Situated on the most south-westerly piece of Cornwall and the UK for that matter, the seaside village of Sennen is one of the nearest settlements to the legendary landmark of Land’s End. About 8 miles west from Penzance, via the delightful coastal gems of Porthcurno and Mousehole, and 6 miles south of the former mining town of St Just, the village lies midway along the Penwith Heritage Coast, from which keen walkers can pick up the South West Coast Path.
With the raging Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rugged rocks of the cliffs above Sennen Cove to the west and the inland Cornish parishes of St Just, St Buryan and St Levan completing the cardinals, you couldn’t choose a more remote and enchanting place to take a trip away. Sennen isn’t your typical picturesque Cornish fishing village or trendy coastal resort - this is one for those who love pared-back Cornwall at its best.
Find out all about this coastal village with our local’s guide to Sennen.
About the village:
It’s not just Sennen itself that visitors flock to, year after year. The village is also home to Sennen Cove, which boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Cornwall. The two places are very much linked, perhaps because it’s less than a mile between country and coast.
Head down the hill from the village and hold your breath as the sparkling sea comes into view. As you reach the bottom, you’ll find a selection of cafés, pubs and surfing centres along the main stretch of beach road which leads to the car park and a lifeboat station at the western end of the cove.
Here you’ll have the opportunity to have a browse around the Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery, a unique circular art gallery selling Cornish art and craft. Opposite the RNLI Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station, this end of the road also takes you out to the National Trust’s Mayon Cliff Old Coastguard Lookout. It’s not one for the car, so park up and pick up the South West Coast Path to walk down to the cliffs. You can actually take a nice little circular walk from the lookout along Maria’s Lane back to the car park, which will take you through part of the village itself.
A no-brainer if you are staying in Sennen, you’ll want to head to Land’s End Landmark Attraction. It may be tourist heaven, but we can’t imagine anybody would want to miss the most westerly point in the country, even if it’s just to take a photo of you and the family next to the iconic sign! There’s some good walking, various restaurants, some great shopping and four pay-as-you-go attractions, and it does make a one-of-a-kind day out.
There are also some more traditionally Cornish places to visit in this part of the county if that’s your thing, especially along the coastline up to Penzance. Stop at Porthcurno, with its almost tropical oasis of beach and green-topped cliff, and spend a couple of hours in the village, making sure to stop and see the historic cable technology displays at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.
But there’s another much more glorious reason to come back here if you can. You may have heard of the Minack Theatre - if you haven’t, we promise you that this is one Cornish experience that you cannot miss. An open-air amphitheatre studded into craggy rocks and overlooking the sea, it hosts some fabulous performances – theatre, opera, even a sparkling Christmas concert. Whatever your preferred slice of culture, you’ll experience it from the best perspective possible at this truly unique al fresco theatre.
The sweet fishing village of Mousehole, just over 2 miles south of Penzance on the shore of Mount’s Bay, should also be included on your holiday itinerary. Sacked by the Spaniards in 1595 when the whole village was burned to the ground with the exception of one house which still stands today, it went on to become a bustling fishing port - even now, you can still see colourful fishing boats bobbing to and fro, bringing in their catch of the day to lucky customers.
The picturesque village is centred around a harbour which is famous for its Christmas lights, and there’s a lovely selection of shops, galleries and restaurants packed into ancient narrow streets to browse at any time of year.
Heading 5 miles north of Sennen, you’ll find the town of St Just, home to Warrens Bakery, the oldest pasty maker in the world. Once the mining centre of this rocky peninsula, you’ll clearly see its working history in the streets of granite cottages and disused engine houses dotted about the landscape. There is a strong Cornish community feel here and as it’s only a mile from Botallack and 4 miles from the National Trust’s Levant Mine and Beam Engine, you’ll feel that you are in true Poldark country wherever you turn.
This you need to check out on Google maps as it’s a spectacular sight. Put on satellite view, type in Sennen Cove and sit back. Once you see the glimmer of turquoise ocean and huge stretch of sand staring up at you - a welcome contrast to the huge blanket of rolling hills and green fields that fill the peninsula - you’ll have booked your holiday cottage in Sennen Cove before we can say ‘surfer’s dream’.
