In a small bay, a fifteen minute drive from the busy city of Truro, lies one of Cornwall’s most beautifully serene beaches, Perrinporth. With its soft white sand, and safe, secluded feel, Perrinporth is the ideal destination for holidaymakers of all ages. It is situated by the town of Perrinporth, which can be reached by driving south along the B42 from Truro. Conveniently, there is a car park positioned a two minute walk from the beach. Once you have parked you can descend directly down the pedestrian walkway, which gradually slopes down to the beach; providing excellent access for anyone travelling with prams, wheelchairs, or large volumes of beach-equipment. Alternatively, the more adventurous among you can walk round to the left side of the beach, and descend the stairs set into the face of the cliff which, when the tide is high, will take you directly to the edge of the sea.
Once you have reached the beach there is no end to the array of activities possible. The quaint “Surfs-Up Cafï¿½,” which is located on your right just before you reach the sand if you walk down the pedestrian walkway, offers somewhere to relax with a cup of coffee or a light meal; and, with its child-friendly atmosphere, it can be enjoyed by everyone. Directly behind the cafï¿½ there is a large playground which is ideal for young children. It contains swings, slides, climbing frames and a large – but shallow – paddling pool. The entire playground can easily be viewed from the porch of the cafï¿½, so you can relax while you watch your children enjoy themselves.
Those of you who are visiting with older children may prefer to continue walking down to the main beach, which offers up an exciting world for intrepid young explorers. If you stick to the right side of the beach and walk down to the sea then you will come to a surfing area, marked out by yellow buoys. Here you can receive surfing lessons, which range in standard from beginner to advanced; or just try out your skills under the watchful supervision of the lifeguards (Sea Shop, a shop situated opposite the Surfs-up Cafï¿½ and slightly further up the hill offers the opportunity to rent or buy any equipment you need for surfing). Alternatively, if you move over to the left side of the water, you can enjoy the waves which offer ample opportunity for swimming, body boarding or just having fun (body boards can also be purchased or rented from Sea Shop).
If you would rather not get your feet, or any other part of your body, wet; then there is plenty to do whilst still remaining on the sand. From Sea Shop you can acquire sun lounges and umbrellas, and buckets and spades, so you can relax on the beach, or join in with your children in the building of few sand castles.
At night there are often barbecues and beach parties held on the beach, notably on New Years Eve when there is a large bonfire, barbecue and fireworks, all organised by the local council – it does get chilly though, so if you do decide to come along then don’t forget to wrap up warm!
Perrinporth Beach as a Setting for a Mystery
The instant Lauren had pulled the heavy oak door shut behind her; she wished she could turn back. The scarf she had tied round her neck offered little protection from the merciless wind, and everything in the garden was still clammy and listless from the downpours of the night before. Overcoming her apprehension, she hurried out of the garden and began the short walk to the edge of the cliff, kicking the limp, lifeless leaves out of her way as she went. As she followed the path to the verge of the cliff, drops of water fell from the seeping branches of the surrounding trees, striking her neck and sending an icy torrent down her back.
When Lauren had reached the end of the route, she sent one final look back to her house; hoping to be reassured by the familiar sight – but the bare branches of the sodden trees impeded her view, and the dark windows of her home appeared bleak and uninviting. Shivering, she turned away – and cast her attention to the beach below.
The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon, striking the choppy water with long, thin chains of light, and illuminating the deserted beach. A few abandoned pieces of waste blew across the sand – one coming to a rest underneath the deserted lifeguard post – and a lone seagull pecked at the debris of someone’s picnic. When Lauren looked down, the steps to the beach seemed more rocky and hazardous then usual, and for a brief moment she wondered if she should turn back. But, swiftly dismissing the thought, she steeled her nerves; and began the uneven descent to the beach.
She went slowly at first, clutching desperately at the face of the cliff for support, occasionally dislodging a loose stone and sending it crashing into the bleak waters below. As she grew closer to the bottom, she began to speed up, longing to reach the comparative safety of the beach. Once there, she leant against the cliff, feeling the salty spray on her cheek, and turned her attention to the small, white cafï¿½ that lay at the top of the beach. It looked out of place; strangely unaffected by the ruthless winds that were disrupting the sand and the sea. Its blue shutters remained steadfastly still and it was bereft of the flurry of seagulls that usually surrounded it.
