Cornwall in Winter: Porthcurno Beach to Pedn Vounder

With winter upon us, we headed to Porthcurno on the Penwith Heritage Coast and walked to Pedn Vounder Beach. As you’d expect, it didn’t disappoint.

golden sand and bright blue sea with yellow cliffs and rocks

There’s no doubt about it, Porthcurno Beach is a total stunner! In fact, if you visit anywhere along the Penwith Peninsula, you’re in for a treat.

The whole coastline has the most alluring looking turquoise blue sea which ebbs into seafoam green. This, coupled with soft, caramel coloured sand and golden rocks makes this stretch of coastline the Cornwall tourism poster child.

In winter, Porthcurno is quiet and easily accessible. In summer, however, the small village becomes clogged with traffic, with tourists wanting to get their Porthcurno fix. So far, I’ve avoided Porthcurno beach in peak season. If I were to venture here, I’d leave my house at the crack of dawn and get here super early.

There’s a car park at Porthcurno that feeds the beach. To be fair, it’s not a bad size but fills up very quickly. I’ve no idea how much the parking is in peak season. For us in winter, it was £2 for the day.

rough sea and waves with the cliffs behind
white foam from the sea on golden sand

What’s Porthcurno famous for?

Porthcurno is known for a few things, aside from the epic beach, of course. The first is the Minack Theatre, situated on the cliff top to the right of the beach. Open all year round, you can book to see a play or take a theatre tour. Personally, I wish I’d seen the Fishermans Friends here. Maybe another opportunity will present itself.

Porthcurno is also a very important place when it comes to international telecommunications. In 1870, cables were laid at Porthcurno beach, connecting the UK to India. Sometimes it surprises me how vital some of the little places in Cornwall have been in history, and this is one of them. There’s the Museum of Global Communication in Porthcurno, and I have to say, it’s a brilliant place to visit. With interactive displays, it’s a good choice for the whole family (my son and his friend had a great time).

a man with a red rucksack standing on the steps leading to Porthcurno beach
golden chiselled cliffs and bright sand and blue sea at Porthcurno Beach

At Porthcurno Beach

With Mondays off work, and the newly crowned Mr Cornish Outdoors taking a day’s holiday, we planned to walk from Porthcurno beach to Pedn Vounder. It’s not actually very far on the coast path at all, but knew we’d have a work out with the climb down to Pedn Vounder beach.

We couldn’t believe our luck with the weather! Rain was forecast but there wasn’t a drop. Just winter sunshine and a few clouds. I think we were somewhat optimistic about swimming though. We took our bathers but as you can see from the photos, the conditions weren’t great.

waves and white foam at Porthcurno beach with Logan Rock in the background
large white waves breaking in the winter sun
breaking waves on Porthcurno beach in Cornwall

Walking onto the beach, we could see huge swells coming in. We just watched in awe as thunderous waves curved and smashed, with colliding waves causing big shapes, metres above the sea line.

Porthcurno beach is known for its rip tides and strong current. While you can swim here, it’s not always safe. Sadly, rescue operations and deaths have happened here. While I don’t want to sound like your mum, check the conditions and do take care.

a large breaking wave in front of Logan Rock at porthcurno Beach
Porthcurno beach with the tide going out and yellow sand under winter sun

Walking to Pedn Vounder

It’s not a long walk to Pedn Vounder cove from Porthcurno beach, maybe about 15-20 minutes. This doesn’t include the time it takes to actually get down onto the beach. The walk took us a bit longer as I stopped to take loads of photos.

the cliffs and sea on a sunny winter day
the sea and waves under winter sun in Cornwall
waves and the cliffs looking towards Porthcurno
the curved cliffs and Logan rock with the sea at Pedn Vounder beach

There are warning signs on the approach to the path and rocks leading down to Pedn Vounder beach. How people manage it with bags of stuff and small children, I don’t know. It’s not something I’d recommend. In fact, if you’re planning on heading down this is popular cove, check out my 10 essential tips for visiting Pedn Vounder beach.

Most of the way down to Pedn Vounder beach is okay. It’s rocky but there is a (sort of) path. There is a rock climb, an amble down, before your feet hit the sand. After my last visit alone, I swore I’d never do this again. But with Marcus quite literally holding my hand, it was much better. (Okay, there may have been a moment when I didn’t want to do it, but I’m glad I made the effort ☺️.)

rolling white foamy waves and the yellow cliffs at Pedn Vounder beach
layers of white waves and bright blue sea along the curved Cornish coast at Porthcurno

At Pedn Vounder Beach

With the winter sun offering warmth, and being in such a beautiful location, visiting Pedn Vounder beach at low season is a must.

There was a man walking his dog but he soon left, meaning we had the beach all to ourselves. I’m not going to lie, it felt rather special. We sat on an old, washed up wooden slat, sipping coffee and eating mince pies and flapjacks. while we indulged in more wave watching.

a yellow sanded cover and chiselled cliffs at Pedn Vounder beach
yellow rocks and steep cliffs and golden sand

Pedn Vounder beach is so beautiful and unique; it’s hard to find the words to do it justice. The tide was quite high so we couldn’t walk the length of the beach, although we managed a little bit. Given the tide, the little island, or bar, that makes Pedn Vounder so recognisable, didn’t make an appearance.

bright soft sand with a row of footprints and Logan Rock in the distance

Logan Rock

It’s not only the sand bar that’s synonymous with Pedn Vounder. Another recognisable feature is Logan Rock, and there’s a little story behind it too.

Logan means “rocking stone”, hence the name of the rock. Until 1824, there was a swaying stone, or logan, on the jagged cliff that sticks out at Pedn Vounder beach. Even though it swayed, the rock could not be moved. This news somehow reached Lieutenant Goldsmith who was at sea, near Cornwall. He, along with 14 strapping sea men, decided to try and move the rock.

They succeeded but their efforts were met with much criticism from locals. Goldsmith was massively slated in the press and became the most disliked man in Cornwall. He was ordered to replace the stone but once back in situ, it no longer swayed.

Who’d have thought!

We didn’t know this story at the time of our visit to Pedn Vounder. Instead my mind was on the climb back up to the coast path. We made it up the rocks unscathed, and stopped several times for some final photos before heading back to Porthcurno.

No doubt we’ll be back again.

If you love this view as much as I do, check out my limited edition giclée print of Pedn Vounder beach, Pedn Paradise.

a pinterest pin showing a sandy Cornish cove and the sea

Author: plbedford

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