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Porth Conger

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Overview





Porth Conger is a small northwest opening inlet that lies between St Agnes and its adjacent isle of Gugh in Scilly. It provides a pretty anchorage adjacent to the island's principal quay.

Porth Conger is a small northwest opening inlet that lies between St Agnes and its adjacent isle of Gugh in Scilly. It provides a pretty anchorage adjacent to the island's principal quay.

The small bay provides a good anchorage in winds from northeast round through to south to west but is exposed wind edges further north. Access is straightforward at any stage of the tide with the benefit of daylight.
Please note

It can be subject to a chop at high water during Springs with developed southerly winds. It also tends to be shallow in the cove and crowded with permanent private moorings so that there is little space for visitors.




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Keyfacts for Porth Conger



Last modified
December 3rd 2019

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Waste disposal bins availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway 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 areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
More suitable or draughts of 1m or less



Position and approaches
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Haven position

49° 53.778' N, 006° 20.348' W

This is in 1.3 metres of water about 50 metres off the head of the quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Porth Conger Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
49° 53.929' N, 006° 20.493' W
This is about 300 metres outside and on the alignment of the middle of The Bar with the Hakestone rock that is located ¾ of a mile south by southeastward on the entrance to The Cove. The alignment leads safely into Porth Conger.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Land's End to Isles of Scilly Route location

  • Sound in towards the gap between the islands passing about midway The Cow and St Agnes’ Kallimay Point.

  • The alignment of the middle of The Bar with the Hakestone rock, 2 metres high, that is located ¾ of a mile south by southeast on the entrance to The Cove leads safely into Porth Conger.


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 Porth Conger for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. The Cove - 0.2 miles SSE
  2. Porth Cressa - 0.7 miles NE
  3. St Mary's Pool - 1 miles NNE
  4. Old Town Bay - 1.1 miles ENE
  5. Windmill Cove - 1.9 miles NE
  6. Green Bay - 2 miles N
  7. New Grimsby - 2.4 miles N
  8. Old Grimsby - 2.5 miles N
  9. Higher Town Bay - 2.7 miles NNE
  10. St Helen's Pool - 2.7 miles N
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. The Cove - 0.2 miles SSE
  2. Porth Cressa - 0.7 miles NE
  3. St Mary's Pool - 1 miles NNE
  4. Old Town Bay - 1.1 miles ENE
  5. Windmill Cove - 1.9 miles NE
  6. Green Bay - 2 miles N
  7. New Grimsby - 2.4 miles N
  8. Old Grimsby - 2.5 miles N
  9. Higher Town Bay - 2.7 miles NNE
  10. St Helen's Pool - 2.7 miles N
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



What's the story here?
Porth Conger
Image: Michael Harpur


Porth Conger has the island's principal quay and lies between the island of St Agnes and its small near neighbour of Gugh. The islands are connected by a tombolo called The Bar, locally known as Gugh Bar, that connects to Gugh from the eastern side of St Agnes forming bays on either side. The Bar comprises a narrow spit of boulders and sand that dry to 4.6 metres. Porth Conger lies to the north of The Bar with The Cove on the opposite southern side.


Porth Conger as seen from the root of the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Unlike its near neighbour The Cove, Porth Conger is small and shallow with its best waters are largely occupied by local moorings so that little space remains for visiting craft. The Bar covers at springs when it loses a measure of its southerly protection and a chop will occur in developed conditions. Likewise, the holding is not the best.


Porth Conger as seen from Gugh
Image: Michael Harpur


However, the convenient access from Saint Mary's Road and the added convenience of the highly attractive island pub, The Turk’s Head that overlooks Porth Conger, makes it highly attractive. Shallower draft vessels will have the best of it and a vessel carrying any draft should visit during neap tides when depths are more generous. The Cove Click to view haven, on the opposite side of The Bar, provides a deeper more spacious option in favourable conditions, albeit slightly less convenient from Saint Mary's Road.


How to get in?
Northwestern approaches to Porth Conger
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Land's End to Isles of Scilly Route location for local approaches. The Cove should be visible from about a mile off the south coast of St Agnes.

