Porth Nanven Cove (also known as Cot Valley Beach) is an absolutely breath taking place to swim. Situated near St Just In Cornwall it is a beach better known as the 'dinosaur egg beach'. This is due to its large and perfectly egg shaped boulders that have developed over the years - mostly through being tossed around and smoothed over by the relentless movement of the sea.
I visited Porth Nanven a lot as a child and as a teenager. With friends living in the local village of St Just it was a magical place to go to all year round. You can drive straight from Penzance on the A30 eventually turning onto the A3071 heading to St Just. (On the left here there is a beautiful quarry but don't be tempted to swim as unfortunately it is not safe).
When you get to the town of St Just you drive straight down Cornwall Road, eventually taking a left down Bosorne Road. There will now be signs for Cot Valley which will lead you past some beautiful little cottages and eventually you will be greeted by the sea.
There is some parking at the bottom but only really enough for 5 or 6 cars - a small amount of parking is available on the left with more on the seafront at the very end of the road facing the cove.
I have always been mesmerised by this cove, the rock formations are like something out of a sci fi film, with dark black shading on the curvature of the surrounding rocks and a faint yellowing of the perfectly formed large egg like pebbles!
If you visit at half tide (as the tide is retreating) you can climb over the rocks onto the white sand and turn left to discover an array of beautifully clear plunge pools (just allow yourself enough time to get back as climbing up the cliff face is pretty impossible if the tide suddenly starts to come back in).
You can, as I do, also walk the coast path off towards the right by climbing up the embankment - be careful as there are signs for old mines and some of the ledges are quite steep with deep overhangs. As you make your way across the top of the cliffs you gain beautiful views of the large rocks opposite - better known as the Brisons and on a clear day you can see Sennen Cove Beach basking in the sunshine in the distance.
On my wild swimming walk I was also lucky enough to see a Chough divebomb into one of the mines. Porth Nanven cove is a popular spot for birdwatchers and I saw a few of these on my travels making it feel not so isolated as you walk some of the cliffs deserted coast paths.
Safety wise, the swells can be unpredictable in rough weather and the conditions can change very quickly. It is best to be cautious and go on a calm dry day. It is also a small local area and so again please try to visit (as I do) in off peak times and ensure that all litter etc is taken home as there are no bins or facilities here. There is a help phone but obviously no lifeguard and so every care should be taken when entering the water from the beach at low tide due to sharp metal being left over from a submarine that broke free on its way to Newport for scrapping. It is however, stated to be safe to swim here by the National Trust.
Porth Nanven to me is an absolute treasure of a swim. The landscape quite honestly is breath taking and an obvious hit with local photographers. It can in the right light look almost like something straight out of a fairy tail. With its crystal clear water, quirky rock formations, relative isolation and dramatic cliff overhangs it really is a must to visit in the winter if you can manage to make it there!