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Map of Region
13 September 2002
|The parish of
Gwithian is situated in the deanery and Hundred of Penwith. It is bounded
on the north by the sea and the parith of Camborne, on the east by the
parishes of Camborne and Gwinnear, on the south by Phillack, and on the
west by St Ives Bay. Named after a little known saint, possibly Breton,
the picturesque little village of Gwithian is near Hayle on the north
Cornish coast. Gwithian Churchtown is a little village lying almost at
sea-level on the coast between Hayle and Portreath; it has a a church and
an inn. The surrounding area of dunes and beach are very popular for
camping-caravaning and there are several sites in the locality as well as
a chalet park. In mediaeval times this was an important settlement area,
but was always subject to shifting sand, which eventually claimed the once
prominent village in the parish, that of Conerton, now buried. The sand
dunes (towans) of Gwithian are found all along the shores of St. Ives Bay
on the north coast of Cornwall. These here make up the second largest sand
dune system in Cornwall and are one of the largest systems to be found on
the west coast of the United Kingdom. They are also comparable in size to
their counterparts in Europe. The system is approximately 5 kilometres
long by 2 kilometres wide and is aligned from north-east to south-west.
The sand has, in recent times, attracted the surfers. Mines that were
important in the past have now been replaced by tourism and agriculture.
Because of its exposed position to the Atlantic, the rocks at Godrevy have
seen many wrecks in the past. In January 1858, the foundations of the
lighthouse was laid, and it was first lighted on 1st March 1859. This area
of sea is now guarded by an automated lighthouse. An ancient oratory is
believed to be buried under the shifting sands near the Red River. The
civil parishes of Gwinear and Gwithian were combined to form
Gwinear-Gwithian in 1934.
Godrevy is situated near the small Churchtown village of Gwithian just outside of Hayle in Cornwall. The wild rugged landscape of Godrevy, dominated by the beautiful white lighthouse the rocky Island just offshore has proved inspirational to many visitors. Virginia Woolf based her famous novel "To The Lighthouse" upon Godrevy Lighthouse and many visitors have either enjoyed the views, the beach or wonderful Coastal walks at Godrevy. Godrevy is an important site for birds, Cormorants, Razorbills and Oyster catchers are among many species that can be found here. Grey seals can also be seen throughout the year. On the Knavocks the fine maritime grassland merges with heathland and gorse scrub, providing ideal conditions for nesting Stonechants, grayling butterflies and other specialist invertebrates. Grassy sand hills seen inland from Godrevy Head and from the Gwithian road are part of the large dune system of Gwithian and Upton Towans which run for some 3 miles. The dunes and grassland are exceptionally rich in wildlife supporting many rare plants and insects. Evidence also shows signs of early man at Godrevy, from the Middle Ages onward. On the largest point of the headland a prominent mound marks the burial site of what was probably a very important Bronze Age Chieftain.