The South West Coast Path: Falmouth to Looe

Take a walk through history in the footsteps of Cornish Smugglers and the Customs men who pursued them. Five dramatic days of world-class coastal trail link secluded smuggling coves to wooded creeks. Explore wildlife-rich estuaries and encounter unspoilt golden beaches, dramatic cliffs and wild headlands.

Follow the stunning Cornish coastline in the footsteps of smugglers on five dramatic days of world class coastal walking from secluded smuggling coves to secretive wooded creeks. By night, live like smugglers, staying in a run of five atmospheric and vibrant fishing harbours – each one with its own legends and history and the widest choice of restaurants and facilities of any of the walking routes in Cornwall. Mix your walking with sightseeing on the Smugglers Trail, which allows you to build in optional rest days to walk straight into the best attractions of the region such as: The Eden Project, Lanhydrock Estate and The Lost Gardens of Heligan as you create your own journey through time along the historic, unspoilt South Cornwall coastline.

Tour Overview

Distance

90km

Days

5-7

Grade

Moderate

Theme

History / Coastal /

Landscape Type

By Water

The South West Coast Path: Falmouth to Looe

Tour Details

This itinerary has been created by Encounter Walking Holidays – the largest and most experienced operator on the South West Coast Path, who are based in Lostwithiel – just five miles from the path itself.

Full luggage transfers, accommodation booking, day-by-day itinerary document and support for the walk – including an out of hours emergency contact number are all included.  Advice and help with arranging parking and public transport to and from the trail are also provided.

Shorter Holiday Options

Mevagissey to Looe over 3 or 4 days – Average 7.5 miles (12km) per day)

Optional Rest trips and activities (available on both standard or shorter holiday options):

At Mevagissey: visit The Lost Gardens of Heligan (2 miles)

At Charlestown: The Eden Project (2 miles) or The St Austell Brewery Tour (2 miles)

At Fowey: Iconic inland Creek and estuary exploring walk or kayak (4 miles)

Itinerary

Starting from the bustling harbour of Falmouth, this itinerary crosses the estuary to the Roseland Peninsula, heading east through a string of intimate fishing villages and exploring secluded inlets on the sub-tropical, wildlife-rich south coast of Cornwall to the old fishing port of Looe.

 

Day 1 - Falmouth to Portloe

Two small foot ferries from Falmouth take you via Henry VIII’s Castle at St Mawes to start the walk around St Anthony’s Headland. Cross stunning beaches in Gerrans Bay, climbing wild Nare Head to end up in the tiny harbour village of Portloe, hidden from the world behind the rock face known locally as “The Jacka”. 22km / 14 miles

Day 2 - Portloe to Mevagissey

Superb walking today through the coves and along the clifftops of the little-visited Roseland Peninsula, pass Caerhays Castle before rounding the mighty Dodman Headland, giving immense coastal views as far away as the Lizard and Dorset. End the day in the charming restaurants and Inns at the welcoming fishing harbour of Mevagissey  19km /12 miles

Day 3 - Mevagissey to Charlestown

A shorter walk today, but with plenty of coves and cliffs to explore and several fine beaches before rounding Black Head to end at the historic Tall Ships Harbour at Charlestown – film location for the likes of Poldark and Treasure Island. 13km / 8 miles 

Day 4 - Charlestown to Fowey

A gentle start along the back of St Austell Bay, before entering Daphne Du Maurier Country –the writer’s location for the likes of The Birds, Rebecca and House on the Strand. Visit the perfect horseshoe cove of Polkerris for lunch before climbing to the huge Daymark Tower on Gribbin Head and then descending from the clifftops to Fowey, pausing to visit dramatic St Catherine’s Castle. 16km / 10 miles

Day 5 - Fowey to Looe

This final day eclipses all others – a short foot ferry ride over the River Fowey before an eight-miles section of wild coves, hidden beaches and remote headlands with not a house or road until you reach the ancient smuggler’s harbour at Polperro. After lunch, wind down with an easy final stroll into Looe to finish in this lively fishing harbour with its clutch of fine restaurants and bars surrounding the fishing quay and sandy beach. 19km / 12 miles 

 

Accommodation

As you would expect in an area steeped in the history of smuggling, there are plenty of atmospheric inns and pubs on this route – most of which are in stunning positions in the coves and harbours.  Encounter Walking Holidays offer basic B&B and Inn accommodation for the walk as standard, with upgrade options to suit individual tastes and budgets. Preview the accommodation online before booking to make the right choice for your walk. As well as standard B&B, there are several luxury hotel options, boutique style B&B and historic inns. All our accommodation is right on or very close to the path. Ensuite rooms available in all locations.

Travel

 

 

Air / Rail

This is an easy access ‘Rail to Trail’ Holiday. Walkers normally train in and train out without any need for buses or transfers.

Mainline fast trains from London to Truro where you change for a ½ hour branch line train straight into Falmouth. From Looe again by train – taking one of the UK’s most scenic rail journeys up the West Looe Valley to meet the mainline at Liskeard for direct trains back to London

Scheduled flights into the airport at Newquay then 1 hour transfer by road to and from the path.

 

Ferry

Ferries to Plymouth from Roscoff in France – less than 20 miles from the end of the trail in Looe if driving and on the same train network as Looe and Falmouth.

Car

Cars can be parked in Falmouth and return by train from Looe by train (around 3 hours).

Advice

This walk is suitable for all ages with a reasonable level of fitness with a minimum of four hours walking a day.  More experienced walkers will find plenty of challenges and long days in the five-day route from Falmouth, with a good mix of moderate to strenuous walking, much of the time in remote areas which do not see large numbers of tourists. The usual walking season is late March until the end of October, but with good public transport options on the trail and the benign southern coast climate, this route is one of the few that can be walked at any time of year.

Food & Drink

One of the unique aspects of this section is the ‘Apres-Walk’ options in the evenings after a day on the trail. The lively fishing ports offer better facilities and more dining options than other sections. Portloe, Mevagissey, Fowey, Polperro and Looe all have their own fishing boats, so fresh seafood straight from the quay is available everywhere.

Local Real Ale and Cider is produced in several micro-breweries and orchards in the area, which is the most fertile area for agriculture on the Cornish Coast. As a result, most of the restaurants on this route make good use of readily available locally sourced produce in their dishes.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

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