Cornish sunrises and sunsets
It’s a savvy holidaymaker who visits Cornwall in autumn. The family hordes return to the school routine, leaving the roads mercifully free of traffic queues, the beaches quiet and with space in the car park. The sea is still warm from a summer of sunshine (one can hope) and, best of all, those fabulous sunrises happen at an hour you’d actually want to see, and you don’t have to wait up all night for a corking sunset.
Where to see these is a matter of personal choice. There are the iconic views: how do you beat the silhouette of Godrevy lighthouse, Wheal Coates warmed by golden rays, or the sun going down twixt the Brisons, with the Scillies just visible 28 miles west? Many’s the evening show at the Minack where the players have paused to join the audience in marvelling at the natural wonder of a pod of playful dolphins backed by a glorious sundown.
But ask about, and it seems everyone has their own personal favourite. Liz loves Mevagissey as the sun rises over the lighthouse. Gareth shares a drop-dead gorgeous shot of apricot skies at Kennack Sands on the Lizard peninsula. In the far north, Neil plumps for sunset at Crackington Haven: “Trust me!” We do, Neil.
You’d think it would be a given that you’d see sunrise on the south coast and sunset on the north, but no. Some people prefer the polar opposite, with sunrise on the north coast extremely popular: Bedruthan Steps for Joanna, Fistral for Graham, Newquay Huer’s Hut for Alissa; or both in the same place – Gareth offers Lizard Point, while Claire provides pictorial evidence of sunrise and sunset from the same Falmouth headland (she did go home in between).
One imagines it's as much about the view and the colours created around it as it is about seeing the actual sun - not to mention the joy of being in a special place at a special time. Gavan has made a living from shooting the dawn every day since 2005 under the brand The Day That. “It’s a beautiful, magical time to be up and about. It’s usually just us, and the odd seal or early walker.” As he lives near St Ives, the beaches on his doorstep are easier to reach when the alarm goes off at 3.30am and are famed for their magnificent light - and there are always east-facing viewpoints. Gav’s personal favourite: Porth Kidney, near Carbis Bay. “An incredible place.”
For every “Porthtowan” or “Holywell Bay”, someone mentions a place you’ve never heard of, which sounds quintessentially Cornish, such as Carn Gloose (aka Ballowall Barrow), “described to me as ‘a little piece of Heaven’ by someone who had lived in and worked around St Just all his life,” says David.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to be on the coast. Alan chooses the top of Melbur Tip, a spoil heap in his native Clay Country: “You get amazing reflections on the white of the sand tips. The whole place glows with this incredible light.” And Louise just loves The Great Flat Lodes, near Redruth: “Beautiful shadows are cast as the sun rises.” Hilary loves sunset in her garden: “I’m blessed to live on the west side of Carn Brea.”
There’s no law that says you even have to be on land. Wild swimmers bask in sunrise, Luci at Porthpean, Sharon at Longrock, on her birthday no less. Chloe recommends taking the early Scillonian in May: “Watch it from the deck, coming up behind St Michael’s Mount just before you set sail.” The most original suggestion, meanwhile, comes from Kirstie, who likes to paddleboard over to Stack Point near Falmouth: “And watch the sun rise over Pendennis and St Anthony lighthouse - you feel like the luckiest person alive!”