Sea Swimming At Portscatho, Cornwall.

When it was announced that certain lockdown restrictions were being lifted, I couldn’t wait to get in the sea and go swimming.

There are so many benefits to sea swimming. Believe it or not, it’s not just a summer activity here, many of us like a winter dip.  With the spring sunshine warming up the water, the main decision I had to make was, which beach ?

Portscatho Harbour Fishing Boats on the Beach


Portscatho is a small seaside village along the coast of the Roseland Peninsula and is home to small fishing harbour. It may not be the most obvious place for a sea swim but we love it. Admittedly, living in Cornwall, we’re a bit spoilt for choice. There’s wonderful Carne that stretches out at low tide to Pendower, offering a mile of sandy loveliness, and of course there’s nearby Porthcurnick. But it seems we like hopping over to Portscatho, or as we like to call it, Scath. 

I’m always trying to encourage my son to come open water swimming with me. He can be a reluctant customer at times. On one of our many daily walks on the South West coastpath we took in the view of Portscatho harbour. The May sun beamed down, setting the sea aglow. It was bright turquoise and crystal clear. For a moment I felt like I was on holiday. “Can we come swimming here tomorrow?” he asked. I didn’t need asking twice. 

There’s no doubt that the wonderful May weather brought the Cornish coast to life and enticed us into the sea. The coast’s pretty spectacular all year round but when the sun blesses us with its presence, the scenery takes on jewel-like hues. The sea becomes a vivid but translucent blue, and the emerald green seaweed pops out against the silver rocks.

Fishing Boats In Portscatho Harbour

Portscatho fishing boat called Saucy PollockThe Sea Swimming Experience.

What I like about Portscatho, especially right now, is how quiet, secluded and intimate it feels. So far we’ve seen the same family there each time we’ve been so we’re not the only ones who love it. There’s no sprawling beach at Portscatho, even at low tide, which means there isn’t a lot of room. Fishing boats rest here too. I think Saucy Pollack and Big Red Tomatoes have to be my favourite local boat names, so far. 

Each time we’ve been sea swimming at Portscatho, it’s been gentle and calm. This means we were able to truly stretch our limbs, and have a little swim. The sea was so clean and clear, taking in the view under the sea was as impressive as the coastal views surrounding us. The seaweed idly swayed beneath us but on this occasion, there wasn’t a fish to be seen. Henry impressed me, on one occasion, asking to swim to the buoy and back with me. In hindsight, I wish I’d let him.

While we haven’t swum any great distance, it would be totally feasible to swim from Portscatho to Porthcurnick beach. I doubt it’s even a mile. You could, if you were up to it, swim to your right from Portscatho, around the rocks and make your way to a lovely, secret cove, only accessible via the coastpath. Either way, always make sure it’s safe to swim. If you’re going alone, let someone know.

Woman in the sea swimming next to boats

Woman sea swimming in a wetsuit

Isolation Chronicles.

Sea swimming at Portscatho has given us many sweet lockdown memories of playing in the sea. Pier jumping at high tide, messing about and wave jumping as well as swimming out to different points that initially looked beyond our reach. Sea swimming is so easy and accessible to us (what a blessing), and it’s something we both enjoy. It’s also reminiscent of my childhood when summers felt infinite and many hours were spent on the beach and in the sea, with friends. I love that I’m recreating these again; for myself and Henry. 

Mother and son wetsuits laughing

Author: plbedford

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  • I might even give it a go myself if the weather fulfills its hot promise this week! Love the photo of you and Henry – big smiles all round.