Bedruthen Steps and Park Head

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The legend of a giant called Bedruthan using the beach stacks as stepping-stones or 'steps' as a short cut across the bay seems to be a late nineteenth century invention. No early reference to the story has been found and the truth is probably more prosaic. The first record of the name 'Bedruthan Steps' is in the 1851 edition of Murray's Handbook and is likely to refer to the actual steps, or cliff staircase as it is now. Just north of Diggory's Island there was a beach access path called Pentire Steps. This was a zigzag route down to the beach, but the bottom section has been carried away by a landslip.                          

Probably the place name 'Bedruthan Steps' was originally given to the actual steps, leading down to the beach, but has since been applied to the whole beach and especially to the distinctive stacks. An original idea. J R A Hockin in his respected book Walking in Cornwall (1936) was unsure of the derivation of the name. He wrote:

'...there is no general agreement as to what Bedruthan Steps actually are, whether the name refers to the great stacks of detached cliff - the giant's stepping stones - or to the older and damper of the two rock stairways down to the beach.' So it seems there were two ways down fifty years ago, Bedruthan Steps and the Pentire Steps, the two 'rock stairways'?                        

Even earlier, in 1910, Charles G Harper wrote in The Cornish Coast: 'Rude flights of steps, cut in the profile of the cliffs and fortified here and there by a crazy iron or timber handrail, lead to the shore. The steps, are ancient beyond knowledge and have given a name to the place.'                            

There is awesome nobility about the view across the famous wave-swept stacks. The low, unspoilt plateau of Park Head beyond the dramatic foreground effectively closes the panorama to the north. Man seems to have had little influence on this scene, but along two miles of this exciting coastline are six Bronze Age barrows, two Iron Age cliff castles and a nineteenth century iron mine at the half a dozen cottages making up Tregona, pass the slate-walled (to protect from the weather) chapel built in 1826 and now sadly no longer used.

England - South West England - Cornwall - Coast


Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Flowers, Gift Shop, Great Views, National Trust, Public Transport, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife
4/15/2019 - Roy Davenport

15/4/19 Cornwall CC inform me that this walk is now open. The landowner has put a pedestrian gate alongside the large gates. Well done Cornwall CC

4/12/2019 - Roy Davenport

The landowner has installed a pedestrian gate alongside the large one

4/12/2019 - Roy Davenport

Cornwall CC tell me that this route has been re-opened. Hooray

6/9/2018 - Roy Davenport

This blockage which is believed to be illegal is being investigated by Cornwall County Council

6/2/2018 - Dave Anelay

02.06.18 At instruction 3 the lane near the green barn is totally blocked with a large white gate. There is no alternate route. A local runner said this was a recent change to her running route also. This walk is effectively blocked now.

5/28/2018 - Jeremy Fitzherbert

As of May 2018, sadly, it is no longer possible to reach waymark 4 from waymark 3. The green footpath terminates at SW860689 and there is now a ‘no public right of way’ sign leading to a now unscaleable gate (but which we were able to climb over last year!). We had to retrace our steps to the B road, walk north for 800m and turn right past Bedruthan and thereby to pick up waymark 5 and complete an otherwise very good walk.

8/18/2011 - Ian Mapp

Great bit of coast line here.... loved the walk. There is free parking available along the lane up from Porth Mear, if you are not a member of National Trust. Photos and story at

3/27/2011 - Jan Holtham

We thoroughly enjoyed this walk. A good mixture of countryside and coast, with spectacular views of the Bedruthan Steps. We did this on a beautiful sunny spring morning and it made you feel good to be in the UK. Part 4 - In a field just as you turn into the tiny lane beside Downhill Cottage, we saw a couple of llamas.