Porthcurno is a truly magical place, with its beautiful sandy beach made up almost entirely of tiny, 30,000 year old seashells which extend well below the water line, giving the sea a bright turquoise colour – you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in the Caribbean.
The cliffs and coastline are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and widely considered as some of the most visually stunning in the UK. Porthcurno is a perfect base for exploring the area along the South West Coastal Path.
Up on the cliffs is the internationally renowned Minack Theatre, built in the 1920s by theatrical visionary Rowena Cade and her faithful gardener. Today the Rowena Cade exhibition centre, coffee shop and theatre are open to visitors throughout the year. Plays are staged during the summer months with ad hoc events such as concerts and story telling for children taking place throughout the year.
Porthcurno became internationally famous as the British termination of early submarine telegraph cables, the first of which was landed in 1870, part of an international link stretching all the way from the UK to India.
In the inter-war years the Porthcurno cable office operated as many as 14 cables simultaneously, for a time becoming the largest submarine cable station in the world, with the capacity to receive and transmit up to two million words a day.
The concrete cable hut, where the cable shore ends were connected to their respective landlines, is a listed building and still stands at the top of the beach. Porthcurno is still known colloquially by the acronym ‘PK’.
In WWII secret, bomb and gas proof tunnels were dug by Cornish miners to house an underground building and the entire telegraph operation.
In the 1950’s Cable & Wireless opened an engineering college which closed in 1993 – some of the college buildings were subsequently converted into self catering holiday accommodation. The award winning Porthcurno Telegraph Museum was then opened which tells the story of Cornwall’s role in the pioneering days of global communications.
There is a beach cafe offering excellent quality coffee, cream teas, Kellys ice cream, bacon sandwiches and quality gifts.
The Cable Station Inn is located in the valley with a pool room and an outdoor patio area. It serves food all day. There are limited opening hours in the winter.
Other facilities include two large car parks, toilets, tennis courts, a public telephone and a bus stop going to Penzance and Land’s End.