Cornish beaches: Porthtowan

The draw of the coast entices old and young to the county with the result that in the school holidays (Easter and the spring half-term and especially summer) the roads are choked, the car-parks full to capacity and the beaches brimming with human life. So it was with great pleasure that my Australian family came to visit during September and October as at last I was able to visit some of those beaches that are so popular, although St Ives still managed to prove very busy.

Porthtowan in September

Welcome to Porthtowan Beach. In the Cornish language Porth = port, harbour or bay and Towan = sand dunes. It lies on the north Cornish coast approximately 20 minutes drive from St Ives and not far from Redruth and Camborne. A popular spot for surfers, it has a couple of beach restaurants from where you can enjoy a cocktail whilst watching the sun go down, a pub and a surf shop. At low tide the beach stretches nearly 1.5 miles to the neighbouring and equally stunning beach at Chapel Porth and the cliffs below the iconic Wheal Coates engine house, though I have not managed to catch the tide at the right time to do that yet. The coastal path rises steeply on either side of the beach offering spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean.

The beach leading to Chapel Porth and the iconic Wheal Coates mine

The cliffs along here are suffering from erosion and there was a cliff fall not so long ago so you have to be careful when exploring the rock pools and caves below.

the beach and rockpools

The geology is fascinating, rocks rusty-red (iron?) and green (copper?) and sea smooth grey slabs threaded with white veins in stripes and swirls and squiggles.


There is a seasonal dog ban on the beach from Easter and October 1st between 8am and 7pm. Outside these hours and from October 1st to Easter, the beach is dog friendly. And believe me there are a lot of pooches in Cornwall!

Porthtowan in November


  1. Su Leslie says:

    Beautiful, beautiful images Jude. I especially love the rock shots. Geology is endlessly fascinating!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It certainly is. I was totally put of science at school. If only someone had told me about geology!

      1. Su Leslie says:

        I get that. I liked science at school, probably because I had a very cool, female science teacher. But we didn’t “do” geology. I discovered that because a boyfriend’s sister and her husband are geologists. I remember wandering around the local cliffs with her while she was doing fieldwork for her thesis. I learned so much in such a short time!

        1. Heyjude says:

          It is a fascinating subject.

        2. Su Leslie says:

          Yes; history on a huge scale.

  2. jennypellett says:

    Cocktails? 😀 not what I remember from childhood holidays 😄 thanks though for the stunning pics and a trip for me down memory lane😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      Porthtowan one of your childhood beaches? We only got as far as Bude.

      1. jennypellett says:

        Oh yes. The old Morris Traveller certainly got about 😊

  3. BeckyB says:

    Love beaches out of season, in fact i think that is the only time to visit them! And this one is stupendous – not sure I would be able to leave.

    PS Loving the squares again 😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      Especially when there is a good beach restaurant close by!

      1. BeckyB says:

        Even better 😀

  4. restlessjo says:

    Cracking header, Jude, and I love that last misty one. Good sworls and stuff too! 🙂 🙂 We were on the Blast Beach at Seaham yesterday and the combinations of colours and shapes is endlessly fascinating. Weekend wanders planned? Enjoy!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Lots of sunshine and showers and lots of wind this weekend and I am trying to rest the foot as it is still very painful after walking for half an hour.

      1. Lucid Gypsy says:

        What’s happened to your foot Jude?

        1. Heyjude says:

          Dunno Gilly, but perhaps time to find out (been like this since May), but constantly walking hasn’t helped.

      2. restlessjo says:

        What have you done to it- or is it the old injury? 4C here this morning- gulp! Nice and bright though, so I may persuade Mick to a little Headland jaunt later. It’s their Christmas festival this weekend. I fear snow is on the way. 😦

        1. Heyjude says:

          Different foot! And not the same problem. I shall have to visit the doctor, but don’t quite know what to say! Very wet and cold here today, think it will be a cosy one with a good book 🙂

  5. beetleypete says:

    I miss rock pools. We don’t really have them here, just the ones surrounding some of the flood defences, but that’s not the same. Love the geological shots too, a great mix of natural colours.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m very fond of rock pools, but not so good at clambering over them as I once was 😦

  6. Sue says:

    Good to see Wheal Coates….three decades nearly since I last saw it, and loved the very most,alliance inducing rock pools….

  7. Sue says:

    No, Nostalgia inducing….grrr predictive text

    1. Heyjude says:

      How on earth did it come up with that alternative? One day I will make it onto the beach to get a proper photo.

      1. Sue says:

        Not a clue….

  8. Peter B says:

    Beautiful photos! Love the geology textures. The crowded beaches and full parking lots sound just like here in S California! I didn’t know surfing was popular in your area.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Surfing is THE sport of Cornwall 😀

  9. Beautiful photos thanks for sharing!! Love all the different colours and patterns in the rocks!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you for visiting Emma.

  10. Tina Schell says:

    Gloriously beautiful Jude – especially loved your rock pools photos. Reminded me of our coast here in Maine.

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