The picturesque town and fishing port boasts prime position along the coast (feast your eyes with our webcam), merging waterfront spoils with a stunning rural hinterland and even remnants of west Cornwall’s mining heritage. With such a myriad of natural landscapes, Porthleven is a veritable walkers’ paradise. The famed South West Coast Path cuts through the town, while a network of other routes traverse lake, countryside and farmland for a unique exploration of all the area has to offer.
You might want to coincide your stay with a not-to-be-missed event such as the Porthleven Food Festival, or pick the off-season for a spot of storm-watching while you roam the town and its surrounds on foot. Sample the lauded array of restaurants and cafés in Porthleven, hit the beach for a surfing holiday, or bring the family for an activity-packed adventure at one of west Cornwall’s most coveted destinations.
There’s oodles to see and do in and around Porthleven, whether you’re based here or visiting for the day. Head inland for sprawling country estates, stick to the coast for watersports and seascapes aplenty, or venture to nearby destinations such as Helston, Praa Sands, The Lizard, Penzance, Marazion and St Michael’s Mount - or seek out secret spots like Prussia Cove and Rinsey Head. You’ll stumble into Poldark filming locations like Church Cove alongside impossibly beautiful hotspots and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty such as Kynance Cove.
We’ve handpicked a variety of walks in and near Porthleven to show you the sheer variety of what’s on offer, should you wish to trek for your entire stay or don the walking boots for a little breath of fresh air with the kids...
Porthleven to Loe Bar/Helston
Best for: Taking it all in
Distance: 5/8 miles
Wooded valleys, a lake, country estate and the beautiful beaches of Porthleven – this walk has it all in one scenic round trip. Joining the South West Coast Path that runs parallel to the sea, the route takes you from Porthleven to Loe Bar: the beach separating the ocean and Loe Pool (Cornwall’s largest natural freshwater lake). For a shorter walk, you can stop here and head back; or to continue - walk around the edge of the lake and you’ll wander toward Penrose Estate and the National Trust-run, Stables café, which provides the perfect stop-off point for tea, cake and a toilet break.
Explore the public gardens or fill your boots at the café before continuing along the route, which leads into stunning, water-lined wooded valleys as you walk alongside the River Cober. You’ll eventually emerge by Helston Boating Lake, where you can enjoy another pit-stop at the café while the kids let loose in the play park before retracing your steps back to Porthleven. Alternatively, regular buses run between Porthleven and Helston, should you wish to put your feet up on the way back.
Porthleven to Praa Sands
Best for: Mining enthusiasts
Distance: 4.8 miles
This route follows the South West Coast Path to treat walkers to a series of coves, beaches and engine houses scattered along the clifflines. From Porthleven, you’ll pass Nichols Cove and then through an impressive geological site of regional importance as you absorb the imposing Wheal Prosper and Wheal Trewavas engine houses. Descend onto Rinsey (a sheltered sandy cove exposed only by the low tide, though with tricky access down the rock face), or continue along for expansive bay views as you head toward the golden stretch of Praa Sands. Here, you can enjoy a picnic on the beach, or dine overlooking it at Sandbar or Stones Reef Beach Bar & Kitchen before returning the way you came (or catching a bus back).
Loe Pool Round Walk
Best for: A lazy waterside walk
Distance: 6 miles
Start north of the lake either at the track near the Wheal Pool mine engine house or at Degibna Chapel to follow the path winding around the lake. Wander through woodland as you skirt the lake, and onward through the parkland of Penrose Estate before stopping at the Stables café for refreshments before continuing toward Loe Bar. Stretch out on the dog-friendly beach for a siesta or picnic, then complete the circuit – or extend your walk along the South West Coast Path to Porthleven. This loop is also great on two wheels, providing a great mix of easy cycling and more off-road terrain.
Porthleven to The Lizard
Best for: A stunning coastal hike
Distance: 13.4 miles
This route is one of the South West Coast Path’s most spectacular, presenting a staggering assortment of sights, from beaches and coves to jaw-dropping headlands and a National Nature Reserve. Starting at Porthleven, you’ll venture to the country’s most south-western tip of The Lizard, by-passing the twin coves of Gunwalloe and Dollar Cove, Poldhu, Mullion and Kynance Cove before finishing at the picturesque village and endpoint of The Lizard. Admire the views at vantage points including Pedngwinian Point and Predannack Head, spy offshore islands at Mullion and Kynance, and stop-off at attractions such as Gunwalloe Church of St. Winwaloe, Lizard Lighthouse, and the Marconi Station.
