Hayle to Newquay / Porth to Portgaverne / Delabole to Mawganporth


Hayle


We picked up the trail from last year on the eastern side of the Hayle estuary. (see Lizard and Land's End)

Carnsew foundryHayle used to be an industrial town where machines for the Cornish mining industry were made in the foundries of Copperhouse and Harvey & Co until the early 20th century, when a thousand men were employed here.

We found the remains of the Carnsew foundry near the railway viaduct in the town centre. Hundreds of pumps were built here, including those for London's waterworks and the Severn Tunnel and many were exported all over the world.

SaltingsSilting of the harbour entrance has always been a problem and dredging was always needed. At the head of the estuary is an area known as the Saltings, where birdwatchers can see some rare species.

 

Paradise ParkWe toddled off to Paradise Park, which is devoted to the conservation of rare and endangered species, including the Cornish chough, a red-legged crow now extinct in the wild in Cornwall. These birds were hiding at the top of their enclosure but we enjoyed the park, seeing the other species as well.



Hayle Towans and Gwithian Towans


The TowansThe Towans, means sand dunes and there are many Towan beaches in Cornwall. The 3 mile stretch between here and Godrevy Point is pretty impressive though - very wide and flat with rocky pools at low tide.

We drove through a village of holiday chalets to find a stopping place and could see a boat moored in the bay. It was going to be used to launch a massive hot air balloon to the edge of space but later on in the week, we heard that the project was abandoned when the balloon tore.

Gwithian TowansThe steep, grassy dunes that back the beach are threaded with footpaths and caravan sites with fine views north towards Godrevy Island and its lighthouse. We took a lane from Gwithian, a charming village of thatched houses, down to the northern end of the beach. We discovered that all the parking places charged for all-day parking and to do this when touring can get pretty expensive!



Godrevy Point


CafeWe arrived at the headland of Godrevy where as National Trust members we were able to park free, and enjoyed a superb lunch in the chalet restaurant. Godrevy Point does not become overcrowded because there is so much space on the beaches or amongst the heather on the cliffs.

Godrevy PointThe cliffs rise above flat rocks and turquoise pools, beside the dangerous channel between Godrevy Point and Godrevy Island. It is gorgeous here.

Godrevy PointThe lighthouse was built on the island in 1853 and is thought to be the one referred to in Virginia Woolf's novel To The Lighthouse. You can walk to Navax point on the flat-topped cliffs.


Hell's Mouth

We drove east, parked near the road and walked to the cliff path above Hell's Mouth. We looked down on the tiny bay of Fishing Cove and along the path, came to Deadman's Cove and Basset's Cove.

These all have fearsome, steep sided rocks around them
Fishing Cove Basset's Cove



Portreath


PortreathAll the mine engines in the area needed fuel, so in the 18th century this harbour was built by the Bassets, a mining family, and it became a busy port. It was linked to the mining area by a tramway and exported 100,000 tons of copper a year and imported vast amounts of South Wales coal. The remains of the ramp used to transport cargoes up and down the hill can be seen from the harbour. As recent as the 1960s, the present beach car park was a coal depot.

PortreathWe wound our way down the zig-zag road to find holiday bustle around the sandy cove. All the benches on the sea front walls were occupied by people enjoying the sun and there was plenty of activity on the beach, now popular with surfers.



Redruth and Camborne


Cornish EnginesWe made a detour inland to have a quick look at the towns of Camborne and Redruth. These used to be surrounded by as many as a hundred tin and copper mines in the 19th century, then the richest mining area in the world. The Dolcoath Mine was more than 3,000ft deep. At Cornish Engines, there are two great beam engines once used to pump water from mines, and these have been restored by the National Trust and the Trevithick Society. Richard Trevithick, Cornwall's most innovative engineer, was born in Camborne in 1771. There is also a geological museum at the Camborne School of Mines.

Carn BreaBetween the two towns, Carn Brea rises to 738 ft and on its summit is a huge cairn of boulders built in ancient times, and a monument to the 19th century mine owner Francis Basset. There is a small medieval castle that may have been the hunting lodge of the Bassets and it is now a restaurant. From the summit you can see old mine workings in every direction.

Cornish Goldsmith'sThe road back to the coast passes the Cornish Goldsmith's which is basically a shop with several exhibits including a million pounds in £5 notes and the Aston Martin used by James Bond in the film Goldfinger. It is worth a visit though.



