Day out: Trevellas Porth, Cornwall

Discover a quiet Cornish cove where opportunities for snorkelling, rock-pooling, paddles and swims abound

Beach, cove and sea

St Agnes’s popular Trevaunance Cove is a busy surfing, bathing and sandcastle-building Cornish haven. Just to its north-east is a secret little bay where snorkelling, rock-pooling, dips and paddling are the main draws. 

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Trevellas Porth takes a little effort to reach and thus remains refreshingly uncrowded. Choose a day with tranquil seas to explore the Heritage Coast here.

Beach, cove and sea
Copper and tin mining once dominated Trevellas Porth and the surrounding Cornish landscape/Credit: Getty

Visiting Trevellas Porth

Before you visit the cove, make a note of tide times at St Agnes (tideschart.com). Follow the waymarked coast path north up beside the Driftwood Spars Inn (175m inland from the beach), over the headland – with magnificent views – to reach Trevellas Porth in just under half a mile. Plan to arrive on a falling tide.

Mostly shingle, sandier areas appear as the sea retreats. The huge intertidal zone here is studded with rock pools that amply reward careful exploration. Small fish, crustaceans, starfish and anemones hide amid drifts of seaweed. It’s a paddling paradise, but wear flip-flops – limpet shells are sharp.

If you’re itching to encounter denizens of the deep, let the tide pull back from the northern side of the cove. Walk past the vast cave/crack in the cliff and across the elevated, largely gently sloping rock strata, through gullies and past further deep rockpools to reach the raised, cliff-foot corner slabs and a captivating view across to looming, thrift-thatched sea-stacks. Stop here to spread towels, sunbathe and carefully explore the tideline.

Wildlife at Trevellas Porth

On calm days when the water is flat, the snorkelling can be wonderful (never swim alone and be sensible about water conditions), with deeper channels secreting spider crabs, lobsters and colourful wrasse. With luck, a common seal may appear. Low tide exposes enticing, miniature sandy bays to explore and take a refreshing dip. Allow, at most, a couple of hours over low-tide before returning past the cave, well ahead of the incoming water.

Common seal on rock
Common seals can be spotted in the cove/Credit: Getty

Walk from Trevellas Porth to Trevaunance Cove

Heading back, walk the stream-side path up Trevellas Coombe, part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. Gaunt, tin-mine engine houses and chimneys pepper the deep valley. 

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At the lane, turn right (or visit the intriguing Blue Hills Tin works nearby), then right again off the hairpin bend on to the coast path back to Trevaunance Cove.