Many day and weekend hikers visit Cornwall each year to tread the South West Coastal Path, which was originally patrolled by coast guard and customs officers to catch contraband smugglers, and to search for wayward ships. With the abundance of wildlife, heritage sites and pretty pit-stop pubs that dot the diverse landscape, walking enthusiasts can be certain that they’ll return home with lifelong memories and a fresh view on Cornwall.
If you’re heading to Cornwall for an outdoor ramble but you’re not sure what you’ll need to pack with you for the trails, we’ve gathered a list of our top things to bring for a walking holiday in Cornwall.
Gore-Tex or Waterproof Shoes (broken in and not new)
Even in summer this one’s an important one. If you’re planning to explore the beautiful Bodmin Moors and go in search of the Beast of Bodmin Moor or climb the highest point in Cornwall, Brown Willy, waterproof walking boots are a must. Fresh springs run through the moors all year round so the ground acts like a giant sponge. During summer, there are marshes and thunderstorms which can make well-trodden paths muddy for a few days until the sun returns. When it comes to shoe type, boots are a clear winner over trail shoes as they tend to support your ankles and deal with the varied terrain better.
Even the most waterproof boots may struggle to keep out bogs and swamps (or an unpredictably big wave on the beach), so it’s always best to carry a spare pair of socks.
If your socks get wet there is far more chance of your comfy walking boots rubbing, so it’s a good idea to change them regularly. Keep your feet warm and protected while out on your expeditions with Finisterre’s hardy wool blend walking socks.
Waterproofs and Layers
With Cornwall’s changeable weather you might experience fluctuations in temperature and conditions, and while the day may be cold and windy, walking the undulating paths will cause perspiration. To make life easier, we advise walkers to layer up so that you remain toasty, and peel off a layer if you start getting too warm. Fleeces and merino wool jumpers are especially good solutions, not only are they light but they tend not take up less packing space.
To keep yourself from spending unnecessary money on disposable plastic water bottles, as well as remain conscious of the environment, packing a reusable water bottle is the answer. Plenty of water is essential for a long hike in Cornwall. A hydration pack holds at least 1 litre and can be stored safely in your daypack and topped up at various cafes or water stations enroute.
There will be weeks in Cornwall where the sunshine lingers from morning until dusk, and days when the skies are grey and heavy with rain clouds. Either way, while you are outdoors all day in open exposed spaces, UV protection is vital.
Not only can photography help capture the breathtaking terrain and catalogue of wildlife, but it can serve as a visual diary, as sometimes, a view is only as good as the people you share it with. In terms of what to pack, we feel the best camera is the one you have with you.
If you’re simply looking to document your hike for the sake of memories, a phone can work wonders, especially for video. But if photography is a part of your walking experience and you’d like to upgrade from your iPhone, a rugged point and shoot camera that has the ability to shoot manual not only works well for capturing quality photos but it is also budget friendly.
Getting from A to B is all part of the fun, but when you’re hoping to take in the scenery, or it’s your first time walking in Cornwall, being able to double-check directions makes things easier.
Working to make Cornwall’s natural environment and heritage more accessible to both locals and visitors, iwalk is a brilliant app with a collection of thoughtfully-crafted circular and guided walks.
The 290 walks have taken over nine years and more than 5,000 miles of walking to produce and are regularly updated for changes to footpaths. This is a convenient way of tracking where you walk, while allowing you to stay present and take in the environment around you. You can find it by searching the App Store of Google Play for “iwalk Cornwall”. If you don’t have a smartphone, the walk directions and accompanying notes are also available as a PDF from the website.
Seasoned hikers will know that nutrition is a key part of an enjoyable and easy walk. Pack snacks that are easy to store, will feed you well and keep your energies high. Nutrient-dense, organic bars, nut butters, bananas, whole-grain trail mix and popcorn all work brilliantly at releasing energy slowly. Stopping off along the way to pick up a Cornish Pasty or slurp on a clotted-cream ice cream is also a very popular and recommended option.
A solid daypack should be a staple of every outdoor enthusiast’s gear collection. For short day hikes a light, well-ventilated, and waterproof pack with a 20-30L capacity is perfect. It should be able to hold everything you may need from the time you leave in the morning, and in the case of an emergency. A bag with a sternum strap and hipbelt to distribute weight will help alleviate strain on your shoulders, and some even have handy pockets which will provide easy access to items you may want readily available while walking.
First Aid Kit
Often overlooked is the travel first aid kit, which is important for even short walking trips. Pack a first aid kit with all of the essentials for peace of mind. In the unfortunate event of an accident, your first aid kit should enable you to deal with minor injuries and keep more serious injuries stable while you seek further aid. Ordnance Survey has a light, compact OS First Aid Kit for Walkers which provides everything you need to treat the most common injuries, which you can purchase here.
If you’re out rambling along the coast and stumble upon a secret and secluded cove, you might kick yourself for not bringing swimming attire. There’s something truly wonderful about cooling off in the sea after a few hours of walking, especially if the location is quiet and the waters are turquoise. Please always make sure to check tide times and weather conditions before deciding on a swim.