Five Scenic Cornish 5K Runs
Grab your trainers and hit the trails. Each of these routes hovers round the (beginner-friendly) 5k mark and takes in some of Cornwall’s most impressive landscapes.
It boosts the heart rate, lowers stress and is completely free – so it’s really no wonder running is the UK’s most popular way to keep fit. And in Cornwall, the spectacular scenery is another big reason to grab yourself some fluoro trainers and get outdoors.
With this in mind, I asked Tom and Nicky from Freedom Racing, the brilliant, Cornwall-based trail running organisation, to share some of their favourite, beginner-friendly routes with Muddy readers.
Each hovers around the 5k mark and takes in some of Cornwall’s most impressive landscapes. “The 5k distance (roughly 3 miles),” Tom tells me, “is perfect for regular runners looking to compare and improve their times and is an achievable distance for people to start with, giving them something to aim for and build up to.” He’s even provided links to printable maps, so you’ll not get lost and end up in the nearest pub (who me?). Scenic and totally doable – there’s no excuse not to try out these beautiful runs!
Gribbin Head is the headland that forms the Eastern side of St Austell Bay, with Fowey just up the coast. The red and white Gribbin Tower stands proud on the headland, as a seafaring marker for boats navigating the coastline and can be seen from most directions as you approach it.
- To start this run, leave the A3082 towards Polkerris and continue towards the tower to the small car park just before Menabilly Barton.
- Take the footpath past Menabilly Barton, on the track between fields to Polridmouth Cove.
- Here, turn right onto the coastpath for 300m then fork right onto the track to the Tower.
- Take a breather and enjoy the views. Then carry on towards St Austell Bay and run along the coast path, past Little Gribbin Point and above the rocky foreshore.
- At Harbour Quay, the path heads inland. Take the right turn, which takes you up hill to the road. For the last kilometre it is a flat run along the quiet road back to the car park.
The Rashleigh Inn in Polkerris is well worth a coffee-stop after your run. The perfect place to admire those epic sea views.
It can be easy to dismiss Land’s End as commercial and touristy but in reality this is only true of the small, visitor centre hub. The fact remains that this is some of the most striking coastal scenery you’ll find anywhere and running the trails at the western tip of the mainland is a breathtaking experience!
- To run this route, park in the bottom car park in Sennen Cove to be perfectly positioned for après-run refreshments at Little Bo Cafe or Ben Tunnicliffe’s renowned eatery.
- Leave the car park on the coast path behind Ben Tunnicliffe’s and take the first right turn up the hill, follow this to the road and cross over to run down the residential road opposite.
- At the end of the road, follow the track, which is part of the Sustrans national cycle network route. Follow this smooth gravel track until it joins the entrance to Lands End.
- Cross the road, turn right towards Land’s End and take the first footpath on your left, approx 100m down the road.
- Follow this footpath to the small farm buildings, turning right onto tarmac for a short section before taking the first left fork to take you towards the hotel and cliffs.
- Take a moment when you reach the area in front of the hotel and admire the view out to sea, including the Scilly Isles on a good day.
- Follow the coast path away from the Land’s End hub, to the lone building on the small headland, from here you run the coast path back to Sennen.
- The coast path brings you down into Sennen for you to run along the road, past the lifeboat station back to the car park.
This is some of the best running in Cornwall on generally smooth, gravelly paths with huge cliff and seascape views.
From one landmark to another; Lizard point is the most southerly point on the mainland and has an ‘outpost’ feel, along with resident Cornish choughs and some of the county’s finest pasties.
- Park on the village green in the centre of the village and run down towards Lizard Point.
- After approx 500m take the footpath left towards Housel Cove, join the coast path here and turn right towards Lizard Point.
- The coast path takes you past the lighthouse, Youth Hostel and top of the old lifeboat slipway.
- Stay on the coast path heading west to go down and then up some steps, followed by a small hill (it’s fine to walk hills!) to Lizard Point. This is the best view point as you can see back to the South point but also round the corner, up the coast of the Lizard to Kynance Cove.
- Enjoy the open running for the next 1.5km of coast path, over a few stiles and stream crossings until you reach a junction in the path that will take you past the first house.
- Take this turning right, away from the sea above Pentreath Beach, through the small parking area and take the next right turn.
- This footpath takes you back to the Lizard village green, and Ann’s Pasties!
The North coast of Cornwall is known for its ruggedness and striking landscapes, with tall cliffs weathering the Atlantic Ocean. This route shows that off perfectly, by taking you to a wild-feeling headland that isn’t as popular as the honey pot beaches along this stretch of coastline.
- Head to Polzeath and follow signs to New Polzeath, then Pentireglaze. In Pentireglaze, cross the cattle grid in the road and park in the car park on the right, up the slope in the field. This run is good straight away!
- Take the path out of the top of the car park to the sea and within 150m you hit the coast path, and the view hits you. The cliffs lead your eye to the headland of Tintagel, with Port Isaac hidden between.
- Turn left onto the coast path and enjoy the rollercoaster of small ups and downs until you see the Rumps Headland that you will run down to.
- Be careful on some of the downhill sections, if it is wet as it can be greasy. Make your way onto the edge of the Rumps, follow the coast path away from it to carry on round the main Pentire Headland to Pentire Point.
- From Pentire Point, it is a brilliant downhill of easy angled single-track running, with views towards Polzeath and way out to sea. This section really is running to savour.
- Follow the coast path inland slightly as you near the beach, being careful over the few rock steps and cross the small stream.
- Don’t follow the coast path up the steps now, but turn left inland and follow the path through the gate to the farmhouses at the top. Here turn right and follow the track as it becomes a road and back to the car park on your left.
ST AGNES HEAD & BEACON
This route is possibly the hardest but most rewarding! Make your way to St Agnes Head and park in the large car park past the Coastguard Hut. From here you can see Trevose Head (near Padstow) and Godrevy Lighthouse, which is roughly 20 miles in the other direction.
- Start the run heading west, away from the coastguard hut and along the wide coast path.
- After 700m take the left fork to leave the coast path and head inland through the upper workings of Wheal Coates mine. This is one of the most iconic and widely photographed mines in Cornwall and used for the filming of Poldark (though we can’t promise bare-chested scything!)
- Follow the footpath to join the small road and turn left uphill along the road for 250m to Beacon Campsite and Caravan park.
- Take the signed footpath through the park and farm, through the fields to the bottom of St Agnes Beacon.
- Cross the wall and take the path that leads to the top of St Agnes Beacon. This is a prominent landmark for miles around and has a trig point at its summit.
- It is a stiff climb up to the top (keep going, it’s worth it!) and a good point to take a breather to admire the view and use the trig point to lean on!
- When you’ve caught your breath, head across the top of the Beacon, running along the ridge towards the sea in the distance.
- This brings you out onto the road, where you turn right to run downhill to the group of houses and turn left onto the track there.
- Follow this wide stony track for 650m to left from the track onto a bridleway, cross the lane and the footpath takes you to join the coast path near Newdowns Head.
- Turn left to run along the coast path back to St Agnes Head and the car.