We had a super lovely break away to Cornwall in April for my husband's 40th birthday, staying in a beautiful self-catering chalet nestled in the dunes at Gwithian Sands. We explored some new (to us) parts of Cornwall, so I thought it would be good to share some of our favourites. It was also our first time travelling with Misty, our small dog, so this changed quite a few things!
1. Gwithian Sands / Hayle
2. Porth Kidney Sands & the cliff path walk to St. Ives from Lelant Saltings
3. St. Ives
5. Sennen Cove
// Where we stayed
// A few more ideas for places to visit....
Keep reading for more info and lots of photos to whet your appetite!
1. Gwithian sands / Hayle
I can't believe that we had never visited this beautiful area before. There are miles of soft sand, stretching from Godrevy lighthouse to the Hayle estuary (strictly speaking there are 4 beaches - Godrevy, Gwithian Towans, Mexico Towans, Hayle Towans - but they all join up at low tide). There are views of the iconic Godrevy lighthouse in one direction, and St. Ives in the other, as well as large areas of sand dunes and lots of rock pools. Pretty much heaven as far as I am concerned!
And, fortunately for us, the seasonal dog ban runs from 1 May to 30 September, so Misty was allowed on the beach at all times. If you are travelling with a dog, definitely worth checking up on this in advance - you can find the list of beaches with restrictions on the Cornwall government website.
I adored all the S P A C E, and the soft sand was such a treat (all the beaches are shingle in East Sussex). Misty loved it too and enjoyed burying her head in it and then rolling around and around in it! We were super lucky with the weather, which really made the trip - beautiful blue skies most days, although it was rather chilly. But give me blue skies and cold any day over grey....
I know this beach gets busy in the summer, but there's so much space, there's room for everyone. It was so lovely to watch these horse riders galloping along...
We started each day with a walk on the beach (what a treat!) as our chalet was only a few minutes walk away. And quite possibly my favourite day of the holiday was spent walking the length of the beach, splashing in the waves and exploring the rock pools and the dunes. I was in photographic heaven and it was so lovely to see Misty tearing around off the lead.
We got really lucky with the tide times as well (another thing worth checking!). At high tide, the beach is completely covered. We returned "home" to the view below one rather windy day and it was so beautiful. Even though I was really tired, I had to capture it on camera. We both stood and stared until our legs gave way. It really was a gift.
2. Porth Kidney Sands & cliff path walk to St. Ives
We visited Porth Kidney Sands on the day we did our cliff path walk to St. Ives. We parked at Lelant Saltings and walked through some quiet lanes to reach the South West Coast Path, which leads to Porth Kidney Sands (and onwards to St. Ives). It's a beautiful route, with stunning views the whole way, and you can take the train back if you don't fancy walking (it's the most scenic train ride I've ever been on!).
Porth Kidney Sands is another lovely large stretch of sandy beach, the other side of the Hayle estuary. It's just 2 miles away from St. Ives and at low tide, you can walk round to Carbis Bay. You have the same views across to Godrevy lighthouse in one direction and St. Ives in the other, as from Gwithian.
It's dog friendly year round and hence quite popular with dog walkers. It was pretty much deserted when we were there, so we enjoyed complete peace and quiet. There were beautiful patterns in the sand and the most picturesque sand dunes. Most definitely worth a stop off!
The views from the coast path were breathtaking too - I think my camera stayed out the whole time! Part of the walk borders the West Cornwall golf course, and in the other direction you have beach and sand dunes.
The coast path eventually descends into Carbis Bay. You need to walk through the spa hotel grounds to pick it up again and reach Porthminster beach in St. Ives. Unfortunately, no dogs were allowed on Carbis Bay beach when we were there, so we found a bench with a view and enjoyed our sandwiches overlooking the beautiful white sands before moving on.
You can view more photos in my Porth Kidney Sands album on Flickr, or click through the embedded album below.