Vessels approaching from St Mary's Sound and Saint Mary's Sound should stay well clear of the marked North Bartholomew and make a particular note to avoid the unmarked Perconger Ledge that has the least depth 1.8 metres with the slightly deeper Little Perconger, 2.4 metres, situated 300 metres south-southwest.

Local boatmen will be seen cutting in between The Cow and Gugh but this is
inadvisable

Image: Michael Harpur


Keeping the St Mary's Road's traditional leading line of the daymark on St Martin's over the top of Creeb Island astern until the cut opens between Gugh and St Agnes clears Perconger Ledge. If visibility is not so good a forward connecting bearing can be accomplished by bringing the southern end of Annet Island over Little Smith rock, 2.7 metres. This course will take the vessel well north of the Cow to clear Perconger Ledges. Watch the tidal set as you cross the mouth of Saint Mary's Sound. For vessels cutting in from Porth Cressa Carn Irish, 16 metres high on Annet Island, on Little Smith, also provides a tighter clearing line close north of the Perconger Ledge.
Please note

Shallow draft island ferries and local boatmen will be seen to cut past Steval and enter Porth Conger between The Cow and Gugh via a channel carrying 0.5 metres LAT. But this is not advisable for newcomers as drying rocks need to be circumvented in the cut.



Initial fix location The initial fix is set about 300 metres outside the entrance and on the alignment of the middle of The Bar with the Hakestone rock, 2 metres high, that is located ¾ of a mile south by southeast on the entrance to The Cove and should be just about visible. The southeasterly alignment on a bearing of 147° T leads safely into Porth Conger.


Porth Conger Quay, The Cow, centre, with the north end of Gugh right
Image: Michael Harpur


Sound in towards the gap between the islands passing The Cow, 8 metres high, about 50 metres to port and St Agnes’ Kallimay point to starboard. The 2-metre contour is reached when the crest of the 32-metre high Kittern Hill, on Gugh, comes due east. Off the head of the Porth Conger Jetty Beacon, green topmark Q.G., depths descend to 1.3 metres from which it shallows rapidly. 100 metres further in it dries out on a big Spring Tides all the way into the sandbar.


Porth Conger as seen from the west
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Space for anchoring in Porth Conger is limited due to local moorings, its fringing rocks and the whole southern end of the cove drying to the sandbar. The best water lies north of the end of the jetty. Anchor in any space available making certain the vessel is sufficiently away from the private
moorings and does not in any way impede access to the quay.


Porth Conger's modern quay and slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Further in a good guide for estimating depths is that the local moorings are positioned so that the boats lie afloat at low spring tides. The sand leading up to the bar at the southern end of the cove dries at springs and is largely flat making it ideal for vessels that can take to the bottom.

The end of the slipway has a least depth of 0.3 metres alongside the beacon
Image: Michael Harpur


If the quay is clear it is possible to come alongside temporarily. The end of the slipway has a least depth of 0.3 metres LAT alongside the beacon. It is also possible to land on the quay and slipway but make certain to haul the tender away as it must be kept clear for the island ferries. Alternatively, land on the small beach below the Turk's Head or on the bar.


Why visit here?
Porth in Cornish means a bay, port or harbour and Conger is probably derived from Congulton that is made up of the Old English words cung plus hyll plus tún, which literally means 'farmstead at the round-topped hill'.


St Agnes Lighthouse at the crest of the island surrounded by the best land
Image: Michael Harpur


The name precisely describes the nature and function of the small bay of Porth Conger with its road leading inland to the crest of the rounded, flat-topped island where its best land is to be found. Today it is where the islands flower farms are concentrated and the location of its principal settlement of Middle Town that includes the island's primary school, post office and general store. It is also the site of the island's disused lighthouse which is St Agnes' most significant landmark.


St Agnes lighthouse in Middle Town
Image: Michael Harpur


Constructed in 1680 St Agnes lighthouse, the first in Scilly and one of the oldest in England, was the second to be built in the western approaches, after the Lizard lighthouse of 1619. St Agnes was chosen for the site as it is the most westerly of the inhabitable islands and close to the collection of rocks, tidal flows and currents, now known as the Western Rocks where most vessels were wrecked. Both St Agnes and the Lizard lighthouses were lit by 'primitive' coal fires for more than a century and only represented a small step forward for safe navigation. Coal fires not only reflected less light gave no unique signals so the lighthouses could not be distinguished from each other. This no doubt added to the terrible toll the group continued to take on passing vessels during this period – see The Cove Click to view haven. The carnage was so bad during this period that it was often alleged that the light was deliberately neglected in order to mislead ships and fill the pockets of wreckers.


