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Things to see and do at Crantock Beach

Three children and an adult making sandcastles at Formby, Liverpool
Building sandcastles on the beach | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Crantock beach is an expanse of sand backed by often sheer dunes. There's plenty to do on your visit, from a relaxing walk along the coast to surfing amongst the waves.

Keeping safe

Following the wintry weather and spring tides, we’re asking visitors take extra care around the dune system at Crantock beach. Please stay clear from the base of the sand cliffs and do not allow children to play near them.

Keeping safe at Crantock Beach

  • RNLI lifeguard cover is in place from 4 May to 29 September, 2024. There is limited cover outside of the main season. Please check here for details. The RNLI strongly advise that visitors should only swim when lifeguards are on duty and obey the flags that are put up on the beach showing where and when it is safe to enter the water.
  • The River Gannel causes currents that can be dangerous, in particular at certain stages of the tide. The lifeguards advise not swimming near the river flow and only when and where they designate it is safe to do so.
  • There have been some reports of quicksand close to the river edge and at the far end of the beach towards West Pentire. Please be vigilant especially in these two areas of beach.
  • Like many sandy beaches, weever fish can be found particularly at low tide. It is advised that you wear beach or wet suit shoes if going in the sea around low tide as weever fish stings can be very painful. If stung the advice is to immerse the area affected in hot water for 30-90 minutes.
  • The profile and shape of the dune system is ever changing, partly due to weather and stormy sea conditions. There are steep drops in places so please access the beach from the lower right corner of the car park.
  • It's often worth checking the tide times before visiting a beach. It is easy for the tides to take us by surprise so make sure you double check what time high tide is before you go to the beach.

Surfing at Crantock

Big Green Adventures at Crantock offers lessons in surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, bodyboarding and coasteering, as well as hire. This is an independent activity centre and the only outdoor provider licensed by the Trust to operate at Crantock. They offer lessons and hire from their base in the National Trust car park.

Visit the Big Green Adventures website

Family fun

Pay a visit to Crantock Beach and you can start ticking off your list of 50 things to do before you're 11¾. Have a go at jumping over waves or take a swim in the sea - don't forget to follow the advice from the lifeguards. You could also explore the nearby footpaths using a map and compass or look out for a number of different sea birds.

Shifting sand dunes

Crantock Beach is a broad sand-dune backed strand between the twin headlands of Pentire Point East and Pentire Point West, Pentire meaning headland. The dunes rise steeply to the gentle undulating grassy plateau of Rushy Green and are dynamic. They constantly change their shape on the side facing the sea, but gradually achieve stability further inland.

On the west side of the beach the deep cleft of Pipers Hole is a sanctuary for fulmars, jackdaws and pigeons which can best be seen nesting from the coast path.

At low tide the first cave can be entered, where you can see a flat slab with the outline of a female figure and a few lines of verse carved into it. A small, incised horse can also be seen cut into the slab. These carvings are the work of a local man, Joseph Prater, and are thought to have been completed in the early 1900s.

High-angle view over Cractock beach with the sea beyond
Crantock Beach | © National Trust Images/John Miller

The Gannel

The estuary known as the Gannel passes Trerice a few miles inland, and the presence of the river was responsible for the name of the place – Tre-res, the farm by the ford. It separates Crantock from Pentire Point East and the town of Newquay.

Until late in the last century the mouth of the Gannel was used by shipping. Its trading demise was caused partly by the development of Newquay harbour and perhaps more importantly, the silting up of the narrow channel by banks of sand.

Limestone and coal were also barged up Penpol Creek where a ruined lime kiln can be seen. A walk along the western foreshore of the wooded creek at low tide will reveal small quays, flights of steps, mooring rings and chains. Ships were built on the northern shore just below Tregunnel.

About 20 yards east of the slip at Fern Pit the slatey rock is scored with several dozen holes, each the size of a dinner plate. No plausible reason has ever been agreed on for this phenomenon, which may be natural or man-made.

A view over a moody looking Porth Joke beach in winter
Porth Joke beach | © National Trust Images/Sue Brackenbury

Porth Joke

Porth Joke, known locally as Polly Joke, is a small cove nestled between Holywell and Crantock. Untouched by commercialism, the beach is a stone’s throw from West Pentire. If you visit during late spring or early summer, you'll be rewarded with a glorious display of wildflowers on the clifftops.

Please be aware this beach is not lifeguarded and there is a risk of rockfalls so keep away from the cliffs. There are no public toilets here.

Walking routes

Crantock sits on the South West Coast Path and there are a number of walks to explore. You can head towards Penpol and Newquay or south in the direction of West Pentire and Porth Joke.

Grazing cattle and sheep at West Pentire

Cattle and sheep can graze on the slopes above Porth Joke at West Pentire throughout the year. Please look out for signs about grazing animals that might be on the footpath ahead, particularly if you're out walking your dog or accessing the coast from the car park there (not National Trust).

Aerial shot of Crantock beach and headland in summer

Discover more at Crantock Beach

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