Why not explore the great bays of West Cornwall this year? The Peninsular here, boasts not one, but two magnificent bays. They’re set on either coast, yet almost within sight of each other: Mounts Bay and St Ives Bay.
These two beautiful, yet distinctly different bays on the south and north coast of the West Cornwall Peninsular, have a magical mix of sandy beaches, hidden coves, fishing harbours and costal walks.
Let’s start with the largest – Mounts Bay. I have to admit, as our home at Ednovean Farm looks out across this Bay towards St Michael’s Mount.
The coastline of Mounts bay stretches for 42 miles from The Lizard Point to Gwennap Head. Wild and rocky in places, with spectacular headlands that hide smugglers coves, sandy beaches and sheltered fishing villages.
Mounts Bay is the largest bay in Cornwall. It perfectly frames St Michael’s Mount and it’s comparatively sheltered from the Atlantic swells.
Mounts Bay wears her history well. Walk along the coastal footpath and the romantic ruins of the Engine Houses come into view half hidden in the wild flowers.
Towns and Villages around Mounts Bay
The former stannary town of Penzance is the largest town, set at the western end of Mounts Bay
This is a solid granite town, charmingly unspoilt. The main Market Jew Street is climbs between twin granite terraces presided over by a statue Humphrey Davey.
When visiting Penzance park on the harbour but walk over to the dry dock and take the Abbey slip up to find the well worn granite pavements of Chapel street. This part of Penzance is noted for the vernacular architecture, chic designer shops and bistros.
Yet the streets soon turns downhill again towards the harbour, almost as though it can’t bear to be too far from the sea. Read more about Penzance harbour.
For the evocative flavour of Victorian and Edwardian holidays, follow the broad promenade that tracks the sea nearly all the way into Newlyn.
But don’t forget to check out the rare Art Deco Lido or turn up towards Morrab garden for the paintings of the Penzance and Newlyn School at Penlee House.
Newlyn & Mousehole
Penzance is neighboured to the west, by the busy fishing port and fish market of Newlyn.
The daily catch still lands here, to supply the myriad of fish restaurants around the peninsular.
In the far western reaches of Mounts bay the picture postcard village of Mousehole. is just within walking distance. there’s a bus service back to Penzance.
The town clings to the shores of Mounts Bay with lovely views to St Michael’s Mount. It is the oldest chartered town in Cornwall with a well preserved medieval layout.
An ancient Market town Marazion is eastwards of Penzance.
The village square has a gaggle of tiny shops, art galleries and a museum to explore with pubs and cafes offering al fresco tables to tempt the weary. Beyond the square, the causeway beckons, winding across the sands to St Michael’s Mount at low tide or cobbled alleys lead to the boat landing stations at high tide.https://ednoveanfarm.co.uk/explore-west-cornwall/the-penwith-tour/
St Michael’s Mount
The romantic castle topped island of St Michael’s Mount has to be a highlight of a tour of Mounts bay. The former priory is now the fortified home of the St Albans Family and is now under the care of the National Trust. Read about our visit to St Michael’s Mount here
Visit the history steeped island fortress, to wander around the interior and to explore the extraordinary gardens. This year, to avoid overcrowding of the island, access will be controlled even to the harbour areas.
Access is by boat at high tide or a cobbled causeway when the sea permits. There is a stiff climb up the former pilgrims path to the battlements though, so ware very good shoes!
At the eastern end of Mounts Bay, the equally doughty Town of Porthleven clings even closer to the harbour.
The massively constructed harbour used prisoners from the Napoleonic wars. China clay and tin from nearby Tregonning, were exported along with boat building and fishing. The photo opposite (taken at sunset) shows the furthest pier with The Lizard Peninsular in the background.
Visit in the evening to watch the boats bob in the harbour and find supper in one of the gastro-restaurants. Each small but perfectly formed bistro, is presided over by a devoted chef patron wielding power in the kitchen.
Check out the Porthleven food festival this spring for a foodie delights April 22nd – 24th 2022.
Sandy beaches around Mounts Bay
The swathe of sands of Marazion Beach stretches all the way into Penzance. The beach is backed by sand dunes and marshes in places and the clatter of the railway line in others.
