So who, when and why did this bizarre message appear on Porthgwidden Beach, just in time for the Google Street View car to turn up and snap it?!
Cornwall is home to a surprising variety of sharks. The most commonly sighted are Basking Sharks, which, despite their size and their classic Jaws-style dorsal fin, are completely harmless, feeding on plankton, a kind of algae that lives in sea water.
Not all Cornish sharks are harmless. The Blue Shark, Porbeagle, Thresher Shark and Mako (Maori for man-eating) Shark are all capable of inflicting injury on people, although as yet no shark attacks have ever been reported in the UK. This does not prevent sporadic media feeding-frenzies, in which St Ives often seems to be centre stage.
In 2007 the tabloids decided that a Great White Shark was hunting off the Cornish coast, following a prank by a local bouncer, who sent footage filmed off the coast of Cape Town to the local newspaper.
Media interest was further fuelled in 2009 when a twelve foot Thresher Shark was spotted by surfers and later washed up dead on the beach at Hayle.
The most recent uproar happened in 2011 when a sixty-year-old Mackerel fisherman claimed that a two-meter Oceanic Whitetip Shark ‘zig-zagged’ towards his boat and ‘circled it a few times’ before ‘slamming into it’. He reported the sighting to the harbourmaster at St Ives. Ten minutes later two other fishermen reported a similar experience, one of them claiming to be ‘100% certain’ that what he had seen was an Oceanic Whitetip.
Although the Shark Trust said that the chances of the animal actually being a Whitetip were extremely small – these sharks are usually found in deeper waters much further south – the media took up the story with relish, causing mass hysteria when a large Basking Shark was spotted in the harbour in the same week!
Lambeth Walk beach is a small (and oddly named!) beach situated between the harbour and Porthminster beach. It is barely a beach at all when the tide is in but opens up to join with the harbour beach at lower tides. The backdrop to the beach is the town Church of St Ia and to the northern end is the RNLI lifeboat station.
The beach got its name in the late 1930s when the hit song “The Lambeth Walk” became a dance craze around the World.
Lambeth Walk is a dog friendly beach with no restrictions throughout the year.
Clodgy Point beach is located just around the point (Man’s Head) from Porthmeor beach. It is a fairly rugged affair with a mix of boulders and rocks strewn across a sweeping bay that reaches over to Clodgy Point. It is possibly a little more sheltered than Porthmeor from the force of the sea but is barely accessible and only sandy at low tide. Access is from the coastpath towards the Clodgy Point end and is not recommended for all but the most agile.
On a low tide, with a medium sized swell and when Jupiter is aligned with Uranus there is a mythical surf break here. Foxholes as it is known is a rare point break that I have only ever seen working the once.
Clodgy Point is a dog friendly beach with pooches free to roam throughout the year on or off the lead.
Porthkidney Sands stretch from the mouth of the River Hayle in Lelant to Hawk’s Point in Carbis Bay. The beach is around a mile long and at low tide the sea goes out a long way leaving a vast expanse of usually almost deserted sand. The fact that one can barely discern the river mouth from beach level gives the impression the beach goes on practically to infinity! The beach is many visitor’s first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean as they round the corner on the St Ives branch train. The track runs along the length of the beach as it climbs up to Carbis Bay. The beach is overlooked by one of the areas top golf clubs too; the West Cornwall Golf Club.
At the Lelant end the beach is backed by gentle dunes and there are several access points from the coast path. As the beaches approaches Carbis Bay the dunes rise sharply to form a steep cliff from which the view along the coast is impressive. There is a path down from this end but it is a little more precarious and far from accessible to all. On the lowest of tides it is possible to walk around the point to Carbis Bay beach, or visa versa, to make an intersting detour from the coast path. A word of warning though, the tide moves fast here, so don’t get caught out.
The northern end of Porthkidney beach is a popular, but incredibly fickle, surf spot – Hawk’s Point. It needs a very big swell before it breaks here but can get good. Swimming is less advisable, particularly closer to the river mouth and on turning tides. Strong, unpredictable currents and a lack of any lifeguard cover make it potentially dangerous.
Porthkidney Sands are one of West Cornwall’s all year dog friendly beaches with no restrictions. Given the huge amount of space at low tide even the most energetic dogs should be satisfied.
Is it a harbour? Is it a beach? Well actually it’s both. Whilst you might imagine a grimy patch of muddy sand down a flight of steps you could not be further from the truth. St Ives Harbour beach shares the same beautiful, golden sand and azure waters as the town’s other main beaches. The fact that it is still a working harbour only adds to the beach’s charm.
As you might expect the beach is sheltered. With a near southerly aspect and Smeaton’s Pier to protect the boats from the Atlantic swells only the tiniest of waves make it to the beach. It is also sheltered from the breeze by the town and pier making it a veritable sun-trap (when it’s sunny!).
The other great thing about the Harbour beach is it is smack, bang in the middle of town. This means not only is it easy to get to but you have all the facilities of the town right on the Wharf behind you. So you are never more than 2 minutes from a harbour-front cafe, ice cream shop or choice of Cornish pasty – just be warned that if you don’t take care the seagulls ‘ll have it!
As mentioned this is still a working harbour. Whilst nowhere near as busy as it was 40 or 50 years ago fish are still landed here. Much of the harbour’s trade these days involves fishing trips and excursions, including the ever popular trips to ‘Seal Island’ a couple of miles down the coast towards Zennor.