The biggest in this part of Cornwall, its crescent of white sands and aquamarine waters will satisfy any beach baby, whether you’re a surfer, sunbather or sandcastle-maker. This piece of Cornwall heaven is also known as Whitesands Bay and is even more beautiful in person – it’s why the people come!
At the top of the main stretch of sand is the equally delightful Gwynver Beach, popular with surfers, dogs, and those who want to avoid the crowds. Park in the car park above the beach – it’s a bit of a walk down from the top of the cliff, however, so bear that in mind if you have little ones in tow. You can also reach it by walking along the South West Coast Path from Sennen if you don’t have too much beach gear with you – it’s about a mile or so walk and the ocean vistas as you walk are sublime.
From Sennen Cove, either direction is a good choice: north up past Whitesands, and the smaller Gwynver Beach as we’ve just discussed, or south in the direction of Porthcurno, passing Land’s End. Whichever way you go, the South West Coast Path along the Penwith Heritage Coast is a walker’s dream.
If you decide on heading south, you’ll reach the village of Porthgwarra (4.5 miles) in under a couple of hours, walking at a good pace. If you love your cliff-top views punctuated by hidden rocky coves with magnificent rock arches, then this is the best route for you; there’s a great cross-country route as well, leaving from Sennen, passing down through Trevascan to reach Porthgwarra.
Another mile and a half takes you to the Minack Theatre near Porthcurno, passing St. Levan’s Holy Well and if you can keep going, it’s worth doing a couple more miles to the historical landmark of Logan Rock, an 80-ton weathered rocking stone on the other side of the bay.
If you have the walk back ahead of you, pop into the village at Porthcurno for sustenance and then have a wander down to the beach below for a quick dip. If you can’t face the walk back on a hot summer’s day, however, and an afternoon on the sands is just too tempting, kick off your walking boots, dip your tired toes in the warm ocean and get the bus back from the car park in the village.
The food and drink:
It’s mainly beachy places around Sennen, as you’d expect. Walk or drive down to Sennen Cove in the morning, park at the harbour car park and grab a bacon butty at Little Bo Café before heading along the coastal path or down to the sands. If you’re already on the beach and need some snacks to see you through ‘til the end of the day, head up the beach steps to the Surf Beach Bar where you won’t have to forego the breathtaking ocean views while munching on your Crab and Rocket pizza.
It’s right by the Sennen Surfing Centre, so you might want to book a lesson or two for the following day, if that’s not the reason you’re already here. You can also park at the café if you’re not having a beach day but still fancy seeing a bit of the sea over lunch.
Along the same beach road, is the vegan Vood Bar where you can find the best vegan fish and chips in the land, or so it’s rumoured. Back towards the harbour car park, you’ll find The Blue Lagoon if you fancy a traditional chippy.
This remote part of Cornwall has plenty of places to stay from cosy stone country cottages surrounded by farmland to coastal properties nearer the beach. Wherever you stay in this area, you’re going to be a driveable distance from the great Cornish sands, so unless you’re set on sea views, you’d do just as well staying in one of our tranquil country properties and driving in.
One of these, Ivy Cottage At Banns Farm is the perfect romantic bolthole. Just 4 miles east of Sennen, it sleeps two guests and two lucky hounds. Nestled on a 37-acre smallholding, this Grade II listed building not only gives you a great dollop of tradition on the outside with its biscuity-stone walls, it continues inside with exposed wooden beams and farmhouse-style doors, as well as a wood burner to cuddle up by on cold nights. There’s an enclosed garden for the dogs although there are resident farm animals all around, so inquisitive pups should be kept under control.
If you want to be a bit nearer to the coast, then we have three gorgeous properties for you to enjoy. The delightfully-named Hen’s Nest, Duck’s Waddle and Rooster’s Roost are just 2 miles north of the village and set within acres of rural farmland. Rooster’s Roost sleeps up to six guests and the remaining two both sleep two each. Book them together for a large family get-together or a holiday with friends, or book them individually as a couple or family. Hen's Nest and Duck's Waddle are next door to each other, with Rooster's Roost nearby.