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Porthleven Information, History, Acommodation and more

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Porthleven harbour
View out over Porthleven harbour

Porthleven is the most southerly working port in the United Kingdom and boasts a picturesque harbour, with some interesting old buildings. The harbour faces south west into the prevailing wind and consequently the harbour construction and sea walls are massive. During winter storms, people visit the town to watch the waves crashing over the sea defences. The harbour once had a fleet of more than 100 drifters used to fish pilchard and mackerel.

Porthleven storm
Stormy seas are common at Porthleven

Porthleven is large enough to cater for visitors whilst retaining the character of an unspoilt fishing village, with its granite harbour and pier and famous clock tower. The area has been inhabited for over 1000 years but the present village started with the construction of the harbour in 1811. It is ideal as a base for a walking holiday as it is situated on the Coastal Path. Many of Cornwall’s attractions and theme parks are within easy reach. The large village has a friendly atmosphere, several good restaurants and a pleasant beach. The village remains unspoilt by progress. It has always been popular with artists and crafts people and there are several shops displaying and selling local work.

Surfing at Porthleven
Porthleven surfer Dan Joel

At low-tide, west of the harbour entrance, are excellent rock pools and the Moonstone or Giant’s Quoit , a 50 ton rock of a type not found anywhere in the United Kingdom. The latest theory is that it floated down on an iceberg from northern Europe! From the cliffs can be seen the abandoned engine houses of tin mine at Rinsey . Tregonning Hill is visible from the village. This is an extinct volcano and the spot where china clay was first discovered in this country and then shipped out via Porthleven harbour.

Porthleven is a popular spot with surfers but only those with lots of experience. It is not a place for the novice. Other sports facilities include tennis, football, cricket, bowling and snooker clubs. There is also a golf course at nearby Praa Sands . There is a small, mainly shingle beach in a bay backed by cliffs. A long sand and pebble beach starts at Porthleven and stretches three miles south west to Loe Bar and Gunwalloe Cove . Swimming here is dangerous and families prefer the large sandy beach at Praa Sands.

Loe Bar
Looking back to Porthleven from Loe Bar

When the tide is out it is possible to walk along the beach to Loe Bar, although care must be taken not to be stranded by the fast incoming tides. This barrier has been formed by the winter gales and fierce under-currents piling it up sand and flint at the mouth of estuary of the River Cober . The lake behind is the biggest stretch of natural fresh water in Cornwall. Bathing can be very dangerous on this part of the beach especially at low tide due to strong currents. Freak waves can appear from nowhere and have claimed many lives in the past. Loe Bar is an area of special scientific interest because of its unique construction and the rare plants to be found there.

Helston is not far away, through the woodlands or by road.

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