Do explore Porthgwarra! It is a charming fishing cove and hamlet within walking distance of Land’s End, yet a word away from the buzz of a major tourist destination.
Porthgwarra has two distincly diffferent coves
Porthgwarra is a little bit of a Cinderella story, with one glamorous sandy cove hugged by the honeyed sculptural cliffs of Carn Scathe. and concealed beyond the carn a twin sister, with a stream lazily trickling into a secluded rocky cove. As you can imagine it was the alluring sandy cove that featured in the famous skinny dipping scene in Poldark!
The tunnels that shaped the future of Porthgwarra Cove
A major feature that has shaped the development of Porthgwarra has to be the twin tunnels that access and join the coves. The tunnels were dug by the miners from St Just in about 1880 at just about the same time that the slipway was established. They served a two-fold purpose to enable fishermen to land fish in varying sea conditions and for famers to retrieve seaweed from the beach to fertilise the fields.
The Ullies of Porthgwarra – a glimpse back in time
Look out for the Porthgwarra “Ullies” or fish storage tanks in the eastern cove. The fishermen would have carried their shellfish catch through the shorter tunnel in wicker baskets or Maunes to store until market day. The Ullies are a scheduled Ancient Monument
Our visit to Porthgwarra
To discover the first glimpse of the sea lapping the sands of Porthgwarra, glimpsed through the tunnel, is to be enchanted by this remarkable spot.
As I walked down to the glittering cove, the light caught the contours of the roof above me casting shimmering shadows. Be careful on damp days though, granite can be slippery and there are two ropes pinned to the walls for safety!
I’ll meet you there – Circling the cove
This adventure led to Charles and I circled the cove via the slipway and the tunnel and never quite catching up with each other. (But Charles got some great photos of the cove while he waited!)
Finally we were reunited in the perfectly silent cove. With a glossy sea barely moving at high tide, we had the perfect spot to watch the seals play and the seabirds’ fish.
Very occasionally a visitor would arrive and spend a few minutes there but in truth, most of them were in the café above us, pouring over ordinance survey maps with restorative cream teas!
A low stone white washed building houses a seasonal cafe that serves substantial sandwiches pasties and cream teas. take away or sit in the sheltered tea garden set the car park and the cove.
There is a grass car park (£4) Collect a ticket as you drive in from the cafe – to save a walk!
Walking from Porthgwarra Cove
The coastal footpath that transported all of those cream tea eating walkers’ I saw earlier, climbs to the east and west above the cove. Charles claimed “A knee” so I clambered up to walk a little way to the east.
Should you walk westwards towards Land’s End for about 45 minutes, you will discover the cove of Nanjizal. This cove was sandy in the 60’s and is famous for the sea cave “The song of the sea”.
- Fishing started in Elizabethan times from Porthgwarra. But it was not until the middle of the 19th Century that a community began to form around the cove.
- In 1880 the steep granite slipway was constructed and the twin tunnels were also dug around that time by the miners of St Just.
Directions to Porthgwarra TR19 6JR
- From the A 30 Penzance – Land’s End
- Turn left on to the B3315 through St Buryan
- Continue passed the Porthcurno turn off to Polgigga
- Turn left on to the single track road – signed Porthgwarra!