Church Cove, Gunwalloe

Church Cove and Dollar Cove are two adjacent beaches on The Lizard. Hidden treasure and a small 15th century church nestled into the cliff are just a couple of the attractions.

Gunwalloe Cove also referred to as Church Cove and the joining Dollar Cove are a set of two small south westerly facing beaches. The name Church Cove is given to Gunwalloe because of the church and its detached bell tower, St. Winwalloe which nestles in the hill at the top of the beach. Behind Church Cove you can see Mullion Golf Club which is located on what used to be sand dunes. When looking from the road Church Cove is the beach to your left, Dollar Cove is to your right.

Gunwalloe Cove is located on the Lizard Peninsula roughly 3 miles south of Helston. The beach is sandy with a small stream running through it. There are surrounding rocky and grass headlands either side of Gunwalloe Cove but the expanse of sand on the beach is fairly large even at high tide.

The adjoining beach of Dollar Cove is mainly sand with rocky sections and shingle. There are several rocky hollows and caves on the beach which during the summer months are a magnet for young explorers (care must be taken here as falling rocks could pose a hazard).

The Cove is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Walking along the South West Coastal path from either direction of the beach offers stunning coastal views. If you pass Church Cove and continue left from the beach along the South West Coastal Path you will find yourself at Poldhu Cove.

Take the north-westerly path to the right of Church Cove and past Dollar Cove and you will cross the Pedngwinian headland and arrive at Gunwalloe Fishing Cove. There are no facilities or car park at Gunwalloe Fishing Cove which usually mean it is a very quiet spot where you can enjoy a moment of solitude even on busier days. The sea conditions here can be treacherous however.

Dollar Cove is the first beach you come across on the track down form the car park. It supposedly gets it name from an incident involving a Portuguese Ship that wrecked here in the 17th century. The ship called San Salvador was lost in 1669 and had around 200 tonnes of silver dollars on board. Many a treasure hunter has spent time looking on the beach in the hopes of finding some of the silver coins.

The church on the beach is called St. Winwaloe and looks much the same as it did 600 years ago. The name of the church is dedicated to a celtic priest Winwaloe who moved from his Cornish homeland to found a monastery the Landévennec Abbey just south of Brest, Brittany.

Getting To And Parking At Church Cove

Church Cove and Dollar Cove can be found by following signposts off the A3083. Travel down from Helston on the A3083, you will see Culdrose Air Base on your left. There will be a road to the right signposted Gunwalloe and Church Cove. Follow this road past Gunwalloe village and The Halzephron Inn and you will arrive at a National Trust Car Park near Winnianton Farm.

The National Trust car park is the only car park for Church Cove
Access and Facilities at Church Cove

The National Trust car park allows access to the beach for wheelchairs or pushchairs. THere are public toilets on the road leading down to the beach opposite Dollar Cove although these are closed in the winter period.

There is also a small cafe on the track leading to the beaches which is usually open during the summer period.

Swimming and Lifeguards

Church Cove is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months of July and August. Flags will be out to note the area acceptable to get in the sea. There are strong currents here especially at low tide so outside of these months swimming here is not suitable.

Snorkelling is difficult here and the water conditions don’t really make it conducive to both visibility and safety unless there are periods of calm weather and flat seas.

Surfing at Church Cove

The surf is inconsistent and unreliable at Church Cove. On the odd occasion there is a swell from the southwest and north easterly winds the conditions can work well. This happens mainly during the colder months and summer often has flat or calm conditions. There are rip tides here at low water that need to be negotiated and care needs to be taken.