22. Penhale Sands

Penhale Sands is located to the north of Perranporth, on the north coast. It extends from From “Flat Rocks” (Cotty’s Point) to the northern end of the beach. It is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). 

The beach is wide and gently sloping with a well-developed and extensive dune system behind.

The beach sand is medium-grained with a mix of quartz, lithic and shell fragments and a higher lithic content around the exposed rock cliffs.

The active face is high with vegetation and bare sand and interspersed with bare vertical rock face.

Toward the middle of the beach length there is a major open sand feature with lesser slopes and active erosion of vegetation. On the southern edge of this feature there is cliffing of the dunes over the rock face and a RNLI hazard warning sign.

The back dunes are relatively healthy with vegetation, bare hollows and a number of significant perennially wet dune slacks. The back dunes include Penhale Sands and Gear Sands and encompass the Haven Holiday Park.

There are old mining features present including the Wheal Vlow adit at the southern end of the beach and remnants from mining of the Great Perran Iron Load in the northern corner.

There is less recreational/tourism pressure on the system than in the neighbouring Perranporth dunes though the South West Coast Path track runs just behind the active face and cliff top.

Walkover report and photos of 06 December 2021


Erosion, cliffing but also issues of over-stabilisation in certain areas due to historic planting measures (lack of essential open sand blow-outs).
Potential Actions
Location for NE & CWT Dynamic Dunes Pilot Project.
Community Groups
CWT Volunteers.
Key Stakeholders

Natural England.
CCMA potential

Shoreline Management Plan
SMP Management Area: MA30
SMP Policy Unit: PU30.4
SMP Policies:
  • Present - Managed Realignment
  • Transition - Managed Realignment
  • Target - Managed Realignment
Link to SMP Chapter 4 assessment for Management Area 30

A link to the Penhale page on the 'Let's Talk Cornwall' website will appear here in due course.