Anyone who’s read more than a couple of posts on this blog knows about my love affair with Tregardock beach. I know. I’m sorry for bringing it up again. I’m sure you’re all sick of it.
Don’t worry, this post is not about Tregardock. It’s about another one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall: Bedruthan’s Steps.
Unlike Tregardock, Bedruthan’s Steps is not unknown. It’s protected by the National Trust. I mean, there’s a car park and a café up on the hill. It’s not exactly a hidden gem.
But it is a gem. Bedruthan’s Steps is unlike any beach I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of beaches. It is full of towering rocks, surrounded by boulders, surrounded by stones and rocks, surrounded by sand. It is impossible to capture on camera just imposing the coastline is or how huge the rocks are.
The steps down from the cliffs to the beach are irregular and slippery. There are over a hundred of them and they are covered in wet sand, with an old rusty guardrail on one side. You have to move slowly and deftly sidestep around the people coming up from the beach and you’ll probably already be thinking about the climb back up. But all that stops when you reach the sand and the landscape sprawls out in front of you.
Bedruthan’s Steps has numerous bays, caves and crevices to explore. We see something different every time we visit. Further down the beach is an amazing keyhole, where the sea floods through with every wave. You have to visit Bedruthan’s Steps at low tide, because at high tide the beach completely disappears. We have been caught more than once with the tide coming in, which sometimes means soaked boots and other times has meant (safely) clambering up the cliff in the furthest bay as we were unable to get back to the staircase.
On one trip, we discovered that, at low tide, the cave right next to the stairs leads you through to the adjacent bay. You wouldn’t know it just by peering in, you have to climb through into the cave before you start to see the light from the other side (there’s got to be a metaphor there somewhere). You can also clamber over the mussel-covered rocks to reach the same spot – I would recommend going through one way and back the other, for completeness.
Along with the jagged rocks that are perfect for climbing and leaping between, there are lots of little pools surrounding the various rocks that are separate from the ocean at low tide but rejoin the sea later on. These pools have the most phenomenal blue colour – the gentle turquoise looks too blue to be true, but it is. I usually wear my welly boots to the beach so I can wade into the pools, before properly stripping down to my swimmers and jumping in the ocean.
I have swum at Bedruthan’s Steps twice in May and once in September and every time the water is glorious and freezing. By now, my tolerance for swimming in cold seas is pretty high; you just have to stay in through the acclimation period, which is about five minutes. After then, your body just accepts its new reality, and you can swim for as long as you want. Just remember to bring a warm jumper and a towel because after a decent frolic it will take a lot longer to warm up and regain your fine motor skills than you think.
The water down in Cornwall is always so clean, clear and fresh. There is nothing better than swimming in the sea!
Lots of beaches have lovely soft sand and beautiful sea, but lack the amazing rocks and natural landscapes of some of the most special beaches. I’d never say no to a beach – I even went to the beach when I was in Edinburgh (not worth it) – but it’s true that some beaches are just better than others. There’s only so much you can do with some sand and a few waves but this place has enough to keep you going for visit after visit after visit. Not many places can do that.
There are a lot of special places on the planet that you’d miss if no one showed you where they were. Considering this me showing you one of my favourites.