St Anthony Head is my favourite trail running route so I thought I’d share it with you. Although I’m a runner, it’s popular with walkers too. Either way, take your time and soak up the views. It’s simply beautiful.
St Anthony Head sits on The Roseland Peninsula on the south west Cornish coastpath. This route is about 5.5 miles long. If you’ve ever run one of the longer distances of the Roseland August Trail from MudCrew, some of this trail will be familiar to you.
Why do I love running St Anthony Head so much? Well, it’s a run of 2 halves. You start off on trails through shaded, cool woodland leading you to Place Quay. After this, you take on the coastpath. Needless to say it’s a very pretty route, with views I never tire of along the way. In fact, this could easily be a blogpost where the pictures speak for themselves, but I kind of want to give you directions too!
Heading Out To Place Quay
I always park at Porth, a National Trust car park that’s popular with those who frequent Towan Beach on the Roseland (not to be confused with Towan Beach in Newquay). If you’re not a NT member it’s £2.50 to park for the day. The car park is quite small, but there’s another if you take the road between the 2 houses just before the main car park. It’s just down the road on the right. And yes, you have to pay there too. (If you have OS map 105, the parking is next to Porth Farm),
The St Anthony Head loop here, with you heading down the footpath that veers to the right just past the turning for this second car park. There is a sign but it’s quite secluded. You’re basically running through woodland from the outset so there’s plenty of shade and shelter. It’s only a few 100 yards before you run over a little bridge and head along the side of a field, taking you into more woodland. The route is signposted every now and again – you’re following the signs for Place Quay.
As you amble along you’re treated to views of Fal River peeping through the trees. Get used to it, this is the sort of scenery that’ll follow you all the way round. In fact, I would say it becomes more glorious the further you go.
The wooded part of the St Anthony Head loop lasts just over a mile. You’ll come to a gate which brings you to an open field (excellent view on the right here!) before you venture into more trees and cover. At around the one mile mark the path opens up and you’ll see the roof of Place House. Carry on for a few hundred yards and take the gate on your right. You’ve landed at Place Quay. I usually stop here and appreciate the view for a moment.
Place House and the little quay offer a stunning, peaceful stop. The yellow statuesque house is an impressive sight. Take a moment to look to your right too. The view from the little slipway is worth it. There’s usually a few boats bobbling away, and a house that has a wonderful view almost all to itself.
Once you’re reached Place House you turn left, unless you want to end up in the water, that is. You take the road, not for long, and look out for the first turning on your right past the last house. The turning is signposted but you could miss it. Take this track and you’ll start to see headstones. Yes, you are about to run through a little graveyard that belongs to Place Church which must be the prettiest bijou church I’ve ever come across. It’s usually open so do go in and have a look, it’s beautiful.
Towards St Anthony Head
The markings for the path from the church are quite clear – you’re looking for the little yellow acorns and arrows. The path takes you up some steps before levelling off. Go right at the top of the steps from the church, and follow the trail round to the left. You eventually come off the trail and take on an incline in a field. The signpost for this field isn’t obvious to me. If I hadn’t been with a friend the first time I ran this route, I think I would’ve missed it. At the top of this field is a gate and you’re greeted with an outstanding view Falmouth and St Mawes.
I think this next bit is my favourite part of the run; it always makes me smile. You run or walk down the slanting side of the field with water on your right, it’s open and I always feel free as I try to put the brakes on and continually look to my right. I particularly like the tall trees that are synonymous with this part of Cornwall dotting the coastpath ahead. Follow the path round several bends, stride up and down some steps, and you’ll see St Anthony’s Lighthouse ahead of you. This has got to be one of my top 10 running views – I think I have a thing for lighthouses.
The coastpath takes you across another little bridge next to a secluded cove. You have 2 options – take the route to St Anthony Head car park or run further around St Anthony. I always take the car park route, and I’m guessing whichever path you take, you’re going to end up scaling a considerable incline and some steps. I think both end up taking you to the car park area so I guess it doesn’t really matter. Once you’ve caught your breath in the car park from the climb, go right and head out on the coastpath. When I reach this bit, I feel I’m on the home stretch.
The Final Miles To Towan
This bit of coastpath is undulating. There are a few gradients but nothing to worry about. My advice would be the same as before: take you time and enjoy the amazing views of the Cornish coast. You’ll know when you’re near Town beach – you’ll see it of course but there’s also this totem pole thing by it. No idea what this is for, so answers on a postcard…
You’ll find the coastpath meets the sandy path for the beach. Turn left and when the path forks, keep left. You’ll run over some cobbles and through a passage way where the Thirsty Tea Co. sit. You’ll see the road and the car park.
Well done, you’ve made it back to your car.
I think we all have some favourite running routes, where are yours? I feel so fortunate to be able to explore the Cornish coast whenever I want to run, do you have anywhere that’s special to you?
If you’re signed up to Strava, come and say hi. You can find the St Anthony Head route here.