Take a stroll around Trevose Head on the rugged coast of North Cornwall to pass breathtaking coastal scenery, some of the best sandy beaches in England and appreciate the power and danger of the sea.
Trevose Head can be found off the B3276 coastal road between Newquay and Padstow – look for the revolving light emitted from the lighthouse, or follow the signs. You will eventually hit a private toll-road with a £3.50 charge. I didn’t have to worry about paying, as I’d walked from the in-laws’ house in St. Merryn.
A thick iron gate greets you at the entrance to Padstow Lifeboat Station, and pedestrians can fit through it and walk down the twisty path to see this RNLI facility. The flag that flutters outside the station’s house has seen some stories, and has been so battered by the wind over the years that the “N” and “I” no longer exist.
A plaque commemorates the opening of the station in 1958 by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, although there has been a new launch here since 2006 to allow a flash “Tamar class” lifeboat to enter the water whatever the tide or conditions.
There are several more plaques on the inland facing wall of the house, giving a brief description of each rescue that has taken place per year. From “brought in a body fallen from the cliffs” to “saved four men and a dog” to “took out doctor and landed a sick man”, any Hollywood scriptwriter with writer’s block should spend some time here to get some inspiration.
The lifeboat station is normally open to the public for a look around, but as this was Christmas Day, I could forgive the volunteers for not opening up. A staircase takes you down to the launch building itself. Peering through the windows, I could see the lifeboat on its ramp ready for action, as well as the exercise room complete with bench press and dumb-bells.
There’s a great view of the rocks, below, that have been eroded over time by the power of the sea. There’s probably a technical term for this type of formation, but it’s a while since my A-Level geography days – I’d like to think they’re called “knobbly rocks”.
The golden sandy beach of Mother Ivey’s Bay, one of the best in Cornwall, is just to the right of the launch and can be reached if you retrace your steps back up the road towards a muddy path. Once on the beach, take in the views of the knobbly rocks and the lifeboat station – it rarely gets busy here, especially out of season. There are a couple of caravan parks behind Mother Ivey’s Bay, but it’s not the easiest place to find by car.
Walking back through the lifeboat station’s gate, you will soon reach Trevose Head itself. First up, you will see the coastguard’s look-out hut and radio station, with its tower. I’d have loved to have climbed to the top for a bird’s eye view of the headland, but thought better of it – you might not be able to tell from these photos, but the wind was so strong my lips and cheeks were flapping around my ears.
There has been a lighthouse at Trevose Head since 1847 warning passing ships of the rocky outcrops on this stretch of coast. There was once a lighthouse caretaker who lived in the cottage attached to the lighthouse, but he left long ago – its operation is automated these days. The caretaker’s cottage is now rented out to those holidaymakers who can put up with the loud foghorn.
I did not feel too safe walking onto the headland in the gale force wind, so headed back to enjoy the pinky orange sunset over Booby’s Bay and Constantine Bay.