Passing beneath towering cliffs, surrounded by the sound of the sea and with golden sand beneath your feet, a walk along the beach in winter can provide a tonic for the soul. Particularly beautiful in Cornwall, these wide-open beaches are perfect for leisurely strolls wrapped up in cosy layers, for clearing the mind and working the legs. If you are really lucky, you may even get one of those extra special days when low temperatures form frost atop the powder-fine sands of the coast – adding another beautiful dimension to the views and a satisfying crunch underfoot!
These amazing expanses of sand are ideal places to fill relaxing mornings or afternoons with invigorating strolls before hunkering down in your sea-view retreat. We’ve picked out ten of the best beaches in Cornwall for winter walks. Some of them are local to Padstow, while others are further afield but well worth the effort to visit for a seaside ramble.
Sheltered by an extensive network of dunes, Constantine Bay is one of our favourite beaches in Cornwall for winter walks. Only a stone’s throw from Padstow, its sweeping arc of vanilla-coloured sand lends itself perfectly to carefree ambles, taking in the surrounds. Especially appealing at low tide when the beach opens up and reveals uninterrupted, compact sand, this is the kind of beach that boasts year-round beauty. And, if you check the swell conditions before you go, you can also time your walk to coincide with aerial displays from the local surfers making use of this beach’s top-quality waves.
Watergate Bay is home to a massive 2-mile-long beach that is perfect for walkers and beach-goers of all generations. Located on Cornwall’s north coast, it is one of the most well-known in the area, famed for its sporting and celebrity connections and recognised for its water quality by numerous accolades. While a winter sea dip may be out of the question, simply sauntering along the shoreline is always a real treat on this beach, especially on crisp, calm days when the sea is calm and blue skies blend with the horizon.
On the opposite side of the River Camel to Padstow is Polzeath Beach. Another popular option in summer for its gently sloping sands, this award-winning beach proves equally as attractive for walks in the winter. Though not as large as some of our other beaches, the setting here is one of the most beautiful in Cornwall, exuding a unique atmosphere. And, if you fancy extending your walk, there’s a nice 2-mile walk along the South West Coast Path to Daymer Bay and a 2.5-mile walk in the other direction around Pentire Point to the Rumps – the site of an Iron Age hillfort.
Located on the stunning Roseland Peninsula, a trip to Carne Beach is like escaping to a forgotten corner of the UK. Unspoilt by commercial trappings, this tiny peninsula in South Cornwall hides all sorts of secret gems: one favourite being Carne Beach. Sheltered by the 300ft frame of Nare Head, the sheltered, south-facing Carne Beach boasts large swathes of sand and shingle and is ideal for wintry walks. Whilst at high tide little of the beach remains, at low tide the sea recedes and offers up plenty of space to tread footprints in the sand.
A year-round dog-friendly beach, Perranporth is a must for winter walks. One of the biggest beaches in the county, it sits at the foot of a popular seaside town and exudes a vibrant energy year-round. While you won’t find the beach parties and music events of the summer, you will find huge expanses of empty sand that await for drawn-out walks in the fresh sea air. Ideal for dogs, your four-legged friend will also be a particular fan of this beach thanks to its abundant space, so make sure you grab a toy or ball for a game of fetch and let them zoom energetically along the shore.
This long sandy beach is situated in the iconic Mount’s Bay and is a favourite of ours for a very special reason. Overlooked by the fairy-tale-esque St Michael’s Mount, a walk along Marazion Beach in winter affords the kind of scenery that one would only expect to see in a Disney film. With its surreal surrounds, simply relaxing with a flask of hot tea and drinking in the atmosphere of this magical beach is a pleasure enough, but you can also add some adventure to your walk if you like. Simply wait for low tide and find the granite causeway that leads to the Mount, ready to retrace the steps of ancient pilgrims for a close-up look at this stunning island castle.
One of the world’s top surfing destinations, Fistral Beach is well-known amongst wetsuit-wearing, surfboard-bearing kinsfolk. Yet at half a mile long, it is also a great place for walkers to breathe in salty air and admire the scenery. Head over on a fine day and enjoy the feel of the wind in your hair and the kiss of saltwater spray on your cheeks, glancing over at the surfers powering through hollow barrels for added entertainment as you go. Once you’re ready to wander back home, Fistral Beach is only a short walk from the centre of Newquay and its array of warming, welcoming cafes and eateries.
Halfway between Helston and Penzance, Praa Sands is a picturesque sandy beach. Pronounced “prah” or “pray” depending on where you hail from, it is a popular choice in the summer for its gentle gradients and surfable waves, yet on winter days resembles a far more secluded scene. Leave your car in one of the car parks and pull on your wellies (there are often rivulets running down the beach) ready for a hearty stank along the seafront. At around a mile long stretching from Hoe Point to Rinsey Head, you can easily drag out your walk, stopping to pick up sea glass and soak up the views.
No list of the best beaches in Cornwall for winter walks would be complete without mentioning the enormous Gwithian Towans in Hayle, West Cornwall. Widely recognised as the longest beach in the county, this giant beach is around 3 miles long and is naturally a very popular choice for winter strolls. Thanks to its sheer size, it never feels crowded despite drawing visitors and locals alike from near and far and is also popular amongst dog-walkers, horse-riders and water-sports enthusiasts. Grab a waterproof (just in case) and a decent pair of shoes and set off for a refreshing coastal stroll, making the most of the sheer size of this idyllic beach.
Another of North Cornwall’s finest, Sandymouth Beach in Bude is a great choice for walks on crisp winter days. Best visited at low tide when there is maximum room to wander, you can walk for up to 2 miles along the beach between Sandymouth and Summerleaze Beach. Connecting with several other beaches along the way including Northcott Mouth and Crooklets Beach, you can also access the South West Coast Path and return along the clifftops for a nice circular route. Just remember to keep an eye on the tide and to pack your pockets with plenty of treats for tasty energy boosters as you go.
Walk on these beaches yourself on your next visit to Cornwall. Book your next holiday at one of our self-catering properties in and near Padstow. Begin your search here: https://harbourholidays.co.uk/properties/