Our Guide to Local Beaches
For so many
of us that live and work in villages, towns, cities, a day at the beach is a
one of the treats that we look forward to when we are taking a well earned
break from our normally hectic lives. Westcliff is ideally located with a
great choice of beaches within easy walking distance and more still within a short
drive or longer walk along the South
West Coastal Path.
There are two
main beaches at Looe - Hannafore Beach, just a few yards walk around the
corner from Westcliff and Looe Beach, which you look at every day from your apartment window.
Beach stretches from Hannafore Point along Marine Drive and actually consists
of two beaches, Hannafore Beach & Wallace Beach. It is predominantly a
rocky beach with shingle and some patches of course sand at low tide. Above
the beach there are grassy banks and benches along Marine Drive. The beach is
probably best known and best enjoyed for its fantastic rockpools that are
uncovered twice daily as the tide retreats and for its view across to St
George’s Island, now more commonly known as Looe Island. With a south east
facing perspective, the beach is a suntrap for those who prefer a less
populated beach than the sandy beach across the Looe River mouth.
public toilets at the beach and a café, opening times for both of which are
seasonal. Tom Sawyers and Hannafore Point Hotel both overlook the eastern end
of Hannafore Beach and you can certainly find somewhere to eat and drink
throughout the year.
There is no
lifeguard at the beach and swimming, whilst possible, is probably not
advisable for this reason. The beach is accessible by all members of the
family including babies and small children with pushchairs. There is a bowling
green and tennis club towards the end of Marine Drive. Dog are allowed on
Hannafore beach all year round
is a pursuit enjoyed by many and the rocky reef that is exposed at low tide is
the perfect environment for you to discover interesting sea life such as
sponges and sea-squirts, sea anemone various, Furrowed Crab, Hairy
Crab, Scorpion Spider Crab and Squat Lobsters. The reef has large areas of
flat slate and deep gullies as well as large pools so there is a good mix of
habitats for sealife. If you are particularly interested in Rockpooling, why
not check out the British
Marine Life Study Society page which describes in more detail the sea life
found at Hannafore by a rockpooling group from Sussex, including the probable
find of a sea slug never previously known on British shores.
Hannafore Beach is St George’s Island, an area of outstanding natural beauty
now owned by Cornwall
Wildlife Trust and run as a nature reserve. The island has a recorded
history dating back to the building of a Benedictine chapel in 1139 and was a
landing place for smugglers. Until recently, the island belonged to two
sisters Evelyn and Babs Atkins until they died in 1997 and 2004 respectively.
Evelyn wrote two books, "We
Bought an Island" and "Tales
from our Cornish Island",
about the island, their lives and their experiences. One can visit the island
which is non-commercialised by boat and possibly, at extremely very low spring
tides, by foot.
Use this link to view a video of Hannafore
If you are
looking for a safe, sandy beach, Westcliff guests do not need to look far –
just out of the window in fact across the river and Banjo Pier.
The main East
Looe Beach is a large sandy beach with man made seating areas and rocks to one
side and Banjo Pier to the other. At low tide, it is a vast expanse of flat
sand and even at high tide, a very large area of beach remains. The sandy
shelf means that the sea is shallow for a long way out and so you can enjoy
paddling or swimming. It is a very popular beach for families and in the
height of the season, it becomes very busy, with trampolines and other
activities taking place on the beach. If you venture in an easterly direction,
the beach becomes quieter and rockier
toilets by the beach and of course the whole of East Looe provides facilities
for drinking, eating and shopping. Dogs are banned from the beach all
Pier’ is a very popular place for a spot of rod & line fishing and for
watching the fishing trawlers and other boats leave and return to the harbour.
Banjo Pier in
its current form was the creation of Joseph Thomas (1838 – 1901) in the late
19th century. Joseph
Thomas is a very important entrepreneur and engineer in the history of the
development of Looe and he was responsible for such developments as Hannafore
Road, Hannafore Estate, the quayside in East Looe and the rail link to
Liskeard. More information about Joseph Thomas may be found in a very
interesting document produced by the Cornwall
Industrial Settlements Initiative. There was an existing pier that had
been constructed to prevent sand from silting up the Looe River which wasn’t
working and Joseph Thomas conceived the idea of constructing a circular head
to the pier. Apparently he was so convinced that the idea would work that he
refused payment until it was proved to have done so ! Just down from Banjo
Pier on the Joseph Thomas’s quayside you can book boat trips, fishing trips
and even take a glass bottom boat to view the local sealife.
Beach is ideal for anyone that is looking for a ‘traditional holiday
beach’ and whilst it is probably overly busy in the summer, with the fine
weather that Cornwall enjoys all year round would be an ideal spot to sunbathe
either side of the height of season. If you wish to visit Looe Beach, there is
a small ferry that connects West Looe to East Looe running at certain times or
alternatively you need to walk down Hannafore Road on to Quay Road, across the
bridge and along the quayside or through the town to reach the beach.
immediately east of the Looe Beach is known to the locals as ‘Second
Beach’ and offers fantastic snorkelling on the days with good visibility.
