St Agnes Head and Porthtowan Beach

Day one of my holiday in Cornwall and I awoke to brilliant sunshine spilling into my bedroom. My bedroom view overlooks the Porthtowan coastline and I could already spy surfers going off to meet the morning waves. Fortunately the rain, which had been forecast to encompass the whole day, was now not set to appear until later in the afternoon. That gave us all enough time for a nice morning walk to St Agnes Head, just a few miles up the coastline.

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The Porthtowan Coast

So at ten in the morning all eight of us set off, dog and coats in hand. The walk itself was very simple, we just followed the coastal path, though it did mean having to trudge upwards on occasion. Though there was nothing really physically exerting or dangerous. The weather stayed true, with sun shinning down on us throughout the walk, though not without a fair bit of cloud cover and wind to ensure the day didn’t get too hot. The whole coastline is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, a World Heritage Site, so the area is dotted with abandoned tin mines, one of the great hallmarks of Britain’s industrial history. The cliffs themselves are consumed with beautiful bright colours, emitting from the countless species of heather that grow here (though watch out for the gorse).

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The long Coastal Path to Chapel Porth

We stopped off halfway at Chapel Porth Beach, home to the world Belly Board Championship, where I helped myself to nice creamy hot chocolate and a special ‘fox’ ice cream (essentially vanilla ice cream and Cornish clotted cream covered in flapjack crumbs), which was all very tasty :).

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Chapel Porth Beach at low tide

Chapel Porth itself is named after the old St Agnes chapel, once located on the nearby cliff tops. Local legend has it that a tyrannical giant named Bolster fell in love with the beautiful St Agnes. Agnes proclaimed that in order to prove his love for her, he had to fill a hole in clifftops with his blood. Poor Bolster of course died from blood loss and the land was finally freed of the fearsome giant. The legend is now reacted every year in St Agnes on May 1st or ‘Bolster Day’, with the use of giant puppets to represent the characters.

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The view along the length of Chapel Porth Beach

After that ice cream, I had to work off some of those calories, so we continued up the coastal path to Wheal Coates Tin Mine, which originally opened in 1803 but was shut down in 1889. We explored around the shell of the old engine house and had a lot of fun dropping pebbles down the adjacent 600 foot mine shaft.

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The Wheal Coates Engine House
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Wheal Coates Tin Mine

Moving along we finally reached St Agnes Head and took some more photos of the absolutely stunning coastline, before turning around and heading back to Porthtowan. In all, St Agnes Head was a nice, easy three hour walk with some absolutely amazing scenery.

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Dad on St Agnes Head
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St Anges Head
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Coming back the way we came, I stopped for a last look at the coastline and the tin mines

After a cup of tea, some of us decided to wonder down to Porthtowan Beach.

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Porthtowan Beach

Porthtowan Beach is a blue flag beach and is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. When we got there the tide was coming in and surfers were still zooming among the waves, however the weather was also drawing  in and rain clouds were brewing. So I took my photos and then bid a hasty retreat  back to the cottage. Made it just in time too, as the rain soon started to fall as soon as I closed the door and (looking out my window now) so far; it hasn’t stopped.

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Even on a cloudy September day the surfers keep the beach busy

Thus concludes my tale, if you enjoyed this story feel free to write in the comments, or leave a like and thanks for reading.

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3 Comments

    1. One day perhaps but the cliffs in Cornwall are made of resistant rocks, meaning they erode at a much slower rate than cliffs in, for example, the Isle of Wight or Holderness. So these mines should be around for at least a few centuries

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  1. I have a couple of friends who love this area, including Jude at Travel Words (you’ll have seen on my blog) and Richard at A Bit of Culture. (he’s in my Six word Saturday comments I’m pretty sure) Give them a shout if you like. I’m sure they’ll return your visit. Jude usually visits new walkers she’s not familiar with, but her blog’s really busy at the minute.
    It does look pretty 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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