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.
Battered by waves, exposed to the sun, rockpools are tough environments to live in. And yet each one is home to a multitude of wonderful creatures. Twice a day, as the tide recedes, we get a chance to explore them, to spot the fish, shellfish, seaweeds and other lifeforms that live in between the tides.
Here are some of the more unusual inhabitants…
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, the landlocked among us felt keenly the sudden loss of access to the sea during the hardest days of the deepest lockdown. Cornwall has over 300 miles of coastline, much of it wild and uninhabited by humans, which makes it all the more appealing. When the chips are down – and even when they’re not – we head north, south or west for a breath of fresh sea air and a beach.
There are wonders to be found – buried in sparkling sand, under the greens, pinks and browns of weed in the rockpools, and beneath the shining ripples of our coastal waters. During The Wildlife Trusts’ summer celebration of all things coastal –National Marine Week – Cornwall Wildlife Trust is offering people of all ages the chance to join experts and volunteers as they seek out marine treasures. There’s so much to discover, from shells on the beach to dolphins and whales swimming by.
They call her Action Nan for her tireless environmental campaigning. But for 72-year-old Pat Smith, it’s as much about the small gestures as the grand ones – saying no to a plastic straw with your drink or remembering to take a bag for life to the supermarket.
“We all need to get off our backsides and do something,” she says with characteristic firmness. “If every single one of us does one thing, it all adds up to big change.”