Top 10 scenic drives in Cornwall

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Rugged coastline, windswept moors, meandering country lanes... It's no surprise that our westernmost county, Cornwall, is also one of the most scenic for driving. Happily, you don't have to go far off the beaten track to escape the traffic and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

1. Rame Head to Portwrinkle

Soak up spectacular clifftop views as you drive along the coast road above Whitsand Bay (PL11 3AZ), one of Cornwall's most spectacular seascapes.

Start at Rame Head (PL10 1LH) in the east and head west, taking in the delightful villages of Freathy and Crafthole (PL11 3BU). Arrive in Portwrinkle (PL11 3BP), a small fishing village perched above the sea, to enjoy the sweeping view back across the Rame peninsula.

2. St Ives to Zennor

Leave the hustle and bustle of St Ives (TR26 1JZ) behind and take the B3306 coast road westward towards Zennor (TR26 3BY). A truly panoramic drive, the route winds its way along the coast, above cliffs and fields.


St Ives; Shutterstock

With beautiful moorland to your left and the vast Atlantic to your right, this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So take your time to enjoy it, before descending into the picturesque village of Zennor, once home to D.H.Lawrence.

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3. Porth to Padstow

Join the B3276 in Porth (TR7 3LU) and head north along this stunning stretch of the Cornish coastline. This zig-zagging road to Padstow takes you past beautiful bays and beaches, like Watergate Bay (TR8 4AA) and Bedruthan Steps (PL27 7UW).


Bedruthan Steps; Shutterstock

Closer to Padstow (PL27 6JZ), take a turn off seawards to find more gems including Treyarnon (PL28 8JR), Constantine (PL28 8JL), and Harlyn (PL28 8SB). If you're into surfing, don't forget the board - there's no end of quality surf breaks along this route.

4. Gurnards Head to St Just

Start at the delightfully garish Gurnards Head Hotel (TR26 3DE), and follow the snaking B3306 through remote farming villages and rugged moorland. Admire the old mine workings at the Geevor Tin Mine museum in Pendeen (TR19 7EW), before continuing on to St Just (TR19 7TU), the market town with a history steeped in mining, farming and fishing.


Botallack; Shutterstock

Poldark fans can pay homage to the nearby Owles and Crowns in Botallack, which featured in the series as Ross Poldark's Wheal Leisure mine (TR19 7QQ).

5. Trellissick to St Mawes

From the National Trust's inspirational Trellissick Garden (TR3 6QL) near Truro, turn right onto the B3289. Descend a short way towards the Fal Estuary where at the river's edge, the road runs out. Happily, the trusty King Harry Ferry (TR3 6QJ) (£6 one-way) will take you across one of the most scenic river estuaries in the country.


St Mawes; Shutterstock

Enjoy the views aboard before disembarking and rejoining the B3289. At St Just in Roseland (TR2 5BD), take the A3078 for the picturesque fishing village of St Mawes (TR2 5AG).

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6. Hayle to Portreath

As you drive out of Hayle (TR27 5AX) on the B3301, don't miss the chance to stop and enjoy fabulous views across St Ives Bay. Best vantage points are Gwithian (TR27 5BT) and Godrevy (TR27 5ED) beaches, both with excellent cafés.


Hayle beach; Shutterstock

As the road climbs away from the Bay, take in the clifftop views across the Atlantic. There are several viewpoints, including Hell's Mouth (TR27 5EG) and North Cliffs (TR16 4LN), before the road drops down into the historic port of Portreath (TR16 4NR).

7. Boscastle to Bude

This rugged clifftop drive along takes you along the highest cliffs in Cornwall - 223m above sea level. Head north on the B3663, taking a left at Tresparrett Posts (PL32 9SP) towards Crackington Haven (EX23 0JG).


Boscastle harbour; Shutterstock

A mile out of Crackington Haven, there's a left at Tremayna Methodist Church towards Coxford (EX23 0NS) and Widemouth Bay (EX23 0AW). Navigating these narrow coastal lanes to Bude (EX23 8HN) has its rewards - magnificent sea views, pounding surf and convenient viewpoints from which to gaze out across the ocean.

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8. Cardinham Woods to Jamaica Inn

Just off the A30 near Bodmin is the beautiful Cardinham Woods (PL30 0AL), a haven for walkers, horse riders and off-road cyclists. Set off from the car park, pass through the villages of Mount and St Neot (PL14 6NA) towards Common Moor (PL14 6ER).


Hurlers Stone Circles; Shutterstock

Stop to visit the nearby Hurlers Stone Circles (PL14 5LE) before heading north across rugged moorland to Bolventor, home of Cornwall's most famous smuggler's haunt, Jamaica Inn (PL15 7TS).

9. Roseland Peninsula

If you enjoy scenic driving on narrow country lanes, you can't beat Cornwall's Roseland Peninsula (TR12 7NT) on the south coast. From Tregony (TR2 5PZ), join the winding A3078 to St Mawes (TR2 5AG) and begin exploring at your leisure.


Pendower beach, Roseland Peninsula; Shutterstock

Where you turn off is up to you - you could uncover one of many hidden gems - like Portloe (TR2 5QA), Portscatho (TR2 5HF) or Veryan (TR2 5LW). Just don't be in too much of a hurry.

10. St Buryan to Porthgwarra

In the far west of Cornwall, the parish of St Buryan (TR19 6HZ) has a distinctly old world feel. Take the road south from St Buryan village towards Treen (TR19 6JX) and then on to Trethewey (TR19 6LW). Pass a sports field on your right before taking a very sharp left off the B3315.


Porthgwarra cove; Shutterstock

This meandering narrow lane takes you down to the tiny but delightful fishing hamlet of Porthgwarra (TR19 6JR) with an equally delightful tea shop. On a cloudless day in summer, the ocean turns a striking azure blue.

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