Keep an eye out for Cornish choughs and Mullion Island’s breeding colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots and cormorants as your eyes wallow in the wildflowers, serpentine granite and bright yellow gorse. And should you wish to rest or refresh, there’s a host of eateries en route including The Halzephron Inn, Poldhu Beach café, Housel Bay Hotel Restaurant, and Wavecrest café. Shorten the walk by stopping at Mullion Cove (7.1 miles), or extend an extra 3 miles by walking to Cadgwith. Whatever your feet fancy, there’s a route on The Lizard for you!
Porthleven to Marazion
Best for: Beauty and bay views
Distance: 10.8 miles
Rugged headlands, dramatic clifflines, scenic beaches and iconic landmarks are the rewards for embarking upon this breath-taking coastal route along the famous South West Coast Path. From Porthleven, the path leads to Rinsey and its clifftop engine houses of Wheal Prosper and Wheal Trewavas before delivering you to the sandy beach village of Praa Sands and hidden gems of Prussia and Piskies Coves. The views from Cudden Point will steal your breath, while further west the diminutive beach at Perranuthnoe provides a sheltered spot to rest a while or cool off in the waves. Rounding the headland here, you’ll spy the world-famous offshore islet and castle of St Michael’s Mount as you head toward the ancient market town of Marazion.
Explore the galleries, shops, tearooms and pubs before crossing the causeway to the island, or hiking the long crescent beach to neighbouring Penzance. Buses stop at various points along the route should you wish to stop, shorten or lengthen your walk to suit. Places to eat of note (and with sea views) along the route include The Godolphin in Marazion, Perranuthnoe’s Cabin Beach café and Praa Sands’ Sandbar, Beachcomber café and – in the village - The Post Office by Cape & Cove café. We also heartily recommend packing your bag with a pasty from Porthleven before you set off, Ann’s Pasties and Philps are both excellent contenders for the best pasty in Cornwall and make for an unbeatable clifftop respite.
Best for: Butterfly spotting
Distance: 3.7 miles
For a stirring combination of striking rock formations and the chance to spot up to 23 species of butterfly, this easy walk is replete with eye candy. From Praa Sands car park, ascend the coast path through the dunes past Hendra beach toward Rinsey, where you’ll also be rewarded with the engine house of Wheal Prosper teetering over the edge of the cliff.
The beach is exposed at low tide (though take extra care on the steep descent and loose rocks underfoot), presenting a sublime stretch of sands, rock pools and caves to explore. Otherwise, roam the heathland and its unique mix of flowers that attract an abundance of butterflies including the Silver-Studded Blue, Clouded Yellow and Grayling. Birdlife is just as bountiful, with kittiwakes, skylarks and black redstarts all flooding the skies.
Godolphin to Tregonning
Best for: Panoramic views and historic sites
Distance: 4.8 miles
If you like your walks to present sprawling views as well as a piece of history, then this is the one for you. You’ll climb a pair of hills for aerial-like, 360-degree vistas, and by-pass a historic house and medieval settlements for an expedition that inspires and enthrals with every step. From Godolphin House (in Helston, just under 5 miles inland), the route leads to Godolphin Hill, on top of which are the remains of a fortified enclosure and hut circles believed to date back to the Bronze Age.
Breathe in the magnificent views of St Michael’s Mount of the south coast right round to St Ives Bay on the north, before continuing on for the engine houses of Great Work Mine, then further on to Tregonning Hill. The remains of an Iron Age Hillfort, Castle Pencaire, can be found at the summit, and during your descent you’ll be greeted by the remnants of Tregonning Hill China Clay works. Follow the farmland and fields back to Godolphin House, where you can explore the gardens and house, browse the second-hand bookshop, or refresh at the Piggery tearoom.
We have a huge range of holiday cottages in Cornwall, from countryside boltholes to boutique properties with sea views. And if you’ve settled on Porthleven as your destination of choice, you can find a stunning variety to peruse here.