The West Briton, one of the group of newspapers that covers Cornwall, published an article at the weekend on the best rated bits of Cornwall. They used Tripadvisor ratings and it’s hard to argue with the results, especially given that to have a high Tripadvisor rating a place has to be popular.
Rather than go over their ground again I started thinking about my own favourite Cornish beaches, with a heavy bias to the far west of course.
Top of the Tripadvisor haul comes Porthcurno, with its neighbouring Minack Theatre a well deserved second.
There’s no doubt that Porthcurno is a stunning beach, it has rated as one of the world’s best in Condé Nast surveys many times. That does bring the cost of being rather popular. It’ll be busy at the mere hint of sunshine.
My ultimate favourites are either side of Porthcurno. Both have accessibility issues, and what a joy that makes them.
None of the beaches below have any facilities or lifeguards. Please be careful, take everything you need, and leave nothing but your footprints.
Porth Chapel. To the west of Porthcurno Porth Chapel has good parking behind the pretty St Levan Church, and then a pleasant 10 minute walk down the valley. The cliff is a challenge, although dad used to make it until the end of his days. Your effort is rewarded with a small, pretty beach that’s washed clean by the tide. It’s dog friendly too.
We used to go to Porth Chapel when I was young and I remember great swimming, and belly board surfing.
Pedn Vounder: To the east is Pedn Vounder, often referred to as Treen for the little village where you park. Treen has the quite wonderful Logan’s Rock pub, great after a day on the beach.
I can’t imagine anywhere holding a candle to this beach for the sheer joy of clean, golden sand, slightly warmer sea than on the north coast (probably just perception), the dramatic Treryn Dinas cliffs and space. Loads and loads of space.
It’ll never win a national award though.
The small drawback (for some) is that it’s recognized as a nudist beach.
The big drawback is that when you have succeeded in finding the path, the final drop to the beach is a proper clamber. You won’t want a big bag of beach gear, children who still need carrying, or even a nervous dog. It faces south east and the cliffs are high, so the sun is off the beach early in the evening, but what a place.
Priest’s Cove. Cape Cornwall: This isn’t much of a beach, but it’s one of my all time favourite places at any time of the year. In the teeth of a storm it’s as wild as you could hope for, but in the sunshine it’s a different kind of bliss.
It’s a great swimming spot too.
If you’re feeling strong how about trying the annual Brisons Race – the Brisons is/are the lump/lumps of rock about 1200 metres out to sea. Competitors head out in boats, leap over at the sound of the lifeboat’s foghorn, and give it hell all the way into Priest’s Cove. It can be pretty rough and it’s not for the faint hearted. It happens in August and word seems to just spread as to exactly when.
Prussia Cove: Again a less obvious choice, but one that I love for its secluded quietude. The name comes from the Carters smuggling family, known as The King of Prussia. There’s not much here, just little rocky coves and a shale beach. No facilities, no lifeguard – yet absolutely worth the effort.
Portheras: My list couldn’t be complete without Portheras. Amanda and I had part of our wedding celebration here after a service on the cliffs at nearby Bosigran. Again it’s not the easiest to find, and we all love it that way. You can park at Pendeen Watch and walk the long way across the top of the cliff above the beach, or there’s a field car park. To find it head for Morvah from St Just and take a left just before Morvah where there’s a homespun sign for Rose Valley.
You’ll dream of living at the farm you have to walk through, usually it has pigs, geese, ducks and more running around.
The walk down to the beach isn’t easy, but it is more accessible than Porth Chapel and Pedn Vounder. It’s big by the standards of this list, but still it remains quiet most of the year.
Facing due north it’s one of the best for a barbecue in the evening waiting for the sunset. Don’t forget to take everything home with you though please.
I’ve quickly realized that I need a beach section on the blog so that I can write up all of them.
I haven’t even touched the beautiful Gwenver/Gwynver yet, and that’s on the doorstep.
Don’t hold your breath, it could take me a while!
So back to the question. Is Pedn Vounder the best beach in the world?
It’s utterly subjective. If you want bars, loungers, or even simply an ice cream van then it’s probably not for you.
If you want a stunning beach, few people, beautiful sand with a dramatic backdrop and you don’t care about the scramble down the cliff then it may tick your boxes.
For me there’s no doubt. It rocks!