Last year I visited Bedruthan Steps on the north Cornish coast, between Newquay and Padstow. The tide was in at that time so you couldn’t access the beach; it has been my intention to revisit at low tide. Checking the tide timetables (funny how your habits change when you move near the coast), I saw that mid-afternoon last Thursday was a good time to go there. Nearby in St Mawgan (not to be confused with Mawgan on the Lizard) there is a Japanese Garden which I also wanted to visit, so a plan was hatched for a day out.

The weather was in my favour, a light wind, cloudy, warm and most importantly, dry. Β I spent late morning at the garden (post to follow) then headed for the coast road (B3276) along narrow country lanes lined with wild Valerian and escapee Rape.

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Country lane to Mawgan Porth – Valerian

On arrival at the National Trust Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps car park where there is a cafe and toilets, I parked up and headed to the cafe for some lunch. After a cheese and ham roll attractively served with a few crisps, chutney and salad along with a bottle of lemon I was ready to tackle the beach. Β I say ‘tackle’ as this beach can only be accessed via a steep set of stone steps – 120 in total. Fortunately there are handrails to cling on to.Β 

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Coastal wild flowers catch my attention before I reach the top of the steps. Purple-pink thrift now pretty much over, wild carrot with its flamboyant magenta pink heads in bud, yellow kidney vetch, red curly dock scattered over the cliff tops.

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Best not to get too close to the edge though, this area is suffering from coastal erosion and the cliffs are crumbling in to the sea.

Path to the steps
Path to the steps
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From the steps

Once on the beach I have a short time to wander along the seashore and between the stacks before the tide comes in again. You wouldn’t want to get caught out here and as I survey the 120 steps back up to the top I wonder if I shall require an air-lift!

The top of the cliffs looks a long way above.

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The geology attracts my eye as well as the mussels and limpets and barnacles. The mussels are not as colourful as those in New Zealand with their shiny green and red bands, but subtle shades of blue and grey and a hint of yellow.

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The tide is coming in – time to climb back up those steps.

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Incoming tide
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50 thoughts on “A step too far?

  1. I went down to the beach and, pant … pant … back up on my first trip to Cornwall. Sadly I lost all the photos when my camera card crashed, but I remember. I loved it. There were families playing cricket on the beach that day. I just can’t imagine those Victorian ladies trudging down and up though.
    One day I’ll get back. In the mean time I’ll enjoy your pics.

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    1. I suspect the Victorian ladies admired the beach from the top! Unless there used to be an easier route down there, before the cliffs started to erode.

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  2. I loved those beach shots, Jude. So crisp and clear. The view from the top is amazing too. Shame it is cut off for so much of the time, but I suppose that is what makes it a special place.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

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  3. Lovely photos – luckily my in laws live nearby, so I get there a lot. Last time I was on the beach, the dog refused to climb back up the steps so I carried it and have only just recovered!

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    1. I’m not good with steps or steep slopes so going down was worse for me. My knees were screaming. Going up was more of a struggle to breathe πŸ˜‰ I was surprised to see families with tots and babies on the beach though, I think I’d find somewhere a little easier to access. Not as though there isn’t a choice around there!

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  4. What a wonderful area! πŸ™‚ And what a pity I missed that when I was in Cornwall [ages ago]. 😦 Thanks for taking me there. It’s so easy with the steps when you’re in an armchair just looking at them. πŸ˜‰
    In my former life as a sailor the helpful tides always seemed to be in the middle of the night. πŸ˜‰ But when I wanted to visit St. Michael’s Mount [as I said, ages ago], they were just about right. Out there by boat, and back on foot.

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    1. The tides do make it interesting – as I mentioned in the post, I now consult the timetable if there is somewhere I specifically want to access at low tide – not always convenient times though πŸ˜‰

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    1. The flowers are everywhere and in a state of flux. Never know what I am going to see. Alongside the road with no stopping places grew red, white and pink Valerian, ox-eye daisies and scarlet poppies. I almost stopped breathing! And then on the way back I noticed a house right on the roadside with a fence smothered in fat pale golden roses.

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    1. I have to challenge myself to get that close to the cliff, I’m not so good with heights any more. But I wanted to capture the beach with someone walking on it for a sense of scale. Glad you like the photos πŸ™‚

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  5. My kind of beach. The hell with the steps πŸ™‚ Mick’s just spent ages looking in his plant book for wild carrot cos I didn’t know which of your photos it was. Kept him out of mischief πŸ™‚ Love that rolling lanes opening shot too.

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  6. The height of the tide depends very much upon the lie of the shore. The places with the highest tides in Europe are St. Malo [13 meters] and the Severn estuary [over 9 meters]. The highest tides in the world are in tne Bay of Fundy, Canada [over 16 meters].

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  7. Beautiful, beautiful photos Jude and those steps do look very daunting. I wonder where Meg is? I’m sure she will love those rocks and maybe be able to identify them. The abundance of wild flowers are a real bonus. Looking forward to seeing the Japanese garden.

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    1. Meg’s gallivanting I think PP. I should look up the geology of this part of the coast, but have been too busy watching tennis this week! I shall get on to the Japanese garden now πŸ™‚

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  8. It’s like you live in a wonderland, Jude. These photos are stunning … thanks for taking us along. It hadn’t occurred to me that mussels and other marine life would be left behind when the tide went out. Can you tell I’m an “inlander”? That 3rd photo from the end with the mussels is gorgeous.

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