St Michael's Way
Across Europe there are a network of routes which lead to one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in the world, the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, North West Spain. Cornwall has two of these routes, The Saint’s Way, between Padstow and Fowey and The St Michael's Way, between St Ives bay and St Michael’s Mount.
The 12 mile/19km route is believed to have been used by pilgrims and missionaries, many travelling from Ireland and Wales, to avoid making treacherous journey by sea around Land's End. It crosses the narrowest neck of Cornwall providing stunning views along the way, without too much strenuous walking.
St. Michael's Way is signposted and waymarked in both directions using a stylistic shell icon based on the Council of Europe's sign for pilgrim routes. The scallop shell is often worn around the neck by those walking towards Santiago de Compostela.
The route starts in Lelant and follows the South West Coast Path through Carbis Bay before turning inland and climbing up towards Trencom Hill. On the way look out for the large standing stone at Beersheba, evidence that this route was used long before Christianity arrived.
Trencom Hill offers fantastic views of both coasts before the path drops into the Red River valley above Crowlas, once a busy mining area. At Ludgvan look out for the church, where William Borlase preached for 52 years, at the same time becoming one of Cornwall’s foremost historians of the 18th century.
From Ludgven it’s an easy walk through one of the most fertile strips of farmland in the UK. The nearby Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens offer a chance to see world class art in amongst sub-tropical gardens, and the kitchen provides wonderful food and drink.
The coast is now close and the walk finishes with a stroll along Mount’s Bay to the iconic St Michael’s Mount.
Next stop Spain?