The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever, wrote Jacques Cousteau...

PUBLISHED: 13:53 20 October 2020

Polkerris Beach in the snow- Photo Ben Hawkins

Polkerris Beach in the snow- Photo Ben Hawkins

Ben Hawkins

Almost a third of Cornwall sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty protecting Cornwall’s coastline and reflecting all that is loved about the sea

Working boat on the River Fal - Photo Rebecca WalkerWorking boat on the River Fal - Photo Rebecca Walker

As the weather turns chillier it seems contradictory to be thinking of getting into the water, yet many enthusiasts are still jumping in and enjoying wild swimming around Cornwall’s coasts and estuaries. The benefits of wild swimming and cold-water immersion are numerous for mental and physical wellbeing.

Ten of Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sections are on the coast. From the rough waters of the north coast – including Hartland, Pentire Point to Widemouth, Carnewas to Stepper Point, St Agnes, Godrevy to Portreath and West Penwith – to the smooth sailing (and swimming) of the south coast; South Coast Western, South Coast Central, South Coast Eastern and Rame Head. The Camel Estuary section is a broad tidal river, over half a mile wide at Padstow and whilst technically isn’t coastal, you can dip your toes in.

For those who want to embrace the chill and seek the benefits of the endless sea of blue these beautiful areas are the perfect place to venture out to. Make sure to choose a spot to take a dip that you feel safe in. Bearing in mind that beaches are not likely to be lifeguarded at this time of year, you may wish to join your local wild swimming club.

Enjoying the water doesn’t necessarily mean full immersion either! Paddle boarding, kayaking and responsible sailing along the coast gives you a unique perception of the incredible nature, flora and fauna in our protected landscapes.

Sennen Cove beach at sunset - Photo Kevin DawsonSennen Cove beach at sunset - Photo Kevin Dawson

The Trustees of Cornwall AONB Trust, through its Environment Landscape Fund (ELF) have supported the purchase of two Odyssey Innovation Marine Plastic recycled kayaks one, for Plastic Free Falmouth and the other for Rame Peninsula Beach Care.

The recycled plastic sea kayak was developed due to an innovative idea of Rob Thompson who, in 2014, established a volunteer group of divers to retrieve marine plastic and ghost gear. The dilemma Rob faced was what would then become of the plastic and fishing nets they collected? It took a further two years of research and development for Rob to find a way of recycling the marine plastic into a material suitable for kayak manufacturing. During this time Rob formed a partnership with Keep Britain Tidy, to assist in recycling beach plastic which became the Ocean Recovery Project and Rob became Plastix UK representative for the recycling of fishing nets.

It may not quite be the kayaking you might have fun doing at the weekends this winter but these kayaks can access the inaccessible and manoeuvre into areas where marine litter tends to get trapped and which would otherwise prove impossible to collect.

Polzeath Beach at sunset - Photo Melanie RileyPolzeath Beach at sunset - Photo Melanie Riley

Did you know that approximately 10 million tonnes of litter end up in the world’s seas and oceans every year, which proves fatal for our marine life.

Another way to enjoy the sea is to walk the coast path around Cornwall. With endless views of the water, designated paths and plenty of salty sea air for those who are more accustomed to the land this offers known benefits to wellbeing.

While the coastal section of the AONB are protected landscapes, meaning they are designated for conservation due to their significant landscape value, some sections have additional value. Discover diverse habitat in Hartland, the coastal section is designated as a European candidate Special Area of Conservation, Carnewas to Stepper Point is rich in biodiversity with two prominent SSSI areas at Park Head and Trevose Head whilst the coastal strip from St Agnes to Godrevy Head is a Special Area of Conservation.

There are many ways to get your blue fix this winter, just remember to pack a hot flask for afterwards. u

If you would like to find out more about the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at cornwall-aonb.org.uk where you will find further information about what we do. Alternatively you can download our App which is available for both android, apple-i mobile telephones and tablets.

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