Category: Wildlife

Newquay Wild Activities

“The minibus is buzzing with conversation as we drive the family group back to their hotel. As the youngest son gets out, he hugs the guide and says, ‘I want to be a marine biologist just like you.’”

We recently caught up with our friends from Newquay Wild Activities, who gave us a run down on their latest Rockpool Ramble on Fistral beach….

Image credit: David Kirwan

The day started when Liz picked them up three hours earlier from Watergate Bay. A lovely group down on holiday and booked with Newquay Wild Activities to experience a rockpool ramble. The van pick up means they can leave their cars in the car park and not worry about navigating the busy Newquay streets. They arrive at Esplanade Green overlooking the world famous South Fistral Beach.

Image credit: Neil Wilkinson

Here they meet their guides, two passionate locals who are as excited as the group to share and explore the rocky shore.

There are some amazing pools on South Fistral that contain a wondrous number of species – each with their own story to tell. Even the seaweed has some secrets to share, if you look close enough. A multitude of shells cling to them for security such as the iridescent blue ray limpet as does the beautiful Stalk Jellyfish.

Stalk Jellyfish by Ivan Underwood

Blue Rayed Limpet by Zeni Hayton

The group wander their way down towards the surf to look at the deeper pools and rocks covered in thousands of mussels and barnacles, always keeping an eye out for wildlife passing by in the bay. Crabs are discovered, fish swim by and shrimps come and play on their toes. Starfish of all types are found – they are incredible creatures that eat algae while clambering over rocks. Did you know they can lose a limb for an easy getaway if they are ever in danger?

Spiny Starfish and Cushion Star by Gwynnie Griffiths

As the tide exposes more rock, anemones begin to close to protect themselves while they wait for the protection of the water.

Anemone by Josh Symes

The group are enthusiastically hunting for more animals as Liz returns with their pasty and drink. A perfect spot to enjoy some sustenance before the slow meander back to the steps.

Amazingly, as they clamber their way off their beach, more wildlife is spotted – a Stone Chat just hanging out on the brambles!

Stone Chat by Josh Howells

There is so much to explore on Newquay’s shores. Liz and the group spend the drive back talking about everything they saw. The guides log all the wildlife information ready to send to the record centre which the group helped to collect (they are now citizen scientists!) and the guides get ready for their next group – this time… a Wildlife Walk around the headlands of Newquay to spot some of the bigger, more elusive wildlife.

Grey Seal by Adrian Langdon

Newquay Wild Activities is a brand-new Social Enterprise set up by Liz and Laura in 2022 – it stemmed from a decade in the marine conservation sector in Cornwall, a fabulous network of friends and colleagues and a yearning to show tourists and locals that Newquay has so much to offer.

Discover what lies beneath our rockpools and the wildlife that shares our shores. Book onto a Rockpool Ramble or a Wildlife Walk with mini-bus pickup included. Learn how to collect valuable scientific data that can help to inform conservation research and national policy. Explore the north Cornwall coastline with experts on hand to guide you.

For more information visit Newquay Wild Activities for the summer dates and activities. Including the spectacular night-time rambles – see what happens in the cover of darkness!

Anemone at nightAnemone by night, Josh Symes

Fascinating finds and foraging

Seeking samphire beside the estuary and seaweed in rocky pools. Julia Bird of seaweed pressers Molesworth & Bird and Caroline Davey of Fat Hen reveal stories of coastal discovery…

The oldest fossilised seaweed, discovered in 2020, was found in one-billion-year-old rocks in northern China, making seaweed millions of years older than the distant ancestors of our land plants. Today there are over 650 different species of seaweed around Britain’s coasts which have for centuries been a source of fascination for artists.

Anna Atkins’ British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, published as a serial between 1843 and 1853 is a collection of cyanotype prints of seaweed. This early form of photography using paper treated with a light-sensitive solution that turns blue on exposure to light is thought to be the first published book illustrated with photography.

For Julia Bird, a Victorian collection of pressed seaweeds discovered by her business partner Melanie Molesworth in an antique shop over 20 years ago was the beginning of her journey to start foraging for seaweed along the Cornish coast, aiming to capture its ephemeral beauty through pressing.

Image credit: Matt Austin

I’m a lifelong collector of nature really,” says Julia. “I’ve always collected whether it’s flowers or lichen or stones. And my whole life has been sort of sea orientated; I’ve always been a sea swimmer.”

“The fine beautiful samples that we choose to press need water to support their form, so you only notice them if you’re in the water. I’m fascinated by the beauty and variety.”

After moving to Cornwall in the early 2000s, Julia started experimenting with pressing seaweed she had foraged when out swimming. I started looking for seaweed and bringing it home and learning how to press, which of course back then there was nothing out there, you know, in those days. My first press was probably in 2004.”

Pressing ahead

After running a children’s shop in Fowey for 15 years, Melanie’s encouragement to start publishing her seaweed pressings finally came to fruition after Melanie moved, along with her collection of Victorian seaweed pressings, to Dorset. Discovering that the nine framed seaweeds in the collection were from the Dorset coast, the two long-term friends decided to team-up and created a calendar of prints from pressed seaweed for 2018.

And they haven’t looked back since. Molesworth and Bird can be found in Lyme Regis and online year round, and between April and the end of September in Fowey. Inside their shops hang limited edition prints and an ever-changing collection of unique pressed seaweed, gathered along the south west coastline.

Fascinating finds

“We can’t really see what’s beneath the sea surface. There’s a whole diverse and amazing world down there that we should all respect. Just walking along the beach you don’t see the beauty of seaweed because everything dries up really quickly,” says Julia.

