As you follow twisty country lanes that seem to get narrower and narrower on your way to Porthcurno, you’ll realise that this beach is a little off the beaten track – but that’s all part of its charm. When you finally arrive, particularly if the sun has followed you, you’ll wonder if you’ve somehow left the UK and been transported to the Mediterranean. The sand at Porthcurno is pale and fine and the water is gorgeously blue, almost turquoise on a really good day. The bay is a deep groove in the coastline, giving it a sheltered feel that protects you from the wind. This is undoubtedly one of Cornwall’s prettiest beaches.
To get to the beach from the car park you follow a rocky path through gorse and boulders and this adds to the magic. On the sand there are no burger bars or cafes, just granite cliffs and rock pools – Porthcurno has, to a great extent, resisted the 21st century. Don’t panic, you’ll find a café back in the village (rumour has it the best cream teas in Cornwall are served here), so you don’t need to be self-sufficient on a day out here.
A walk in either direction from Porthcurno on the coast path will take you to equally beautifully but less well-visited beaches, including Porthgwarra, which means wooded cove in Cornish, and Treen, where clothes are optional! Getting to most of the tiny coves near Porthcurno requires a bit of a hike along overgrown paths and some only have sand at low tide, but if ‘getting away from it all’ is your goal for the day, it’s worth every pace.
Porthcurno is home to the world-famous outdoor Minack Theatre, above the beach on the cliff top. With an almost unbelievable history and incredible views, there’s nowhere like the Minack anywhere else in the country, and it’s well worth a visit – you don’t need to see a play there to explore it. The Minack is not the only reason Porthcurno is on the map -it may not be immediately obvious, but this tiny village was once one of the most strategically important sites in Britain for international communications; the first undersea cable was laid here in the 19th century, linking the mainland to the rest of the British Empire. The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum tells the story of communication from its infancy to modern times; you’ll never take your smartphone for granted again after a visit.
Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Old Cable Lane, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JX, Tel. 01736 810966
Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JU, Tel. 01736 810181