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Tidal Bathing Pool

Polperro's tidal bathing pool - in a
sunny secluded cove just yards from the village
Polperro's tidal bathing pool at low tide - photo: Brian Shepherd 2001
Polperro has only a small sandy tidal beach outside the main breakwater, with Willy Wilcox cave as a back-drop - reputed to be used in the days of smuggling. This beach and the Chapel Pool on the seaward side of Chapel Rock have been used by generations of local children to learn to swim and generally enjoy themselves. The pool is accessible from about half tide, and facing south, it soon warms up, but parents should remember that it is tidal and is totally covered by the sea on the rising tide. The steps down to the pool had deteriorated and as the following article reproduced from the Spring 2001 edition of the National Trust's Cornwall News describes, with the help of the Royal Engineers and a local benefactor, they have now been restored (Our thanks to the National Trust for permission to reproduce the article on this website):

When South Cornwall Countryside Manager Brian Muelaner received a letter from Lansallos Parish Council requesting he do something about the state of the steps leading to Polperro's tidal bathing pools at the foot of Chapel Cliff it came as somewhat of a shock to find out the work would cost some 12,000 more than Brian had in his budget.

Built in the mid-1940s, the steps had succumbed to the constant battering of the sea and were now impassable. However, just when he had resigned himself to a long wait for funding, several small but extremely timely miracles fell into place: the parish council offered a modest but much appreciated contribution, a call was received from the South-East Cornwall Association asking could he make use of a donation, an extraordinary offer from the Royal Engineers wondering if they could work for two weeks on a project of community benefit, and, most poignantly, a call from Mrs Brown who wanted to know if the Trust would consider erecting a memorial seat at Chapel Cliff in memory of her late husband. When Brian suggested the repair of the steps as an alternative, Mrs Brown was delighted as her husband had learned to swim in the bathing pools at the foot of the steps.

With funding now assured and the army committed to start in mid-October, everything was arranged except the weather. Being in such an exposed location with each tide covering half the steps, success rested with the vagaries of the Cornish climate. However, work progressed with military precision and the last step was completed on 27 October - just two days before the Sunday storm which brought the nation to its knees. Happily the steps survived the full brunt of the storm and will give delight to locals and visitors to Polperro for many years to come.


© National Trust 2001
Polperro's tidal bathing pool from an old print

Why not enjoy it during your stay in Polperro and appreciate the hard work put in by the Royal Engineers and the National Trust to restore the steps and make access to it safe again? But take care because the steps are steep and do not have a hand-rail - they are not for the faint-hearted or those who suffer from vertigo - you have been warned!

Tony White, Polperro, August 2001


Page dated 12 August 2001. www.polperro.org © 2001

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