Exploring Hanover Cove ~ Between Perranporth & St. Agnes

Hanover Cove, also known as Vugga Hayle, is a dramatic stretch of coastline on the North Coast of Cornwall between Perranporth and St. Agnes.

It is named after the ship the Hanover, which was wrecked here in 1763. Carrying gold bullion, and en route to Falmouth from Lisbon, it was blown onto the rocks by a gale: only 3 of the 67 aboard survived!

Hanover Cove is mysterious because it cannot be seen from the main coastal path. To see some of the features you need to venture off the path (with extreme caution, see below) or use a boat or, better still, a drone.

hanover cove

Hanover Cove Top Down by Jamie Turnbull

A combination of mining and erosion have created the most spectacular coastal landscape here, only really visible from the air. To try to capture this I pointed the camera straight down and took nine separate photographs, which were then joined together to create the above panorama. 

cligga head

Cligga Head Self-Portrait by Jamie Turnbull

Hanover Cove marks the boundary between the Parishes of Perranzabuloe and St. Agnes, and you can still find a stone pillar in the middle of the coast path marking the boundary.

The above picture, taken on Cligga Head in the evening sun, shows the location of Hanover Cove in the background.

the prison collapsed sea cave

The Prison by Jamie Turnbull

The most famous feature of Hanover Cove is The Prison. The Prison is a collapsed sea cave, only accessible by boat and a network of caves at low tide.

The Prison cannot be seen from the coast path, only from the air. The above vertical panorama gives a sense of the sheer scale of this amazing geological spectacle.

hanover cove sea pinks

Hanover Sea Pinks by Jamie Turnbull

Many of these pictures were taken during the Coronavirus lockdowns. Whilst being restricted in certain activities, being able to fly around this amazing scenery and get these incredible bird's eye views on it gave me a real sense of freedom.

One of the great things about aerial photograph is seeing things that you otherwise wouldn't. Like, that, at such a remote and rugged location there are sea pinks growing on the far side of one of the rocks out to sea.

the prison and hanover cove

Hanover Cove & The Prison by Jamie Turnbull

While this whole area is known as Hanover Cove, strictly speaking it is the small beach on the right of the above picture. It is a narrow cove, with very high sides. It really is the last place that you would want to be ship-wrecked in a storm, as the chances of survival are slim.

 hanover cove rocks

Hanover Rocks by Jamie Turnbull

The cliffs of the cove are so dramatic that they actually look more like a mountain range in places, with deep crevasses and fissures that go on and on back into the earth. The crags also provide good viewing platforms for the seagulls to watch the sun set.

coloured boulders hanover cove

Hanover Mineral Rocks by Jamie Turnbull

While the cliffs themselves are not as colourful as they are towards Cligga Head, the boulders at the base of the cliffs here are full of spectacular blues and greens due to the minerals in them. I love the contrast between the sea and boulders in the above shot.

mineshaft hanover cove

Hanover Cove Shaft by Jamie Turnbull

This area is rich in mining history. The mineshaft on the headland in the above picture is known as Island Shaft, and was part of Wheal Prudence.

When I've shared this picture before, people have commented on just how dangerous this looks and have asked why the shaft is not capped or fenced off to stop people falling in.

If you can spot this location in the first picture in this article, then you'll see why. Possibility the only practical way of getting to this shaft, would be by helicopter. According to mindat.org, a wooden bridge once connected this headland to the coast so that the miners could get to work every day. Have another look at the first picture and imagine that!

minerals hanover cove

Hanover Rock Colours by Jamie Turnbull

Years of mining have encouraged minerals to seep out of the rocks and run down the cliff face, creating these colourful orange and green stripes. Where theses cliffs meet the sea there is an explosion of colour.

rocks off hanover cove

Hanover Rocks Portrait by Jamie Turnbull

There are at least five large rocks, or small islands, off the cove which are home to colonies of sea birds. The above vertical panorama was my third attempt at shooting one of these islands with the sun setting behind it. I think it was worth the three visits just to get this one picture!


Visiting Hanover Cove

If you're looking for Hanover Cove do not trust Google Maps! Google mistakenly lists the cove as half a mile to the North, on the other side of Cligga Head. The cove is to the South of Cligga Head. Check the OS map for the correct location (50.334440,-5180401, what three words: fetch.strategy.manicured).

You can get glimpses of Hanover Cove from just off the Coastal Path at two locations.

  • On the South side of the cove at: 50.332635, -5.182047, what three words: relishes.brambles.mason .
  • On the North side of the cove at: 50.334455, -5.179703, what three words: prospers.encoded.promote . Take the path from the coast path down into the old quarry. From there you can get a view across some of the cove, but be sure to stay away from the edge.

This is a dangerous place! A few words of warning:

  • Some of the cliffs are unstable, and some of the old miner's paths now lead off the edge of the cliff. There are also mine workings just off the coastal path. If you're going to visit you do so at your own risk.
  • While this is an amazing location for aerial photography, it is right next to an airfield. It is not currently restricted airspace, but extreme caution should be taken. Many of the photographs here were taken while the airfield was closed during the Coronavirus pandemic, or outside of operational hours.

More information:

by Jamie Turnbull