Cornwall Beach Guide

Porthleven Sands Report

Thanks to Paul for this report on Porthleven Sands.
The beach is actually just short of 3 miles and is a sand and shingle mix. The east end at Gunwalloe Fishing Cove has eroded in recent years due to sand movement and taking of shingle for building blocks. What's left is ending up on the Loe Bar and this is slowly growing. I confess never to have swam at Gunwalloe and have been told that it is dangerous there, but you may find a local to argue this. We do though never swim directly off the bar and as a good rule of thumb swim between the confines of the sea wall which stretches a 1/4 mile from "Sand Hill" near the pier a to a little way after "Blue Buoy" steps. These are also the main access points to the beach. It does shelve steeply compared to sandy beaches and we call this the "ditch" or "truck" but once you know about this, it is fine. As the beach is so wide we do not get the currents or rips as in the coves like Gunwalloe Church Cove or Poldhu Cove where the water is squeezed in. But If there is a ground sea running, then there can be a heavy shore break which is off putting and can be dangerous and not safe to enter. But these conditions can effect all beaches. Because the beach shelves steeply it does not get the rolling waves surf waves but this shore break. So it is no good as a beach break for surfing/body boarding. What does make it good for swimming is that one is only a few metres off shore and swimming and within close reach of any person on the beach. Without wading out a long way for a swim.
Finally the local Kerrier Council are operating Life guard service during the school holiday period which commenced last year and will do again this year. Their hut is based at Blue Buoy Steps. The also operate a red flag system if it is dangerous to swim. This stays up during the winter and is supposedly raised and lowered dependant upon conditions during early and late summer, but it is erratic and we all rely on our own knowledge (30+ years swimming on the beach in my case). Facilities here are nil, except for a toilet by the pier. Food and drink to come from the village.