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Cadgwith

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Overview





Cadgwith is a small working cove on England's southwest coast, two miles northeast of Lizard Point and ten miles southwestward of Falmouth. It offers a temporary anchorage off an attractive traditional fishing village.

The cove provides an exposed anchorage that may only be availed of in settled westerly conditions. Approaches from the southeast are clear but attentive daylight navigation is required as the cove is fringed with rocks and there is a covered outlier.



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Keyfacts for Cadgwith
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.



Last modified
April 3rd 2019

Summary

An exposed location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

49° 59.136' N, 005° 10.691' W

This is offshore of The Todden and the two rocks called The Island and The Mare beyond.

What is the initial fix?

The following Cadgwith Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
49° 58.997' N, 005° 10.467' W
This is about 400 metres to the southeast setting up an approach south of the Boa Rock located on the northern side of Cadgwith Cove.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Start Point to Lizard Point Route location.

  • Vessels should give the surrounding coast a berth of at least 400 metres, as it is bordered by numerous outlying rocks that cover from a quarter to three-quarters flood.

  • Approach from the southeast to avoid the covered Boa Rock which fronts the northern side of the cove.



Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Cadgwith for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Kynance Cove - 1.3 miles WSW
  2. Mullion Cove & Porth Mellin - 2.2 miles WNW
  3. Coverack - 2.4 miles NE
  4. Gillan Creek - 4.3 miles NNE
  5. Helford River - 4.3 miles NNE
  6. Porthleven Harbour - 4.9 miles NW
  7. Falmouth - 6.8 miles NNE
  8. Saint Mawes - 7.5 miles NNE
  9. Saint Michael's Mount - 8.7 miles NW
  10. Portscatho - 8.8 miles NE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Kynance Cove - 1.3 miles WSW
  2. Mullion Cove & Porth Mellin - 2.2 miles WNW
  3. Coverack - 2.4 miles NE
  4. Gillan Creek - 4.3 miles NNE
  5. Helford River - 4.3 miles NNE
  6. Porthleven Harbour - 4.9 miles NW
  7. Falmouth - 6.8 miles NNE
  8. Saint Mawes - 7.5 miles NNE
  9. Saint Michael's Mount - 8.7 miles NW
  10. Portscatho - 8.8 miles NE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Cadgwith Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Nestled into a rocky cove, at the mouth of a narrow and steep valley, Cadgwith is a small village with working cove. It has two beaches separated by a promontory called The Todden. To the northeast is the larger beach, made mostly of shingle with a shallow slope, referred to as by a range of names such as 'Cadgwith Cove' or 'The Cove', 'Big Beach', 'Fishing Beach' or the 'Working Cove'. It is from here that its small fleet of small open fishing boats. There is no harbour, and the boats are all winched up the shingle on wooden rollers by a tractor. The other southwestern beach, called 'Little Cove' or 'Little Beach', is used as the swimming beach by locals and holiday-makers.


Working cove left with the holiday-maker beach right
Image: Michael Harpur


Cadgwith is moderately sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds and in the absence of any swell can provide a day anchorage in good weather. But it is not a place to be in easterly or south-easterly winds which, during stormy weather, causes waves to break right over The Island that fronts The Todden. Rough seas can even send waters into the villages low-lying buildings and homes.


Cadgwith's small boat fishing fleet hauled out on the beach
Image: Michael Harpur


Cadgwith could never be recommended for an overnight stay, but it makes for an excellent berth for a few hours in the right conditions.


How to get in?
Cadgwith Cove with Black Head in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Start Point to Lizard Point Route location for seaward approaches. Cadgwith lies 3¼ miles west by southwest of Black Head and 1½ miles northward of Bass Point. Vessels should give the area of coast between these points a berth of at least 400 metres as it is bordered by numerous outlying rocks that cover from a quarter to three-quarters flood.

Cadgwith Cove has two notable outliers. The first of which is Craggan Rocks that lie just over a ½ mile south-by-southeast of Cadgwith with 1.6 metres over it. The other is the small Boa Rock that lies awash obstructing the northern entrance to the cove. Both of these dangers are unmarked.

Cadgwith makes itself known from seaward by its break in the cliffs and tightly
packed cottages

Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix the tightly packed houses of the village will be seen to form a break in the flat line of the dark cliffs, the sides of which are nearly 60 metres high at Cadgwith. Approaching from the southeast avoids the Boa Rock, awash and covering at quarter tide, that obstructs the northern part of the outer cove.

Steer for The Todden sounding in all the way. The Todden is the rocky promontory that stands conspicuous on the shoreline dividing the cove in two. It has two rocky extensions projecting seaward, The Island, a rocky outcrop which is 7 metres high, and The Mare rocks beyond which cover. So it is important to stay about 200 metres off and anchor in about 2 to 3 metres.


The Todden, The Island and beyond it The Mare rocks
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor in a patch of clean shingle that will be visible in the translucent waters between the contrasting dark rocks. Holding in the shingle is not great. Avoid anchoring in such as a fashion as to obstruct local fishing boats entering and returning to the cove. Land on the beach by tender but keep the tender clear of the fishing boat's launch paths and any winching cables further up the beach.


Why visit here?
Cadgwith, or Porthkajwydh in Cornish as it was first recorded as in 1358, takes its name from the conjunction of Porth, meaning 'cove' and 'caswyth'. This in turn is made up of the Cornish words 'kas' meaning 'a fight' and 'wydh' meaning 'wood', which combined to mean 'thicket'. So the name means 'cove of the thicket', probably because the valley was densely wooded in the past.

