in West Cornwall, it encompasses some 9 miles of path across 250 acres of woodland. Several routes are perfect for children, as well as being wheelchair friendly too. Check out the signs for your options, once you get going all are well signposted making following the route a doddle.

Our choice for a short but rewarding wander in the woods is the purple route. At half a mile, this short walk packs a punch and benefits from woodland and lakeside views. The lake itself dates back to 1737 when it was artificially created to add a further beauty spot to the grounds.

Today, it's a haven for wildlife so keep your eyes peeled for ducks and swans, fish, eels and dragonflies. Tehidy is also famous for its squirrels, with the little critters easy to spot in the trees and scurrying across the paths. Time your visit right and you'll be rewarded with a carpet of bluebells that cover the woodland in a periwinkle hue.

You might also spot Tehidy House. While now a series of private residential buildings, this house has lived many lives. It was long associated with the Bassets, a family that rapidly gained wealth from the local tin mining industry. Then in 1919 it opened as a hospital for the treatment of those with TBH before a sudden fire devastated the building a few weeks later.

Once you've circled the lake, you'll end up back at the start and conveniently close to the café. Head inside for a delicious slice of cake or a piping hot panini. Or, for the most organised explorers, settled down in the picnic area for a sandwich and a flask of tea.


Godrevy Head

Views across the beach towards Godrevy Lighthouse

Best for: Wildlife watching

• Distance: 0.6 miles

• Time: 45 minutes to an hour

• Difficulty rating: Easy

• Starts/ends: Godrevy Head car park

• Parking: Godrevy Head car park

• Landmarks: Godrevy Lighthouse, Mutton Cove Seal Colony

If you want to instil a love of walking in your young children, without overwhelming them, we can’t think of a better spot than this easy breezy loop. This short walk is big on rewards with stunning views out to the lighthouse on Godrevy island and, if you time it right, oodles of seals.

The walk starts out in Godrevy Head car park, where you'll head down the coast path keeping the sea on your left as you make your way to Godrevy Towans and on to Godrevy point. It's here that the views out to Godrevy Lighthouse are the finest.

Inspire their imagination and share tales of shipwrecks as you look out for a range of fulmars and other seabirds. Visit in autumn and you might spot some migrating seabirds, such as storm petrels and kittiwakes.

As you make your way around the head, you'll arrive at Mutton Cove, which is completely inaccessible to humans but home to a colony of Grey Seals who love nothing better than sprawling out in the sunshine and frolicking on the shore. Take your binoculars for the best viewing experience and make sure you time it with low tide, or else there won't be much to see.

While the walk is an easy one with one gentle climb, there is a stile, making only part of the walk suitable for people with limited mobility and those with a pushchair.


Looking for a base to explore Cornwall? Check out our collection of idyllic holiday cottages for the perfect place to relax after a day of walking through Cornish beauty spots.

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