How to take the Looe to Polperro Walk: directions and tips

Are you researching how to do the Looe to Polperro walk? You’re in luck with this full guide!

There’s something about the southeast Cornish coast that just sucks me in. 

It’s only a stone’s throw from Plymouth, but this part of the coastline is rugged, wild and isolated. 

When looking out over the epic coastal scenery, with jagged cliffs leading to the bright blue English Channel, it’s easy to imagine how this was a smuggler’s haven back in the 18th century. 

Nowadays, the South West Coast Path makes it immensely easy to explore the areas between villages and towns. 

This is why I highly recommend the Looe to Polperro walk

What is the Looe to Polperro Walk?

Girl standing on the South West Coast Path, looking out to Looe Island.
All smiles at the start of the Looe to Polperro walk!

The Looe to Polperro walk is a half-day section of the 630-mile South West Coast Path.

At five miles in total, it’s easy to complete in a morning or afternoon. 

While there’s certainly some uphill and downhill walking, it’s much easier than sections in other parts of the region, like the Hartland Quay to Bude section on the north coast of Cornwall. 

Plus, it connects two of South East Cornwall’s most popular tourist destinations – and you can easily take a bus back to your starting point.   

I recently did the Looe to Polperro hike on a brisk but bright December morning, and I’ve wrote up all my notes, plus added some tips for things to do in Polperro, attractions back in Looe and how to travel between the two settlements.   

As I live in Devon, and have family from Cornwall (I’ve traced my Cornish ancestry back to the 13th century!) I’ve visited this area of Cornwall lots of times and I was lucky enough to be able to do this walk as a day trip!   

How to get to Looe

The pretty river of Looe

Most people drive to Looe. It’s not too far from the Tamar Bridge that connects Plymouth, and Devon, with Cornwall. 

Follow the A38 to Trerulefoot, and then take the A374 to the A387 exit. Join the B253, drive through a village called “No Man’s Land” (yes, really!), and drive in a south westerly direction to get to Looe.

Looe is connected to Plymouth and Polperro by bus, or you could take a train from Liskeard (which is on the main Cornish line) to Looe Station. 

Where to park in Looe

If you’re driving, I recommend parking at Mill Pool Car Park. It’s huge, and they have cheaper rates in the off-season (just £2.60 for 24 hours!). 

In peak season, these are the rates. 

  • One hour or less – £0.90
  • 1-2 hours – £2.50
  • 2-3 hours – £3.90
  • 3-4 hours – £5.00
  • 24 hours – £6.00

Click here to see the offical rates and more information.

Looe to Polperro Hike Directions

Starting at Mill Pool car park, follow the road that runs alongside the beach in West Looe. 

This road runs along the estuary, eventually terminating where it meets the sea. 

Look out for the seal statue along here – and keep your eyes peeled for real seals – Looe is one of the places in Cornwall where you can spot them

As the estuary turns into the sea, follow the coast path westwards, walking along the road alongside the beach.

You’ll see a nice view of East Looe Beach and Looe Island in the distance; continue walking along the pavement until you reach a gate where the road ends and the path begins!

At the gate, you’ll see a sign about the Chapel of Lammana. The foundations of this 12th century chapel are on this grassy green, although it’s very hard to find them! 

Keep walking along the coast path; you’ll see one path goes up quite steeply up a hill. Don’t worry, you don’t have to follow this one – instead, walk along the flatter path that’s closer to the coast.

Keep walking and you come to another fork. Take the path that gently ascends, not the path that you need to access through a gate.

Then, you’ll get to some quite steep steps – the first proper ascent of the hike!

Climb up these steps, but don’t forget to stop for your breath – and look around.

You can take in some amazing views of the cliffs at Talland Bay before you and Looe Island behind you.

Thankfully, the cliff path flattens out for a bit so you can take in the epic panoramic vista while walking a little more leisurely!

Keep walking towards the headland, following the path as it goes up and down. Talland Bay is just over the first headland. 

If you fancy a coffee, there’s a cafe here, along with public toilets – but you are here only about 1 1/2 miles to Polperro now!

Talland Sand is a small spot that is one of the best beaches around Polperro; in the summer it can be very busy but in the winter months it’s nice and quiet! 

As you leave Talland Bay, there is a very steep hill to go up – but it is tarmacked and there’s a railing. 

After a few dozen metres, there’s a left turning up some steps. Climb up the steps and take in the spectacular views of Talland Bay from here!

Go past a large white house and a World War One monument.

The path meanders upwards for the last time, and you’ll walk through some woodland, before it drops down into Polperro harbour. 

Generally, the path is very easy to follow here – just keep an eye out for the acorns!

Things to do in Polperro 

Once you’ve completed the Looe to Polperro walk, don’t head back straight away! 

Polperro is the ultimate picturesque fishing village and it’s well worth spending some time taking in its culture and history. 

My favourite things to do are: 

  • exploring the harbour, Polperro Beach and Smuggler’s Cave
  • learning about smuggling history in the museum
  • browsing the art galleries 
  • chilli sauce tasting at the Cornish Chilli Shop 
  • walking around streets lined with adorable Cornish cottages, especially shell house
  • a warming lunch at Blue Peter Pub, which is incredibly charismatic and charming
Enjoying a vegan fish and chips at the Blue Peter Pub

How to get back to Looe

It’s easy to get back to Looe.

Simply walk up through the village to Crumplehorn and take a bus back. 

The 72 runs every 1-2 hours, but there are a couple of other options too (we found Google maps to be quite reliable to inform us of the next bus departure!).

We waited at this bus stop – although it felt like the wrong side of the road, the buses turn around here. 

The bus driver also told us that we didn’t even need to stick out our arm to ask it to stop – as it’s the last stop, they pull over anyway!

If you’ve parked your car or are staying in Looe, the bus back takes about 15 minutes. You can also stay on this bus all the way to Plymouth. 

Check out bus times for the 72 here

Things to do in Looe

Aside from walking on the South West Coast Path (you can also walk the other side, heading to Portwrinkle), my favourite things to do in Looe include: 

  • walking along East Looe Beach
  • taking in the beautiful views of the estuary 
  • boat trips around the area
  • wandering around Looe Harbour
  • taking in the town’s history at the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol
  • renting paddleboards or other watersports gear
  • learning about local culture at the Old Sardine Factory
  • head out to Looe Island to check out the coastal views and unique wildlife! 

Is the Looe to Polperro walk difficult?

The Looe to Polperro hike isn’t too difficult if you’re used to the rollercoaster coast path, but be mindful that there is some up and down trekking with lots of stairs and challenging hills in parts. 

However, there’s plenty of flat to catch your breath and take in the stunning views too. 

Plus, it’s quite short – and there are plenty of pubs in Polperro where you can enjoy a warm meal after!

How long does it take to walk the coastal path from Looe to Polperro?

This coast path walk took us two hours, but we were ambling (as we do!) and stopping to take lots of photos for this blog. If you’re speedy, you could do it in one and a half. 

How long is the coastal walk from Talland Bay to Polperro? 

It’s about 30-40 minutes; we took about 40, but again, if you’re less of an ambler, you’ll be quicker!

Is there a circular walking trail from Polperro to Looe? 

Technically it would be possible to walk in a circle, but some of the inland way would be along country roads. I’d recommend taking the bus back instead.

Looe to Polperro walking guide!

If you like beach and estuary views and want a fairly short hike along the Cornish coast path that’ll still challenge you, the Looe to Polperro route is for you!

It connects these gorgeous two South Cornwall destinations and is a great way to see some of the rugged coastline on your trip to Cornwall. 

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