Coasteering in Cornwall is an exciting way to step into the local Cornish history and culture – with a sense of real adventure! Get ready for your Coasteering Session with some more fun facts about our Newquay Coasteering routes.
Make sure you check out the original Coasteering Fun Facts blog post too!
Cornwall’s ‘Panama Canal’
On the south side of Towan Head you can see some large boulders and an old harbour wall protruding from the headland. This was once part of an artificial shipping lane from the waters of the Gazzle to the deep water beyond the surf at Fistral beach.
Joseph Treffry, the brains behind the 1848 project, cut a channel through the narrowest part of the headland so ships could sail from Newquay Bay into the deep water of Fistral Bay. The channel became known as Spy Hole. Newquay’s answer to the Panama Canal. For once the Cornish did something first, 33 years before the French started in Central America. Unfortunately in true Cornish fashion the work was never completed and after Treffry’s death the channel was filled in as it was deemed too costly.
The History of the “New Quay”
The town of Newquay grew out of a 15th century village called Towan Blystra which is Cornish for ‘blown dune’,
The anchorage was exposed to winds from the North East and in 1439 the local Burghers applied to Bishop Lacey of Exeter for leave and funds to build a “New quay” from which the town derives its current name.
Coasteering – An adventure into Cornish history
Towan head is home to an old Life boat station. At one point the steepest lifeboat slip way in Europe. Our Newquay Coasteering routes typically start or pass by this old piece of history.
The Lifeboat House (now an artist’s studio) was built in 1899. After the rescue the boat could not be dragged back up the slip, so would return to the Newquay Town Beaches where it was mounted on a trailer and pulled by a team of horses back to the lifeboat house. The first lifeboat to be in service here was the Willy Rogers. The most famous, however, was the James Stevens. In addition to her many successful rescues, she was launched three times for royalty.
Hungry for more Fun Facts about the Newquay Coastline? Read up on some more Coasteering Fun Facts.