My vision of the perfect beach has changed since motherhood. Gone is a Maldivian reverie of deserted white sand, glamorous bikinis, searing heat and reef diving. My idyll now comprises toilets, sandcastle-suitable sand, good coffee and rock pools. Rock pools are Cornish beaches USP. We have fantastic tidal reach here which means surreal temporary worlds are created and revealed twice a day. Rock pools are a fascinating, undaunting way for children to engage with the sea.
To develop our definitive guide to beaches I asked our children’s opinions on their favourite local beaches over a typically chaotic teatime, and I’ve included our thoughts on ones which are particularly suitable for toddlers (and their parents). The first four are south coast beaches, which are more sheltered and so more clement for little ones.
The lovely Polkerris is close (20 minutes drive from Tredethick), busy and facilitied-up. There’s a sandy, sheltered beach, public toilets, Sam’s on the Beach for delicious meals and a Prosecco snifter, a harbour wall to walk along and even jump off when the tide’s in. In the summer Sam’s campavans arrive with barbecue fayre and excellent cocktails. The beach shop has a good range of beach toys and clothing and you can book for wind-surfing and sailing too. There’s car parking although be prepared for a five minute walk down to the beach from here.
Our favourite cold weather beach. It lends itself to a wintery visit as it’s the only time of year you can park right beside the beach, avoiding a steep ten-minute walk from the main car park. The rocks at the western end of the beach provide shelter (and privacy when you need an al fresco wee)! We try to squeeze in a winter’s day beach barbecue every year. Hemmick has amazing rock pools at low pool, teeming with life. The children will wander off in search of huge starfish and shore crabs, while we scavenge for edible seaweed to cook on the barbecue. Farmer Tim is the only one that ever eats the seaweed, the rest of the family stick to sausages.
Why am I telling you this?? Port Holland is OUR family beach – I can’t believe other people are allowed on it. In our family discussion, it was 5/7 people’s top beach (and one of the others is too young to say). Why? Our fourteen year old summarises: ‘deserted, massive, great rock pools’. Add to this, a hatch in the summer for cups of tea and lemon drizzle cake and toilets decorated with bunches of red campions and buttercups. It was used as the film set for Tim Burton’s recent film (Miss Peregrine’s Home of Peculiar Children), earlier this year so we may not be able to keep it to ourselves much longer. An added bonus is the splendiferous drive back to Tredethick via Port Mellon/Mevagissey. The single track road hugs the side of the coast with a beautiful view of Vault Beach (used in About Time, for film buffs) and a chance for children to open and shut road gates for you to drive through.
This is Fowey’s town beach. Park at Readymoney car park, walk down to the beach and then along the esplanade into town. Fowey is an excellent spot for post-beach mooch and shop, and the beach itself is sheltered with a pontoon for good swimmers to swim out to.There’s an excellent beach cafe too. It’s 20 minutes drive from us.
Grudgingly, I have to admit that the North coast of Cornwall boasts more dramatic, high-octane beaches. Imposing cliffs, a vast expanse of golden sand, cracking waves and fabulous food: what’s not to like?
A glamorous, peach of a beach! An wide expanse of white sand and glistening sea on the north coast. There are rock pools and the sand is perfect for dribbly castles. Our seven year old loves the rocks here for a spot of impromptu climbing. Plenty of food options including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and – our favourite – the Beach Hut. Book ahead though – it gets busy. You can book surf lessons here, an activity which can work with a board age range of children.
A glorious bay of golden sand, sparkling waves and sand dunes for sledging down. Follow beach frolics with a sundowner beer/chips/hot chocolate and decent loos at Treyarnon YHA – perfection.
See you there!