St Ives and Clodgy Point Circular

In Brief

Distance: 3.3 miles
Expected duration: 2 hours
Starting point: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Finishing point: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Difficulty: 3/5. The path is well trodden although there are some steep sections at times, albeit in short bursts
Wildlife to discover: Greater horseshoe bats flit around West Penwith, which is the name of the peninsula that St Ives and this walk sit on
Best Insta-worthy spot: At ‘Man’s Head’ (you’ll know how it got its name when you get there), looking back into St Ives
Random fact: The name ‘Clodgy’ derives from the Cornish ‘klav’ and ‘ji’, together meaning ‘sick house’. This is fitting as Clodgy Point was once the site of a leper colony

As one of Cornwall’s most popular hotspots, it’s easy to forget that St Ives is more than just a pretty seaside town and art hub. It’s also a fantastic base from which you can explore the West Penwith district – the peninsula at the end of the country that houses both St Ives and this fab walk – and the stunning craggy coastline that stretches out in both directions.

The St Ives and Clodgy Point Circular walk takes you out of the St Ives tourist bubble and along a rugged corner of the Cornish coastline that’s characterised by hilly headlands and steep-sided sea ravines – also known as ‘zawns’ – that have been cut by the oceans into the cliffs. Along the way, there are some incredible landscapes, some back-to-basics grassy paths and, as you head back on yourself through field and dale, some of the world’s oldest structures that are still in use today. No joke.

Starting from St IvesPorthmeor Beach and with the world-famous Tate St Ives gallery at your back, head out of town on the tarmac path that leads to the rocky Carrick Du headland, affectionately known by locals as ‘Man’s Head’ because, well, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that one out. From here, take in the picture-postcard vistas back across Porthmeor and the seaside town. A grassy path heads out from here and continues past the former leper colony at Clodgy Point and its rocky beach below. This is another perfect spot for the camera phone as the views back over St Ives are marvellous.

Map created with © OpenStreetMap contributors, available under the Open Database License

Once you’ve snapped all you can for your social media channels, it’s time to head away from the coast for the rest of the walk. Just before you reach the cliffs and beach at Porthkervis, take the path that forks off inland through a series of fields to Higher Burthallan Farm. Along the way, really soak up your surroundings as some of the West Penwith fields and farmlands you pass through here date back to prehistoric times. Yup, the granite walls that border off this patchwork of small fields are considered to be among the world’s oldest man-made structures that are still in continuous use. This is as ancient as you get in Cornwall.

Before you leave on the final leg of your journey, also note the small network of miners’ paths in this area that cross the land and use granite stiles. There’s history everywhere. But then it’s back to Porthmeor Beach as soon as you reach Burthallan Lane beyond the farm buildings and take a right which leads back towards St Ives. Then grab an ice cream, pop into a restaurant and call your friends to tell them about your day of sheer coastal vistas, rocks shaped like dudes, former leper colonies and some of the oldest man-made structures in the world that are actually still pretty damn useful. St Ives is more than just an arty town.

Why we love this walk: This is a walk of contrasts. Starting at the uber-trendy Tate St Ives, the St Ives and Clodgy Point Circular route ventures through some ancient landscapes and the site of an old leper colony before returning through the cobbled streets of one of Cornwall’s most popular towns. It’s a journey that takes in so much history around St Ives in just over three miles!