Last Updated on April 22, 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Situated along the Roseland Peninsula, a stretch of Cornish Coastline home to endless hiking paths, secluded coves, and off the beaten track fishing villages, Carne and Pendower beaches make for the perfect escape from it all…
DISTRICT: ROSELAND PENINSULA
REGION: SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
OS GRID REF: (CARNE) SW 9070 3818 & (PENDOWER) SW 9025 3814
Location of Carne and Pendower Beaches
Carne and Pendower Beaches can be found midway along the Roseland Peninsula, an area that has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty due to its incredible coastal scenery. The beaches are situated adjacent to one another and are both south facing onto Gerrans Bay.
While Carne Beach is situated to the east closest to Nare Head, which at a height of 300ft shelters both beaches from the worst of the elements, both beaches can still get pretty windy throughout the year, especially so during the winter months.
Gerrans Bay lies between Porthscatho and Nare Head. And according to local folklore, it’s named after an early Cornish King Gerennius (Gerrenius, Geraint, Gereint, Gerent) of Dumnonia, a tribal chieftain who lived in the area during the 6th century, AKA the so-called Dark-Ages.
Here’s an account of the legend from the book The Cornish Coast and Moors by Allen G. Folliott-Stokes (published in 1912). The excerpt refers to the death and burial of King Gerennius:
“…Cutting the level skyline across the Bay is the huge barrow known as Gerrans Mound… He had a palace at Tregurrel (Trewithian?), to the right of the bay, and the tradition is that his body was rowed from there across the water in a golden boat with silver oars and buried, Boat, oars, and all, on the top of the hill.”
Gerrans Mound is now known as Carne Beacon and is, in fact, a Bronze-Age Tumulus. It was excavated in the 1850’s and a cist containing ashes was found – alas no gold or silver!!
About Pendower and Carne Beaches
Gerrans Bay is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) noted for both its biological and geological features. The beaches are owned and cared for by the National Trust. Both beaches have car parks which incur a small charge via an honesty box, but are free to National Trust members.
Despite having two names, Carne and Pendower are actually one large beach that is separated by a smallish rocky area in between. At low tide there are many rock pools, in this section of the beach, teeming with marine life and several mussel beds.
There is only a thin strip of sand at high tide on the Carne side whereas Pendower has a much larger area. However, at low tide, the beautiful sand is exposed and stretches well over a kilometre in length. They are both dog-friendly beaches but dogs must be kept on leads from 9.00am-6.00pm from May-September.
Both the South West Coast Path and Cornish Way Cycle route traverse this area. However, with this being said, all beaches on the Roseland Peninsula are much less frequented than other more popular resorts in Cornwall such as Porthcurno or Kynance Cove.
Although this means there are fewer facilities available, this simply adds to the beaches’ secluded charm. So, no cafe or lifeguard service; we recommend bringing along a picnic instead! There are toilets in the Carne car park and next to the road leading to the car park at Pendower (seasonal opening only).
Nearby things to see and do:
Portloe – A quintessential Cornish fishing village that is often called the jewel in the crown of the Roseland Peninsula.
Caerhays Castle and Gardens – A magnificent semi-castellated Manor House designed by the great Regency architect John Nash – think Buckingham Palace, Brighton Pavilion ….(you get the picture!). Only open mid-March to mid-June.
St Mawes Castle – One of the best preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery forces. Owned by English Heritage and open from April to end of September.
Carne Beacon – OS Grid Ref: SW 9126 3863. Go and see Gerrans Mound for yourself. Look over the bay and just imagine what the bay must have looked like all those centuries ago….!
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