St Just, Britain’s most westerly town and former centre of mining in West Penwith, sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, where the waves crash into the granite cliffs.
An Epic Landscape
The area around St Just is dominated by historical relics of bygone eras, many of which are easily visible as you drive or walk through the surrounding countryside. From Neolithic burial tombs to World Heritage mining remains, there’s plenty of history dotted amongst the landscape.
The landscape itself is epic! From the high moors that look down on the town to the jagged coastline that surrounds the town on two sides. There are miles of stunning coastline to explore, with many hidden beaches tucked away, all accessible from the South West Coast Path. The path also gives access to many of the iconic engine houses used in the filming of Poldark, including Botallack, Levant and Geevor. On top of that there’s countless footpaths heading inland onto the open moors where the views are superb.
Walk on the Wild Side
The countryside around St Just is a great place for wildlife lovers. Out to sea you never know when you might see dolphins, porpoises and even whales, closer to the shore there’s usually a seal or two to be seen from the coast path.
Gannets are often spotted diving from a great height into the sea and all sorts of gulls will be seen flying up and down the coast.
A large proportion of Cornwall’s chough population can be found in West Penwith and in particular the coast line around St Just. These black birds with red legs and a curved red beak are still rare and very much protected by law. However, their numbers have increased over the years, and they can now often be seen along the South West Coast Path, one of the many wonders of this fantastic area and rugged coastline.
This iconic headland dominates the coastline in this part of Cornwall. A “cape” is a promontory that stands at the meeting of oceans or channels and many years ago navigators believed that Cape Cornwall was ‘Land’s End’ marking the place where the English Channel and St Georges Channel meet.
The cape was bought for the nation by Heinz Ltd in 1987 and then presented to the National Trust to mark the company’s centenary. The chimney stack on the summit is all that remains of several mines that clung to the cliffs all around Priest Cove below.
Off shore, the Brison’s Rocks are known locally as 'General De Gaul in the bath' because of the outline when viewed from the mainland. Each year an organised swim takes place covering the mile between the rocks and the cove.
The town of St Just is the main centre of population in West Penwith, with Pendeen to the northeast the largest of the surrounding villages. St Just has a handful of pubs, a good selection of shops including a butcher and a baker. There’s several cafes and a number of art galleries, plus the usual gift shops.
The towns square is in fact two triangles and borders the plen-an-gwary, an ancient site used for performances. In another corner sits the 14th Century parish church, featuring on its north wall rare wall paintings of ‘St George and the Dragon’ and ‘Christ of the Trades’ both which date to the 15th century.
Heading west, rows of terraced cottages head away from the village down the road to Cape Cornwall where there’s a challenging golf course with great views out over the ocean.
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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