Cornish beaches: Portreath

Portreath is another sandy beach on the north coast of the county. Not too far from the towns of Redruth and Camborne it was once a busy port, importing coal and exporting copper to south Wales during the 18th and 19th centuries. Those days are long gone and now it is a quiet resort with only a couple of fishing boats remaining in the extremely narrow harbour.

It is popular with surfers and in particular body-boarders who turn up in force at high tide on big swells to surf the harbour wall, or Vortex as it is known.

Wave crashing over the pier

Some of the old tram roads have been converted into cycle tracks and it possible to cycle from Portreath on the north coast to Devoran on the south coast. The coastal path provides walks to the south to Bassetts Cove (2½ miles) and on to Godrevy (5 miles). North takes you to Porthtowan about 4 miles distant. Flowers carpet the cliffs during spring and summer with spring squill, thrift, dog violet and birds foot trefoil, bluebells, bladder and red campion providing a colourful and fragrant display.

The cliffs in the area are made up of slate and sandstone and are subject to erosion, so care should be taken when walking the coastal path; there have been numerous cliff falls during 2017.

Like many of the cliffs around this coast, there are lots of caves, scoured out daily by the incoming tides. Warning signs at the base of the cliffs advise you to keep your distance. I certainly wouldn’t want to own these dwellings, perched where they are.

My Australian family stayed here during their recent trip to Cornwall. A short stroll on to the sand to the south of the stream which flows out to sea here and lovely views north. Caves to explore and rock pools to paddle in. And only a 20 minute drive from where I live.

The big rock off the coast is known as Gull Rock, but this is no surprise as there are many similar rocks off the Cornish coast with the same name.

As usual, while other people swim or surf or paddle in the sea, I wander around the rock pools with my camera seeking unusual colours, seams and swirls. The patterns of the rocks never fail to please me and I have to remember to keep my eye on the incoming tide so I am not cut off. Scrambling up these cliffs would be no mean feat.

The daymark on top of North Cliff at Portreath is known locally as the Pepperpot. It was built as a sign to passing shipping so they knew where they were. It was built in 1846 and also used as a coastguard lookout.

Daymarker at the top of Lighthouse Road and the rebuilt ‘Monkey Hut’ on the pier showing how dangerous entry in to this harbour is.

Unlike many of the resorts along this coast, Portreath is a quiet and modest resort quite unlike the more popular neighbours of St Ives and Padstow. There are a few beach shops and cafés and the car park is right next to the beach, so no long walk or cliff face to deal with before hitting the sand and there is a bus stop with buses to Redruth and Troon.

The beach is cleaned daily during the season and dogs are not allowed on the beach from Easter Day to 1st October each year.


  1. Peter Klopp says:

    Lovely photos, especially those of the rugged coast! You live in a beautiful country. Happy New Year!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Peter.

  2. Edgy living along this coast. You give a great sense of what this beach offers, and what it looks like. I can see we’re in for many treats as you indulge your liking for the seaside.

    1. Heyjude says:

      One good thing about having the family over was visiting the local beaches.

    2. Sue says:

      I agree, Meg!

  3. PS Love the header. Will that always mark the beach posts?

    1. Heyjude says:

      There’s a thought.

  4. Such beautiful photos. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Lynette, of course it is not difficult when the landscape is so beautiful.

  5. BeckyB says:

    Beautiful Jude, so very beautiful. You are so lucky to live in such a wonderful part of England

    1. Heyjude says:

      My aim (it might take me many years) is to visit as many beaches as I can – some are not accessible for me now, too many steps, or too steep a descent/ascent. And I try to avoid the school holidays!!

      1. BeckyB says:

        That’s some goal! Shame you don’t like sailing as you’d get round them quickly that way.

        1. Heyjude says:

          If I was 20 years younger I’d consider learning to kayak. That looks like fun. I’m afraid I’d get stuck now!!

  6. beetleypete says:

    Another lovely feature, on one of the less commercialised parts of your county.
    You always manage to find something interesting on the beach, and in the rock pools.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I am slowly working my way up the coast Pete. Cornwall has over 150 beaches apparently, so it might take me while 🙂

      1. beetleypete says:

        One a day, less than six months! x 🙂 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          You have to remember that I am a fair weather traveller Pete. And avoid school holidays… so I think it might be a bit longer!

  7. Dina says:

    Absolutely lovely impressions, Jude. The coastline of Cornwall is so different to the one in North Norfolk and obviously “your” coast offers more opportunities for great waves and drama – in case you decide to go out with your camera in stormy weather. 😉

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! to you all from
    Dina-Hanne, Klausbernd, Siri and Selma xxxx

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think that is the reason why I love this county, so many nooks and crannies. But my camera is not waterproof so I won’t be out in any storms!

  8. Sue says:

    When I was a child, I loved exploring the caves on the Cornish beaches – but looks like that would not be something to do now

    1. Heyjude says:

      I don’t know about that, my family were quite keen on going in one or two!

      1. Sue says:

        …and if I was fitter, I would be there!

  9. restlessjo says:

    My kind of place! Now I could live here. Though not quite that close to the cliffs 🙂 🙂 And it’s another Meg pleaser post. For myself I love those rolling sea shots. Superb 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I like the sea shots too. I will return here and get closer to the harbour section, though the cliff near the Pepperpot has collapsed so I’m not sure how close I can get to that.

      1. restlessjo says:

        Wear a hard hat! 🙂 🙂

  10. Joanne Sisco says:

    So beautiful! You had me hooked at the first photo with that dark ominous sky against the green-blue water.

    1. Heyjude says:

      One of those autumn days when you weren’t quite sure if it would rain or not.

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