Our customers often ask us which are our favourite West Cornwall beaches. We know you shouldn’t pick favourites, and like good parents, we love all our beaches equally. However, we’ll be honest: there are a few stretches of sand and cute little coves that have special places in our hearts.
When we get chance to head to the beach, there are a few we always make a beeline for. Here’s Western Discoveries’ selection of West Cornwall’s best beaches, along with the walking tours that take them in.
Gwenver is a sandy beach at the bottom of Trevedra Cliff, deep into the Wild West of Cornwall. It’s next to the busier surfing beach at Sennen, and you can walk between them when it’s low water. But unless you’re after the bustle, stay on Gwenver, enjoying its natural beauty. Safety note: getting back up the cliff path isn’t easy, so avoid Gwenver if there’s a high tide. The surf here is great, but it’s just for experienced boarders.
Finish near Gwenver on our St Ives to Sennen walk.
Sennen is Gwenver’s more famous neighbour. Sennen (also known as Whitesands Bay) is lively in summer and dramatically gorgeous in the winter. Known for its surf school and places to eat, it’s a great beach if you like an action-packed beach. At night, the long stretch of sand is often lit by dotted campfires and beach barbecues in the summer months.
Finish at Sennen on walk we mentioned above.
Right out west near Pendeen, pretty Portheras Cove Beach is a real locals’ spot. Body boarders and dog walkers head for this tranquil beach; and the tricky path down helps to keep Portheras feeling quiet and secluded. Until fairly recently (2004), parts of Portheras were closed due to razor-sharp fragments of the shipwrecked Alacrity, which were buried beneath the sand. It’s safe now, and a good spot to look out for seals.
Visit Portheras on our St Ives to Pendeen walk.
Hayle is famous for its “three miles of golden sands”, which form a row of gorgeous golden beaches. The eastern beaches are better known and more popular, such as Godrevy Point and Gwithian. We like to stay in the west, where the estuary meets the sea at Hayle Towans. It’s not so busy here, and the views across to Porth Kidney and St Ives are glorious.
Visit Hayle in our St Ives to Perranporth walk.
There’s often a bit of a tendency with these sorts of lists to go for the “hidden” and “best-kept secret” options. Yes, there are definitely times when we want to get away from it all, and other times when you can’t beat the vibe of a lively, summertime beach. Many of our walks start from Porthmeor, one of St Ives’ main beaches. It has a surf school, world-class cafes, rockpools and fantastic views. Early evening is often the best time, when the kids come down after school and the beach smells of takeaway mackerel and chips.
All the walks that head west from St Ives pass by Porthmeor.
And back to a hidden beach… Leave the busy main beach behind and walk east along Fore Street until you reach Leys Lane. Walk along this, and you’ll soon come to the stairs that give Steps Beach its name (low tide only). Rockpools, shallow swimming (note: not lifeguarded), great views of the Mount and not half as busy as the main beach. Grab a takeout from the Copper Spoon on the corner.
Any Marazion walk will take in Steps Beach.
A bit further east again is wild Prussia Cove. It keeps its secluded feel thanks to the tricky single-track lanes and lack of adjacent car park. This doesn’t bother us, though, as we access it from the South West Coast Path. There are actually four small coves: Piskies, Bessy’s, King’s and Coule’s. The cute cottages above the shore were built for the Coastguard, in an attempt to curtail the cove’s active smuggling operations.
Visit Prussia Cove on our Marazion to Mullion walk.
We now take a leap across to the other coast and Chapel Porth beach (National Trust). Close to St Agnes, Chapel Porth is in a former mining valley, and takes the full force of the Atlantic against its shores. It’s combination of mining ruins and clear blue waters makes Porth Chapel the essence of West Cornwall. Come at low tide, or you won’t see much beach.
Visit Chapel Porth on our St Ives to St Agnes walk.
We couldn’t leave out the Lizard, and National Trust-managed Gunwalloe (near Helston) is a fascinating place. Also known as Church Cove, the sandy, dune-backed cove is home to a medieval chapel – and yes, you do recognise it from BBC’s Poldark. It’s also close to The Loe, the large freshwater lake where (possibly) St Bedivere threw the sword Excalibur.
Visit Gunwalloe on our Marazion to Lizard walk.
We’d better stop there. We know, there’s still Porthcurno and Porth Chapel and Carbis Bay and locals’ favourite Long Rock and Kynance Cove… We’re so lucky in West Cornwall to have so many beautiful beaches and coves.
If there’s a beach you’d love to explore, contact us and we can work in into a walking holiday itinerary for you. We’d also love to know about your favourite sandy spot or secluded rocky cove!
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