Sennen Cove

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Sennen Cove
Cornish: Porthsenen
Sennen cove at dusk.jpg
Sennen Cove at dusk
Grid reference: SW352261
Location: 50°4’33"N, 5°42’9"W
Local Government
Council: Cornwall
St Ives

Sennen Cove is a small coastal village in the parish of Sennen in Cornwall. It is a small place, with perhaps fewer than two hundred inhabitants, but in a fine location, at least when it is not being lashed by the merciless Atlantic storms. It is the westernmost village in mainland Cornwall.

The village provides a fishing port for Sennen up the hill, the westernmost village in Cornwall.


The village overlooks the southern end of Whitesand Bay. There is not a cove in the usual geological sense but a long, fair beach stretching between Aire point in the north and The Tribbens by the village. Sennan Cove village stands on a spur road which joins the A30 trunk road about two miles from Land's End and is the first village from Land's End along the north coast.

The road descends gently for about 300 yards and then steeply for another 300 yards to the village which stands above the beach. The beach extends further north along Whitesand Bay.

A few dozen houses stand here, built primarily of granite and some of concrete, arranged mainly in terraces, typical of many of the villages in Cornwall. Several submarine telecommunications cables reach land at Sennen Cove and are connected via landlines to the cable terminating equipment at Skewjack together with others from Porthcurno.

Sea and seashore


Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution base founded in 1853. It is run by volunteers and operates a Tamar all-weather lifeboat and an IB1 inshore lifeboat. They are manned by a crew of 24 people who ensure that the boats are operational and on call 24 hours a day, throughout the year.[1] Next to the lifeboat station is the restored Roundhouse, now used as an art gallery and souvenir shop, but originally used to house a winch for hauling boats up from the beach.


Sennen Cove breakwater

Sennen Cove has become renowned for its surfing conditions and is highly regarded by local and non-local surfers alike. Sennen tends to be slightly more protected from winds and swell than Gwenver at the other end of Whitesand Bay.

This a popular tourist destination for holidaymakers and surfers. Sennen is good at most tides, except extreme high tide, but works best with a westerly swell and a light easterly wind. Surf gear can be hired at the beach, next to a large car park and beach café.

Bilbo the canine lifeguard

The beach was home to Bilbo, a Newfoundland dog which was possibly unique as a canine lifeguard. Bilbo first started working on the beach in 2005, but was suspended from service on the beach when the lifeguards were taken over by the RNLI in early 2008 (see below), because Bilbo was not being allowed to walk on the sand (the beach is strictly dog free in the summer), and the new RNLI regulation that restricts the carrying of more than one person (or dog) on the beach's quad bike.

Bilbo died in May 2015, and his death was noted in many national newspapers and news sources.[2][3][4]


Sennen Cove, the Round House

The village is heavily dependent on tourism and is particularly popular with sea surfing enthusiasts and visitors to Land's End.

The main tourist season runs from spring until autumn, peaking in the school holidays in August. "The Old Boathouse", a surf shop called "Chapel Idne", and a public house are located here as well as various small cafés, ice cream stands, souvenir shops, and small private art galleries, including The Round House, most of which are only open during the tourist season.

The South West Coast Path passes through Sennen Cove, and on the path it is only about half an hour's walk to Land's End.

A small fishing fleet of seven is protected by a breakwater built in 1908.[5] Mullet used to be an important catch in the bay with the fishery beginning at the end of January and continued towards the end of April.[6] Sennen Cove was the most important seine fishery in Cornwall and, in Edwardian times, large schools were still entering the bay with as many as 12,000 caught at one time.[7] Seining continued into the 20th Century with 1200 stone caught on 3 March 1977.[8]

The area of cliffs known as "Pedn men du" in the cove is also popular with rock climbers, having non-tidal access.[9]

In books

In 2005, Shanti The Wandering Dog of Sennen & The Land's End was published, and tells the story of a collie dog who goes off on his lone wanderings around Sennen Cove, whilst his owner, an old man who spends his day looking out to sea from his hill-top house window, snoozes. The old man never knows that Shanti goes off alone around the cove.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Sennen Cove)


  1. Sennen Cove Lifeboat
  5. Lenton, W. S. (2006) The Fishing Boats and Ports of Cornwall. Plymouth: Channel View Publishing Plymouth.
  6. SYMONS, J. 1875. Appearance of Grey Mullet during corresponding periods and quantities of fish caught at Sennen Cove in 1874-1875. Report of the Royal Institution of Cornwall p. 212
  7. CLARK, J. (1909) An annotated list of Cornish fishes. Zoologist. Offprints from papers in 1907 & 1908.
  8. Western Morning News. 4 March 1977
  • Leach, Nicholas (2003) Sennen Cove Lifeboats: 150 years of lifesaving. Stroud: Tempus ISBN 0752431110

• The True Story of Bilbo The Surf Lifeguard Dog, by Steve Jmo and Janeta Hevizi, published by Cornish Cove Publishing • Shanti The Wandering Dog of Sennen & The Land's End, by Janeta Hevizi and Jo Holland, published by Cornish Cove Publishing