Depiction of Cadgwith when the coastguard signal house was operational
Image: Public Domain
The village origins go back to the 16th-century when it formed around a collection of small fish cellars above a shingly cove that provided good protection from the prevailing south-westerly gales. The oldest cottages date back to about that time when it would have been used by local farmers that would have taken advantage of the small brook that runs through the cove and occasionally fished when conditions lent themselves to it. It wasn't until the pilchard fishing boom commenced during the 17th-century that fishing became the main occupation of the village.

Back then the main pilchard shoals, which were several miles wide, usually appeared near Wolf Rock at about the middle of March. They would then move rapidly eastwards up the English Channel and between Cornwall and Ireland. In late summer their life cycle required them to come close to the shore which they did in massive shoals numbering in their millions. And it was then that the small cove of Cadgwith was ideally situated to net them.


Cadgwith at the height of the pilchard boom in 1879
Image: Public Domain


Perched on the cliff to the north of the cove, in the old coastguard signal-house seen painted black today, the fishermen designated as 'huers' would sit waiting and watching for them. Once they spotted the shoals the cry of 'Hevva! Hevva!' would be issued through a trumpet. This would send the cove’s boats to sea where the 'huers' would then guide them by semaphore to the shoal. The catch would then be taken into Church Cove which would be processed in its pilchard cellars that were built in 1787.


The working beach today
Image: Michael Harpur


Simple though the cove set up was, without even a pier, the cove was home to a large fleet of pilchard seine boats and it brought in colossal catches. In October 1845 the fishermen of Cadgwith made a record pilchard catch landing well over 1.3 million in a single day. The phenomenal catches made the cove one of the principal fishing centres in this part of Cornwall and at that time it was a major industry with six pilchard companies operating in the cove. Behind it the village truly took off and the business created the lofts, capstan houses, and cellars constructed of local stone or cob walls. The people who worked in the cellars and boats built thatched or slated roof houses along the beach and up the sides of the valley.


The pretty village nestled into the valley
Image: Michael Harpur


But by the 1920s, the huge shoals that were once the livelihood of so many small Cornish villages began to dwindle mysteriously. And after the war, the large pilchard shoals were no more. This may possibly be due to overfishing or climate changes but it is a phenomenon that has never been fully explained. Likewise, the taste for the oily fish had somewhat diminished. The sudden demise of its mainstay left Cadgwith as a highly picturesque village which time seems to have passed by. Fortunately, by then, the huge shoals of pilchards were being replaced by holidaymakers that still descend in their droves to this day.


Pretty thatched Cadgwith cottages
Image: Michael Harpur


But Cadgwith is one of the last defiant outposts of the traditional fishing industry and it is still very much a working fishing community. The cove is still home to nine fishing boats, ranging from about 5 to 7 metres, which are winched up its shingle beach. Nowadays the seine nets are used, rarely, to catch shoals of mullet. Cadgwith boats put out strings of pots from August to December, for crabs, spider crabs and lobsters and nets are worked all year round for monkfish, cod, pollack, red mullet, John Dory and ling.


The old pilchard cellars
Image: Michael Harpur


But tourism is its main catch today and there is plenty to come ashore and explore. The tight cluster of cottages nestling snugly in a steep green valley is simply picture perfect. Traditional white painted walls and heavy encrusted thatches contrast sharply with that of the local granite cottages made from dark green serpentine Lizard rock. What is most striking about the village is the lack of commercialisation and the traditional atmosphere of the fishing village remains intact.


Obsolete winches from times past
Image: Kernowfile via CC ASA 4.0


All around the head of the cove, you'll see the relics of that once-thriving pilchard industry. Net lofts, boat sheds, winches and winch houses are all still clustered around the beach today. The Old Cellars restaurant now occupies one of the pilchard cellars, where the fish would have been pressed and salted. Another pilchard cellar, Fort York, is home to the Crows Nest Gallery, the Cadgwith Cove Crab shop, and the Cadgwith Fish Seller. Alongside the local pub, the Cadgwith Cove Inn, has served the cove for three hundred years. A little up the village is St Mary's Church, a fishermen's chapel made of corrugated iron in 1895. It is open to the public and contains a brief history of Cadgwith along with memorial paintings to two Cadgwith fishermen lost at sea in 1994. The old lifeboat house, that helped save untold lives here from 1867 to 1963, is now used by the Cadgwith Pilot Gig Club.


Blocks and cables for winching boats out
Image: Michael Harpur


For that intent on striding out the South West coastal path is magnificent here and a short stroll to the north will lead out to The Watch House, the small black-painted hut overlooking the cove that was once a customs signal post before it was used as a huer’s hut. Just a quarter of a mile south of Cadgwith on the path is the Devil’s Frying Pan. It is a spectacular coastal feature formed from the collapsed roof of a sea cave with a remaining arch of rock. Owned by the National Trust, the interesting geological feature got its name because of the sea foaming and boiling within it during southeasterly gales.


The Watch House still overlooking the sea from the north cliff today
Image: Gareth T-P via CC ASA 4.0


From a boating perspective, Cadgwith, beset with rocks, and affording little guaranteed shelter could never be described as the best of anchorages. However in westerlies when the swell from the Atlantic is modest it makes an ideal tide wait location for slack water to round the Lizard. Indeed it is a place where a trip ashore will be most rewarded.


What facilities are available?
Cadgwith has good local services including toilets, shops and cafes. There are limited provisions, a post office, The Cadgwith Cove Inn, a hotel, a cafe serves good food. The shop selling cooked whole crab and crab sandwiches in the summer should not be overlooked.


With thanks to:
eOceanic


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The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




Cadgwith Cove, Cornwall, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Maarten


The Working Cove the the Little Cove or Little Beach southward
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Fishing boats in the Working Cove
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The Little Cove or Little Beach
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Children playing on the rocky promontory separating the beaches
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The Cadgwith Cove Inn
Image: eOceanic thanks Wapster




Cadgwith and the surrounding coastline



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