Tins Walbert beacon with St Agnes Lighthouse (centre)
Image: Michael Harpur


It was not until the 19th-century when the introduction of oil lamps with revolving reflectors, fitted in 1790 and 1811 respectively to be replaced later by gas or electric lamps, that their lights were brightened and could be differentiated. The visibility of St Agnes lighthouse was nevertheless seriously diminished in fog, a problem that was aggravated by its inland situation. It was eventually superseded by the Bishop Rock lighthouse, situated beyond the Western Rocks that became operational from 1857, and another at Round Island, from 1888. St Agnes lighthouse was finally decommissioned when Peninnis light was established on St Mary's in 1911. Its tower no longer contains a light and has been converted into living accommodation. But the historic building continues to guide shipping today serving as the rear alignment mark for the Tins Walbert beacon that leads safely into the island group through the 'North West Passage' during the hours of daylight.


St Agnes Lighthouse as seen from Periglis
Image: Michael Harpur


Standing in the centre of the island, at just above 25 metres, the lighthouse is at the highest point of St Agnes. Like the other islands, it acquired its name through its long history of religious missionaries. John Leland noted, in 1542, "St Agnes Isle [is] so caullid of a Chapel therin". A 1652 Parliamentary survey noted that 'Bernard Hicks' house at 'Port Eagles' or 'Egles Port', providing the name Periglis, was in part "anciently a chappell" while his garden "hath been and is ye burying place". Presumably, this was the medieval chapel and cemetery dedicated in honour of the local saint who it is suggested was 'Arana' and not 'Warna' as it later became. The present 19th-century church was built on the site of an earlier one that had been funded from the proceeds of the salvage of an abandoned French wreck.


Periglis church today
Image: Michael Harpur


St Agnes as a whole is physically similar to the uninhabited western islands, small, round and relatively flat with a rocky coastline. Although uninhabited islands and islets lying to the west provide some shelter from straight west swells it is largely exposed to the full force of the Atlantic from most directions. This gives it a much harsher and rugged, rocky coastline than the other islands in the group. Likewise, though it may look deceptively small on the chart, St Agnes' coastline is heavily indented and the whole island takes some time to walk around. But it is very worthwhile for the more protected and cultivated north and eastern parts with the sheltered anchorages stand very much in distinct contrast with the more exposed southern Wingletang Down.


Periglis skipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Here the low-lying wild southern headland has outcrops of rugged tors of granite that rise
above the heather weather into craggy fantastic shapes. One rock formation on the southwest side looks like an elephant and another, on Castella Downs above St Warna's Cove, is called the nags head for that semblance although many think it looks more like a camel. The most savaged weathering can be seen on the headland of its southern extremity Horse Point. All this area features spectacular views out to sea out over the Western Rocks.


Gugh and Porth Conger as seen from Black Point St Agnes
Image: Michael Harpur


Its small neighbouring island of Gugh, pronounced to rhyme with Hugh, is attached to the eastern side of St Agnes by a sandy tombolo which uncovers at low tide and covers at three-quarters flood. It is possible to walk around Gugh in an hour and very worthwhile to take in its panoramic views, antiquity and sense of remoteness. Key amongst the scattering of untended Bronze Age sites that lie unmarked among the bramble and bracken is the Old Man of Gugh. The tilting 3 metres standing stone or menhir, is readily identifiable.


Telephone box, Middle Town St Agnes
Image: Michael Harpur


Today, the two islands together have a population of about 85 residents, of which Gugh is inhabited by three residents, and represent England’s most southerly community. With few occupants or vehicles to disturb the peace, a string of empty coves and a scattering of prehistoric sites, St Agnes and Gugh even by Scilly standards, feels quiet. Most of the islanders make a living from flower growing and tourism and they and their island seem largely untouched by the commercialisation of modern times.


