CORNWALL'S OUTSTANDING BEAUTY
PUBLISHED: 18:10 19 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:36 30 August 2017
This section of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is also known locally as North Cliffs, covering an area of just under 6.47 square kilometres, it forms just one per cent of the overall Cornwall AONB. The coastline contains some dramatic scenery and extends from north of Camborne between the higher ground of Navax Point in the west to the lower Tregea Hill, near Portreath to the east and the Red River to the south. It is best known for its sheer cliffs constantly battered by the unrelenting westerly Atlantic squalls as seen at Hell’s Mouth and Hudder Cove. By contrast, inland the terrain changes from coastal heathland to farmland and extends beyond into quiet wooded valleys.
Getting out and about
There 12 designated Cornwall AONB areas. The Visit Cornwall website offers information on accommodation in the area as well as more general info: see
The South West Coastal Path website provides an interactive map where you can assess the level of fitness required to walk the coastal sections according to your physical ability ().
i-walk Cornwall also provides lots of useful information about walks within the Cornwall AONB ().
The National Trust also provides a walking trail from Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth () starting at the Godrevy café this circular walk takes you back from where you started and where you can treat yourself to a well-deserved pot of tea or Cornish ice cream (or one of the best hot chocolates in Cornwall..
There is ample car parking at Godrevy provided courtesy of the National Trust which charges a fee or is free to members.
Check out the Cornwall Council public transport link for information on buses in the area ().
Find out more about the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at cornwallaonb.org.uk where you will also find further information about what they do as well as how to get involved. For volunteering opportunities get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost a third of Cornwall sits in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - we continue our series exploring its areas with a visit to Godrevy and Portreath
The seascape in this section of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is dominated by Godrevy Island and its distinctive lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1858/59 above the treacherous Stones Reef after the loss of the SS Nile which was wrecked off the island in 1854 with the loss of all hands.
Made famous by Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To The Lighthouse, Woolf was inspired looking across from her family’s holiday home in St Ives. In 1934 the lighthouse was made automatic and in 2012 Trinity House discontinued use of the light within the tower, replacing it with an LED light mounted on a steel platform nearby on the rocks. Godrevy is still listed by Trinity House as a lighthouse, and the tower is maintained by them as a daymark. The new light maintains the same pattern as its predecessor, flashing white/red every ten seconds, with the red sector only being visible in the arc of danger from the reef. The range of the light is around eight nautical miles (15km).
The landscape in this section is curious in that it slopes southward away from the coast to the valley of the Red River, so named from the mining waste (rich in iron oxide) that washed into it over centuries turning the river a rusty red. The river now runs clear but there are still traces of orangey red iron oxide on the river bed. The river valley provides suitable shelter for the ancient Sessile Oaks of Tehidy Country Park with its lakes and woodland walks providing an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike.
Tehidy is the largest area of woodland in west Cornwall. The great manor of Tehidy was owned by generation of the Basset family and a manor house was built in 1734 from the profits of the family’s copper mines. In 1780, the then owner of Tehidy, Francis Basset became a national figure and received the peerage of Baron de Dunstanville in recognition of marching his fit Cornish miners to Plymouth to help build and secure the marine fortifications against the Spanish and French naval fleet.
In 1916 the manor of Tehidy was sold ending 700 years of Basset rule and the house and estate was split up into lots. In 1919 the manor house burnt to the ground in a devastating fire rumoured to have been caused by the ghosts of Tehidy.
The extensive sands of St Ives Bay form the dune system known as the Towans’ and these extend northward across the Red River on to the headland. The Godrevy Towans have become naturally stabilised with vegetation and support its own particular flora, both the Towans and the headland at Godrevy contain important archaeological remains from the Mesolithic period onwards providing evidence of various settlements.
The boundary of this section of the Cornwall AONB runs to just west of the village of Portreath and the headland footpath winds its way up and down past such coastal features as Deadman’s Cove and Hell’s Mouth and it is this stretch of craggy coastline that give rise to the local name for this area of North Cliffs.
There is something for everyone in this section of the AONB be it the long sandy beaches or dramatic cliffs with an abundance of nature at all levels to be discovered by both visitors and residents who are prepared to spend time exploring the locality. w
To find out more about the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty email at cornwallaonb.org.uk
WILDLIFE – what to look out for
Of all the sections of the Cornwall AONB, Godrevy is a haven for marine life and is one of the best places in Cornwall to see Grey seals, dolphins and Harbour porpoise. The most common species of dolphin you are likely to see are common, bottlenose, Risso’s and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
The grey seals are actually present all year round although well camouflaged amongst the rocks and seaweed. The number of Grey seals significantly increase during the winter months when many of them compete for a place at Mutton Cove.
In the air
For the seabird enthusiast there is a wide variety of species to be spotted including, Guillemot, Gannets, Razorbills, Cormorants, Shags and Gulls who gather out beyond the Godrevy Lighthouse to feed on unsuspecting shoals of fish.
In land the National Trust who manage the headland keep a string of Shetland ponies to maintain the mix of grassland, heathland and gorse scrub which in turn provides ideal habitat for wildlife including the Stonechat and the Grayling butterfly.