Zennor Head walk

Zennor, near St Ives, Cornwall TR26 3DA

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Looking towards the village at Zennor © Joe Cornish

Looking towards the village at Zennor

Admire the majestic cliffs at Zennor Head on this walk © National Trust

Admire the majestic cliffs at Zennor Head on this walk

Explore the South West with our collection of one mile walks © National Trust

Explore the South West with our collection of one mile walks

Route overview

Follow the blue trainer signs that lead down a narrow track, heading seaward towards Zennor headland. There are brilliant views here from the headland looking east and west, and also looking back inland. This walk encompasses beautiful coastal scenery, mining, and the Peninsula’s flora and fauna.

  • Grade of walk:Trainer (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Beautiful Views', 'Flora & Fauna'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Zennor Head walk in Cornwall
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Zennor village car park, grid ref: SW453385

  1. To the right of the car park you will see the Wayside Museum full of industrial and agricultural local history relics. Human settlement around the village of Zennor can be dated from the early Bronze Age (2,000-150 BC). Turn left when you leave the car park. Walk up between the Tinners Arms and the church. This was built in the 12th century on the site of St Senaras original chapel. The building has been extended and renovated to its present form.

    Show/HideAn ancient place of mystery

    Zennor has been inhabited since at least 2,000 BC. Its name comes from the Celtic Saint Senera from Brittany. The church, which is normally open, contains an ancient pew in the south transept which depicts the famous Zennor mermaid. Its unusual to find such a mythical symbol in a church but perhaps in Medieval times they would have seen a reference to Christ here half man and half god. Pendour Cove, which you look down upon from this walk to the west, is where according to myth - the mermaid enticed Matthew Trewhella, a chorister in the church, to join her beneath the waves.

    Looking towards the village at Zennor © Joe Cornish
  2. Turn left down the narrow track and head seawards for 0.75 miles (1.2km).

    Show/HideGeology

    Zennor Head lies on the edge of the Lands End granite, part of a huge mass of molten material, known as the South West Batholith that was intruded into the landscape millenia ago and helped shape the hills behind the coast in Penwith as well as Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and the Isles of Scilly. The intense pressure and heat caused by the intrusion of the granite caused the surrounding rocks to be chemically modified into slates known locally as Cornish killas. These can be seen exposed in the cliffs around the headland.

    Admire the majestic cliffs at Zennor Head on this walk © National Trust
  3. When you get to the last house on the cliffs, you should be able to see the remnants of old mill workings.

    Show/HideNature

    The yellow flowers of western gorse and purple flowered heathers make autumn one of the best times to visit Zennor Head. Red threadlike stems of dodder may be seen scrambling amongst these shrubs. Dodder is a parasitic plant that has no chlorophyll of its own but instead obtains all its nutrients from the host plant it lives on. Earlier in the year, coastal flowers such as thrift, sea campion and kidney vetch flower around the coastal margin, whilst fulmar and herring gull can be seen nesting on the cliffs above Horseback Zawn. Grey seal may be spotted offshore.

    Explore the South West with our collection of one mile walks © National Trust
  4. There are spectacular views up and down the coast from Zennor Cliff. To the west lies Pendour Cove which is forever linked to the myth of the mermaid of Zennor, whose mortal beauty and bewitching song lured to his watery death a sweet voiced chorister of ancient times, Matthew Trewhella.

  5. On your way back, look out for the few visible relics of the cliff-top buildings that served the 19th-century copper and tin mining industry. The dangerous lower cliffs to the east are riddled with adits (the tunnels driven into the mine-shafts for drainage purposes). Also, spot kestrels as they hover effortlessly above the cliffs looking for their next meal.

  6. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

End: Zennor village car park, grid ref: SW453385

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Explorer 102
  • Terrain:

    This is a nice easy walk to the cliffs, following a narrow track that leads to the coast path and onto Zennor Head.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: service 508, Monday to Saturday, Penzance to St Ives; 300 open-top Cornwall explorer, May to August. Alight Zennor bus stop, then short walk to village car park

    By train: St Ives, 4 miles (6.4km)

    By car: On B3306 take turning to Zennor and park in village car park

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