Thursday, 14 September 2017

Cornish Adventures Part Four: Perranporth Beach

While I was on holiday in Cornwall with my family in June, I finally got to visit my favourite place in the world again after seven unnaturally long years away- Perranporth Beach, a gorgeous sandy beach about six miles down the coast from Newquay in North Cornwall.

Due to the weather, my health, and the fact my brother-in-law doesn't like the beach after all his deployments in the Middle East, I didn't get to spend anywhere near as much time there as I wanted to, but when it comes to Perranporth Beach, I'll gladly take two short visits over no time at all. 

On the Tuesday afternoon, Marie and I sat overlooking the beach from the sea front with an ice cream watching cute dogs playing on the beach, and some crazy guy wind-sailing close to the rocks in the violent looking swell still raging from the storm the night before. The waves were enormous and the wind was still pretty strong, so I can only assume he had a death wish.

The view of golden yellow sand, teal-blue sea punctuated with roaring white-tipped waves, and cloudy blue skies was absolutely blissful. I felt so content I could have happily stayed there all day enjoying the view, but just seeing the beach wasn't enough. I was dying to step foot on the beach and go for a paddle in the sea, but Marie wasn't up for it, and we had to get back to the brother-in-law who we'd left behind in the caravan. So near but yet so far. It was torture!

Thankfully on the second to last day of the holiday, the Thursday afternoon, my feet finally made contact with the sand.

We headed in to Perranporth mid-afternoon, but before we went to the beach, we revisited Perran Dairy Ice Cream Parlour as a birthday treat for the sister. Unfortunately for me, my stomach still felt tender after making myself ill with my last ice cream (lactose intolerance sucks!), so I was modest and just got a scoop of the most amazing Ferrero Rocher ice cream and tried not to eat it all, while Marie and Steve got ice cream sundaes. The Ferrero Rocher ice cream was delicious, but not quite as good as the amazing Snickers ice cream I'd bought there earlier in the week, which is still one of the best ice creams I've ever eaten. I highly recommend it, so if you're ever in Perranporth, you need to visit Perran Dairy because their ice creams are phenomenal; so rich and creamy and full of flavour! I'd happily go back for another Snickers ice cream right about now... 

After we'd eaten our fill of ice cream, we browsed around a few of Perranporth's seaside shops, and then made our way to the beach.

I can't tell you how happy I was to finally step foot on that beach and feel the soft golden sand between my toes after so many years away! I instantly felt all my troubles magically lift away, and a total sense of peace and contentment wash over me. I don't know what it is about that place, but it makes me feel so happy I always feel like I don't have a care in the world while I'm there. It's my happy place.

My family have been holidaying in Perranporth since I was a baby, so it's a place very dear to my heart. When I was growing up, we spent a week there most summers, and as an adult, I've returned a few times with my sisters, so it's full of happy memories and nostalgia for me.

We walked barefoot along the sand towards the sea taking in the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the beach that brought back a life time of happy memories. Childhood summer days spent body boarding in the powerful waves, building epic sandcastles, getting shaped in to sand-mermaids, exploring rock pools, and eating ice creams. Paddling in the sea with my sisters in my early twenties, getting stung by a jelly fish, walks between Perran Sands and Perranporth beaches, sunbathing on the sand, and strenuous walks up and down the cliffs to and from the holiday park that never failed to remind me how unfit I was. It all came flooding back. 

I was pleased to see little had changed in the landscape since my last visit, apart from the addition of a hideous block of holiday apartments being built in the cliff side, and the Alcatraz beach shop being a flight of steps lower to the sand. It was still as beautiful and unspoilt as it has always been. 

In my opinion, Perranporth Beach is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and the best beach in Cornwall. It's a stunning three mile stretch of clean golden sand beach, edged with tall grassy cliffs, and a great expanse of teal-blue sea with powerful waves that are perfect for surfing, body-boarding, and wind-sailing. The waves at Perranporth are huge, and the tides and currents are strong, but you're usually safe to paddle and swim in the shallows, as long as you keep between the lifeguard flags, use common sense, and don't go beyond your depth. Cornwall has some of the biggest waves in the world, so if you want to go home with your life, you've got to play it safe. 

There are also caves, nooks, and arches in the cliffs, rock pools to explore, and even a tidal pool to swim in at Chapel Rock (the rock with the Cornish flag on top). 

There's so much to explore, see, and do. You can swim, body-board, sunbathe, play beach sports, learn to surf, walk your dogs... sometimes you'll even see people horse-riding along the sand. There's even a pub on the beach called The Watering Hole where you can enjoy a few drinks with your feet in the sand, while enjoying the beautiful view of the beach! I've never actually been, but I think it would be the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset on a balmy summer's evening.

Perranporth Beach is actually made up of two beaches- Perranporth and Perran Sands, which separate in to two distinct beaches at high tide. At low tide, they blend together, and you can walk the full three scenic miles between the two, which I'd highly recommend because it's such a gorgeous walk. We arrived when the tide was coming in, so we didn't have that option, and sadly I haven't got photos of that stretch of beach to share today.

To be honest, it was probably a good thing we went when the tide was coming in because it's a long walk down to the water, particularly when the tide is out, and walking even a short distance with chronic pain and illness is painful and exhausting. Every step along the beach was painful, so I was grateful to have a little less distance to cover.

I had hoped to visit the beach at low tide on a day when the sun was shining and the sky was blue to show you how beautiful and tropical Perranporth Beach looks during the summer, but we weren't so lucky with the weather during our trip. When we stepped foot on the beach, it was just beginning to brighten up after a morning of rain, and the sky was full of clouds, so my photos really don't do the place justice. Just take my word for it: on hot sunny days, the place looks so idyllic you wouldn't even think you were in England.

When we reached the surf, Marie and I both rolled up our leggings, and had a paddle in the sea, while Steve stood and watched from dry land. The water was freezing for June, but I didn't care. I waded in deeper to my knees, and would have gone right in for a swim, had I been wearing my swimming costume. I stood and felt the pull of the tides around my feet, and revelled in the sound of the water as my legs waded through the surf. I took a million photos, and a shaky video of the sea and the beach around us with my crappy old camera. We watched a pair of dogs frolicking in the waves beside us, and Marie and I took a bunch of selfies together that will never see the light of day. It was blissful. I wanted to stay there forever.

After a while, the brother-in-law decided to walk back to the holiday park, and headed off to take the steep path up the cliffs we'd all taken so many times before. He'd never walked up them, so we gave him directions, and he left us to enjoy ourselves. 

We spent a while longer standing in the shallows enjoying the water and the sun on our skin, before following the curve of the water around, and strolling back along the beach the way we'd came.

When we got back to the car, I was in agony and aching all over, but the pain was definitely worth it. While it wasn't the long visit I was hoping for, we had such a fun, blissful hour or so on the beach, and I was so pleased I managed to visit my favourite place in the world before we left. It was the one place I'd longed to visit more than all my other favourite Cornish places combined, and I made it. I was proud of myself for it.

We drove the mile back to the holiday park with sand in between our toes, shocked to discover Steve had made it back to the caravan before us  I still don't know how he managed it- he must have ran all the way up.

Tuckered out from our walk on the beach, we spent the evening in the caravan, watching movies, and celebrating Marie's birthday with a big slice of chocolate cake, hoping for good weather the next day so we could take another day trip.

Look out for the final post in my Cornish Adventures series about our visit to St. Michael's Mount, coming soon.

Where's your favourite place in the world? Are you a fan of the seaside?

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