Originally it was a harbor of refuge, in the days when the part of Cornwall’s coastline that it occupied was the infamous site of various wrecks. Today, the southern-most port in Great Britain has taken advantage of its rich natural resources in order to become one of the foremost destinations for surfing in Britain.
Despite its expansion due to its fairly recent status, Porthleven retains the rustic atmosphere of an unaltered fishing village. Perhaps it is even this particular blend of both conserved culture and modern sports that has enabled Porthleven to make a definite mark on the map for any tourist on holiday in Cornwall.
A Village Centered on its Harbor
Although Porthleven has been inhabited for the better part of a millennium, its most recent incarnation as a village began with the harbor in 1811, and life there still very much revolves around it on a regular basis. From a distance, the harbor very much appears to be picture perfect, and it can’t be avoided on any holiday. Not even day-visitors that don’t stay the night in the small hotels, bed and breakfast or self catering accommodation can stray from it for long.
As a matter of fact, some travel all the way to Porthleven to visit the harbor, specifically during the winter storms when the heavy waves are pit against the sea walls. With thunderous crashes, occasionally some waves do even go over, and it truly is a sight to behold.
With the harbor itself a sight in its own right, as well as the pier that is granite, Porthleven keeps itself a real gem among the other rustic villages that pepper the landscape of Cornwall.
Advanced Surfing Destination
Compared to other surfing destinations in Britain, Porthleven offers up its exposure to swells that are every experienced surfer’s wet dream. No surprise then that flocks of people gather constantly to conquer each wave as it approaches the shore.
Due to the waves themselves that regular surpass 2 meter break, it is definitely no place for a beginner to be, and could even be dangerous. Thus, most beginners and those who wish to learn surfing generally avoid the spot, rendering it a naturally exclusive zone for capable surfers.
Despite it sounding as if this limits the crowd that come to Porthleven for the surf, it could not be further from the truth. Without beginners to get in the way, experienced surfers are all the more drawn in, and so it can sometimes get pretty crowded during the peak surfing seasons.
Other Destinations in Porthleven
Anyone actually interested in exploring Porthleven on the whole should intend to spend at least a night, or possibly more, in one of the numerous small hotels, bed and breakfast, or self catering establishments. Going to all the impressive destinations that Porthleven has to offer can be time consuming, and rush is never a nice thing to have to do while on holiday.
When the tide is low, the Moonstone, or Giant’s Quoit, becomes visible. Essentially a 50 ton rock that is made up of materials not found anywhere in Britain, it has been the source of much speculation down the ages. One of the latest theories involves it being part of an iceberg that somehow floated down to Northern Europe. For mystery enthusiasts, this is definitely one of the better attractions.
Also at low tide, a stroll along the beach can lead to Loe Bar. Over time, this bar developed due to the strong winter storms that Porthleven is famous for. Both the winds and water undercurrents combined to form a barrier right at the mouth of the River Coeber, and now the lake that stands there is the biggest source of fresh water in Cornwall. Unfortunately, the selfsame currents that created this astounding natural beauty also make it dangerous to bathe in which is a rather big disappointment.
Apart from the other attractions, there is an abandoned tin mine that merits at least a glance or two considering the scarcity of such institutions today. At Tregonning Hill there is also an extinct volcano that also happens to be of historical significance as it was the place where China clay was first discovered, and subsequently, exported, via Porthleven’s Port.
Of course, the single most easily recognized building in Porthleven is that of the Bickford-Smith Institution along with its 70 foot or so clock tower. Originally built as a library, the Bickmell-Smith Institution is an easily distinguishable structure. Appearances can oft be deceiving however, and even though the structure closely resembles a church, it is, in actuality, a snooker club and houses the town councils.
On either side of the harbor today stand two canons, originally from the frigate HMS Anson that wrecked on Loe Bar. These twin weapons once were used to take on the might of Napoleon’s navy during the Battle of Brest.
By possessing an ever-expanding portfolio of opportunities to entertain its visitors, Porthleven remains relevant even during those times when the season is not right for surfing. With complete services, including accommodation galore that give a plethora of options to holiday makers on whether they would prefer hotels, bed and breakfast or self catering.
Change may very well someday sweep across the quaint village of Porthleven, however it will be a true pity if ever the life, and beauty, of the area is consigned to being nothing more than a half-hearted entry on ah history book.
Sun, surf, sand, and a whole, complete collection of other sites to take in while killing time. During the summer, there are even a host of under events, including quayside concerts, gig racing, and the festival of St. Peters tide.
Be it for a family vacation, or an individual one, or even for a group of friends just interested in experiencing something new, and different, Porthleven provides ample reason to visit for all types of visitors. Most villagers themselves are friendly and ready to help at the slightest notice should it be required of them – so hesitate not.
Very few such locations exist, and it would make sense to take full advantage of this one that does.
An Mordos Hotel and The Harbour Inn, will ensure that you have a comfortable stay.
Bed & Breakfast
Rosemorran, Greystones B&B, The Copperkettle, Kota, Seefar, Tidewatch, Tambrind, Beacon Crag will warmly welcome you.
Driftwood, Bay View Terrace, Anne Russel Luxury Cottages, Meadowside, An Diank Meur, Cornish Hideways, Pentre Cottage, The Lookout, Pixie Cottage, New Haven, Penlee Chalets and The Cuddly are clean and cosy self-catering cottages.
Camping and Caravanning
You can rent-out comfy caravans from Skyburriowe Farm, Penrose Camping Site and Poldown Camping & Caravanning.
The people of Porthleven are passionate about their local-flavoured sea-fare and their mug of beer.
Atlantic Inn, Ship Inn, Moonflower, Crab Pot, Blue Haze and many other restaurants will give you a taste of the local treats.
The soft and subtle beauty of this hidden haven is like the faint tunes of an elusive song...
Savour it....and it will leave you spell-bound...