23. Holywell Bay

Holywell Bay is on the north coast between Perranporth and Newquay.

To the south and west, the floodplain of the Holywell Stream (aka Ellen Stream or Ellenglaze Stream) transitions from saltmarsh to sand dune as it approaches the beach and the dunes migrate up the valley. These are important flood defence barriers protecting the access routes behind. Despite being flat and worn through pedestrian and water runoff erosion, the sand level is high. There also appears to be the channel of an ephemeral tributary entering the beach that runs east to west along the northern edge of the residential area. From a distance, there appears to be erosion of sand on the left bank that might become a potential hazard to property. 

The backshore beach progressively steepens to grade into the active dune face at a repose of around 30-40 degrees. The active face appears healthy with some slippage of vegetation.

Along the northern fringe and to the east, there are high dunes with steep and bare aspects. The central dune hinterland is crisscrossed with bare sand pathways.

There are high recreational/tourism pressures on the system.

The Surf Life Saving Club hut is not in a sustainable location. To protect the frontage, the beach level has been raised leaving an artificial sand cliff that will be worn back by storm waves. Options for relocation are likely to be limited, however.

Walkover report and photos of 15 September 2021


Sand cliffing, Recreational pressure. Poor interpretation.
Potential Actions
Development of Beach Dune Management Plan.
Community Groups
Holywell Bay Surf Life Saving Club.
Key Stakeholders

  • National Trust
  • RNLI
CCMA potential

Shoreline Management Plan
SMP Management Area: MA31
SMP Policy Unit: PU31.4
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 Holywell Bay page on the 'Let's Talk Cornwall' website will appear here in due course.