The beach at Porthcothan is backed by dunes and is popular with families, although care needs to be taken due to the strength of the currents. At low tide, when the beach expands in size considerably, the tide comes in rapidly. Facilities include a store, a car park with public toilets, and a surf school. Smuggling used to be rife here, and a reminder of those days remains in the form of Will’s Rock, a rock stack at the end of one of the headlands overlooking the beach. The story goes that smugglers left a man from the Revenue on the rock to drown in the rising tide. However the man, Will, survived to tell the tale. On the other side of the beach are some double rock stacks. One of these, known as Jan Leverton’s Island (I have been unable to find out why – answers on a postcard) used to be a single large rock with a pair of “windows” going through it, but the section containing the windows was knocked out by storm waves, leaving a stack on either side. There is also a collapsed cave with openings onto the beach and the end of the headland, big enough to scramble through at low tide. Nearby Park Head is the site of an Iron Age fort. Fans of Poldark may recognise the beach at Porthcothan, since it was used in the BBC production to represent Nampara Cove near Ross Poldark’s home.
There has been a battle brewing over the management of the beach at Porthcothan. Apparently in late 2014 some locals rerouted a stream in an attempt to protect the Porthcothan sand dunes. A noble cause one would suppose, but unfortunately they neglected to get permission from the Council or the Marine Management Organisation. This infuriated some of the other residents, who wanted to enlist the help of experts before wading in and taking action to manage the site. A salutary lesson for anyone tempted to take such matters into their own hands.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Tony Atkin, via Wikimedia Commons|