The Turk’s Head public house is a minute's walk for the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


The Turk’s Head public house is the key draw of the anchorage. Britain’s most southerly alehouse is a real beauty. Originally a coastguard house built before 1889 it also comprised a slipway, quay and two ancillary buildings within a levelled area on the clifftop. But there is plenty beyond to work up a thirst. Walks out to the rocky outcrops on its exposed west side to the central chequerboard of flower fields around the historic lighthouse protected by high hedges and the cobbly spiral of the Troy Town Maze. Then there are the paradise beaches in its more sheltered coves; most particularly the small, highly sheltered Cove Vean on the eastern side of St Agnes. Add to this tranquillity tombola between St. Agnes and Gugh, creating another lovely beach, and its scattering of prehistoric walks, all a short walk from the anchorage, this is as good as it gets.


The view from The Turk's Head Inn is said to be the finest from an English pub
Image: Michael Harpur


From a purely boating point of view, The Cove is the better of the two anchorages. Porth Conger because it is shallower and the private moorings leave little room for visitors. However, the anchorage is very pretty and there is The Turk’s Head with a good beach below and the sand bar behind. For a short stay, it is very attractive and Porth Conger may be able to serve if the winds are unfavourable for The Cove. As always shoal draft vessels will have the best of it and particularly those that can take to the bottom.


What facilities are available?
The Post Office, Near Middle Town, about 10 minute's walk, provide basic provisions including frozen food, wines, occasionally bread and general tourist fare. St Mary's Boatmen's Association provide ferry services to St Mary's as well as trips to other islands from Porth Conger quay.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, eOceanic.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.


About Porth Conger

Porth in Cornish means a bay, port or harbour and Conger is probably derived from Congulton that is made up of the Old English words cung plus hyll plus tún, which literally means 'farmstead at the round-topped hill'.


St Agnes Lighthouse at the crest of the island surrounded by the best land
Image: Michael Harpur


The name precisely describes the nature and function of the small bay of Porth Conger with its road leading inland to the crest of the rounded, flat-topped island where its best land is to be found. Today it is where the islands flower farms are concentrated and the location of its principal settlement of Middle Town that includes the island's primary school, post office and general store. It is also the site of the island's disused lighthouse which is St Agnes' most significant landmark.


St Agnes lighthouse in Middle Town
Image: Michael Harpur


Constructed in 1680 St Agnes lighthouse, the first in Scilly and one of the oldest in England, was the second to be built in the western approaches, after the Lizard lighthouse of 1619. St Agnes was chosen for the site as it is the most westerly of the inhabitable islands and close to the collection of rocks, tidal flows and currents, now known as the Western Rocks where most vessels were wrecked. Both St Agnes and the Lizard lighthouses were lit by 'primitive' coal fires for more than a century and only represented a small step forward for safe navigation. Coal fires not only reflected less light gave no unique signals so the lighthouses could not be distinguished from each other. This no doubt added to the terrible toll the group continued to take on passing vessels during this period – see The Cove Click to view haven. The carnage was so bad during this period that it was often alleged that the light was deliberately neglected in order to mislead ships and fill the pockets of wreckers.


Tins Walbert beacon with St Agnes Lighthouse (centre)
Image: Michael Harpur


It was not until the 19th-century when the introduction of oil lamps with revolving reflectors, fitted in 1790 and 1811 respectively to be replaced later by gas or electric lamps, that their lights were brightened and could be differentiated. The visibility of St Agnes lighthouse was nevertheless seriously diminished in fog, a problem that was aggravated by its inland situation. It was eventually superseded by the Bishop Rock lighthouse, situated beyond the Western Rocks that became operational from 1857, and another at Round Island, from 1888. St Agnes lighthouse was finally decommissioned when Peninnis light was established on St Mary's in 1911. Its tower no longer contains a light and has been converted into living accommodation. But the historic building continues to guide shipping today serving as the rear alignment mark for the Tins Walbert beacon that leads safely into the island group through the 'North West Passage' during the hours of daylight.


St Agnes Lighthouse as seen from Periglis
Image: Michael Harpur


Standing in the centre of the island, at just above 25 metres, the lighthouse is at the highest point of St Agnes. Like the other islands, it acquired its name through its long history of religious missionaries. John Leland noted, in 1542, "St Agnes Isle [is] so caullid of a Chapel therin". A 1652 Parliamentary survey noted that 'Bernard Hicks' house at 'Port Eagles' or 'Egles Port', providing the name Periglis, was in part "anciently a chappell" while his garden "hath been and is ye burying place". Presumably, this was the medieval chapel and cemetery dedicated in honour of the local saint who it is suggested was 'Arana' and not 'Warna' as it later became. The present 19th-century church was built on the site of an earlier one that had been funded from the proceeds of the salvage of an abandoned French wreck.


