12 Aug Secret Porthtowan
By Mahala Smith
Porthtowan is the perfect place to head this summer, with a beautiful beach and stunning scenery. It may be one of Cornwall’s most well-known beaches, yet it has a few unknown spots. It can get busy, of course, because everyone enjoys aday at the seaside!
Like most beaches, Porthtowan is great for the kids; there’s wet sand for making sandcastles, and dry sand and dunes to roll around on. And if they get bored playing on the sand, there are countless rocks to climb and rockpools to explore. But not many people know about one of Porthtowan’s best features: The Mermaid Pool.
This secret mini lagoon is a man-made tidal pool, tucked away under the cliffs with the clearest water and the most beautiful location. You can swim freely, rock jump (but be careful, watch where locals are jumping and check it’s deep enough), explore the caves and enjoy the fascinating setting. To get to the pool, walk down towards the sea on the beach itself, then clamber over the rocks to the right side as you look out to sea until you eventually see a straight concrete wall, slightly hidden behind more rocks. You’ll probably hear others playing in the water before you see them. There used to be cliffside steps down to the pool from the cliff path but this is not a recommended route as most of the steps have been damaged or completely washed away. The pool is only accessible at low tide, check tide times and don’t get cut off.
As well as the stunning tidal pool, low tide at Porthtowan offers a spectacular walk along the whole mile-long stretch to Chapel Porth. Once you’re certain the tide is right you can embark on a walk all the way to the next beach, with the sand between your toes! And if you’re up for a circular walk, you can head back to Porthtowan via the coast path (maybe after a famous hedgehog ice cream from Chapel Porth Beach Café).
There’s also a beautiful coast path walk to the West of Porthtowan, going past lots of pretty coves. It will take a couple of hours to reach Portreath, the next beach in that direction. The coastal walks are great for dogs, particularly in the summer period when they’re banned on the beach (although be careful to keep dogs on leads near the cliffs as even the best trained dogs have been known to chase birds that appear suddenly).
As well as walks, there are plenty of thing to do in this busy beachside village. You can head to the playground, or simply have a delicious lunch at one of the many cafes. Blue Bar is the most well-known, but there’s also the Porthtowan Beach Café and fabulous ice creams from the Moomaid of Zennor.
The Mount Pleasant Eco Park is also nearby, a sustainable mix of businesses and camping with a vegetarian and vegan café which hosts local events, including live music and workshops. Throughout the year they hold everything from sustainability meetings and weddings to Reggae Roasts on Sundays and in early summer it’s home to the Tropical Pressure festival, a spectacular weekend of music and food!