You probably won’t have seen Penberth in any guidebooks, nor will you see many signs pointing to the place. Instead, this sleepy Cornish fishing cove retains all of the beauty and oodles of charm in that it likely looks just as it did some two hundred years ago.
Penberth as it’s seen today (and known in Cornish as Benbryhi) was first founded as a pilchard fishing community. Once upon a time, a thriving cut flower industry also popped up here, with fresh flowers being delivered straight to London via train from nearby Penzance.
Places of interest in Penberth
Penberth has little by way of attractions. Instead, the charm of this quaint hamlet lies in its secluded nature (you’d be hard-pressed to get mobile phone signal in these parts) and salty sea breeze. Traditional Cornish cottages sit side by side while the rugged and steep cliffs ride up on either side of this secret natural harbour.
River stepping stones: For a real taste of historic Cornwall, you need only head to the very heart of Penberth. After all, it’s here where a river crossing can be made by simply crossing over a few simple stepping stones. These bridges in kind are becoming increasingly rare in modern times and other examples can be found in a few select locations, including Dartmoor National Park.
19th-century capstan: The fully restored capstan just above the slipway is a testament to the settlement’s rich fishing history. This wooden winch was once used to drag boats out of the sea and up the slipway. Today, it’s just one of the many factors which complete pretty Penberth.
Cobbled slipway: Populated by traditional fishing boats painted in the whites and blues which are so synonymous with the sea, these small sailing vessels really manage to transform this hamlet into a pretty as a postcard scene come the summer months. Today, a few local residents still make their money from the fishing trade; specialising in things like pilchards, mackerels, lobsters, and crabs.
Walking trails: One of the very best things to do in this part of South West England is to embark on the countless trails which maze their way across the jagged coastline. Should you venture out on a clear and sunny day, just make sure to bring plenty of suncream as well as a bikini (many of the coves along here have secret sandy beaches which make for perfect swimming spots).
One of the best walks from Penberth is that along the South West Coastal path towards Porthcurno. This area was home to plenty of prominent sea forts during prehistoric times. Now, this rugged length of the coastline is where you’ll find the Minack Theatre, as well as St Levan’s Church.
St Levan’s Church, an ecclesiastical building which finds its roots in Norman times.
How to visit Penberth
There is a small parking spot around 1/3 a mile away from the village centre. A small sign indicates that passing through to the slipway is for residents only and there is little turning room once there anyway. The walk from the layby where you can leave your car is fairly flat and along a tarmac road.
When visiting this rare surviving fishing cove, be sure to bring your camera and a map along. You’ll want to snap photos and a map will come in handy should you wish to explore the nearby area! For a complete rundown of Southern Cornwall highlights, here’s my complete Cornish road trip itinerary!