Periglis church today
Image: Michael Harpur


St Agnes as a whole is physically similar to the uninhabited western islands, small, round and relatively flat with a rocky coastline. Although uninhabited islands and islets lying to the west provide some shelter from straight west swells it is largely exposed to the full force of the Atlantic from most directions. This gives it a much harsher and rugged, rocky coastline than the other islands in the group. Likewise, though it may look deceptively small on the chart, St Agnes' coastline is heavily indented and the whole island takes some time to walk around. But it is very worthwhile for the more protected and cultivated north and eastern parts with the sheltered anchorages stand very much in distinct contrast with the more exposed southern Wingletang Down.


Periglis skipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Here the low-lying wild southern headland has outcrops of rugged tors of granite that rise
above the heather weather into craggy fantastic shapes. One rock formation on the southwest side looks like an elephant and another, on Castella Downs above St Warna's Cove, is called the nags head for that semblance although many think it looks more like a camel. The most savaged weathering can be seen on the headland of its southern extremity Horse Point. All this area features spectacular views out to sea out over the Western Rocks.


Gugh and Porth Conger as seen from Black Point St Agnes
Image: Michael Harpur


Its small neighbouring island of Gugh, pronounced to rhyme with Hugh, is attached to the eastern side of St Agnes by a sandy tombolo which uncovers at low tide and covers at three-quarters flood. It is possible to walk around Gugh in an hour and very worthwhile to take in its panoramic views, antiquity and sense of remoteness. Key amongst the scattering of untended Bronze Age sites that lie unmarked among the bramble and bracken is the Old Man of Gugh. The tilting 3 metres standing stone or menhir, is readily identifiable.


Telephone box, Middle Town St Agnes
Image: Michael Harpur


Today, the two islands together have a population of about 85 residents, of which Gugh is inhabited by three residents, and represent England’s most southerly community. With few occupants or vehicles to disturb the peace, a string of empty coves and a scattering of prehistoric sites, St Agnes and Gugh even by Scilly standards, feels quiet. Most of the islanders make a living from flower growing and tourism and they and their island seem largely untouched by the commercialisation of modern times.


The Turk’s Head public house is a minute's walk for the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


The Turk’s Head public house is the key draw of the anchorage. Britain’s most southerly alehouse is a real beauty. Originally a coastguard house built before 1889 it also comprised a slipway, quay and two ancillary buildings within a levelled area on the clifftop. But there is plenty beyond to work up a thirst. Walks out to the rocky outcrops on its exposed west side to the central chequerboard of flower fields around the historic lighthouse protected by high hedges and the cobbly spiral of the Troy Town Maze. Then there are the paradise beaches in its more sheltered coves; most particularly the small, highly sheltered Cove Vean on the eastern side of St Agnes. Add to this tranquillity tombola between St. Agnes and Gugh, creating another lovely beach, and its scattering of prehistoric walks, all a short walk from the anchorage, this is as good as it gets.


The view from The Turk's Head Inn is said to be the finest from an English pub
Image: Michael Harpur


From a purely boating point of view, The Cove is the better of the two anchorages. Porth Conger because it is shallower and the private moorings leave little room for visitors. However, the anchorage is very pretty and there is The Turk’s Head with a good beach below and the sand bar behind. For a short stay, it is very attractive and Porth Conger may be able to serve if the winds are unfavourable for The Cove. As always shoal draft vessels will have the best of it and particularly those that can take to the bottom.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Green Bay - 2 miles N
New Grimsby - 2.4 miles N
Old Grimsby - 2.5 miles N
St Helen's Pool - 2.7 miles N
Tean Sound - 2.7 miles NNE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
The Cove - 0.2 miles SSE
St Mary's Pool - 1 miles NNE
Porth Cressa - 0.7 miles NE
Old Town Bay - 1.1 miles ENE
Windmill Cove - 1.9 miles NE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Porth Conger.











































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