Port Quin and Port Gaverne
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Port Quin to Port Gaverne covers a popular stretch of the North Cornwall coastline with contrasting terrain, sheltered inlets and sleepy hamlets.
This small hamlet situated between Polzeath and Port Isaac was a community of 23 houses and 94 people in 1841. It never really prospered and apart from mining and horticulture, people relied heavily upon the pilchard season from August to December. Nobody quite knows why the village was deserted. Local legend talks of the loss of the entire male population of the village through a fishing disaster, but perhaps, more prosaically, it was down to the failure of local mines and a poor pilchard season.
Today, Port Quin is a peaceful cove and hamlet offering classic Cornish scenery and great walking. There are also several holiday cottages, perfect to use as a base for exploring the surrounding area.
A few miles up the coast from Port Quin, just past Port Isaac, lies Port Gaverne. In the 19th century, slate was quarried at Delabole, carried to Port Gaverne in horse-drawn wagons down Great Slate Road and then passed hand to hand by a chain of villagers to be stowed in the vessel’s hold until the coasters collected it.
In 1893, Port Gaverne lost its slate trade when the North Cornwall Railway Company linked Delabole to Lauceston and Plymouth. However, the new rail link improved the rapid export of pilchards and the village had four fish cellars for preserving them, two of which, the Rashleigh and the Union, we now look after.
If you head a couple of miles down the coast from Port Quin, towards Polzeath, you'll come to Lundy Bay. It's very different to the rest of the wild and rugged Pentire peninsula. Here, blackthorn and willow grow in the sheltered valley, interspersed by butterfly glades and wet meadows, coming alive in spring with wildflowers.
The half-mile walk from the car park to the beach takes you along a path where blackcaps, willow warblers, chiff chaffs, and whitethroats can be heard. Primroses and red campion grow beside the footpath and hart’s tongue fern on the stream side. The path takes you to Markham’s Quay, a narrow, natural fissure in the rock where smuggled cargoes supposedly landed. The higher path to Lundy Bay leads you to Lundy Hole, with its dramatic natural arch, the remains of a collapsed sea cave. Take extra care at this site.
The sandy beaches of Lundy Bay and Epphaven Cove are worth a visit. At low tide they're fringed by deeply coloured boulders, rock pools and dark caves.