Porthgwarra is one of west Cornwall’s hidden gems.
A tiny cove, down a long winding lane, with tidal beach – and a good seasonal café. It’s near perfect.
Add in the curious navigation aids on the cliff top, and the tunnels on the beach that ache for smuggling tales and you have a truly magical holiday spot.
It’s a place to fuel the imagination of young and old alike. Follow the footpath that takes you up to the corner of the road and you’ll come across the serene (and shallow) pond. Continue onwards and inland for a bit and you might find the abandoned farmstead. Why did they leave? And with property here as valuable as it is, why hasn’t it been rebuilt?
On the cliff top at Gwennap Head (Tol Pedn) there’s still the National Coastwatch Station. The volunteers there will welcome you when things are quiet and they’ll talk you through the incidents they’ve assisted with, and the wildlife they’ve spotted. The station has been run by volunteers since 1994 when parliament axed the coastguards who previously manned this and many other stations located at points of danger around our coast.
Tol Pedn is useful too for modern communications – it’s the only place where most people will get a mobile signal.
For a long time Porthgwarra looked tired, but the St Aubyn Estate that owns much of the cove and surrounding land has got its act together recently and the whole place now looks jolly and ready to welcome its visitors.
From the centre of the hamlet it’s a short walk to two other good beaches too. Nanjizal is one of my favourites to the north west, and along the coast to the east is another quiet beach at Porth Chapel. The more difficult approach to both means that even in the height of summer neither is crowded. Carry on a little further from Porth Chapel and you’l be at The Minack Theatre where the cafe is worth a visit for the views even if you can’t stop for a play.
The Cornish Way has recently taken on a sweet little cottage in the terrace of four former coastguards’ cottages and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the excuse to visit at the end of the summer, and more recently to call on New Year guests. I find it so calming, especially after the exposed and rugged cliffs around St Just that I’m more used to and love so much.
Back at the end of the summer the café was still doing a brisk trade and the coffee was particularly good. At New Year we were fortunate to be there on a day so warm and still that even the least hardy folk were shedding layers. Tee shirts for us – in January!
No.3 Coastguard Cottages has been loving refurbished by its current owners since they took it on last year. Soft muted greys create a calming atmosphere and an ideal retreat to return to after a day exploring the cliffs, coves and rock pools.
The cottage sleeps four in either two excellent large beds for couples, or a double and two big singles for a family (it’s a ziplock that makes a superking), and there’s a cot for a little one too.
Check out its full details on our site by clicking this link.