Zennor to Gurnard's Head

A circular walk from Zennor along the coast via the sea-smoothed granite boulders at Porthmeor Cove to the site of an Iron Age fort on Gurnard's Head, returning from the Gurnard's Head pub on the ancient Churchway to Zennor.

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The app leads you around the walk using GPS, removing any worries about getting lost.
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Each time there is a new direction to follow, the app will beep to remind you, and will warn you if you go off-route.
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Detailed, triple-tested directions are also included.
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Each walk includes lots of information about the history and nature along the route.
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We keep the directions continually updated for changes to the paths/landmarks - the price of £1.99 for a walk includes ongoing free updates.
The walk starts from Zennor and reach to the coast at Pendour Cove where it is said you can hear the lover of the mermaid of Zennor singing. The walk follows the coast path past Veor Cove and over Carnelloe Cliff and Boswednack Cliff to Treen Cove where there are remains of an engine house and a mediaeval chapel. At Gurnard's Head there is an optional diversion onto the headland and the walk then follows a footpath inland to the Gurnard's Head pub at Treen. The circular route is completed on the ancient paths of the Zennor Churchway.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.


Stunning walk today Zennor to Gurnard Head. Loved the app.
The app is fantastic there was no signal on my phone but that didn't matter as the app works off gps. The walk itself had fantastic views along the coastal path very undulating but well worth it. The return walk back to Zennor through the fields is flat and the views again are super. The walk was approximately 2hrs long. Gurnards Head pub is a good place to stop and refresh before continuing to Zennor where there is another refreshment stop at The Tinners Arms.
Completed this lovely walk today with a fantastic lunch at the Gurnards Head pub.
Absolutely magnificent today and deserted. 5* walk.
Stunning scenery between Zennor to Gurnard's Head Walk!
Beautiful. Stunning. One of my favourites.
Love this one. A stop at the Tinners Arms a must too!

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 102
  • Distance: 4.2 miles/6.7 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots

OS maps for this walk

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Spectacular views of the rugged coastline
  • Sandy beach at Porthmeor at low tide
  • Wildflowers along the coast path in Spring and Summer

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Gurnard's Head
  • The Tinner's Arms


  1. Turn left out of the car park and follow the lane towards the church, keeping Bos Cres on your left, and turn left down the track marked "Coast Path". Follow this until it ends, with a path leading ahead to a stone stile.

    The church building dates from Norman times, though the churchyard itself may date back further. The west tower is thought to be from the 13th century and the north aisle was added in a 15th Century rebuild. Only two of the 15th Century carved bench ends remain and these have been used to make the "mermaid chair", one end of which depicts the Mermaid of Zennor. It is thought that the octagonal font is mediaeval, and may date from the 13th century.

  2. Follow the path ahead until you reach a large stone with a sign for Zennor Head, where the path meets the coast path.

    In 1912, the author D H Lawrence eloped to Germany with his married lover Frieda and his book Lady Chatterly's Lover (for which, Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act) is thought to be based on their relationship. He was arrested and accused of being a British spy but released after intervention by Frieda's father.

    In 1914, after a divorce was obtained, the couple married and intended to move to the continent. However the outbreak of war kept them in England and they lived in Zennor until 1917. The couple endured harassment and official censorship because Frieda was German, and were accused of a number of ridiculous things including signalling to German submarines off the Cornish coast. Lawrence wrote Women in Love during this period, but its outlook was so bleak that nobody would publish it during wartime; it wasn't until 1920 that it was finally published.

  3. Turn left onto the coast path, signposted to Pendeen Watch. Follow it down to the bottom of the valley to a footbridge.

    When you reach the coast path, the twin promontories of Zennor Head are a short distance along the coast path to your right. There is a nice view along the coast to Gurnard's Head from the nearer promontory.

  4. Cross the footbridge and keep left along the rocky path from the waymark. Continue until you eventually reach another waymark where the path descends to a rock outcrop.
  5. Keep left at the waymark and follow the path uphill to a waymark at a junction of paths.

    The name Boswednack may have been from the Cornish word gweder meaning "glass" (bos means "dwelling").

