I am not well acquainted with Cornwall and, other than a couple of car-less visits to Rock and Padstow to stay with a friend’s parents, I haven’t been there since I was a child.
I assumed that we would spend our week touring all the well known destinations in the west end of the county – Penzance, Tintagel, St Ives, Lands End, Mousehole and others – but the truth was it was so perfect where we were based that for the entire week we could be found either at Kynance Cove or on the Helford estuary. We did make two excursions further afield – one to Pendennis Castle and one to the Eden Project – but both Evan and I resented these daytrips for having taken us away from our beloved Kynance Cove.
Kynance Cove is owned by the National Trust and we parked in their car park at the top of cliff. There is something smugness inducing about being able to wave our membership card and forgo the parking charges everyone else was having to pay. The car park attendant asked if we’d been there before and on replying that we hadn’t told he us the we were ‘in for a bit of a treat’. How right he was.
From the car park you can’t see the beach at all and the first part of the descent is made via a steep, winding paved path. The beach then comes into view and you reach the bottom by scrambling down a narrow path between the rocks.
The beach is at the whim of the tide and on our first visit we only had around two hours before it disappeared entirely. By the time we got there it was really lots of tiny beaches punctuated by enormous boulders and joined by knee deep rivers.
There wasn’t really enough room for lying out so we dared each other to walk through the icy cold inlets and around the big rocks into the sea proper where the waves were crashing.
Arthur photo-bombed and Evan, reasons best known to himself, sat in the water and practise yoga ohmming.
Soon enough we were forced off the beach by the tide and so we took a walk up the sloping grass banks that form part of the stunning South West Coastal Path which stretches 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset.
We walked to the top of the cliff and then made our way back down to the excellent National Trust owned café where we gorged on pasties and amazing local Callestick Cornish ice cream. Time was when you could count on any café found near a beach in Britain to be utterly dismal and depressing but Cornwall is so very middle class nowadays that the food is a pretty safe bet. And really, you can’t go wrong with a traditional Cornish pasty. No surprise it has Protected Geographical Status under EU law.
By the time we left the beach was no more.
We had such a lovely time at Kynance Cove that we revisited it a few days later. This time we checked the tide timetable and arrived at low tide, giving us much more time to hang out. The beach was an entirely different place and about four times as big. The huge rocks now appeared to have been dumped on the beach rather than floating in the sea.
There were enormous caves everywhere and until then I had completely forgotten the joy as a child of discovering huge caves and the stories of pirates and smugglers that they bring to mind.
This time we had half a day there before high tide and it was probably my favourite day of the holiday, just sunbathing, paddling and reading and eating more obligatory pasties and ice cream.
I have been to many countries and visited many beaches in my life but never did I expect to find the most remarkable one more or less on my own doorstop. Quite honestly it is the most breathtaking beach I have ever been to.