Walking Hayle Towans to Gwithian
Distance 3 miles (4.8 km).
Duration: 1hr 10min.
Grid reference SW554388 to SW587420.
This walk must be one of the easiest around. Park your car near the 'Bluff Inn' or near the caravan park on Mexico Towans. Head seaward through the low dunes towards Black Cliff. To your left lies the Hayle River and Porth Kidney Sands Lelant. Now at Black Cliff stop and assess the state of the tides. Refreshments are available here, in season. If you want a coastal walk mainly through the dunes take the high tide route. As we started the walk some 90 minutes after high tide, we took the low water route along the beach. Both paths run within a few metres of each other north-eastwards towards Gwithian. Take time out to have a look at the little cove here beside the Hayle Surf Life Saving Headquarters and use the toilets provided if needed. Echoes of the last war lurk nearby in the shape of a concrete pill-box.
Several footpath marker posts indicate your route through the dunes. The cliffs here are quite low only about 20 metres (60 feet) above the sea, and the easy going terrain of the path makes it very pleasureable. Some 10 minutes into the walk you encounter a large map set in granite. This not only indicates your position but the terrain, flora and fauna of the surrounding area. Continue along the dunes but keep searching for a way down onto the beach. Shortly, an opening in the dunes beside a lifeguard hut allows access to the beach down quite a steep slope of deep sand. Once on the beach the true flatness of the sands becomes apparent. The beach unfolds in a wide arc for over 3 miles to Gwithian and the lighthouse at Godrevy Point in the distance. As the sea recedes during your walk a large expanse of sand is also uncovered to your left. While walking your target seems almost unattainable, as no matter how long you walk, the cliffs and lighthouse never seem to get any nearer.
Gradually however, you can begin to notice that you are indeed making some headway. This area can be quite windswept at times and the dunes exhibit ripples and banding structure like a mini-Sahara. As you walk north-eastwards search around for areas of harder sand as walking near the dunes in the soft sand soon becomes tiring.
Three-quarters of an hour into your walk the dunes give way to low cliffs. Now as you near Peter's Point look at the cliffs and see the contorted banding of the strata. Shortly some small caves, rock pools and islands can be inspected.
At Strap Rocks - grid reference SW578416, scramble over the rocks to meet the beach at Gwithian. The beach becomes more rock-strewn as the 'sand-sifting' excavations of a road aggregate firm give a slightly barren look to the landscape. Make a choice either to walk along the beach or along the ridge of shingle to your right if you want to have a look at the roadstone works. Either route leads you to the Red River - so named because of its former red (iron stained) colouration due to tin mining. Cross the river upstream by a simple wooden bridge and continue ahead for a few minutes to the small beach cafe if refreshment is required.
Avoid swimming in the Hayle Estuary due to strong undercurrents!
Stay at a nearby Holiday Park and keep the kids amused all day! Parks in the vicinity include those at:
Plenty of hotels are available locally. Consider those in the local towns: