Sennen Cove and Land’s End

Sennen Cove and Whitesand Bay in June

Sennen Cove and Sennen Beach lie in the dramatic curving Whitesand Bay, close to Land’s End at the south-western tip of Cornwall. By turns wild and windswept or sparkling and sunkissed, this is a favourite destination for surfers, beach-lovers and walkers. The most westerly settlement in mainland England, it has a bare and end-of-the-world feeling – along with everything you need for an afternoon by the sea, from Cornish pasties to surfboard hire. Accessible by public transport, Sennen Cove makes a good starting-point for a short and easy scenic walk to Land’s End and back.

Here you can read more about Sennen Cove, a walk description, useful links to local businesses, travel information and accommodation recommendations and links.

As you descend the road to Sennen Cove, a long sandy beach stretches to your right. Whitesands Bay is one of Cornwall’s paradises for ocean-lovers. The expanses of sand at low tide make the beach ideal for everyone, including children. And the rolling waves are beloved of surfers. There is a surf school here, offering lessons for beginners and groups as well as private lessons and classes for more experienced surfers. A shop by the beach sells and hires out beach and surfing equipment.

Summer fun on the beach

If you are visiting the beach for sand, surf or swimming, check the tide times before you go, and pay attention to safety information, lifeguard hours and advice from the RNLI: RNLI Sennen Beach.

Houses are spread up the slopes above the bay but the nucleus of the settlement lies to your left, around the small and sloping harbour. The village’s most striking feature is the Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station. Visitors can see the interior where the lifeboat and inshore lifeboat, and the little RNLI shop (check opening times). Nearby is the Roundhouse Gallery where you can admire and buy Cornish art and crafts by local creators.

The harbour at Sennen Cove

Along the seafront and by the beach are a couple of cafés as well as options for take-away pasties or ice creams. The Sennen Cove Café serves good light lunches in its little interior and outdoor tables over the road facing the sea.

With sea, sand, rock pools and waves for children and adults, the beach offers all the entertainment that many visitors wish for. But if you are feeling active or looking for some of Cornwall’s finest views, take to the coastal footpath for an excursion.

Sennen Cove to Land’s End coastal walk

The tourist attraction of Land’s End, with its big emphasis on ‘tourist’, isn’t to everyone’s taste. But the walk between Sennen Cove and Land’s End is a straightforward and gloriously picturesque route along dramatic cliffs, over little streams, past towering rock outcrops facing the fierce Atlantic and even has a shipwreck to spot. If you have an hour or two to spare and good enough shoes for a couple of miles cliff-walking, this makes a great outing and way of combining the two destinations. If not, simply heading up onto the headland above Sennen Cove still gives a breath of wild and fresh sea air and photogenic views.

Although the coastal path is by far the more dramatic, there is also an alternative trail a short way inland, with views across farmland and the rugged interior of this Cornwall. To make your walk varied and circular, I’d suggest taking this inland leg towards Land’s End and returning along the clifftop path. Start by crossing the car park beyond the harbour and taking the steps uphill, ignoring the path to the nearby headland on your right and continuing up long flights of steps until you are above the dwellings of Sennen Cove. Head up the little lane at the top as it winds uphill through more houses until you reach a signposted cycle/footpath leading off to the right by a low upright boulder. The route onwards is easy walking and straightforward to follow, taking you all the way to Land’s End.

Looking along the coast towards Land’s End

The white and imposing buildings of the Land’s End attraction dominate its headland. The complex includes a children’s playground, a farm (check opening times), food businesses, souvenir shopping and of course that famous signpost ready for your Instagram shots (there’s a fee for photos). If you just want to take in the scenery, you can bypass the buildings by following the path skirting it to the right.

Out on the cliffs you’ll find the First and Last House, a small building selling souvenirs and refreshments. From here the South West Coast Path winds back along the clifftops to Sennen Cove, a beautiful stretch of dramatic scenery. This section of the walk has more uneven ground and requires attention when walking.

The First and Last House

Landmarks on the way include rock outcrops, one picturesquely known as the Irish Lady, and the wreck of the RMS Mulheim, which ran aground in 2003. The crew were saved, but the ship ended up on the rocks at Castle Zawn, in a rocky inlet below the footpath. The shipwreck can still be seen at the time of writing, more broken up each year, from a viewpoint just below the footpath. This is a dangerous coastline, and out beyond Land’s End, the Longships lighthouse, warning shipping of rocks, is another feature of the walk.

The shipwreck: the remains of the RMS Mulheim 19 years after it ran aground

Above Sennen Cove, the small former coastguard lookout tower on Pedn-mên-du headland offers great views and photo opportunities, and even if you don’t fancy walking further, it’s worth heading up the quick route here from Sennen Cove.

You can read more walk descriptions on the South West Coast Path website.

As always with even short hikes, make sure you have good, strong footwear for rough terrain, weather protection and drinking water, and treat paths, rocks and cliff edges with caution and respect. Dogs should be on leads.

Get to Sennen Cove

The good news for car-free travellers is that Sennen Cove is easy to reach by public transport. It is on the route of the panoramic Land’s End Coaster bus, a hop-on, hop-off service which circles the peninsula and stops at a variety of scenic and practical places including St Ives and Penzance, both sizeable towns with railway stations and bus interchanges. St Erth is another spot where you can change from train to bus easily. The buses are double-decker and open-top in summer, and are surprisingly cheap (at the time of writing they are covered by Cornwall’s standard unlimited day bus tickets). They stop on the seafront at Sennen Cove, and also in the car park at Land’s End. Timetables vary in frequency through the year, and the circular route, by its nature, is quite time-consuming, so check the latest information and plan ahead: Land’s End Coaster.

The Land’s End Coaster bus arrives at Land’s End

For car drivers there are three pay-and-display car parks at Sennen Cove. The first, an overflow car park for when the lower ones are full, is on the top road above the bay, a second is by the beach (to the right as you drive down towards the sea) and another car park, handy for walkers heading to Land’s End, is beyond the harbour (to the left). There are public toilets at the two sea-level car parks.

Where to stay in and around Sennen Cove

If the edge-of-everything feeling or the beachcombing life appeal, you may want to stay in Sennen Cove itself. Accommodation at Sennen Cove is mostly in independent holiday rentals, many of them charming cottages. Book well in advance for these; typical stays are one week, and visitors book months ahead. Travellers with cars can find a couple of popular alternative options a short distance inland: Sennen Rise, a welcoming B&B, and the Saddle and Stable Rooms, with a range of studios and apartments to book. There is also a hotel at Land’s End, the Land’s End Hotel.

Most visitors come to Sennen Cove as a day trip, and you may prefer to stay in a larger and livelier centre of habitation. Convenient bases for seeing the area, especially if using public transport, are the popular arty town of St Ives, its seaside neighbour Carbis Bay, and bustling Penzance, all on the route of the Land’s End Coaster bus. Thanks to the road and bus links, you can visit a lot of the remote and attractive destinations in this area during a week’s holiday at just one base.

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The view towards Longships Lighthouse from the South West Coastal Path

Is it worth visiting Sennen Cove?

In my opinion, yes – if you are looking for breathtaking cliff scenery that’s easily accessible, or a beach with sand, surf and lifeguards. It’s a scenic stop on a tour of this peninsula, with plenty to offer for a few hours. It’s convenient that you can combine a visit with walking to Land’s End, enjoying the views while avoiding the high car park fees and more commercialised atmosphere at that attraction.

This windswept corner of Cornwall has few trees so the land is quite bare, and the village doesn’t have a particularly traditional or lively heart – there aren’t many shops and no quaint lanes to wander. The buildings are scattered on slopes facing the sea; when it comes to longer stays, this is very much a place for those who relish facing the elements, basking in the scenery, and who enjoy a bracing sea breeze and feeling at one with the ocean.

Lifeboat launch
Cliff views
Sennen Cove’s lifeboat station and harbour
Sennen Cove from the coastal footpath, in October