    In English we often add a -y ending to a noun to turn it into an adjective; for example "rock" becomes "rocky". For many of the nouns imported from French, we add "-ic" (acidic, magnetic, artistic...). The equivalent in Cornish is to add -ack or -ek to the end of the word. Thus meynek is "stony" (men is stone), stennack means "tinny" (sten is tin).

  6. When you reach the waymark, turn right in the direction indicated for Gurnard's Head. Follow the path to reach a footbridge.

    On a quiet day, you may encounter slow worms sunbathing on the path, which at a first glimpse might look like snakes, but are easily recognised by their golden colour.

    During the summer months, slow worms can sometimes be seen basking in the sunshine, particularly on pieces of stone which act as a sunbed. Being reptiles, they don't generate their own body heat so they need to get it from an external source. Despite their resemblance to snakes, slow worms are lizards that have evolved to lose their legs. They are a good example of convergent evolution, where quite unrelated groups of animals have evolved to fill a similar niche. Slow worms are surprisingly long lived, and may exceed 30 years of age in the wild and over 50 years in captivity.

    Seals are not closely related to other marine mammals. In mediaeval times, seals were classified as fish and could therefore be eaten during lent and on Fridays and Saturdays! However, as you might be able to guess from their features, seals are closely related to dogs, bears and otters. In fact, a dog is very much more closely related to a seal than a cat. The seal species most frequently seen along the Cornish coast are grey seals and common seals.

  7. Cross the bridge and follow the path to another footbridge.

    In July 1916 a huge area of fog caused problems for shipping all along the North Cornish coast. The Neto - a 3000 ton steamship on its way to Cherbourg carrying hay and fodder for the British cavalry horses - ran aground on Gurnard's Head and was wrecked. As salvage work began, another large cargo ship - the Enrico Parodi - laden with coal, appeared from the fog and ran aground just 300 metres away on the Carracks Reef. The salvage crews immediately switched their attention to saving the Enrico Parodi as only the bow was grounded and there seemed a good chance of floating her off at high tide. However as they attempted to tow her off using a salvage ship, a minor leak in the bow split open and the ship began to sink rapidly. The ship was quickly abandoned and sank in the deep water off The Carracks.

  8. Cross the bridge and follow the path until it emerges on a driveway.

    In April 1912, the Mildred was sailing from Newport to London with a cargo of slag from the welsh furnaces. The ship ran into dense fog off West Penwith, hit the rocks at Gurnard's Head at midnight and began to take on water. The captain and his five crew rowed for six hours to safety at St Ives. They returned later in the morning with a pilot gig to pull the Mildred free but it was too late - she was already breaking into pieces. The wreck was photographed with its set sails protruding above the water by the Gibson family from the Scilly Isles who have been photographing shipwrecks for 4 generations.

  9. Cross the driveway to the path opposite and follow it up the steps. Continue to reach another footbridge.

    The engine house ahead was part of Gurnard's Head mine.

    A copper mine on Gurnard's Head was in operation before 1821 initially under the name of Wheal Treen and was later worked under the name of Gurnard's Head Mine. By 1877 it had fallen into disuse. The ruined engine house and mine buildings are now all that remains.

  10. Cross the bridge and follow the path. When the NT sign on a rock (for Gurnard's Head) comes into view, head towards this until you reach a granite waymark.

    The rectangular pit that you pass on the right-hand side of the path contains the remains of a chapel.

    A chapel at Treen is mentioned in the Domesday book and is also mentioned in records from Tudor times as "Innyall Chappell" which from the Cornish word enyal meaning "wild". Since then, the name has been distorted into "Chapel Jane" - by which it is now known. The building was cut into a hollow in the cliff slope and in the mid 19th century it was reported as still having walls up to 7ft high. Much of the stone had disappeared by the time it was excavated in the 1960s, but the building was found to have been constructed in two phases, with an extension being added onto what was originally a simple rectangular structure. Mediaeval pottery was also found. Today, the remains of the stone walls are covered in grass, and the main indication of its existence is the rectangular hollow in which it sits.