The beach between Marazion and Long Rock here is a particularly favourite spot for wind surfers.
The atmospheric group of smugglers coves that make up Prussia Cove. Discover tiny sandy inlets and caves hidden amongst the sheltering rocky outcrops here.
- Kings Cove
- Bessy’s Cove
- Piskies Cove
- Coules Cove
The next stop is Kennegy Beach which is only accessible at low tide (The nearest parking is at Prussia Cove)
Praa sands for an easily accessible beach though, although the more secluded beach at Rinsey around the point.
Porthleven to Loe Bar
Porthleven heralds the next steeply shelving stretch of sands that stretch for three miles, bestriding Loe Bar and culminating at Gunwalloe Cove. Be wary of Porthleven beach though! It has tricky currents and it shelves steeply. The fine grit mixed with the sand making it difficult to climb out of the sea!
Travel ever onwards and you will find the Polurrian cove and village of Mullion. With the fine sands of Pentreath beach (TR16 4PH) just before The Lizard Point.
The Lizard Point
The Lizard is the most southerly point in the United Kingdom, just beyond the Lizard village. And less commercialised than its counterpart at Land’s End.
The geological formation of The Lizard is unique within the British Isle. Here, part of the earths ocean crust, including upper layer of the mantel has drifted over the millennia. This attract worldwide studies by geologists.
The snap opposite was taken when walking down to Church Cove at The Lizard
The Lizard Heritage Centre
The Lizard Lighthouse was built in 1752 and it has guarded this spectacular but dangerous stretch of water ever since. Over the centuries the lighthouse has adopted the latest technology of each era. Visit the Lizard Lighthouse centre to learn more about this fascinating maritime history.
St Ives bay
This bay stretches from St Ives to the famous Light house at Godrevy Point beyond Hayle Towans.
St Ives Bay is filled with the most exquisite pale golden sands that extends out to sea and magnifies the light.
Towns around St Ives bay
The town of St Ives, with its narrow cobbled streets that wind up from the harbour is a popular highlight of Cornwall. So do expect to be not only close to, but encompassed by the madding crowd.
The glowing light of St Ives has drawn artist to this locale for centuries. Consequently these days, the sandy beaches set around the harbour, foodie bistros and designer shops are a magnet for visitors.
Hayle is waiting for its time to come again and stretches with sporadic development along a busy road from the harbour. It was once a thriving port but the silting up of Lelant Saltings changed its destiny and now it’s a perfect spot for bird watchers. Rosamunde Pilcher had a childhood home on the banks of the estuary.
Seek out the train that runs from nearby St Erth into St Ives. It follows the opposite bank for spectacular views of sea birds beaches and sea. Or follow the coastal path to explore the great swathe of sands of the tidal Lelant Saltings.
The Hayle harbour area is a subject for regeneration at the moment.
Beyond Hayle lay The Towans – the acres of sand dunes that flank the vast beaches of St Ives bay.
The Beaches of St Ives Bay
Beaches within St Ives
- St Ives itself boasts five beaches: –
- The Harbour,
- Porthwidden and
- Porthmeor and the almost hidden spots of
- Bamaluz and
- Lambeth Walk.
Walking to St Ives from Lelant
I must say my first sight of Godrevy beach was simply breath-taking, with pale silky soft sands stretching away as far as the eye could see and a hint of sea vapour hanging in the air from the surging waves.https://ednoveanfarm.co.uk/explore-west-cornwall/west-cornwall-beaches/simply-breathtaking-views-over-godrevy-and-gwinear-beach/
Beyond Hayle Harbour the sands stretch away once more. Choose from over three miles of golden Sands for a surfer’s paradise of crashing waves backed by dunes.
Finally the lighthouse made famous By Virginia Wolfs book “The lighthouse keeper” will come into view on a tiny island, below Godrevy Point.
Walk a little further to the National Trusts Mutton Cove – not strictly St Ives Bay but worth the detour to see the seals hauled out on the sands below.
The great bays of West Cornwall are just ready to be discovered for a holiday adventure and perfect to cherish if you are lucky enough to live here.