3. St. Ives
St. Ives really needs no introduction, but I couldn't not mention it. I love to explore the sandy beaches and the windy back streets, hunting out pretty houses and art galleries. But this time, with Misty in tow, we couldn't venture onto any of the beaches, or visit the Tate or Barabara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Gallery. But never mind, there was still plenty to explore, and there is definitely something very special about the light in St. Ives, even when it's stormy and overcast.
We stopped for coffee a couple of times at the Porthgwidden beach cafe, enjoying the beautiful views - it was unusually quiet!
I can recommend a wander round the coast path on "the island" if you want to get away from the crowds - the views are lovely and there are some well located benches if you just want to sit and take it all in. The path winds round to Porthmeor beach (below right), by the Tate - another favourite (and another good place for coffee).
I think my favourite beach has to be Porthminster (below), with it's beautiful views across to Godrevy lighthouse (it seemed to follow us, wherever we went!). I had to satisfy myself with a quick snap and views from afar this time though, as Misty wasn't allowed here.
We thoroughly enjoyed wandering around lots of art galleries (and the vast majority welcomed well behaved dogs). I think my favourite would have to be the Porthminster Gallery which had some really beautiful pieces and an interest free payment scheme to make it easier to buy original art. We were very tempted!
On the eating front, our usual haunts didn't allow dogs, so we ended up at Pedn Olva and enjoyed some lovely fish and chips (gluten free for me) with beautiful views of the harbour. They welcomed dogs and bought Misty a bowl of water and a biscuit. We'd happily return.
You can see more photos, including some from previous visits, in my St. Ives album on Flickr, or you can click through the embedded album below.
Porthcurno is the most amazing beach with turquoise water and soft white sand. It's hard to believe you're in the UK! The day we visited it was incredibly cold, but it looked tropical. Well worth the slightly hairy drive down some small windy lanes to get there. Food for the soul indeed. It's also the location for the amazing Minack Theatre - we didn't visit this time, but caught a performance some years back which I will never forget (at least I won't forget the beautiful sunset and scenery :).
There are also some beautiful cliff path walks around Porthcurno, where you can see more jewel-like hidden coves. The paths were lined with bluebells and gorse and lots of other wildflowers - there was so much colour everywhere.
As always, there are more photos to peruse in my Porthcurno album on Flickr, or you can click through the embedded album below.
5. Sennen Cove
We visited Sennen Cove the same day as Porthcurno, as they aren't far from each other. Sennen is another beautiful sandy beach with soft white sand, beautiful turquoise water and sand dunes (recognising the pattern here?!). It was soooo cold though - I eventually had to admit defeat when my fingers were so numb I could no longer press my shutter! It's another popular spot with surfers, although it was pretty empty when we visited (but that might have something to do with the temperature!).
If by some miracle you haven't seen enough photos yet, head over to my Sennen Cove album on Flickr, or click through the embedded album below.
// Where we stayed
As this was my husband's 40th birthday, we pushed the boat out a bit (for us!) and booked a week at Sauveterre Anglais, a self catering 2 bedroom beach house right by the beach at Gwithian Sands with Forever Cornwall (they have a lovely selection of properties in Cornwall). It was amazing! White wooden floors throughout, tasteful decor, modern kitchen, and the most wonderful conservatory and decking with views across the sea to St. Ives. It was the most welcome sight after our ridiculous 10 hour drive to get there (so much so that I even managed to take a few photos before we dumped our bags everywhere)! It's clear from the guest book that people come back time and time again, which speaks volumes. It's the most perfect location, full of light, comfortable, and has the most beautiful views which really expand your space. We'd so love to go back again.
// A few more ideas for places to visit
I'll keep this brief as this has turned into a monster post! Other lovely places you could visit nearby (although quite frankly spending every day on Gwithian beach would be super lovely) are:
Godrevy lighthouse (some lovely coastal paths and the opportunity to see seals)
Mousehole (quaint fishing village with some lovely art galleries, combines well with Penzance for a day trip)
I hope that was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas for lovely places to visit in the area :)