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5 Cornish Tide Pools & Lidos

Fancy a spot of wild swimming that’s more, er, well tame? Shielded from the dangers of the open ocean current and crashing waves, tide pools are ideal for families and those slightly less adventurous. Spurred on by the gorgeous weather we’ve just had (I have a proper British tan to prove it), here’s my round up of my favourite places to cool off. Always remember kids – check the tides though or you might not find some of these at all.

Bude sea pool, Summerleaze, Bude

Popular with tourists, locals and the Muddy kids (its right on Summerleaze Beach, and only a 5 minute flat walk from town) Bude sea pool is a huge lido, part man made, part natural. Its so popular, someone voted it best Family Attraction in one of the past Muddy Awards! The pool is topped up twice daily by the old man of the sea. Deep enough for jumping in with shallower areas for little ones the pool provides safe swimming conditions for everyone.

Good for: Anytime swimming. This is a great pool for those with restricted movement. Wheelchair access is good and you can even hire a beach wheelchair from the Summerleaze Beach office

Watch out for: Crowds! Due to access and location this is a very popular spot in the summer.

Parking: Parking is available right on the beach.

Open: May – September

How to find it: EX23 8HN

Chapel Pool, Polperro

This tidal pool in Polperro has been used for generations by Cornish families. Accessible at half tide, it warms up nicely to bath like temperatures due to its south facing aspect. Perfect for a summer paddle.

Good for: Families. Snorkelling. During the summer, you can take a horse and cart ride from the carpark which is a much more civilised way to travel.

Watch out for: At high tide the pool is totally covered – so plan ahead and check the tide times. Access is tricky – prepare yourself for a lot of steps. The walk from the carpark is a really long one. Willy Wilcox’ ghost! The caves are a reputed smuggling area.

Parking: There’s a main carpark on the outskirts of Polperro village, but its pricey, and a good walk from the beach, but unavoidable.

Open: All year, but do check the tides, and frankly, you’d be nuts to go in the depths of December. Late summer is best as that’s when its warmest.

How to find it: PL13 2QR

Priests Cove, Cape Cornwall

Off the radar for most tourist trails, but just south of Cape Cornwall, Priest’s cove is well worth a visit with little ones. This is a small lido, carved out of the rocks.

Good for: paddling at low tide and snorkelling when the tide is in. Picnics

Watch out for: Its a fairish walk from the car park, so younger children might complain. Access isn’t level either. No lifeguard action.

Parking: There’s a designated National Trust car park in Cape Cornwall. Follow the way markers and take the footpath down the slipway and on to the beach.

Open: All year, but tide dependent. Again, call me a softy but this is a summer thing.

How to find it: TR19 7NN

Portreath Tidal Baths, Portreath

Portreath is not just for surfing you know. To the right of the beach, up against the harbour wall is a cute little tidal pool, and to the left you’ll find six even smaller bath-shaped pools that were carved out for Lady Frances Bassett during the 19th century (sounds a bit Veruca Salt if you ask me). One of the baths is hidden inside a cave and accessible via a ladder – how exciting is that?

Good for: adventurers, cave swimmers.

Watch out for: Access is tricky. The coastal paths are a bit crumbly

Parking: Park in the car park overlooking the beach or find a free space on the side of the road.

Open: Not managed by anyone, so whenever the fancy takes you. The swell can be tricky and care should be taken at all times.

How to find it: TR16 4NR

& one for when it re-opens

Jubilee Pool Penzance 

Britain’s largest salt-water Lido, Penzance’s art deco triangular pool is re-filled with water only during the highest of spring tides and offers impressive views out across Mounts Bay. New for 2020 is the long awaited geo-thermal warm pool, opening 1 September.

Good for: families – this pool is has a kiddy pool bit down one end shallow enough for little ones (* kids pool currently closed due to Covid) and reassuringly has life guards. There’s a cafe on site too. If you’re part of the PZ massive, you can enjoy a residents discount.

Watch out for: Queues!

Parking: if you’re early enough, you can park on the prom. If not, there’s ample parking on the South harbour. The pool is just a 10 minute walk from Penzance train station though, so why not make an adventure of it and leave the car at home.

Open:Tuesday to Sunday until the end of September

How to find it: The pool has its own website TR18 4UU

2 comments on “5 Cornish Tide Pools & Lidos”

  • Sophie July 2, 2020 – allow me one moment of pedantry but Penzance is not alone :-). Porthtowan has a wee pool on the right of the beach too. I hope to explore some of the ones you mention later in the year, thanks!

    • rachelbuchanan July 3, 2020

      thank you! I stand corrected 🙂 I think Penzance is the largest perhaps!


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