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Things to do at St Agnes Head

Jagged cliffs at St Agnes Head jutting into the sea
The coast at St Agnes Head | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Perched high above the Atlantic, the area around St Agnes Head is ripe for exploration. Dotted with the photogenic remnants of Cornwall’s mining past, the area’s network of footpaths boasts striking sea views along a rugged coastline and take in a variety of terrain, leading down to Chapel Porth beach. When the sun goes down, this designated Dark Sky Discovery Site has all you need for an astronomic adventure.

St Agnes Head's walking routes

The South West Coast Path runs around St Agnes Head and through Chapel Porth. The path can be accessed by a network of other footpaths that head inland, so you can complete circular walks that take in coast, cliff, beach and heath.


On a clear night there's nothing quite like heading outside and looking up to the heavens to see what's out there, right above our heads.

St Agnes Head is one of Cornwall’s designed Dark Sky Discovery Sites, so it's guaranteed to be free from light pollution and will provide uninhibited views, so long as it’s not too cloudy.

Constellations through the seasons

Whether you're a part of an astronomy group or just visiting by yourself, there's plenty of space.

Each season reveals a different view of the cosmos: once you get to know some of the main constellations, you'll be easily able to track their course throughout the year.

A ruinous engine house perched on cliffs at St Agnes Head, with the sea to the right
Towanroath engine house | © National Trust Images/David Noton

How to prepare for stargazing

Make sure you're fully prepared by choosing suitable footwear, able to cope with potentially uneven paths and tracks. Be aware of cliff edges.

If you don't want to leave the warmth of your car, there’s lots of space in the car park for you to park facing the right way and get a front row seat.

Dark Matter Day

Every October, Dark Matter Day celebrates the global hunt for dark matter, the huge part of the universe that scientific calculations tell us exist but has never been observed.

STFC, the UK’s lead partner for the global Dark Matter Day initiative, are always looking for people and organisations to run Dark Matter Day events.

Dark Matter Day at St Agnes Head

If you'd like to get involved in Dark Matter Day at St Agnes Head, or for more information, please visit:

Explore St Agnes Head's past

For about 400 years, until the 1920s, the village of St Agnes was a mining community, surrounded by over 100 tin and copper mines.

Explore this industrial landscape on foot and wonder at the engine houses perched right on the edge of the cliffs. The iconic Towanroath is now part of the World Heritage Site.

Visit Chapel Porth beach

At high tide, Chapel Porth is an intimate rocky cove but at low tide it transforms into a vast, sandy beach. Bring your own beach games or borrow ours – just ask a member of staff.

There are seasonal lifeguards and dogs under close control are welcome on the beach, except during the summer months.

Watch the tide

It's easy to get cut off by the tide, so make sure you check tide times and keep an eye on whether it's coming in.

Bird watching at Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Northumberland
Look out for choughs at St Agnes Head with their striking red bills | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

What's a Chapel Porth hedgehog?

No visit to this area is complete without stopping off at Chapel Porth Café to sample the finest of local specialties, a Chapel Porth hedgehog – Cornish ice cream topped with clotted cream and coated with chopped hazelnuts.

Bird spotting at St Agnes Head

While visiting St Agnes you may be lucky enough to see some choughs, with their striking red bill and legs, aerobatic flight and iconic ‘chee-ow’ call as they swoop around the headland and over the clifftops.

They’ve been making the most of the caves and old mine buildings in the area to make their nests and raise their young.

Chough numbers rising

From a complete dearth of these birds in 1970s, the first sightings again were at the turn of the century. By 2020, volunteer monitors recorded 14 pairs across Cornwall with over 40 young fledging.

How to watch choughs

Numbers are rising now, but it's still early days, so please continue being mindful of these birds, and indeed all the wildlife that lives in the area.

Here are some simple steps we can all take when we’re near choughs:

  • Do not deliberately approach choughs. Instead stand or sit quietly to observe the birds at a distance or continue past without stopping, remaining calm and quiet.
  • Be aware of panicked alarm calling and be prepared to move on and give them space.
  • Stick to footpaths and keep dogs on leads.
  • Choughs are protected as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. If you see a serious chough disturbance incident please report it to the police by calling 101.

Springtime is the chough breeding season, but please be respectful of these birds all year round.

Things not to miss at St Agnes Head

  • The panoramic views from St Agnes Beacon
  • Exploring the iconic mine buildings at Wheal Coates
  • Some old-school prone bellyboarding down at Chapel Porth
  • The annual St Agnes Bolster Festival
Visitors walking a dog along the South West Coast Path at St Agnes Head, Cornwall

Discover more at St Agnes Head

Find out how to get to St Agnes Head, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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