At the End of the Land


At the End of the Land

DAVE PEAKE goes full snorkel to encounter the ancient, alien yet reassuring seascape of Cornwall’s Porth Nanven

0120 Cornwall sunset

Sunset at Porth Nanven. Inset:The West Cornwall coastline showing Porth Nanven.

Porth Nanven is a small cove in the far west of Cornwall, between Land’s End and Cape Cornwall. It is about three-quarters of a mile from the town of St Just, at the end of Cot Valley.

Facing west, it suffers the full onslaught of the Atlantic, and the sea is very often not accessible there.

A spider crab finds its ‘oasis’.
A spider crab finds its ‘oasis’.

It is sometimes referred to as Dinosaur Egg Beach, because of the remarkable deposits of ovoid boulders varying in size from hen’s egg to a metre or more long.

They were formed by the sea some 120,000 years ago, when levels were higher. It’s a spectacular landscape, and a favourite with photographers, especially at sunset.

Protected as a site of special scientific interest and owned by the National Trust, this is a cove I had always wanted to snorkel and explore but, as is often the case, the weather and wind had been unkind.

This summer, however, there was an opportunity when the winds changed to the east. It was a full gale, but the cove is protected from this direction.

I drove to the small National Trust car park at the end of Cot Valley and walked to the top of the beach.

The east wind blew strongly down the valley but the emerald sea was calm inshore and conditions looked good.

The sea was offering 15-20m of vis, and the sun shone from a blue sky.

I changed quickly and scrambled over the boulders into the sea.

Wearing and carrying scuba-gear, this would have been virtually impossible, but in that respect snorkelling is much easier.

Appeared in DIVER January 2020

After about  90 minutes in the water, I climbed and scrambled back to the car.

A plaice on the sand
A plaice on the sand.

I scrolled through my images to make sure I had  recorded the stunning scenery and seascapes over which I had swum and into which I had dived.

They looked OK. When the UK is good, you have to go and look.

I did find what appeared to be some metal wreckage in the sand, and assume it came from the British WW1 submarine  L1, wrecked on 30 March, 1930.

It was under tow from Chatham to Newport to be scrapped when the tow parted, so it was scrapped at the site, with one end embedded in the sand, the other on the rocks.

The Celtic Old Man of the Sea.
The Celtic Old Man of the Sea.

I do like dramatic scenery, and this was no exception.

The beautiful yellow Cornish granite reefs and cliffs brought out the sense of legend and myth of this area, and I did find the Celtic “Old Man of the Sea”, with his scarred and gnarled features.

I took his picture, seen here to the right, and somehow it seemed to be a selfie.


Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Viagra tablet

Viagra and diving: Risk reduction

Awareness is everything in diving, and BOB COLE has advice for divers who, for whatever reason, take PDE5 inhibitors I recently met an old friend

Reefs of Raja Ampat

Reefs of Raja Ampat

Local Guide to Raja Ampat Reefs, #4 Neu Reef While Raja Ampat is home to an incredible number of dive sites, one area, in particular,

Follow Divernet on Social Media