The area around the small seaside village of Porthtowan used to be alive with the sound of mining, dominated by the Wheal Towan copper mine. The mine is said to have brought its owner Ralph Allen Daniell of Trelissick the equivalent today of £10,000 a week, making him the JR Ewing of Cornwall. The old tramways that used to be used to transport the copper and tin ores to the harbours of Portreath and St Agnes are being converted into paths for cyclists and walkers. Porthtowan’s huge sandy beach drew hordes of Victorian visitors from the inland towns of Redruth and Camborne, and it remains a popular beachgoing resort to this day. Known for its powerful swell, creating dramatic ‘hollow’ waves, it is a magnet for the more serious brand of surfers. The beach has Blue Flag status, and there is a range of places to eat and drink.
Portreath’s narrow harbour was once used for trading with Wales, importing Welsh coal and exporting copper to Swansea for smelting, but the only economic activity nowadays is fishing. The sandy beach, with its stream running down to the sea, is popular with families and surfers and bodyboarders alike. Portreath offers some unique conditions for bodyboarding with The Vortex, a right hand reef break which peels off the harbour wall – strictly for experienced bodyboarders only. There is a small selection of places to eat and drink, and a range of holiday accommodation, as well as leisure facilities such as squash and outdoor bowls. One of the tramways which used to be used for transporting ore from the mines has been made into a coast to coast cycle path called the Mineral Tramways Coast to Coast, heading inland from Portreath to Devoran on the south coast. Walkers who fancy a challenge can take the sometimes strenuous coastal path leading in a southwesterly direction to Bassets Cove.
Map of the area.
|Portreath. Photo by Tony Atkin, via Wikimedia Commons|