The summer holidays are fast approaching and with many of us about to embark on a “staycation” we consider the question, ‘What is Britain’s best beach?’. Porthcurno, situated in Cornwall just a few miles to the east of Land’s End, must be close to the top of the list. This historic and virtually unspoiled location plays host to dolphins and basking sharks during the summer months. With its crystal azure water set against golden sands, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were abroad. Locals insist that this area enjoys a ‘micro-climate’ and with shelter in its ‘lagoon like’ bay, the sun lights up the coastline on what is a jewel in Cornwall’s ‘crown’.
This is indeed is an idyllic setting but the tranquillity masks an illustrious past as Porthcurno enjoyed fame towards the end of the nineteenth century as its quiet shores became the site for Britain’s telegraph links to the rest of the world. The strategic importance of Porthcurno continued through the twentieth century and it is strange to think that such a beautiful location could be fortified with flame throwers but these precautions were implemented during the Second World War. Today, with the flame throwers long gone, visitors can explore and learn more at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. With nearby Sennen Cove and the exquisite St Ives a short drive to the north, this part of south west Cornwall is a delight and has much to offer inquisitive guests.
With its stunning bay surrounded by jagged cliffs, Porthcurno is also the home to the Minack Theatre. Carved into the cliffs this outdoor amphitheatre was the vision of Rowena Cade whose dedication has left us with one of the most amazing theatres in the country. Productions run throughout the summer and there truly cannot be a more fascinating backdrop to watch plays such as ‘The Tempest’ or ‘A Mid-summers Night’s Dream’. If you do not intend to take in a show, then a visit during the day is still worthwhile in order to appreciate this unique cultural treasure. The view across the bay is inspiring in itself. The walk from the top of the Minack across the beach and over the cliff’s to Logan Rock is breathtaking. If you are lucky you will spot dolphins playing in the bay or maybe lumbering basking sharks as they pass Cornwall on mass during their migratory trail in early summer. If this sounds like too much hard work, then there is of course the beach.
Owned by the National Trust the beach at Porthcurno is timeless. On a recent visit I over-heard an American visitor say, “I have been to Tahiti and I have never seen water this blue”. There is a sapphire quality to the water which is transfixing. The retreat of the tide lightens the blue vista even more giving it an almost tropical like appearance. The beach itself is lifeguarded throughout the summer and is sheltered on both sides by rising cliffs. This is certainly not the Pacific but it is a beautiful example of the British coastline at its best. We should be proud of our heritage and remember that Britain has a lot to offer and has beaches to rival any in the world.