Cornish beaches: Holywell Beach

One of Holywell Bay’s most distinctive features are the twin rocks just of the coast. These two huge rocks are known as Gull Rocks or Carter’s Rocks. Those of you who watch the TV series ‘Poldark’ may recognise these images. Holywell beach is owned by the Warleggans .

The name Holywell is derived from holy well and it is believed this refers to a cave at the northern end of the beach. Only accessible at low tide (so take care) the cave contains an unusual rock formation which creates a series of basins with its calcium deposits, also at low tide a wreck of an old Argentinian coaster can be seen just offshore.

I went here towards the middle of July shortly before the schools broke up for the summer. When that happens it becomes silly season in Cornwall with roads, beaches and car-parks full to bursting. But on this evening it was reasonably quiet, with just a few people amongst the dunes, some of which rise up 60 feet,  a romantic spot to watch the sun set over the sea. Nippers were having a surf lesson and members of the Holywell Bay Surf Life Saving Club appeared to be enjoying a social get together.

In 2002 the club hut was turned into a film set for the James Bond film ‘Die another day’ unfortunately Pierce Bronson did not actually come out of the water, it was a stand in, but viewers at the cinema still think that Holywell Bay is Hawaii!

It is a perfect example of the north coast’s wide open bays, though the sand is a rougher texture than those further to the south. Behind the beach are tall sand dunes topped with Marram grass and Sea Holly. They are pretty tough on the calves to walk up, but you do get a nice view from the top. Access to the beach is either through the crystal clear stream or over the small bridge. There is summer lifeguard cover (19 May–30 September) and the beach is dog friendly all year round. It is a bit of a walk from the NT car park and that is the only place where toilets are located. There is a pub close to the car park, but be warned it does get busy. Close by is a golf course and a holiday park.

Oh, and bear this warning in mind if visiting during the summer months. Especially if you head off along the coastal path towards Polly Joke and Crantock over the headland.


  1. Ali says:

    Such lovely textures of rock and sand and marram grass! Lovely post.

  2. Beautiful photos! I will look for those twin rocks when Poldark starts here next week.

  3. Gorgeous coast! Beautiful country!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  4. By the way: I hadn’t heard of marram grass, so I looked it up. You’re fortunate that it’s native where you are. Here’s what Wikipedia says about some other places: “Ammophila builds coastal sand dunes and thus stabilizes the sand. For this reason, the plants have been introduced far from their native range. Alfred Wiedemann writes that Ammophila arenaria “has been introduced into virtually every British colonial settlement within its latitudinal tolerance range, including southeast and southwest Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Falkland Islands, and Norfolk Island and has been reported from Argentina and Chile.” Ammophila species were introduced in the late 19th century on the Pacific coast of North America as well, and massive, intentional plantings were continued at least through 1960. In essentially all of the locations where they have been introduced, Ammophila plants are now listed as invasive, and costly efforts are underway to eradicate them.”

    1. Heyjude says:

      It certainly keeps our sand dunes in place!

  5. Your photograph of sea holly reminded me of the comments we exchanged in 2015 with respect to the Eryngium species that grows in Austin:

    (Has it really been three years already since then?)

    1. Heyjude says:

      Frightening how fast time goes by.

  6. restlessjo says:

    That first shot is gorgeous! 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I will have to do the circular walk from here to Polly Joke now that it is quieter. Although I might wait until these storms have passed.

      1. restlessjo says:

        Looking very wet down your way from the forecast. Nearly hibernate time. 😦 😦

        1. Heyjude says:

          Feeling very bored and depressed today. 😦

        2. restlessjo says:

          Come help me sort cupboards. You’ll be astounded 😃😃😃

        3. Heyjude says:

          I wouldn’t actually mind doing that.

        4. restlessjo says:

          Just ditched a silver Christmas tree that cost us 12 and 6! Scandalous 🙂 🙂

        5. Heyjude says:

          Hahaha… are you in the loft now?

        6. restlessjo says:

          Loft’s been emptied. No longer have a tidy house. 🙂 🙂

        7. Heyjude says:

          Oh, yes, I know that one. Boxes everywhere and piles of stuff, bin bags. Dust. We have to empty the conservatory tomorrow so my house will look like a tip again for a week or two.

        8. restlessjo says:

          Oh, joy! 🙂 🙂 Retreat to quiet corner, or plan an outing? Or three!

        9. Heyjude says:

          Can’t really go out with builders on site, but the dining hall may be a good place to hang out. Get to know my new laptop…

  7. Lignum Draco says:

    It sounds like a nice beach to visit, at least when there aren’t Adders and crowds around.

  8. mickscogs says:

    What a beautiful place. And snakes! England has venomous snakes too. We really cop it in Australia for our snakes. You just have to keep your eyes open. They’re more scared of you.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Snakes and spiders in Oz are rather off-putting. I think I’d prefer New Zealand 😀

      1. mickscogs says:

        There are quite a number of them, they are mostly harmless. New Zealand has earthquakes. I’d never of liquefaction before the Christchurch quake. Horrid.

        1. Heyjude says:

          True. I hadn’t thought about the earthquakes.

  9. Wow, those adders are rather striking (no pun intended). Not that I’d like to meet one at close range but their markings are incredible! I didn’t know the UK had any venomous snakes to be honest.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have yet to come across one, but no doubt, one day…

      1. Eek. Hopefully not Jude. Fingers crossed 🙂

  10. It’s the time of year when snakes start coming out here on a sunny day – really have to watch out down by the coastal paths in early spring. We have seen a few in recent years (but none previously in all the years we’ve lived here). Think it’s got something to do with their habitat being disturbed by all the building work that goes on along the coast.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s a shame that we (Humans) don’t really take into consideration the affect we are having on the natural world.

      1. Exactly Jude – it must have an effect. I think the building work disturbs rodents who then have to “relocate” and where there are rats and mice you find snakes. Anyway we will be keeping a close watch when we are down by the coastal paths as they live in the scrub round the dunes. I walked right by one last year – fortunately had no idea until Monsieur told me (he was right behind with the dog!) So lucky I didn’t tread on it!!

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