In Cornwall we really are blessed with some of the country’s finest coastline and it’s most beautiful beaches. There are literally hundreds to choose from. We have prehistoric beaches, beaches with shipwrecks, lots of shipwrecks. Beaches with smugglers, beaches with treasure and romantic rock carvings. There are so many fascinating stories. But one such beach in Cornwall not only has some fascinating history attached, it is also a must for an entirely different reason.
At low tide Cornwall’s longest beach stretches for 3 fabulous miles between Hayle and Godrevy Head.
Known as Gwithian Towans Beach, or at the other end Godrevy Beach, this magnificent stretch of golden sand really is one of Cornwall’s finest.
It’s position on the dramatic north coast means that the Atlantic swell and prevailing winds makes this both a surfer’s paradise and a great place for kitesurfers and windsurfers alike.
But with 3 miles of sand to choose from there is plenty of room for everyone. And plenty of opportunity for swimmers and the bucket and spade brigade too!
The Towans & a buried world
A great undulating stretch of dunes, or towans, forms a backdrop to the beach. They are divided into three sections. Godrevy Towans, Upton Towans and The Towans, although it would be impossible to tell where one section ends and another begins!
Somewhere beneath this rolling sea of sand and grass it’s said there is a buried castle belonging to a man called Tendar. Tendar, according to S H Burton in his 1955 book The Coast of Cornwall, was ‘a Pagan persecutor of Christians’. The castle has long since vanished beneath the sand and I suspect it would take serious digging and some kind of mediaeval quest to locate it.
The gradual encroachment of the dunes has been a problem for a long time as Murray noted in his travel book written in 1859.
Between Godrevy Point and Hayle the coast is desolated with sand, which has overwhelmed and number of houses and long threatened the church and village of Gwithian with a similar fate. The walls of buildings have been frequently exposed by the shifting of its unstable helix but the sound is now fixed by the growth of arundo arenaria. – Murray. 1859
There is also a medieval chapel buried somewhere in the dunes. St Govian‘s has not been seen since the 1940s.
One end of the beach is marked by the distinctive outline of Godrevy Lighthouse. The white octagonal tower stands 86 feet high on a little rocky island just 300m off shore.
This lighthouse was completed in 1859 at a cost of £7000. It was built to mark Stones Reef which had been a constant hazard to shipping.
There are literally hundreds of beaches in Cornwall to choose from. Unfortunately however in recent years certain beaches are becoming more and more overcrowded during the tourist season. Most people are drawn to the same few well-known places. So next time you are thinking about spending a day on the beach, how about trying somewhere different? Get away from the well trodden tracks. Get out your map and discover somewhere new! Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!