  11. Turn left at the waymark, indicated for Treen, and follow the path until it joins another path at a junction.

    Gurnard's Head is the site of an Iron Age promontory fort known as Trereen Dinas, the meaning of which is along the lines of "fort at the farm on the point". The narrowest part of the promontory was fortified to create a defended enclosure, protected on 3 sides by the cliffs. The remnants of the fortifications are still visible as a ditch and a bank with some drystone walling.

    The circular foundations of a group of around 15 Iron Age huts have been found on the grassy east side of Gurnard's Head, with another smaller group of around 3 huts towards the neck of the headland. There were also finds of Iron Age pottery and a cache of rounded beach pebbles likely to have been used as slingshot.

  12. Bear left at the junction and follow the path to a stile.
  13. Cross the stile into the field and continue ahead along the top of the bank to a gateway opposite.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.


    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).


    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  14. Go through the gateway and follow along the right hedge to reach a flight of granite steps in the corner of the field.
  15. Climb the steps and follow the right hedge to reach a pedestrian gate in the far hedge.
  16. Go through the gate and climb the stile then follow the path over another stile and onto a driveway. Bear right to join a lane and follow this until you reach a public footpath sign on the left just before the Gurnard's Head pub.

    The settlement and manor of Treen is first recorded in 1304 as Tredyn, based on the Cornish words tre (farmstead) and dinas (fort). This refers to the hillfort on Gurnard's Head, known as Trereen Dinas which also includes the word rynn meaning "point". The hamlet appeared on Victorian maps as "Trereen" and has subsequently become shortened to "Treen".

    Since farms and headlands with cliff castles are not uncommon in Cornwall, there is another Treryn Dinas near Porthcurno and a corresponding village also now called "Treen".

  17. Cross the stile below the footpath sign and follow the left hedge to a waymarked stile in the corner of the field.

    The Gurnard's Head is reported as being built in 1812, and from the roof you can tell it was originally known as The Gurnard's Head Hotel. It was refurbished in 2000 and is still a hotel but now owned by EatDrinkSleep who also operate it as one of their small number of award-winning gastro pubs.

  18. Cross the stile into the field on the left and then follow the hedge on the right for a short distance to another stile. Cross this stile and follow the left hedge of the field past a gateway to a footbridge and stile in the corner.

    The name "daisy" is thought to be a corruption of "day's eye" (or "eye of the day", as Chaucer called it). The name comes about because the flower head closes at night and opens each morning. In mediaeval times, it was known as "Mary's Rose". The Romans used to soak bandages in daisy juice as an antiseptic for sword wounds.

    Gurnards are a family of spiny fish that live on the sea bed. The rays of their pectoral fins have evolved into something approximating fingers which they use to feel their way along the sea bed and find any worms or shrimps. Plymouth aquarium have some gurnards as they are quite entertaining to watch trundling along.

    Gurnards have quite a large head and thin body. The relatively small amount of edible flesh and small bones meant they were not popular to eat, and consequently it was one of the most widely discarded fish from trawlers seeking more lucrative bottom-dwelling species.

    Gurnard has been rediscovered recently as a culinary fish as the flavour and texture of the flesh are both nice and has been championed by a number of celebrity chefs. It is quite a fast-growing fish which bodes well for a sustainable fishery.

  19. Cross the stile and head directly across the field to a stile beside the gate opposite.

    The small field probably dates from the Celtic period.

    In Celtic times, fields were small and surrounded by banks or stone walls. The fields were used both for growing crops such as oats, wheat or rye, and for keeping livestock. The field shape was round or square, rather than rectangular, so that the stones didn't have to be carried further than necessary. The small size was because they needed to be weeded by hand, in many ways similar to a modern-day allotment.

  20. Cross the stile and turn left onto the road. Carefully follow the road until you pass Shangra-La on the left and reach a large wooden post with a waymark.
  21. As you approach the waymark, bear left off the road onto the track. Where it forks, take the right-hand track to pass the cottages on your left. Continue over a bridge until you reach a bend where there is a yellow arrow painted on a sign.
  22. At the bend, bear right off the track and cross the waymarked stile on the left of the gate. Follow the left hedge of the field to a stile to the left of the gate.

