Gwithian, Cornwall

Gwithian beach with Godrevy lighthouse, Cornwall, UK
Gwithian beach with Godrevy lighthouse, Cornwall, UK

This week we had problems getting online to research a new destination, as the weather was really bad, so we decided that as most of the holidaymakers would have gone home, it was about time we indulged ourselves with a visit to the Cornish seaside. With no real idea how good or bad the weather was predicted to be we decided to go to Gwithian as the area is full of things that make us happy and we really like it there. It has a long sandy beach – admittedly we can’t use most of the beach until 30th September, Godrevy lighthouse – with a seal colony, the South West coast path and sand dunes. It’s better not to get rained on but even with the rain, we can still guarantee we’ll enjoy ourselves.

We spent three nights on a CL site just two minutes walk from the sand dunes, which lead Gwithian beach. The weather when we arrived was blue skies and fluffy white clouds, so we quickly got ourselves settled and headed straight for the dunes. This particular set of dunes isn’t huge or overly pretty as it is beside a holiday park and is used by everyone there to get to the beach or walk their dogs, so it is somewhat trampled and there is dog mess everywhere. It is only a short walk however before you get to the coast path and the beach. On clear days you can see all the way to St. Ives (which you can walk to along the coast path), in one direction and Godrevy lighthouse in the other.

Godrevy lighthouse from the sand dunes of Gwithian, Cornwall, UK
Godrevy lighthouse from the sand dunes of Gwithian, Cornwall, UK

For this first walk, we just gloried in being beside the sea and being able to let the dogs run around in the dunes. Nik did take a few pictures of the lighthouse while the light was good but other than that we just enjoyed the moment and managed to wander around a fairly small area for a good two hours before heading back to Daisy feeling totally at peace with our world.

Thursday

We awoke to quite a rainy day so decided to take it easy and wander along the coast to Godrevy Lighthouse. We couldn’t walk along the beach as dogs are banned before 7 pm so we followed along the edge as much as we could before having to cross the Red River, which runs into the sea just before you get to Godrevy Café and the National Trust car park. Here we picked up the coast path again and followed along until we reached the car park that is opposite the lighthouse before the rain became so heavy that we decided to turn back.

Godrevy lighthouse, St Ives bay, Cornwall.
Godrevy lighthouse, St Ives bay, Cornwall.

Godrevy Lighthouse stands approximately 300 metres off Godrevy Head. Built-in 1859 on Godrevy Island in St. Ives Bay, it marks the Stones reef, which has been a hazard to shipping for centuries.

There is a resident colony of grey seals at Godrevy, with about 30 of them staying all year around and another 30 that often visit. It is estimated that about 200 visits during the course of the year and it’s possible to see them most days in Mutton Cove from above the car park at Godrevy Head.

By late afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through the clouds so we took the dogs for their walk, this time we walked along the coast path towards St. Ives. We walked about a mile until we came to Gwithian Towans, which are the sand dunes behind Gwithian beach. As the weather was pretty windy and the sun was only peeking out from the clouds occasionally, this was the perfect place for playing with two bouncy dogs for a couple of hours.

Southwest coast path at Gwithian, Cornwall, UK
Southwest coast path at Gwithian, Cornwall, UK

The sand dunes known collectively as The Towans, are 3 miles of coastal sand dunes stretching from Gwithian to Hayle and have quite a history. Gwithian Towans, the closer dunes to Godrevy lighthouse, cover the site of a Bronze Age farm, which although it has been excavated, sadly have no visible remains.

Friday

Today we followed the coast path towards St. Ives until we reached the point just beside the lifeguard hut. At this point, we decided to head inland a bit and explore the dunes known as Upton Towans. Owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Upton Towans is a habitat of sand dune and grassland suited to a variety of plants and wildlife. This includes the glowworm, blue butterfly, skylark and the pyramidal orchid.

Upton Towans was previously known as Great Towan and contained an arable farm known as Upton Barton. Sometime after 1650, the farmhouse was buried overnight by sand and the remains have not been seen since the winter of 1808.

Remains of a National Explosives Works building in the sand dunes at Upton Towans, Gwithian, Cornwall, UK
Remains of a National Explosives Works building in the sand dunes at Upton Towans, Gwithian, Cornwall, UK

In 1888 Upton Towans was the site of the National Explosive Works which supplied explosives to local mines. The dunes were flattened and small enclosures were made for individual buildings to manufacture explosives. They were built this way to avoid a chain reaction when an explosion occurred. The ruins of these buildings can be clearly seen today.

After exploring a couple of the old explosive buildings we found ourselves a cosy spot in one of the dunes to have lunch before making our way to Gwithian beach as we had now reached the part of the beach that dogs are allowed onto.

Gwithian to Hayle beach, Cornwall, UK
Gwithian to Hayle beach, Cornwall, UK

Gwithian beach is roughly 2.5miles of golden sands backed by the Towans sand dunes. Dogs are welcome on the beach, but between the 1st May and the 30th September, they are banned between Red River and Ceres Rock between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm. Access the part of the beach that dogs are allowed on used to be a flight of stairs beside the lifeguard hut at Upton Towans, as these are damaged you are now allowed to lead your dogs along the top of the banned area to access the correct part of the beach.

Oscar and Ella enjoying the beach
Oscar and Ella enjoying the beach

The tide was quite a way out and the sun was shining so we all had a lovely long walk beside the sea, with Nik taking photo’s of windsurfers and the rest of us running, splashing and playing ball before heading back to Daisy for tea.

We had sunk into the grass during our stay so had to get the grip mats out and do a bit of rocking and rolling to free Daisy from the grass. It’s starting to get a little dodgy parking in nicely mown fields now, which means I’m going to be limited in finding sites for the rest of the season. Hey ho!

For more blogs about our adventures, click HERE

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