Porthtowan


Porthtowan beachBetween Portreath and Porthtowan is an airfield, the coast path runs one side and the road runs around the other and a long, steep hill eventually winds down to the sea at this holiday resort. A cluster of shops, cafes and amusement arcades overlook a sandy, gently shelving beach.

Porthtowan engine houseAn engine house from a copper mine overlooks the stream running to the beach and it has been converted into a nice looking private house. Recycling or what?



Chapel Porth


Chapel PorthBack on nasty Cornish narrow lanes, we negotiated our way to Chapel Porth, and boy was it worth it. From the approach road, there appears a blue wedge of sea between heather-covered hills. The lane ends at the head of a beautiful sandy beach flanked by caves. Wonderful.

Chapel PorthThere are currents and undertows here so the lifeguard was parked by the water having placed flags to mark the safe swimming area.

Towanroath engine houseWe bought ice creams in the café and as the tide was out, were able to walk a good distance north on the deserted, flat sands on the edge of the very blue water.

Up here, dramatically positioned on the edge of the cliff is the Towanroath engine house, constructed in 1872 to house the pumping engine that was needed to keep the Wheal Coates mine free of water. There are also buildings from this tin mine, which was worked from at least the 17th century until its closure in 1889. This would make a good house - what a view!



St Agnes


St Agnes BeaconIn 1588 fires blazed on St Agnes Beacon to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada; more fires were lit in 1977 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Queen.. A footpath climbs through gorse and heather to the exhilarating open landscape around the summit and at 629ft above the sea, you can see 30 parish churches, both coasts of Cornwall and the beams of 12 lighthouses.

Stippy StappyAt one time a thousand people were employed in local tin and copper mines around St Agnes and the outlines of old buildings still rise above its streets.

There is a path to the engine house of Wheal Friendly Mine that is now used as holiday accommodation - Wheal is the Cornish word for 'work' or 'mine. You can also get to the extensive buildings of Wheal Kitty that only closed in 1930.

One of the most querky sights is Stippy Stappy, a stepped terrace of cottages, some dating from the 18th century.



Trevaunance Cove


Trevaunance CoveThis was the main harbour for the mines of St Agnes. Coal and other imports were winched up the hill using horses, and outward cargoes of ores were poured down chutes to the harbour, but only a few granite blocks remain because a fierce storm in 1915 destroyed it.

Trevaunance CoveThe cove is reached by a road from the northern end of St Agnes and there is a wide expanse of sand at low tide with a jumble of craggy outcrops on either side. The car park was busy and expensive, but a little way back up the road the Council car park is only 20p. It is popular with surfers, and there is fishing for mackerel, pollack and bass too.

The lifeboat that was funded by viewers to the Blue Peter programme is proudly displayed.



Perranporth


PerranporthThis is quite a big family holiday resort with the two miles of Perran beach backed by dunes and a large holiday camp. Again, it was a mining community at one time and some of the old workings lie beneath the town.

Perranporth

There is a pretty village centre with lots of the usual holiday amenities and shops. We were charged £4 to park at a pub but got it back when we went in for a snack.

PerranporthThe flat beach was pretty crowded on this warm day although the southern end of the sands, where streams running into the sea create treacherous currents, is dangerous for swimming.

Chapel Rock has a natural tidal swimming pool, reached by a scramble over the rocks. On the cliff top is a rather attractive sundial.

Perranporth Perranporth



Gear Sands


St Piran's MemorialWe drove along the road behind the dunes and stopped to walk over to the memorial stone that marks the place where the 6th century St Piran's Oratory lies buried.

This important Celtic monastery was founded by St Piran, patron saint of tinners, who arrived in Cornwall from Ireland in the 6th century. It was overwhelmed by sand before 1500 and was excavated in the last century but had to be reburied in 1981 to protect it.

It is a rather eerie area of grass-covered sandhills with signs telling you to keep to the path so you don't fall down a mine shaft.

Gear Sands holiday campFortunately the way is marked by white stones and there is also a cross on top of the hill near the remains of a Norman church that was abandoned to sand in 1804.



Trerice


TrericeWe travelled inland past a Miniature Village park towards St Newlyn East, where there is the narrow-gauge Lappa Valley Steam Railway. Nearby is Trerice, an Elizabethan manor house built of buff-coloured limestone. It is a lovely building hidden away in the depths of nowhere.

