It’s only been a few weeks since we stumbled upon the beautiful cove of Porthgwarra on the west Cornwall coast. This sheltered little cove, with no beach at high tide and an entry road that requires both you and your car to be about 2 tonnes skinnier, soon won us over with its charm and beautiful ‘Corribbean’ waters and has since become our favourite place on the coast – even in comparison to its award winning neighbours – Porthcurno and Sennen.
Back then, armed with nothing but a headache and a dire need for an English breakfast, we’d realised the area’s fishing potential but had been unable to act upon it. Today however, we came armed with kayak, rods and snorkeling kit.
Now, it’s been mentioned a few times before that our vehicle, our road beast of choice, is a ’54 plate red KA. Whilst we have seen spectacular triumphs in what we have been able to get inside the car (1 washing machine + 2 humans/1 mountain bike + 2 humans/4 large rugby humans and 1 squashed driver), we now had to get an XL fishing kayak on to the roof of one. Oh – and we didn’t own a roof rack.
A friend of ours had recommended to us that we look at some ‘soft’ roof racks – the kind that you can strap on to your car through your front doors and rear windows. This sounded an ideal (and much cheaper) solution but the KA doesn’t exactly have much in the way of rear windows. After doing some research online we found one brand that was able to cater for the KA’s shortcomings and so we got a HandiRack:
2 x 2 sets of inflatable tubes with D-rings running down the middle means that we are now able to get our kayak from home to the beach safely and securely. We had worried that the small roof space, and therefore the limited amount of space to position the roof racks, could cause the kayak to pivot when going around corners. Essentially turning our car into a little, red heli-KAopter and an accident waiting to happen. The rack system however is sturdy and doesn’t budge and when we’ve got back home it takes mere seconds to take it all off and store it back in it’s box.
So, with the kayak securely strapped on and rods packed, the Kiwi and I set off for Porthgwarra. Now last time we were here, it looked something like this:
Today however, the forecast was less typical Summer and more…well typical British summer really. The sky overhead was grey with some occasional drizzle but we were less concerned with rain and more concerned with the wind. I mentioned in our last post on Porthgwarra that the stretch of water outside of the cove has claimed over 136 ships and has a reputation as a pretty unpredictable body of water. For kayak fishing we ideally wanted a calm day, one where any drifting could be easily counteracted and yet still beneficial to the sport. Luckily for us, the wind was coming from the north which meant that our southerly-facing cove was sheltered and the sea wonderfully calm.
All parked up, we headed down to the beach which in itself, is no mean feat. The slipway at Porthgwarra is a broken coccyx waiting to happen. With the Kiwi the one man transport system for the kayak, it often leaves me tripping over wetsuit legs and wrestling with fishing wires trying to get the remaining kit from car to cove. This time I was extremely excited that we were able to take out our latest bit of gear – another HandiWorld accessory – the Handimoova. It looks like a regular trolley system but once you get it over uneven ground, such as the slipway at Porthgwarra, you realise that the wheels are completely ingenious. They move independently of each other so make stones, steps and any uneven ground a complete doddle. We’ve used them on shingle, sand and even muddy ground and know that they will definitely make a great camping accessory come Glasto festival next year. The light and easy to compact frame means that it’s easy for us to sling in to the back of the KA and store out of sight at home.
Rushing to meet the high tide, we set up our gear on shore, and stowed our clothes in our HandiDuffel bag. This bag is electronically welded at the seams making it completely waterproof which, for an English summer of drizzle, is perfect for leaving your stuff onshore and not worrying about it getting wet. Again, come Glasto this may be a perfect remedy for the mud and damp tents, either as a bag or I may fashion a suit out of it and live in it.
Stuff stashed in the dry, I grabbed my snorkel, the Kiwi – the kayak, and we headed out:
In our last trip to Porthgwarra, we had seen a snorkeler pull an eating-size crab from the shallow, rocky shoreline. This time it was my turn to scope out the cove’s edible offerings in a bid to catch a shell-fish dinner and at worst – feed back to the Kiwi on what fish I saw.
As I moved around the shoreline and over the rocks, the impact of the shellfish trade on the physical landscape of this cove became quite clear. Hulleys – big stone tanks created by fisherman to store shellfish before market, populated the shoreline. Tank, after tank, these natural pools were used to keep the catch fresh up until it needed to be transported. Here you can
clearly see just about make out the man made wall of 1 of 3 hulleys constructed next to each other:
Whilst I didn’t come across any crabs of eating size, I did get to enjoy a crab display of a different kind (!) as well as some beautiful starfish clinging to the rocks. I was far from disappointed with my recce snorkel as I managed not only to spot some good sized pollock hiding in the kelp beds but got to enjoy the beautiful, clear waters of this majestic, little cove.
Once back on shore he told me he’d caught around 1o fish in total – a good mixture of Pollock and Mackerel. With only a small freezer at home, he’d released the smaller ones and kept 3 for us to eat that night for dinner. The beautiful, deep orange colour of the Pollock can be attributed to the dark colour of the kelp bed that it had been living in. If the same was true for humans, I would probably be the colours of Warren’s bakery…
That night the Kiwi served up the 3 fish with a beautiful cheese and herb crust and some spring greens sweated in butter. Not one bit of these beautiful fish went to waste. Even the heads and other off-cuts and innards were boiled up and served to the next door neighbour’s cats. Tonight both human and feline friend dined on a dinner that had been caught from the ocean not 4 hours previously. The day’s success only further cemented our love for the beautiful cove of Porthgwarra and has ensured that we will be back soon, armed once more with kayak, line and hook.
Got another recommendation for Cornish fishing destinations? Do you have your own success stories that deserve bragging rights? Then let us know in the comments section or get in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook or email.
Live, laugh and eat freshly caught F’u’sh and Ch’u’ps.