Walks in Cornwall: Polly Joke and the Kelseys

Field of poppies with the sea in the background in Cornwall.

The area around Polly Joke and the Kelseys is one of the most spectacular places for walking in Cornwall. In late May or early June, the whole route is carpeted with wildflowers. It’s an easy six-mile walk which takes about two hours to complete. But if, like me, you’re distracted by the wealth of flora and fauna, I suggest putting four hours on the ticket at West Pentire car park where the walk begins.

Head for Cubert village and take the road to West Pentire. You can find full details of the walk on the National Trust website. Park in the car park alongside the Bowgie Inn and take in the spectacular vista. From here, you can see Crantock beach and the Gannel Estuary, with Trevose Head lighthouse in the distance.

This is the North Cornwall coast at its windswept best. Rugged, craggy cliffs are carpeted with the dusky pink tufts of thrift interspersed with the vibrant yellow of bird’s foot trefoil and white sea campion. Nature’s paintbrush always ensures perfectly harmonious colours. The wild Atlantic Ocean stretches before you, powerful and elemental, rooting you to time and place. As I often say, I am truly grateful for the National Trust who protect our coastline so we have the freedom to walk this spectacular coast path, to marvel and imbibe its beauty. It’s truly restorative for me!

The walk heads west past Vugga Cove and Pentire Point descending into the hidden gem of a beach Porth Joke beach (locally known as Polly Joke). This beach can only be accessed by foot, so it’s never overcrowded. After crossing the beach we headed for Kelsey Head. At the top we looked out to a rock called the Chick and were rewarded by watching the antics of a family of seals on the rocks. It was amusing to see them clinging on to their chosen rock in the face of an incoming tide, finally admitting defeat as the waves swept them in!

This area of the path was covered in vibrant yellow cowslips, not a plant you see much here in Cornwall. We headed on to Holywell Bay, yet another sweep of golden sand, this time dotted with surfers all trying to catch the best wave in to shore. Here the path turns inland through the sand dunes which are home to a multitude of insects – butterflies and crickets abound. This area is known as the Kelseys. It’s a site of Special Scientific Interest and a protected area noted for its biological interest. We heard the glorious song of the skylark, ground-nesting birds which are now quite rare outside these protected areas.

As we crossed the common we could make out a field of red and yellow hues in the distance. We headed towards it, crossing the bridge at Porth Joke then turning inland up the hill. These are the meadows managed ‘in house’ by the National Trust for their arable flora. There was a magnificent display of poppies and corn marigolds.

A short climb up the hill brings you back to the car park at West Pentire. Superb!

Walking in Cornwall

You can find lots more ideas for walks in Cornwall on our blog. We also love the South West Coast Path website for inspiration.

Where’s your favourite place to go walking in Cornwall? Leave a message below, post on our Facebook page or tweet @Bosinver – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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