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Things to see and do at Gunwalloe

Visitors in the distance on the sandy beach at Gunwalloe Church Cove, Cornwall.
Gunwalloe Church Cove, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Home to one of the oldest settlements in Cornwall, Gunwalloe is steeped in history and legend. Reputedly the site of a 17th-century shipwreck, Gunwalloe’s beaches attract treasure hunters looking for silver coins. It’s also a haven for rare wildlife and sits directly on the South West Coast Path.

Gunwalloe’s beaches

There are two beaches at Gunwalloe: Church Cove and Dollar Cove. Both beaches are sandy, although there are some boulders on Dollar cove. Both have rock pools that are accessible when the tide is low, so check the tide table before arriving to make the most of your visit.

Dollar Cove

Dollar Cove takes its name from the treasure that it's been claimed is sometimes found here. In 1669, the San Salvador – a Spanish ship said to have been laden with silver dollars – was lost just offshore of this beach.

Today, the story of the San Salvador attracts treasure hunters from far and wide.

There are no lifeguards on duty at this beach and dogs are welcome all year round.

Church Cove

Church Cove is called so because of the medieval church that sites between the two coves. Weddings are common through the year and the congregation welcomes visitors.

Dogs are welcome to visit the beach during the winter months, however there’s a council-enforced dog ban between 1 July–31 August.

Lifeguards are on duty here through the school summer holidays.

Accessing the beaches

Access to the beaches and coast path is very simple from the National Trust car park at Gunwalloe. Dollar Cove is approximately 100 yards from the car park along a flat road, and Church Cove is a further 200 yards along. Please note that there’s no parking beyond the car park.

Visitor at Gunwalloe Church Cove, Lizard Peninsula
Visitor at Gunwalloe Church Cove, Lizard Peninsula | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Wildlife at Gunwalloe

The reed bed at Gunwalloe is of national importance and provides a habitat and rest stop for both local birds and visiting migrant species.

Birds sighted here include wheatears, reed buntings and the rarer and often very colourful bee-eaters.

You can keep track of local sightings at Gunwalloe and in the surrounding area here.

Archaeology at Gunwalloe

The archaeology at Gunwalloe dates to the prehistoric period. The nearby settlement of Winnianton, based around Castle Mound, is significant in that it’s thought to be one of the first settlements in Cornwall.

Walks around Gunwalloe

Gunwalloe is situated on the South West Coast Path and is almost exactly 10 miles to Lizard Point and about four miles to Porthleven.

There are shorter walks in the immediate area, including one highlighted on the the visitor information board in the car park.

Visitors walking across the beach at Gunwalloe, Cornwall, in the evening

Discover Gunwalloe

Find out how to get to Gunwalloe, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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