Far from the well-known images of Cornish beaches baked in sunshine, tiny fishing villages awash with colour and blue sky-topped landscapes, winter in Cornwall can transform itself into something else entirely.
Taking the brunt of weather systems rolling in from the Atlantic, Cornwall can often endure the strongest punches from storms hitting the UK. Whereas in reality big storms are few and far between, when they get going, they put on an unmissable show of pounding waves and moody skies.
Whether you are a photographer looking for that winning shot or simply want to see Mother Nature do her thing, here are some of the best places to storm watch in Cornwall whilst keeping dry and safe out of harm’s reach.
Only 7 miles from Padstow, the amazing Bedruthan Steps should definitely be your first port of call when looking for giant waves. Enormous sea stacks said to be the stepping stones of giants, the stormy seas around Bedruthan Steps put on a spectacular winter performance. Look on as huge barrelling waves crash into the stacks from atop the cliffs. Looked after by the National Trust, there is a fenced viewing area where you can safely look down on the seas below. Then when you’re ready to warm up, head to the cafe located in the National Trust car park.
Separated by the next body of land by 3,000 miles of open ocean, Newquay experiences some pretty awe-inspiring storms. For particularly impressive viewing, stop by Towan Head and stare agape as the show unfolds. Home to Cornwall’s big wave surf spot, the Cribbar, Towan Head with the right conditions can produce massive, surfable waves reaching over 20ft high. That said, we’d recommend leaving surfing them to the pros!
Further down the coast, Portreath is another excellent spot for storm watching in Cornwall. In fact, the waves here get so powerful that during the 2014 storms, a little hut that once sat on the end of Portreath pier was completely washed away. For a safe spot to take in the action there is a clifftop road that you can walk or drive up to. Just be careful of the wind.
Definitely one of the best places to storm watch in Cornwall, Penzance’s harbour and promenade often get pummelled by ferocious swells. Home to a number of seafront cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy the display from the comfort and warmth of a cosy window seat. When the seas get really rough though, avoid walking along the front altogether and stick to higher ground.
Every serious storm watcher has heard of Porthleven. A famous fishing port, pictures started circulating a few years ago of monstrous waves breaking over the town’s 70ft clock tower, engulfing the building in a watery embrace. Giving onlookers a real sense of scale, Porthleven is well worth a trip when the storms roll in.
Like Porthleven, Sennen has received a lot of attention from storm-lovers for the almighty waves that hit the coast. Bundle up some sandwiches and flask of hot soup and make your way over. Owned and maintained by the National Trust, you can use the Lookout above Sennen Cove to see the rollers coming in. You can also park in the village’s car park or even drive over to Land’s End and watch from the lighthouse.
The Lizard Point
The most southerly point of mainland Britain, the Lizard is another great place to visit for storm watching. Sticking out in the sea, you can head down to the most southerly point and see waves rumble and roll from high above the water. Also home to two cafes, you can choose your favourite vantage point and hunker down with a steaming cup of tea or marshmallow-topped hot chocolate. As well as the Lizard Point, Kynance Cove is only a mile or so down the road from here and definitely worth stopping by.