    Depending on the time of year, you may notice some traditional farming practices in the fields here such as cereal crops collected into sheaves.

    The ancient field boundaries of West Penwith are thought to be older than the Pyramids. The Environmental Stewardship Scheme has allowed traditional farming methods to be sustained, preserving the network of hedgerows in the tiny Celtic fields that would otherwise be uneconomical to farm with industrial-scale machinery. The scheme has also facilitated coastal grazing which helps prevent the coast becoming overgrown with gorse and bracken, allowing species such as the chough and potentially the large blue butterfly to recolonise.

  23. Cross the stile (or go through the gate if open) and follow the left hedge, past a gateway, to a stile in the corner of the field marked with two wooden posts.

    The path across the fields is known as the Zennor Churchway or Coffin Path and runs all the way from St Ives to Pendeen across the flat "bench" cut into the granite by waves when sea levels were higher during the Pliocene era. The path was marked by a number of round-headed wayside crosses which date back to early mediaeval times, although not many survive intact. Some are now only evident as cross-bases - a roughly trimmed boulder containing a square hole to take the cross shaft.

  24. Cross the stile and head across the field to the gap opposite marked with a white post.
  25. Cross the stile and again cross the field to the gap opposite marked with a white post.

    The stiles in Cornwall that consist of rectangular bars of granite resembling a cattle grid are known as "coffen" (coffin) stiles. These often occur on footpaths leading to churches such the Zennor Churchway. The mini cattle grids are fairly effective at containing livestock and were significantly easier for coffin-bearers to navigate than stiles crossing walls. They are more frequently found in West Cornwall but there are a few in East Cornwall too such as either side of Advent Church.

  26. Cross the stile and bear right slightly across the field to the gap with a white post.

    Most of the stiles between the fields around Zennor resemble granite cattle grids and date from the 18th and 19th Centuries: granite was in ample supply here whereas building wood was not due to the feeble stunted trees on the moors here. Some of the stiles have impressively deep holes between the cross pieces so tread carefully. Some have cross pieces that are elevated to deter more adventurous livestock.

  27. Go down the steps by the post and head to a waymarked stile in the gap to the right of the gate ahead.

    Research has shown that crows have a much higher density of neurons in their forebrains than primates do (the density if neurons in this region is thought to correlate with intelligence).

    The brain of a crow accounts for 2.7 percent of the bird's overall weight whereas an adult human's brain represents 1.9 percent of their body weight. This is even more impressive when considered in context: birds need to be as light as possible in order to fly.

    Ravens are considered the most intelligent crow species, outperforming chimpanzees in some tests. Consequently an academic is quoted as saying that crows are "smarter than many undergraduates, but probably not as smart as ravens."

  28. Cross the stile on the right of the gate and follow the path until you reach an old iron gate.

    In mediaeval times, blackthorn was associated with evil and a bad winter is sometimes known as a Blackthorn Winter. This may also tie in with the English word "strife" which has Celtic origins. The letter Straif used in Celtic Ogham script was originally the word for "sulphur". In late mediaeval times, a retrospective assignment of trees to letters in the alphabet used for Ogham that weren't already tree names became popular (sometimes known as the "tree alphabet") and blackthorn was chosen for Straif.

  29. Cross the stile next to the gate and follow the path keeping the hedge on your left until it ends on a track outside a farmyard.
  30. Turn right onto the track and follow it away from the farm to a road.

    As well as making the cattle-grids for coffin stiles stiles, granite was put to a number of uses in farms such as field rollers.

    Granite is most common igneous rock found at Earth's surface and also the oldest - thought to be formed up to 300 million years ago.

  31. Turn left onto the road and follow it past the cottages to reach a lane to Zennor. Turn left down the lane to complete the circular route.

    The name Zennor comes from St Senara, to whom the church is dedicated. There were no roads to Zennor until the 1800s so goods were brought here on sledges pulled by animals.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

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