Things to see and do on the Roseland peninsula
The Roseland peninsula is an unspoilt landscape of cliffs, creeks, woods and beaches, which is a great area to explore on foot. There are coves and dog-friendly bays waiting to be discovered, as well as remnants of medieval and military history and wildlife in the water and sky. The South West Coast Path can be accessed by a network of other footpaths that head inland to create delightful circular walks.
Explore the peninusla
There’s a lot of history to discover around the peninsula, including the underground magazine, which is part of the 19th-century army battery, Carne Beacon, said to be the final resting place of the 8th-century Cornish King Gereint, and the Veryan Royal Observer Corps post. There are also beach cleans and apple days throughout the year.
St Anthony Head
At the southernmost tip of the peninsula is St Anthony Head, looking out over Falmouth Harbour. From the National Trust car park, a good afternoon can be spent exploring the headland. It boasts panoramic views that take in the Carrick Roads on the right – with the sister castles of St Mawes and Pendennis nodding to each other over the water – and on the left is the Helford passage, with the Lizard just beyond.
Families can uncover how the headland was used to defend Falmouth against coastal attacks or even spot peregrine falcons at the bird hide. Past the bird hide and on past the old Paraffin Store is the Fraggle Rock lighthouse. To discover a beach hideaway, follow the path down to the right and around the corner to Little Molunan.
Book onto one of the tours of the battery to find out more about the history of this intriguing place. Look on the St Anthony Head events pages for more details.
Just along the coast from Portscatho is Porthcurnick beach, a great family-friendly - and dog-friendly – beach and an ideal spot to take it easy and admire the views. It’s also great for exploring and peering into rock pools, when the tide goes out and reveals all the creatures and colourful sea weeds that live in these shadowy pools. After exploring the beach, there’s a chance to refuel with snacks and lunches at the Hidden Hut.
It's best to park in the car park (not NT) up the path towards Portscatho.
We run monthly beach cleans here on the first Monday of every month, meeting at 10am for as long as it takes to clear up any rubbish. Litter pickers, gloves and bags are provided.
Towan beach and Porth
Head over from the top or lower car parks at Porth, carefully crossing the road and through the courtyard to find Towan beach, a wide open bay full of wildlife. It’s well worth waking up early to see the sun rising over the sea on a morning beach stroll. Footpaths from here lead round to St Anthony Head and Portscatho and, at Porth, there are holiday cottages in the old farm range to tempt you to stay a little longer.
There’s also an all-weather path round the woods and creek edge, which is accessible for wheelchairs and buggies on some of the lower stretches. The Thirstea Company run the café at Porth.
Carne and Pendower beaches
When the tide is out, these two beaches become one long stretch of golden sand. There is parking and toilets at both ends of the beach and, in the warmer months, there’s often a concession catering van parked at Carne.
We run monthly beach cleans here on the first Monday of every month, meeting at 2pm for as long as it takes to clear up any rubbish. Litter pickers, gloves and bags are provided. Meet us in the car park at Pendower.
The headland south east of Carne beach has a circular walk around the clifftops and up through Paradoe valley. Mallet's Cottage overlooks Paradoe Cove, once home to a local fisherman who left his family in the 1840s to start a new life in Australia. Higher up are the Royal Observer Corp and the Starfish bunkers which can be explored on selected dates each year, thanks to volunteers. Check out the next tour on the Carne and Pendower events listings.
On the eatern side of Nare Head is Kiberick car park and down through the field below is Kiberick Cove.
The Percuil river
The Percuil river opens out into the harbour at St Mawes and has many creeks branching off. Among the sounds of curlew calls echoing across the creeks, this is a good spot for a picnic. A passenger ferry travels from Place to St Mawes in summer, where there are circular walks through the woodlands, along shorelines and by quiet country lanes.
Perched on the end of the Fal estuary, the village of St Mawes looks towards the Carrick Roads. There are miles of footpaths hugging the coastline and beaches, perfect for a picnic and a paddle. Families often spend the day idling around the town and harbour, visiting the castle or hopping on the ferry over to Falmouth.
St Just in Roseland
Nearby is St Just in Roseland with it beautiful 13th century church. The churchyard is planted up with many tropical plants and sits on the water's edge, creating a place of calm and reflection. This is the starting point for a circular walk up and around Messack, which you can look over to from the church.
Spot the wildlife
The Roseland peninsula is rich in wildlife all year round with many quiet spots for nature to thrive.
As well as teams of volunteers, small herds of ponies also help maintain parts of the Roseland. Simply by grazing, the ponies help keep the coastal strips under control so there’s a healthy balance of plant species, which in turn encourages a balance in other wildlife.
Down at sea level, common seals like to visit Gull Rock. It’s remote, which means they can hang out with little interruption from the rest of the world, although they do have to share it with a few noisy neighbours, the sea birds.
Other creatures to look out for:
Tawny mining bees
Have a picnic
There are plenty of picturesque picnic spots to choose from on the Roseland peninsula. Here are five of the best:
- Pendower – Bring a picnic blanket and eat on the sand dunes before walking along the beach to Carne at low tide.
- Percuil – Take a short walk followed by a picnic in one of the wooded creeks.
- St Anthony Head – Set up camp here for lunch with sweeping views of Falmouth harbour.
- Towan beach – Bring your own picnic or get tempted by what’s on offer by the Thirstea Café. Sit up on the grass above the beach or down on the sand for a relaxing day.
- Messack Woods – head out from the church at St Just-in-Roseland, following the path round the creek and farm before arriving in the woods. Stop for your snack under the trees and look out over the Carrick Roads over to Falmouth.
There are lots of opportunities for dogs to feel the sand between their paws. The beaches at Porthcurnick and Towan both welcome dogs all year, while the beaches at Carne and Pendower have a seasonal dogs ‘on lead’ policy.
It’s good for all walkers, but especially dog walkers, to be aware of the wildlife that lives around the peninsula. For example, there might be a clutch of eggs hidden in the undergrowth or a resident reptile sunning itself on a warm patch of ground. In spring, it’s important to not disturb new lambs and calves, as well as the well-hidden ground-nesting birds.
Help look after the Roseland by following these simple guidelines:
- Take the lead: help protect ground-nesting birds and livestock by keeping dogs on a short lead. Remember, when approached by cattle, the safest thing to do is let your dog go and call them back when it’s safe.
- Scoop that poop: picking up dog waste keeps the area clean for everyone to enjoy. Once it’s bagged, bin it or take it home.
- Paws for thought: look for information signs. Sometimes they will point you in a different direction to help protect you, your dog, the area and the wildlife. Be extra careful on coastal and cliff paths.
- Be on the ball: not everyone loves dogs so make sure your dog doesn’t run up to people, especially children.
Explore St Anthony Head at the tip of the Roseland peninsula, South Cornwall. Learn how its historic military past played an important strategic role defending Falmouth and surrounding waters. Discover wildlife and views along the rugged coastline.
Head to the beach, go for a walk, spot seasonal wildlife & explore the area. Take in all that Roseland has to offer including woodland, farmland, sea and quay.
Accessible all year round, the sandy beaches at Carne and Pendower offer seaside fun, coastal walks with sweeping views, and the chance to explore disused military bunkers.
A haven for walkers, birdwatchers, and budding archaeologists alike, the Dodman offers space from the hustle and bustle and a chance to get back to nature.