Bass fishing from this beach is very popular as the ‘king of the sea’, as
it’s known to anglers, swims in very close to the shore to feed as the tide
rises. Large schools of Mullet are often seen in the large sandy patch that is
uncovered at low tide, about half way down the beach. At low tide you can walk
along the beach to Plaidy Beach. Use this link to view a video of Looe
a walk away
are many other fine beaches
nearby which can be reached by car and some by foot. Obviously all beaches are
a walk away as they are on the South
West Coastal Path - but how
long have you got ?!
the opinion of the author, and it’s only my opinion, I think it is always
worth taking a walk westwards to Talland Bay, 3.6 miles away. When you reach Talland Bay, there is a café to rest at for a while (seasonal). Once you have
rested, you can summon the energy to walk the extra mile or so to
where you can choose from a wide range of excellent
and restaurants. From Polperro, you could walk back if you are superfit or
organise a taxi to take you back to Westcliff. There is a bus service to Looe
which runs from the top of Polperro village but you would need to check the
timetable as it changes according to season...
similar walk in an easterly direction would mean you would reach Seaton beach
but the author has never walked that way, preferring instead to plough a
furrow between the Tom Sawyers at Hannafore and the
Blue Peter in Polperro !
The beaches we have featured
are generally well known but there are also secret coves known only to the
locals which you can discover for yourself. I can’t tell you where they are
because if I do, they won’t be a secret anymore !!. Enjoy your walk and
enjoy finding a hidden gem of a cove or beach – but be careful, because many
of these small coves disappear when the tide comes in.
To the east you will
Plaidy Beach is a sandy beach
with rock pools. It is largely covered at high tide. It is about ½ mile from Looe beach along a nice footpath.
Plaidy Beach is utilised by holiday makers staying at the Millendreath Holiday
Village but as there are no facilities, toilets or car parking at Plaidy, it
can be reasonably quiet. Dogs are allowed at certain times of the year. It is
possible to park at Millendreath and walk along to Plaidy.
about 1 mile east of Looe is Millendreath Beach. It once had a watersports
centre, shop and café but the last time we visited Millendreath Beach in
Febuary 2006, everything was in a state of some disrepair.
point of interest for Millendreath is that there is an American Flying Super
Fortress sunk approximately ¾ of a mile from the beach. This makes for
interesting diving. Boats and jet ski’s can be launched from Millendreath
Seaton is a large and popular family beach with grey sand as is common in South East Cornwall. There are a number of facilities at Seaton such as public toilets, a café and a beach shop. There is a local pub, The Smugglers Inn, and a restaurant, Sands Bistro.
The car parks at Seaton are small and will become full in the summer on hot days and at weekends. The beach is easily accessible and suitable for all the family. Dogs are banned at certain times of the year
Just to the east of Seaton is
Downderry Beach. With a good pub on the beach, Inn on the Shore, and a large
sand and shingle beach with rock pools at low tide, Downderry is very popular
with locals and visitors alike. Sometimes referred to as ‘Lord Elliot’s
Beach’, the main Downderry beach is easily accessible. The eastern end of
the beach is difficult to access and involves climbing a very steep cliff
path. It is an ‘unofficial
naturist beach’. It is possible to walk along the beach from Seaton at
low tide but check before doing so.
There are lots of facilities at
Downderry – parking, a pub, restaurants, shops, toilets and even a post
office. Dogs allowed at certain times of the year
Downderry offers excellent
snorkelling on a good day, and if you are lucky you could stumble across the
‘Gypsy’, the sister ship to the ‘Cutty Sark,’ that is hiding under a
kelp bed not far from the shore line. There is a slip road to the beach
enabling cars to drive right down on to the beach to launch boats and jet
two beaches - a shingle beach to
the west and an ever popular
sandy beach, Finnygook, to the east of the village. Portwrinkle is located at
the western extreme of Whitsand Bay where the Royal Navy recently sank HMS
Scylla to create an artificial reef. There are great views of Rame Head and
Looe from Portwrinkle. If you like the beach, you may wish to stay there next time!
Access to the
beaches at Portwrinkle is not easy and they are probably not suitable for
disabled people or pushchairs. There are two car parks but they are small and
become very crowded. There are toilets but no other facilities at the beach.
Whitsand Bay has the best
beaches in the area for sand and surfing. It is a four mile long sandy beach
but the problem is that it is not easily accessible. There are no toilets and
the cliff path to the beach is very steep .
For surfers, the beach is
suitable for beginners through to intermediates and there is a review of it on
site. Beware the rip
At the western end of Tregantle
beach (also known as Long Sands Beach) is Tregantle Fort, a MOD firing range.
During firing sessions, the beach is closed by means of a ‘red flag’.
Details of firing times are posted through notices issued to the local parish
councils, Harbour Masters, Post Offices, and coastguards. Details are
also published in the
Cornish Times and The Western Morning News or can be found by calling
Around the middle of Whitsand
Bay is Freathy Beach which has a café above it and to the easterly end is
Tregonhawke Beach. There is some parking available in lay-bys along the coast
road and there are lifeguards in summer.
