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Step closure at Carnewas at Bedruthan

A view over the beach at Carnewas at Bedruthan on a sunny day
The beach at Bedruthan | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

A significant rock fall damaged the steps to the beach at Carnewas at Bedruthan in 2019, which means access to the beach was closed, and remains closed for the foreseeable future. Efforts are on-going to work out if a route can be reinstated while also stabilising the cliff face.

What happened?

A significant rock fall took place above Bedruthan beach in December 2019. Fortunately, the cliff stairs were closed to visitors at the time. However, it did cause damage to the lower section of the steps, as well as the protective netting and pinning on the cliff faces around the steps and which are integral parts of the safety infrastructure.

There was then a further cliff fall on neighbouring land, above Bedruthan beach in January 2021.

Can I access Bedruthan beach?

The stairs to Bedruthan beach remain closed while the National Trust and experts work to ascertain if access can be reinstated. No alternative route is available and the RNLI and National Trust are strongly advising visitors not to try and find alternative routes onto the beach.

Not only is the cliff face in an unstable condition, but there are strong sea currents here as well as a real danger of being cut off by the tide.

A brief history of the stairs

Providing stair access to the beach has proved challenging over the years. Since the 1960s, access has been closed multiple times when no safe route was possible.

In 1973, a generous benefactor gifted the National Trust £25,000 to rebuild the old cliff staircase. However, by 1990, further fragmentation of the cliff meant it was necessary to close the staircase again. It was reopened in 1995 following stabilisation work and rebuilding 20ft of the staircase that had been washed away.

What else can we do at Carnewas?

Carnewas at Bedruthan is still a fantastic place to visit. It offers clifftop views across the giant rock stacks on the beach and far along the coast towards Trevose Head.

There are also walks to enjoy along footpaths including a stretch of the South West Coast Path. Improving accessibility continues to be a priority and cliff top paths were significantly improved in 2021 with further work taking place in 2023. Wildlife lovers can look out for wildflowers and coastal birds, and the picnic area, popular tea-room, shop and toilets are all available to visitors.

When will access be reinstated?

Access to the beach remains closed while expert technical advice is sought on whether the steps can be made safe for future use and, if so, how.

Latest update

Shortly after the collapse in 2019, the Trust commissioned an exploratory survey by expert geologists. This report identified the need for further geotechnical assessment, including ground investigations, geotechnical data collection and stability analyses.

This needs to be done to determine how the cliff face might adequately be stabilised and access reinstated. We're now consulting with expert partners, as well as the neighbouring landowner who owns the area of cliff affected by the January 2021 fall as well as the beach, to work out the feasibility and cost of repairs. This feasibility work alone is expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds. We have now secured funding to start carrying out the work this year and will provide updates as soon as we can.

A view of the beach and rocks at low tide at Carnewas at Bedruthan, Cornwall


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