- From the Station car park on Long Rock Road drop down onto the beach and turn left to walk towards Marazion. Alternatively, follow the pavement alongside the road to where the seawall stops and the dunes begin. Carry on ahead along the South West Coast Path as it meanders through the dunes, crossing the Red River on the footbridge. Continue through the seafront car park into Marazion, following the road past the Godolphin Arms and on along the road to the Square.
The dramatic winter storms at the beginning of 2014 scoured unusual amounts of sand from Mounts Bay, revealing evidence of the ancient forest that is known to have existed here in prehistoric times. The storm uncovered pine and oak trunks some two to five metres long, as well as the remains of hazel thickets and well-preserved cob nuts and acorns. These were part of the extensive forests which were still growing across the bay between 4000 and 6000 years ago, as the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period gave way to the Bronze Age, when hunter gatherers started settling down and early agriculture began.
St Michaels Mount was known in Cornish as 'Karrek Loos yn Koos', meaning 'Grey Rock in the Wood'. At the end of the eleventh century, chronicler John of Worcester wrote that today's island was located inland during his time, some five or six miles from the sea and enclosed in a thick wood.
St Michael's Mount was a busy maritime centre as long ago as 350 BC, when trading ships exported Cornish tin to other European countries. In 495, the Archangel St Michael is said to have appeared to some fishermen on the island, and within a few years it had become a thriving religious centre. After the Norman invasion of 1066 it was granted to the French Benedictine abbey of Mont St Michel, and the chapel on its summit was built in 1135. Throughout the medieval period, and later, the island was the scene of a number of alleged miracles, as well as being involved in several battles (see the St Michael's Mount Walk).
In 1257 Marazion was granted a charter by Henry III, making it the oldest chartered town in Cornwall. A charter generally granted a town permission to hold fairs and markets, and royal approval was required before any changes could be made to the timing or venue of either. Marazion was named after its markets: Marghas Byghan ('Small Market' in Cornish) and Marghas Yow ('Thursday Market').
- Carry on past the King's Arms and on along the Market Place and then Fore Street beyond it. Ignore School Lane on the left to continue along Higher Fore Street and then Turnpike Road.
- When Trevenner Lane leaves on the left, the Coast Path leaves the road to return to the shoreline. Turn right to follow the acorn waymarker, taking the footpath to the left at the bottom of the lane. Stay on the Coast Path as it hugs the shoreline past Venton Farm, ignoring the footpath inland past the farm to walk around Trenow Cove.
The old mine workings here were part of Trenow Consols, which started producing copper in the middle of the nineteenth century. Trenow incorporated an old mine named Carn Perran, with an 85" cylinder engine, and it was important enough for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to visit when they were in Penzance. Its success was short-lived, and by 1847 its engine, horse whims and materials were advertised for sale, although a good £1000 of ore was raised from the Carn Perran adit after this. It was later reopened to run as part of the Charlotte United Mine Group.
The low-growing trees along this part of the path with the feathery branches are tamarisk. This Mediterranean plant likes dry, sandy soil and thrives on sea air. Tamarisk groves can be seen right the way around the Cornish coastline
- Follow the Coast Path around the old mine workings, carrying on above the shoreline around Basore Point. Ignore the path inland to continue around two more small headlands. As you approach Perranuthnoe the Coast Path heads a little way inland, coming out in the car park above the beach cafe at Perran Sands. Leave the Coast Path here, walking up through the car park and continuing up the lane to the junction. Turn left here to visit the church, but otherwise carry on up the lane to the Victoria Inn, a short distance ahead.
- To return to the Station car park at the start of the walk, either retrace your steps along the Coast Path or take a bus back.
Perranuthnoe has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and a number of flint tools have been found in the district dating from Middle and Late Stone Age times. Tin was being traded from here by around 2000 BC, in the Bronze Age, and it is thought that there is a chambered tomb in a field still known as Parc-an-Chamber. The 1086 Domesday Book lists it as 'The Manor of Uthno', with a population of eight smallholders, seven villagers and three slaves. Around 1830 the prosperity of the tin and copper mines had boosted its population to over a thousand, but as the price of tin and copper fell and the mines closed this dwindled to 742.
Uthno's Manor was also associated with St Piran (hence the name Perranuthnoe). Cornwall's national saint is said to have washed up on a millstone on the other Perran Sands (in North Cornwall), after he was banished from Ireland in the fifth century (see the St Piran's Walk). He built his first small chapel on a rocky outcrop on Perranporth Beach which still bears the name Chapel Rock. He built an Oratory in the dunes behind the beach some time later, and began to preach from there. His sermons were very popular, and the tiny chapel was repeatedly enlarged to accommodate his congregations. There was also a graveyard attached; and nineteenth-century archaeologists excavating it discovered a very large skeleton with no head. St Piran was said to be enormous, and after he died (aged 200 - see the Speke's Mill Mouth Walk) his head was was kept in a sacred box, bound with iron and locked, and carried around the county.