Sennen Cove

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This article is about the popular surfing beach Sennen Cove, for the village and parish see Sennen
Sennen Cove at dusk from the cliffs of Pedn-men-du

Sennen Cove (Cornish: Porthsenen)[1] (grid reference SW352261) is a small coastal village in the parish of Sennen in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. According to the Penwith District Council, the population of this settlement was estimated at 180 persons in 2000.[2]


Sennen Cove is not a cove in the geological sense, and would be more properly described as a Bay. Sennen Cove, as distinct from Sennen Churchtown, is found at the end of a spur road which joins the A30 trunk road approximately one mile (1.61 km) from Land's End. The road descends gently for about 300 yards and then steeply for another 300 yards to the village which lies just above the beach at an altitude of 5 metres (16 ft) to 10 metres (33 ft). The beach extends further north along the coast towards the peninsula of Cape Cornwall a few miles further to the north. There are a few dozen houses built primarily of granite and some of concrete, arranged mainly in terraces, typical of many of the villages in Cornwall. Several submarine telecommunications cables are landed at Sennen Cove and are connected via landlines to the cable terminating equipment at Skewjack together with others from Porthcurno.

Sea and seashore[edit]


Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution base founded in 1853. It is run by volunteers and operates a Tamar-class 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 twenty-four hours a day, throughout the year.[3] 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 Gwenvor at the other end of the bay. Sennen's laid back and friendly atmosphere has been recognised which adds to the feel of Sennen Cove, making it a popular tourist destination for holiday makers and surfers alike. Sennen is good at most tides, bar extreme high tide, but works best with a westerly swell and a light easterly wind. Surf gear can be hired at the beach, situated next to a large car park and beach café.

Bilbo the canine lifeguard[edit]

The beach was also home to Bilbo, the first ever UK canine lifeguard. The Newfoundland first started working on the beach from 2005, although was suspended from services on the beach when the lifeguards were taken over by the RNLI in early 2008 (see below), due to the rules that confine Bilbo from 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 use of more than one person (or dog in this instance) on the beach's quad bike. For the three years he was in service (2005–2007), he raised huge awareness to many tourists about the dangers of swimming outside the designated zones controlled by the lifeguards, led by the 'Bilbo Says' campaign.[4] Since the restriction of just 4 hours a week in 2008, there has been a public cry for Bilbo's reinstatement. A number of petitions have been posted online, and a paper petition has been created inside the Old Success Inn, Sennen Cove.

In 2014 Bilbo The Lifeguard Dog became the mascot for the THINK BILBO STAY SAFE NEAR WATER CAMPAIGN, which aims to increase awareness of the incidence of drownings in the UK, and how such tragedies might be avoided in the future. Each year approximately 400 people lose their lives to drowning. At 11 years old, Bilbo the 12 stone chocolate coloured Newfoundland dog, from Sennen, was still helping to spread water safety messages to children in Cornish primary schools.

Bilbo The Lifeguard Dog has a huge following on Facebook, over 5,000 friends.

Bilbo died in May 2015, and his death was noted in many national newspapers and news sources.[5][6][7]

Popular Children's Illustrated Story Book

In 2005, Shanti The Wandering Dog of Sennen & The Land's End was published, and tells the true 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. 36 pages of stunning illustrations beautifully depict Sennen's Atlantic coast line. Published by Cornish Cove Publishing, and printed and bound in Cornwall, United Kingdom.


Sennen Cove, the Round House

The Cove is heavily dependent on tourism and is particularly popular with sea surfing enthuiasts. The significant part of the tourist season extends from approximately the spring until the 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 cafes, 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, only being about half an hour's walk from Land's End.

A small fishing fleet of seven is protected by a breakwater built in 1908.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Seining continued into the 20th Century with 1200 stone caught on 3 March 1977.[11]


First South West run bus services to Sennen Cove. Service 1 calls in at Sennen Cove on the journey between Penzance and Lands End roughly every hour during the daytime. In summertime, open top service 300 calls into the cove on the section of the trip between St Ives and Lands End. Until their demise in 2006, Sennen Cove was a popular destination with enthusiasts of the Bristol VR bus due to the steep incline leaving the cove.


  1. ^ Place-names in the Standard Written Form (SWF) : List of place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel. Cornish Language Partnership.
  2. ^ Penwith District Council 2000 estimate
  3. ^ Sennen Cove Lifeboat
  4. ^ Bilbo Says Campaign
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lenton, W. S. (2006) The Fishing Boats and Ports of Cornwall. Plymouth: Channel View Publishing Plymouth.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ CLARK, J. (1909) An annotated list of Cornish fishes. Zoologist. Offprints from papers in 1907 & 1908.
  11. ^ Western Morning News. 4 March 1977

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°04′33″N 5°42′09″W / 50.07590°N 5.70238°W / 50.07590; -5.70238