Who Knew Perranporth Beach Could Be Dangerous!

IMG_4205After recent storms we still find the tide pushing hard into our Cornish coastline. With the onslaught and relentless battering the cliffs and harbors have received, locals and visitors alike are itching to get out and assess whats happened to our beloved favorite spots. I started the blog thinking that sharing my love for photography and my home county that I may find myself struggling to uncover any story that can follow coverage by the media. But of course I still wanted to try, after all if nothing else I would get a good walk out with my wife and blow those cobwebs clear. IMG_4190 After a short drive from Truro we arrived at Perranporth. There was a lull in the bad weather and I was careful to ensure that we would be venturing to the sea after high tide had passed. The wind was a fraction of what it has been recently and yet the waves were still looking aggressive and pushing hard into the sand.

Watering Hole - Perranporth

Watering Hole – Perranporth

Originally Perranporth was in mind to take a look at the sheer volume of sand that had been cleanly removed from the beach. The shifting sand exposed a very large sandy shelf righting in front of the Watering Hole restaurant.

Perranporth Beach Bridge

Perranporth Beach Bridge

Even though this angle gave me a clear view of building and the change in the sands level of the beach it didn’t convey the real feeling I was after. So we hiked up to the top of the cliffs on the left of the beach.

From the top of the cliffs the torn St.Piran’s flag gave a shot that makes us pause for thought about the high winds and crashing waves only a few nights ago on this highly visited beach.

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A faithful dog plays in the beach below catching my attention for a moment. The look of playful joy on his face that also reminds me that this beach is a haven for dog walkers although today I certainly don’t intend on getting my paws wet not even for that special once only photo!

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As we move forward closer to the cliff that faces into the beach cove and the town I get a glimpse of the Watering Hole from the new angle and I stop in my steps. The JCB digger passing gave perspective to the height of the sand bank while a fellow walker just ahead of us stood in the middle of the photo. I was pleased with my composition as the fence was making a rickety leading line with the path to my desired subject.

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The walls of the river had been breached and the water spilled out over the beach instead of following it’s usual course under the bridge to the beach. So now the only way I can see to get to the beach from the car park is to get your feet wet! I’m glad I did head up the hill to get an overview.

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Panning for gold, copper or tin in Cornwall takes it’s toll on a weathered man as he sweeps the sand under the burst river with a metal detector. Then as I moved around the cliff to the final standing point I was positioned above the arch and watching the waves I noticed something I have seen before and never questioned.

IMG_4178A hole in the face of the cliff stack and not just any hole it had a door! Now hole in cliffs are a fact, some seek them as fantastic caves to explore or crevices to fear and avoid. Officials will always tell you to watch children and don’t let them or yourselves wander too close to the cliff or venture into caves.

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From my vantage point I could see that there was a very thin stretch of rock, dirt and moss stretching across from the main cliff to the stack. Fortunately this was cut off from being able to walk across after doing a bit of research once I got back to my pc I discovered that it’s with a very good cause.

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It seems that this stack has a name is would probably be well know with our parents as in past generations is has had some serious new coverage.

The archway is referred to as Droskyn and it’s a mine adit from the latin meaning entrance. The stack itself towards some 15ft high and the top is covered by wood that mining consultants believe has rotted long ago. Now the structurally impaired cap is covered with earth, vegetation and the occasion bird.

However the shaft itself is believed to be as much as 80ft from top to toe and has not always had the timber barricades preventing attempted explorations.

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Near the Tamblyn Way steps that lead from the lift top to the beach I could get a good viewpoint of these boarder openings. According to references I have found online they have been referred to as fisherman’s holes. The left side of the bay here is constantly being eroded by the elements and officials says it’s an impossible task to shut off all these entrances as the sea eats into the cliff and more are created.

Now don’t be fooled, this stack my have the health and safety signs tacked to the cliff face but after being a local for 30 years I have never once spotted this feature and asked myself what it was. Tourists have even less expectation to ask as they walk family out across the golden sands along with thousands of others who visit the “safe” beach each summer as a pinnacle example of Cornwall’s best family beaches.

I would not encourage anyone to avoid using the beach just because of this, crumbs you would have to be mad to read into this as that. It’s a fantastic place and one I visit regularly. It’s good to know that this exists and that especially if you have kids or keen rock climbing teenagers and just be mindful.

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After reading about the mine entrance I stumbled across a few articles online from old newspaper clippings some as recent as 2010. An entrance was discovered by an 11 year old girl in the heat of summer who accidentally fell into a 30ft deep shaft that opened into a water filled cave. The entrance of this was reported to be beyond the stack on the cliff face uncovered at low tide and despite best efforts of everyone involved in the rescue the little girl did not survive. In history also reported a 50 year old fell into a similar opening almost a century before.

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Perranporth we know well, or at least thought we did and despite 2 plaques to warn about a mine at the archway at Droskyn you would never know the coastline is littered with so many at that point. Loved by locals, tourists, young and old, fisherman and dog walkers alike it’s amazing how much history our county is steeped in. Sometimes even the safest environment we believe we are in is only safe when we know the areas history.

My intent was to write my first ever blog on the recent events from stormy tides, disappearing sand and batter sea walls and instead I stumble across something I have walked past for years without ever seeing it for what it really is. Go figure!

Thank you for reading and I welcome any feedback and any stories this brings to your mind.

Will.

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