Rame Peninsula is surrounded on
three sides by water and in addition to Kingsand and Cawsand, the villages of
Cremyll, Millbrook, St.John, Sheviock, Crafthole, Antony & Whitsand Bay
itself are located here.
The twin villages of Cawsand
and Kingsand are on eastern side
of the Rame Head and offer a pair of shingle beaches to enjoy. The villages
are home to a number of pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops and with their twin
sheltered beaches and rockpools, are popular with families.
Cawsand and Kingsand are
located just near Mount Edgumbe and the Cremyll
foot ferry linking Cornwall to Devon at Plymouth as it has done for
centuries. They are very sheltered with Rame Head to the west and Picklecombe
Point to the east.
To the West you can enjoy...
Talland Bay has two sheltered
shingle beaches, Talland Sand and Rotterdam Beach, and some nice big rocks to
the side which make for a comfortable place to sunbathe. At low tide there is
some sand but of course it’s wet ! There are rock pools to explore.
There is a café, a shop,
toilets and a reasonable amount of private car parking behind the shop
together with some road parking. Up the hill is Talland Bay Hotel which is
excellent for dining. There are some nice tables outside the café and
personally, I love Talland Bay and the walk from either Looe or Polperro.
Talland is also a must for the
snorkeller with the regular Pollack and colourful Wrass to the occasional flash
of the silver Bass. Talland is a good
beach for catching edible crabs -
if they have not crawled into the pots that are dotted a short distance out
to sea by the local crab and lobster fishing boats.
by progress, the ancient fishing village of
Polperro is a Conservation Village
surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty situated in a sheltered
low tide, the small sandy Polperro Beach appears as the waters of the Outer
Harbour recede only to disappear again a few hours later as the tide returns.
Obviously it is a nice clean beach ! The other side of Peak Rock, the large
rock that defends the entrance to the harbour, is Chaipel Pool, a part
natural, part man-made sea water swimming pool. There are many wonderful walks
to enjoy from
Polperro, either eastwards towards Talland Bay or
in a westerly
direction towards Lansallos.
day from Easter until October there are ½ hour boat trips available along the
coast and also mackerel trips by arrangement. The Polperro boat men also
run half day trips to nearby Looe and to Fowey.
lots to do in Polperro with a museum displaying the smuggling & fishing
history of the village, lots of pubs, restaurants and cafes as well as shops
and a variety of stores. For
more information on
click this link and if you have enjoyed your break at Westcliff, why not bring
some friends down with you and stay again at Westcliff.
Located midway between Polperro
and Polruan, Lansallos Beach is a lovely sheltered beach of sand & slate
shingle also known as West Combe beach. Almost perfectly semi-circular, the
beach is generally quiet and is known as a good resting point for those
walking along the coastal path between Polperro and Polruan.
Lansallos Beach can be best
reached by walking there along the cliff path from Polperro or by walking down
from the Lansallos
car park near to Lansallos Church. In our opinion, the path down to the beach
makes access too difficult for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There is a small
car park in Lansallos.
Lantic and Lantivet Bay
Located between Polperro and
Polruan, Lantic and Lantivet beaches are a collection of small but perfectly
formed coves of which Palace Cove is the most stunning.
The white sandy beaches of
Lantic and Lantivet Bay are basically a secret and are likely to remain so due
to the extreme difficulty
with accessing them.
The climb down to them is
hazardous and Pencarrow Head which provides the coves with shelter rises to
400 feet. Frankly the very best way is to get there is go by boat which is
what we do when we get a chance !. This means finding someone to take you
there and pick you up – not impossible for one of our guests . . ..
There are no facilities, no
toilets and no car parking so as one might imagine, these beaches are totally
unspoilt by progress . . .and may it long continue. Swimming is considered
dangerous due to currents.
The smallest beach
of all those reviewed is the beach which is only exposed at low tide next to
the quayside at Polruan.
It is from this
quay that the foot ferry leaves for Fowey and the beach is overlooked amongst
others by locals and visitors enjoying a pint at The Lugger Inn and the
shipbuilders at Tom’s Boatyard. There isn’t much privacy but its ideal for
exhibitionists with perfect figures and children who really don’t care.
Personally, I like the little beach and I always have a paddle as a minimum
when I am taking the ferry across to Fowey.
There are toilets
at the quayside and shops nearby. Car Parking is difficult in ‘lower Polruan’
but there is plenty of parking at the top. Polruan is very interesting and the
local history includes attacks by the Spanish in the 14th century
and by the French in the 15th century. There are the remains of a
14th century defensive ‘Blockhouse’ at Polruan from which a
chain was hung to a similar structure on the Fowey side preventing attacking
ships entering the harbour.
So, that concludes
the review of the beaches from Kingsand to the east through to Polruan in the
this piece, I found a very nice website produced by John Butler who is a keen
walker. His website brings the review of the beach alive with photographs and
commentary. Please use these links to see what the beaches and the coastpath
are really like to walk to and visit.
If you want more
information about beaches in Cornwall, then please visit Things
to Do In Cornwall.