TrericeIt was built in 1573 by Sir John Arundell on the site of an earlier house. He inherited the property from his father and with it the means to rebuild the house. The Arundell family supported the Crown during the Civil War with some loss but recovered their position after the Restoration. The house escaped alteration, probably because its owners chose to live elsewhere.

Outside the lawn mower museumThe great hall has two storey bay windows with 576 panes of glass, many of which are original 16th century and there is a minstrels gallery.

From the grassy court at the front of the house steps lead up to what was the bowling green. Across the cobbled courtyard behind the house a magnificent barn has a lawn mower collection and restaurant. We had our best lunch of the week here in the garden, an imaginative dish called a 'Trencher'.



Holywell Bay


Holywell BayAfter lunch we took the road to Holywell Bay, past caravan parks, a golf course and an army training area. Backed by dunes, this quiet area is run by the National Trust and it was about 10 minutes stroll from the car park to the beach. A stream meanders past the steep dunes and you have to cross it on a wooden bridge.

Apparently dolphins sometimes appear round the two Gull Rocks in the bay and there is nearly a mile of golden sand over the dunes. Part of the Beatle's film 'Magical Mystery Tour' was filmed here.



Porth Joke


Polly Joke BeachThe hidden, quiet cove is known locally as Polly Joke Beach and it is quite a walk down a steep footpath from West Pentire, but well worth it. The name 'joke' comes from the same source as the word chough, the Cornish red-legged crow now extinct in the wild.

Polly Joke BeachHalf way down the path, the steep narrow inlet between Pentire Point West and Kelsey Head is revealed and to get to the sand you have to cross little bridges.

The cows had come down from the hills and were enjoying the sands as well - leaving their own refuse behind!



Crantock Beach


Crantock BeachFrom West Pentire, we could also see the broad stretch of Crantock Beach that is backed by a grassy plateau known as Rushy Green. Swimming is banned at the northern end of the beach which is the mouth of the River Gannel, but at low tide the estuary can be crossed by two bridges that are exposed. In summer a rowing-boat ferry does the job at high tide.

A handy pub garden overlooked the bay but as we sat looking towards the mass of Newquay, we realised the lovely long summer weather was beginning to break.



Newquay


Fistral BeachThis is Cornwall's biggest family resort that developed when the railway was built. It was intended for transporting copper and china clay from the south to the harbour but quite soon the Victorians tourists arrived arrived and there began a new era of hotel building.

Pentire Point EastThere are two main bays at Newquay, separated by a promontory called Towan Head. Fistral Beach is very popular with surfers and is the venue of international surfing championships, while the five west facing sandy beaches of Newquay Bay are busy with traditional seaside holiday entertainment.

Cross on Towan HeadWe first drove to Pentire Point East to take in the view of Fistral Beach and Towan Head with its large gothic looking Headland Hotel. Huer's House

Next we went to stop by the Cross on Towan Head because we wanted to see the tiny white painted Huer's House, where a lookout man used to scan the sea for shoals of pilchards that used to be netted in vast quantities.
He would cry 'Hevva, hevva' to alert the fishermen.

Towan HeadLooking back, below the cliff path there are good views of the Tea Caverns, excavated by miners and later used by smugglers to hide contraband tea.

Newquay harbourLong before the holidaymakers arrived, the town was a thriving fishing community and this traditional occupation is continued in the harbour today as well as offering fishing trips.

Just along the bay by Towan beach is the Sea Life Centre with an underwater see-through tunnel that gives the impression of walking on the sea bed. The youngsters went for a visit as well as going to Animal World zoo.

Sea Life Centre Newquay zoo Newquay park

There are also a fair share of traditionally laid out flower beds. Along this beaches are caves and Towan Island has a house on it that is accessed by a suspension bridge - not quite sure how they move furniture in though!

Towan Island Towan BeachNewquay

The town is large and brash and built into the cliffs above the bay; it is a maze of congested streets and the usual holiday hotels and attractions.

Lusty GlazeWhen we eventually found our way out we drove to a quieter cove at the northern end called Lusty Glaze that is also surrounded by caves and we took pictures looking back over the sands.

This seemed a good time and place to stop so we left at 6.30 and took about five hours to drive home.

 

 

NEXT PAGE >>