Image credit: Matt Austin

“The fine beautiful samples that we choose to press need water to support their form, so you only notice them if you’re in the water. I’m fascinated by the beauty and variety,” says Julia. “And learning about what a superfood they are, how each species has its own combination of vitamins, minerals and proteins.”

For Julia, revealing the beauty of this “garden under the sea” has an important role to play in restoring and protecting it. “For me, it’s partly if you know there’s a beautiful world under there you can foster that respect and love we need to maintain it and look after it.”

Image credit: Matt Austin

Other water worlds

For Caroline Davey of Fat Hen, the wild cookery school, summer is all about the estuary and salt marshes. “This time of year is when marsh samphire is coming into season, that’s June to September. There’s also sea purslane, sea blight and sea arrowgrass, which is like coriander; these are all species that grow in estuaries and salt marshes.”

Image credit: The Fat Hen Cookery School

Caroline is running a number of coastal Fat Hen foraging courses this year, including a recent foraging walk along the coast path followed by a four-course lunch at the Gurnards Head near Zennor in west Cornwall, and a foraging walk, wild picnic and wild spa day near the Helford river on dates in June, July, September and October. All revealing hidden tastes and produce growing wild around the coastline.

She says it’s a time of abundance across the countryside beyond the sea: the plant fat hen – the vernacular name for chenopodium album – found across the country is in season, including its coastal relative spear-leaved orache, which can be used as a spinach alternative.

“I’ve just been picking hawthorn flowers and blossom for tea; they’ve been massively in bloom recently.”

In bloom

Caroline says wild cabbage – which grows on clifftops around the coast – is coming into flower now with the leaves and flowers able to be picked.

“And of course there’s plenty of flowers through the summer. The flowers of rosa rugosa or Japanese rose are absolutely fantastic. It’s not strictly wild: it’s planted as a coastal hedging plant and it escapes into the wild. You can also find black mustard flowers, sea radish flowers, sea cabbage flowers and elderflowers.

“I’ve just been picking hawthorn flowers and blossom for tea; they’ve been massively in bloom recently.”

And as the flowers fade, there are seeds to be scavenged. “Sea radish at some point soon will be forming seed pods and if you catch them early enough they’re like three or four bobbles in a row with the taste of a crunchy radish, perfect for scattering on salads.”

From estuary banks to clear blue pools, reveal fascinating finds along the coast.

Find your place by the sea, a walk from door to shore

Wild Cornwall – 5 places to spot wildlife

Summer is in the air and Cornwall’s coastline is teeming with birds and marine life…

Dolphins frolic in the bays, the call of seabirds echoes from the cliff ledges and seals hunt fish in the shallows, making it the perfect season for a wildlife walk.

Check out some of our favourite places to spot some of Cornwall’s eye-catching indigenous wildlife:


Dolphins are resident year-round in Cornwall and – despite December’s stormy weather – as soon as the sun popped it’s head out in early January, a pod of dolphins were spotted playing in the waters of Mount’s Bay. A stroll along the coastline from Marazion to Mousehole is magical in any season, and if you cross the causeway to St Michael’s Mount, the turrets of this sea-bound fortress make a fantastic vantage point to spot dolphins in the bay.

WALK: Marazion to Mousehole
VISIT: St Michael’s Mount
STAY: Mousehole Accommodation


Head to Godrevy’s National Trust car park and strike out to the headland that nudges the iconic lighthouse immortalised by Virginia Woolf. On the far side of the promontory at Navax Point, you can peer down to an inaccessible cove to witness a colony of seals basking on the sand and fishing in the shallows. Or, take a spin along Newquay’s shoreline, stopping to watch the fishing boats puttering in and out of the harbour, often trailed by the whiskered noses of inquisitive seals hoping to share their catch.

WALK: Newquay Bay
VISIT: Blue Reef Aquarium
STAY: Fistral beach Accommodation


Photo Credit Adrian Napper.

Park at the National Trust car park by Bedruthan Steps and take the walk from here to Porthcothan, listening out for the call of seabirds from the rugged cliff ledges. Bring a pair of binoculars and you might be able to spot skylarks, kestrels, buzzards and even the rare Cornish chough.

WALK: Bedruthan Steps to Porthcothan
VISIT: Carnewas Tearooms
STAY: Porthcothan Accommodation


owl pentire headland
Photo credit @djedge77 on Instagram.

First light is the perfect time for a peaceful stroll along Newquay’s wave-lashed Pentire Headland, from where you can see for miles along the coastline in both directions. As well as taking in the scenery, keep an eye out for the short-eared owl, often seen flying low on the hunt for small birds. Finish your walk with coffee at the stylish Lewinnick Lodge, where you might also be lucky enough to spot passing dolphins from your window table.

WALK: Pentire Headland, Newquay
VISIT: Lewnnick Lodge
STAY: Fistral Beach Accommodation


Photo Credit Adrian Napper.

A walk along the banks of The Gannel often provides welcome shelter from the coastal breeze on an early spring day. So it’s little wonder that up to 5,000 species of birds have been spotted here, sheltering from the harsh northern winters. Keep an eye out for the distinctive yellow feet of the Little Egret, a white heron with a long black beak that it uses to forage for worms as it wades along the mudflats at low tide.

WALK: The Gannel
VISIT: Fistral Beach, dubbed the UK’s surfing capital
STAY: Holywell Bay Accommodation

To find out more about Cornwall’s wildlife, bag a seat for the award-winning film, Wild Cornwall – Out on the Edge, showing in cinemas across Cornwall throughout February and March. Shot by wildlife enthusiast, Ian McCarthy, the film features Cornwall’s wildlife from peregrine falcons, dolphins and seals, to bats and otters.

Book your stay with Beach Retreats.