The solitary seagull which had been on the beach let out a long, thin cry; and soared off into the distance – abandoning Lauren on the deserted sand. She watched it go with a strange sense of loss, and, when it had finally left her sight, she started to walk towards the cafï¿½. The damp sand was clutching at her feet, and the wind was blowing her off course – trying to steer her away from the cafï¿½ and up the pavement to Perrinporth. Lauren looked up towards the village, hoping to see some evidence that she was not alone, but it was obscured by a dense layer of mist, and not a sound emerged from the gloom. The silence was broken only by the faint splash of waves smashing into the sand.
When Lauren finally reached the cafï¿½, she could hear the muffled groan of the two swings in the playground, swinging together in perfect rhythm – too steady to be being blown by the wind. Forward, back, forward, back – a slight pause between each cycle. She took a sharp breath in – and reached out to steady herself on the fence surrounding the cafï¿½. The swings stopped. It was too late to turn back. She reached for the gate. It scraped reluctantly across the ground as she opened it, and she stepped inside the fence. Even the waves seemed to have been silenced, and now the only sound that could be heard was Lauren’s rapid, shallow breathing. She forced herself to walk round the cafï¿½ to the playground, where, for the second time in as many days, she found herself staring into the callous, remorseless gaze of her dealer.
Perrinporth Beach in a Memoir
My prevailing memory of that long, languid summer is the mornings spent on Perrinporth beach. Together, long before anyone else was up, Alex and I would run down the hill, and onto the cool sand. Surrounded by the cliff face on two sides, with the hill behind us and the sea ahead; we felt completely separate from the rest of the world; secluded in our own little kingdom. The sea gulls and the stray cats that sometimes joined us on the beach were our subjects, and the sea was the vast, unexamined terrain that we had yet to conquer.
At the beginning of the summer we stuck mainly to the sand, building castles and digging moats for the sea to fill with water. But, as the summer progressed we became more adventurous. We would climb up the uneven face of the cliff; grabbing onto jutting rocks and using them as steps – always seeing who could get the furthest. Neither of us got very far of course. Although we were skilled climbers, available rocks seemed to grow further apart the higher we climbed, and it was never long before we found that we were marooned on the rock face.
When we had tired of that game we began to discover what excitements the sea had to offer. We would run up to the edge of the water and then dive into the salty waves, swimming out as far as we could, and then turning back to look at our little beach. From the sea we had an exquisite view of the town of Perrinporth, often covered in a thin layer of the morning mist, but still looking pleasantly welcoming. Back then it was much smaller of course, just a few houses and one or two small shops.
The sort of place where you knew everyone by name, and, as a visitor, I was a novelty. All the buildings were small, two storeys at most, and even from the sea Alex was able to tell name the inhabitants of each home. At that time in the morning the village would just be waking up. We’d often see the post man’s red truck, visiting the village, and we would always imagine what sort of news he was bringing to Perrinporth – hoping for some exciting mystery that we could help to solve.
As the day continued other families joined us on the beach. Alex’s older cousin would often bring down Lizzie and George, and set up her red sun umbrella half way down the beach. She sat in exactly the same place every time she came, positioned so that she could watch Lizzie and George without getting wet herself. On nice days visitors from outside the village came too, and the beach would be dotted with families enjoying the sun.
The beach is utterly different now of course – completely overrun with tourists. They’ve built a cafï¿½ at the top of the beach, which might be a nice place if only it were less busy. It’s got its own playground as well, wholly unnecessary if you ask me. When I was a boy the beach was playground enough – children don’t seem to be able to amuse themselves anymore.
Essentially the beach is still the same though. If you get down there early enough – before all the tourists have got there – you still get that same, secluded feel. I can still stand at the top of the beach, look out onto the horizon, and wander about all those territories that I never quite conquered.