The first place that can be remotely described as a settlement, following the coast around from Lands End, is the tiny hamlet of Porthgwarra, with its lilliputian slipway and beach. Probably one of the most interesting features of this spot is the pair of tunnels carved through the rock. Some of the more fanciful theories about these tunnels involve smugglers, but in truth they were intended for use by the local farmers and fishermen; one of them dug by tin miners to give farmers access to the beach so that they could gather seaweed to use as fertiliser, and the other used by fishermen to reach their ‘hulleys’, or shellfish stores built into the rocks.
Porthgwarra is a haven for birdwatchers, with recorded sightings including choughs, yellow-browed and dusky warblers, stonechat, linnet, wheatear, snow bunting, and even black-browed albatross. Nearby Gwennap Head plays host to various shearwaters, skuas, petrels and whimbrels, with a colony of gannets nearby. Meanwhile, basking sharks can sometimes be seen out to sea, while for those looking for the ‘aah’ factor, there are grey seals to be seen on the rocks below the cliffs.
Map of the area.
photo © 2008 Jim Champion | more info (via: Wylio)