Winter is an amazing time to visit Cornwall and enjoy its natural beauty. Whilst the sea is certainly colder than it is in the late summer, we get our fair share of bright, clear weather or calm sea conditions that mean it’s still possible to get out on the water. There are also those days when the last place you want to be is in the sea; sticking out into the North Atlantic as it does, when storms hit Cornwall they can hit hard with nature putting on an unrivalled show of force.
When winter storms arrive on our coast we are most definitely closed and you’ll find us instead enjoying the show that nature puts on from the warmth and safety of a coastal café. We are well aware of the power of the sea, and advise that on such wild days you too take extreme care and show the ocean the utmost respect: find a comfy window seat with a good view, order a hot drink, and storm watch from there. Here are a few of our favourite spots:
The Port Gaverne Hotel, just about next door to our base, is a lovely cosy spot when the weather’s wild outside. It has limited views of the cove, but if you take the corner seat in the bar you will be able to watch what’s happening out to sea. The cove faces northwest, so tends to be a little more sheltered – if it’s big and stormy here then it’ll be even more spectacular on the west facing coasts!
There are several cafes and restaurants with good views of the beach and Pentire Point for when a storm hits, so order a coffee and cake and enjoy the show. Locals tend to congregate here to watch during winter storms, so if there’s a crowd around and the staff at TJs surf shop have put out sand bags and rolled up their shutters then you know you’re in the right place at the right time. Beware of surges at high tide that can wash across the road and certainly don’t use the beach car park!
On the other side of the estuary, past Padstow on the coast road towards Newquay, the Bedruthan Steps Hotel above Mawgan Porth is a lovely and family friendly hotel with large windows looking out over the sea from their public areas. They do great coffee, and the views are spectacular when the weather is wild – it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday roast when the wind is howling outside.
Like Port Gaverne, Trevaunance cove at St Agnes (an hour down the road from us) faces northwest and provides a great view up the coast. When the weather gets really bad the bar and restaurant that sits above the back of the beach, Schooners, is closed and boarded up to protect the windows, but if they are open then it’s a great spot to order some food and drink and enjoy their view.
Portreath’s harbour wall, with the famous “Monkey Hut” stood at the end, is almost as synonymous with Cornish storm watching as the clock tower on the Bickford-Smith Institute in Porthleven. The Monkey Hut was used for shelter by the pilots who would signal and guide ships into the dangerous harbour entrance. In the storms of January 2014 this small stone building was destroyed along with sections of the harbour wall, but has since been rebuilt. You can park on the hill leading south out of Portreath and enjoy the view from this elevated position as waves smash into the end of the harbour wall.
If it is stormy during your winter break to Cornwall then please keep yourself safe and watch from a distance. If it’s calm and your visit coincides with some of the beautiful winter sun that we often enjoy then give us a call, and we’ll show you a different side to the Cornish coast.