Tag Archives: Beaches

The East Neuk Fishing Villages

St Monans

The East Neuk Fishing Villages

‘Neuk’ is a Scottish word for nook or corner, and if you take a look at the map opposite, you’ll see that the East Neuk of Fife is the bit that juts out into the North Sea at the end of the Firth of Forth.

Along this coastline are a string of attractive fishing villages, the most interesting being St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther (including Cellardyke) and Crail.

If you’ve travelled to Fife over the Forth Bridge, then the first of these villages is St. Monans, about an hour’s drive away. There are several theories as to who St. Monan was, but the church that is dedicated to him is often described as Scotland’s nearest church to the sea, which is only around 20 metres away. It’s been here since the 14th century so whether it’s been that close since it was built, I wouldn’t like to say.

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North Berwick

North Berwick

A half-hour train journey from Waverley along the East Lothian coast will bring you to the smashing little seaside town of North Berwick.

The first time I came here I immediately fell in love with it. Little did I know at the time that it was one of the most expensive seaside towns to live in Scotland.

It doesn’t have an outward appearance of wealth or anything like that, in fact it’s quite an unassuming sort of place in many ways.

It doesn’t have much in the way of seaside attractions in the conventional sense, but more in the way of natural attractions. A conical volcanic hill known as North Berwick Law overlooks the town, its beaches and small harbour, but its location overlooking a handful of small islands in the Firth of Forth is what makes it a bit special.

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The Rocks, the Sand, and the Water

The Rocks, the Sand and the Water

In my introduction to Bude I mentioned that the opening of the canal was the first big thing to happen to this tiny, nondescript village at the mouth of the equally nondescript River Neet.

The reason that I’m calling it nondescript is because there was nothing here; no harbour to land fish, no minerals to mine, and it didn’t even lead to anywhere. All that was here were rocks, sand and water, so why build a canal? The answer was because of all three.

The rocks and sea cliffs around Bude are unique for Cornwall in as much as that they are made up of carboniferous limestone. Nowhere else in the county has rocks like these, and geologists have even found a special name for them – the Bude Formation. To mere mortals like me it makes for an interesting coastline and a nice sandy beach, but to people interested in making a living it meant that these cliffs produced sand containing calcium carbonate which could be used to neutralise the acidic land of the inland farms.

The first person to dream up the idea of transporting this sand inland by canal was a Cornishman who went by the name of John Edyvean back in 1774. His idea was to build a 95 mile waterway from Bude to the navigable part of the River Tamar, thereby connecting the Bristol Channel with the English Channel. This would have allowed, not just the transportation of sand, but other goods as well, such as coal, slate and timber. It also meant that ships didn’t have to take the hazardous journey around Land’s End.

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Porthcurno

Porthcurno Beach

Porthcurno

Porthcurno lies in a valley that reaches down to the sea on the south coast of the Penwith Peninsula.

For such a small village it attracts many visitors, some would say too many at times, but it’s understandable why people find Porthcurno such a magnet.

Lying about half way between Lamorna Cove and Land’s End, Porthcurno would be an obvious stopping off point for people walking along this section of the South-West Coast Path without its own attractions.

The white shell beach sits in a small bay that is sometimes called Porthcurno Bay. The colour of the sea depends on the weather, state of the tide and the time of the day, but when the sun’s shining the white sand is reflected by the sun to make the sea a perfect aquamarine colour.

The bay is protected to the east by a headland that is renowned for its ‘Logan Rock’ and to the west by Pedn-men-an-mere, or Wireless Point as it’s sometimes called.

It gets its name of Wireless Point from the receiving station that was set up here to eavesdrop on Marconi’s successful wireless telegraphy operation which was in direct competition with Porthcurno’s underground and submarine cable communications.

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From Beacon Cove to Meadfoot Beach

From Beacon Cove to Meadfoot Beach

The coastal footpath between Beacon Cove and Daddyhole Plain is known as Rock Walk and only about a mile long, but it affords some of the best views in the bay, and if you continue downhill for a short distance you will then come to the impressive Hesketh Crescent and Meadfoot Beach.

This is a walk that people who don’t know it could easily miss, but even though it starts from just behind the Harbour it’s not long before you leave the crowds behind.

Beacon Cove lies next to Living Coasts which is a coastal zoo and aquarium belonging to Paignton Zoo.  You can’t miss the ‘Hairnet’, as locals call it, and to find the footpath walk along the Victoria Parade side of the harbour and at the end turn up Beacon Hill, where on the right hand side is a brown tourist sign pointing the way to Beacon Cove.

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Abbey Park, Torre Abbey Sands and Sandyman

Abbey Park, Torre Abbey Sands and Sandyman

Visitors to Torquay have probably come to enjoy the sea air as much as anything, and a short walk from Torre Abbey through Abbey Park will bring you to the seafront and Torre Abbey Sands.

Abbey Park lies in front of the Riviera Centre and has some low-key sporting facilities such as tennis and crazy golf if you like that sort of thing, but the gardens, with their sub-tropical plants and water features are what I like, and in particular, the Italian Garden which is a riot of colour during the summer.

If you’re not in any rush to get the sand between your toes, you might also want to check out the One World Café and Bistro which is the ideal place for doing absolutely nothing for an hour or so.

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