Experts offer top tips to bathers this bank holiday weekend

One of the joys of walking the South West Coast Path is stumbling upon a secluded beach on a remote stretch of coast and discovering that you’ve got it all to yourself – and taking a bracing dip if you’re brave enough.

Thanks to the efforts of organisations including South West Water, Cornwall Council and the Environment Agency, the region boasts the highest number of Blue Flag and Seaside Award beaches in the UK and the bathing water quality is among the best in Europe. Together with other organisations including Visit Cornwall they have formed a partnership to encourage people to be BeachWise.

Some of the best beaches for a ‘wild swim’ are those that require a bit of effort to reach, with beautiful sandy bays and secret coves that can only be accessed on foot via the South West Coast Path. These secluded beaches do not always have lifeguard cover but you can find 20 top tips for a safe, enjoyable day at the beach at

This week, representatives from the BeachWise partnership have rounded up their top recommendations to the best walks to ‘wild swim’ beaches.

1. The beach: Rickham Sands, Devon, recommended by Alan Hyde, Head of Community Relations, South West Water

The walk: East Portlemouth to Gara Rock
Distance: 3.3 miles

Step out along the Coast Path, from the Salcombe Estuary and out to meet the wide open sea. Exhilarating scenery, and a wonderful way to get the wind in your sails. The sandy coves below are perfect for dipping your toes.

2. The beach: Polkerris, recommended by Sarah Ross, the Environment Agency

The walk: Gribbin Head and the Saints Way
Distance: 6.6 miles

A fascinating walk with historical and literary associations as well as spectacular views. Children will love the tower at Gribbin Head and the idyllic sandy cove of Polkerris offers top watersports facilities.

3. The beach: Porthcurno, recommended by Rachel Wyatt, Water Quality Programme Manager, Marine Conservation Society for its excellent water quality.

The walk: Porthcurno from Porthgwarra 
Distance: 2.8 miles

A mostly level walk to Porthcurno, with some short, steep gradients including steps, and some scrambling around boulders. The steeply shelving beach makes this ideal for more experienced swimmers.

4. The beach: Housel Bay, Cornwall, recommended by Malcolm Bell, CEO, Visit Cornwall

The walk: Church Cove and Cadgwith
Distance: 6.1 miles

A walk around the rugged tip of The Lizard, passing the most southerly point on the mainland, following undulating high cliffs. The highlight for many will be a glimpse of a chough. Housel Bay beach is a small sandy cove tucked away at the bottom of cliffs below the hotel of the same name but beware of very high tides.

5. The beach: Carbis Bay, Cornwall, recommended by Tim Coventry, CEO, Surf Life Saving GB

The walk: Carbis Bay and Porthkidney Sands
Distance: 3.1 miles

A short walk either side of the railway line high above St Ives Bay. The long stretch of golden sand at Porthkidney can be reached around the point from Carbis Bay at low tide, but be aware that the tide comes in very quickly, and strong currents make the water unsuitable for bathing near the estuary. Swim at the Carbis Bay end of the beach and enjoy stunning views towards St Ives.

Published on: Aug. 23, 2017