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Discover Gerrans Bay

The Roseland remains one of Cornwall’s most beautiful and untouched regions with miles of twisting back-roads, picturesque villages and quiet sandy beaches to explore. Gerrans Bay is a wonderful, wide horseshoe sweep of water, with the towering cliffs of Nare Head at one end and the ancient fishing village of Portscatho at the other. Between the two, not far from the village of Veryan with its unusual round houses, are some of the finest beaches in Cornwall – Pendower and Carne, where at low tide the smooth sands seem to stretch for miles.

The bay takes its name from a 6th century Cornish king who was said to rule the area, Geraint or Gerennius is said to have built a fort on the western side of the bay known as Dingerein Castle and the circular earthworks can still be seen today. When the king died however, legend has it that he was buried in a golden boat with silver oars beneath the enormous mound which lies in a field above Carne beach.


Portscatho means ‘landing place for boats’ in Cornish and the sheltered cove, as well as being an ideal spot for swimming, still retains a number of small fishing boats. This means that there are also a number of cosy eateries in the village selling fresh fish dishes. The most famous is the Hidden Hut, a short walk away from Portscatho on Porthcurnick Beach. This amazing place is well-known in the summer months for its incredible outdoor feasts when lashings of chowder, grilled seafood and spiced dhals are all rustled up in the beachside kitchen.


The fishermen of Portscatho and Gerrans, the older settlement a short walk up the hill, became renowned for smuggling in the 18th and 19th centuries and it is fun to imagine their antics while wandering along the stunning coastal paths or admiring the rows of old white-washed cottages in the village. Apparently there was a constant game of cat and mouse going on between the Revenue boat based at St Mawes and the smugglers of Gerrans Bay.

And the whole community was in on the act, it is said that one notorious freetrader, John Corylon, used to get his wife to hang a red shirt on the washing line to let him known that the coast was clear for him to land his contraband. While the narrow shape of the headland gave the smugglers an advantage too, a sharp-eyed man stationed near St Anthony Head could easily keep watch for the Revenue boat setting out in their direction.

In one now infamous story the Revenue men were so tired of being out-foxed and so determined to catch the smugglers in the act that they actually rowed their boat to the very end of Polingey Creek on the St Mawes side of the peninsula and then silently carried the whole craft overland to Gerrans Bay so as to avoid those pesky lookouts! It worked and a number of men and their contraband was seized.

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