Crantock's shifting shores

The bay at Crantock Beach

The River Gannel that runs alongside and sometimes across the beach at Crantock has changed profile and continues to do so.

What has changed at Crantock Beach?

We think that during storms over recent years sand has significantly shifted on the sea and river beds. There is a breakwater that guides the Gannel and this has, at times, become ineffective because of sand building up.
The river’s natural course is across the beach before heading out to sea. The breakwater keeps the river hugging East Pentire – the headland to the right of the beach.

How does this affect the sea conditions?

The Gannel causes currents that can be dangerous, in particular at certain stages of the tide. This is the reason why the lifeguards advise not swimming near the river flow and only when and where they designate it is safe to do so.

There have also been some reports of quicksand close to the river edge and at the far end of the beach towards West Pentire. We suggest that visitors remain vigilant especially in these two areas of beach.

Why isn’t the breakwater just shored up to make it effective again?

This isn’t as easy as it may appear. Bigger and more frequent storms mean that even if expensive beach works are carried out, any benefits might be very short lived. One storm or a period of rough sea conditions could render the breakwater ineffective again in a few hours.

The Trust is closely working with the neighbouring landowner (the Duchy of Cornwall which owns the beach below mean high water) and we will continue to co-ordinate with other interested organisations including the RNLI to monitor the situation at Crantock Beach.