For me, there is nothing more wonderful that a brisk beach walk on a Sunday morning. My darling little home-body kids don’t always agree with me, but I drag them out anyway!
Bonfire Night this year was a beautiful Autumn morning. There was a real cold snap in the air but the sun was chasing clouds in a Cornish blue sky. Perfect for a big run on the beach.
After some persuasion and a few white lies (I think the reception on the i-player isn’t working this morning, sorry!), we all got bundled up and out of the door, into the car.
Gwithian Beach is one of my favourite places in all the world but these days we only ever go there out of season. We are cheap skates and won’t pay for parking there as we have National Trust membership for the car park at Godrevy. The car park at Gwithian is free from 1st November to 31st March.
Even the drive down the little bumpy road is gorgeous. You get glimpses of the waves, the huge expanse of beach below, and Godrevy Lighthouse between the sand dunes.
This Sunday we got front row parking – always pleasing. Even though we have been here a zillion times, the view always always amazes me. It is just so vast and full of nature – clouds, skies, sea, waves, sand, dunes, grass. And dotted here and there are tiny people, kite surfers and dogs. This is one place where I understand why people just sit in their cars and stare.
We jump out of the car, quick get the coats on, and off we go, with cries of “it’s too windy Mum” and ” I’m so cooooold”. Fingers crossed it won’t be quite as blowy and chilly when we get down to the beach.
Along the cliff path and down the steps, the with kids clinging on like limpets. Then as soon as we get to the bottom they are off. Big, wild beaches seem to have this effect on them. They go from being timid, little yappy dogs into great big confident labradors, bounding along the beach.
There are rock pools to explore, little caves and crevices to peer into.
Looking up at the cliffs we spot tiny birds dipping in and out of the rocks.
Pockets get filled with shells, stones and the occasional bit of seaweed (must remember to sneak that out before we go home as the last lot really stunk the car out!).
Sticks are found and drawings are made in the sand.
We follow the runnels down to the outgoing tide and jump through deeper-than-we-realise puddles, getting our feet a bit damp.
Godrevy Lighthouse stands there, looking near and far away all at the same time. Huge waves crash up onto its rocks. I comment on how rough it looks out there, “I’ve seen it much rougher than that Mum”. My kids are such seasoned coastal watchers!
We stand near the retreating tideline, watching kite surfers crash and fly over the waves. My 2 year old is enthralled, I can see in his eyes he is dreaming of doing that. Not one day when he is older, right now. He loves anything with a bit of speed and danger. Although he also loves holding my hand whilst watching it too.
We walk back from the sea to explore the big rocks with their clusters of mussels and the glistening pools beneath. My 7 year old starts telling me a tale of how a mermaid uses the big pool for her bath. She takes some photos “for inspiration for my art later”. I love the way she talks about art, what a beautiful little mind she has.
I find my 7 year old gets so much more out of places if she can take her own photos. It gives her more purpose and interest. If we are “just going for a walk” she loses interest quite quickly and starts asking when we are going home. The camera keeps her interested and makes her very observant. She has a Canon Cool Pix camera which is a really good, quite grown up camera. It is bright yellow, quite tough and can take pictures under water.
We grownups decide to chance our arm and press on down the beach for a real yomp. “First one to that rock wins” always works for getting them walking a little bit further.
The wind is really quite whippy and is skimming off the top layer of sand like smoke. It deposits the sand like a fine crumb, a bit like a falling of snow. “Will it snow this Christmas do you think?”. Ahh, one of the big down sides to living in Cornwall. No my hopeful ones, I don’t think it will snow.
The littlest one we can see is now starting to flag. Up on the shoulders he goes and we turn to walk back to the car. Whilst our backs have been turned, sand yachts have set up a race course on the beach. They zip and zoom like neon butterflies, getting up incredible speeds.
Back inside it is like the sound has been turned off. The noise of the wind and waves here in Autumn is really loud! My daughter says she is glad she can’t hear it anymore, it was getting too noisy. I tell her that some people buy CDs with the sound of the wind and waves on to help them fall asleep. “Why don’t they just open their bedroom windows to listen”, she asks. “Because not everyone is as lucky as we are to live by the sea”.
The Sat Nav postcode is TR27 5BT.
The bus called The Tinner T2 goes through Gwithian Village from Hayle.
The Gwithian Beach car park is free between 1st November to 31st March. Out of this time it is the usual Cornwall Council car parking charges, which are quite steep. You can park on the road before you turn down towards Gwithian Beach and there are 2 small free car parks at the top.
Toilets are a bit of an issue at Gwithian Beach. There is a council toilet block near the top of the steps but we often find this locked. There are loos in the Sunset Surf Cafe and The Jam Pot Cafe but these are for patrons only.
Dogs are allowed on Gwithian Beach all year round with some restrictions. They are allowed on the whole beach between September and May. Over the Summer months you can take them down the main steps and go left. They are not allowed on the main beach to the right. This is a bit of a change as the old steps where you used to be able to take them down (Peters Point) have collapsed.
There is an RNLI Lifeguard on duty over the Easter weekend and then from around mid May to mid September. There is more detailed information about this on the RNLI website.
The Sunset Surf Cafe is a superb place to stop for a drink and a bite to eat. They also rent out surf gear, have a surf shop and run surfing lessons. They are open all Summer but have shorter Winter opening hours, so check their website for details. They also have a webcam so you can see what the weather and surf is up to!
The Jam Pot Cafe and Shop is also lovely – this is the one a bit further in tucked by the chalets.
For a good surf report visit Magic Seaweed.
For a really good big walk, try to time your visit to the falling tide. We think a couple of hours before low tide is the best time to go. Do be careful with the tide, it can cut off the beach quite quickly around the big rocks in front of the main steps.
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