The summer sends thousands of people to the picturesque Devon and Cornish coastlines for family-friendly day trips, relaxing weekends away, or a week-long immersive holidaying experience. If there’s one thing tourists like to do before heading to an unfamiliar place, it’s research.
A quick online search of your destination can really tell you everything you need to know before deciding on your holiday spot – where the toilets at the beach are, whether dogs will be allowed off-leash, the parking situation at the other side are all useful information for tourists. The first step, however, might be ensuring the beach you are looking forward to relaxing on actually does exist.
Porthemmet beach is described as a ‘tropical paradise’ with crystal clear waters and white sands, a rich and fun nightlife, and, so the legend goes, was founded when St Emmet swam from Ireland to the beach to find his brother, St Piran. There’s only one small, minor inconvenience – the place does not exist.
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Launched in 2007, the website promoting the fictional beach has befuddled thousands of would-be beach-goers who want to learn more about the area. Since 2014, the North Cornwall beach has its own Twitter account to promote and confuse tourists further.
With an online merchandise store, an old fishing tug turned sightseeing boat, and restaurant of ‘world-famous Cornish seafood chef Rick Goldstein’, Porthemmet boasts everything a visitor could ask for. Everything, that is, except a map location.
“Voted the best mythical beach in Cornwall for the last 10 years,” says the Twitter description. But then, this probably wouldn’t have surprised South West natives.
Truro-born Jonty Haywood created myth when he started putting up fake beach signs and created the website in August 2007 as a little joke on the visitors that flock to the county during the summer months. At one point, the website received 10,000 hits in just a few hours – whether from amused locals or wanna-be tourists, no one can say. Jonty told the BBC that he’d never expected such a response.
He said: “My main aim was to create a countywide prank, something that Cornish people could amuse themselves with. The national publicity has kind of given away the joke to lots of people outside Cornwall.”
Even so, social media for the hoax beach is still running, with the account stating Porthemmet reached a nearly unbelievable 42C in last week’s heatwave, and that the trains to the area remain unaffected by the current railway strike because it is ‘not on the rail time tables’.
While a quick glance at the website might be enough to fool those living further up the UK, there are simply too many county specific jokes to fool locals. To have a laugh for yourself, visit the Porthemmet website .
wildlife and nature
The site states the northern side of the of the beach is un-spoilt, thanks to the Cornish Nature Trust, and the abundance of wildlife has contributed to the Site of Amazing Natural Beauty status. It is also home to the rarest bird in Europe, the Cornish Chough (pronounced koff).
The beach is home to beach bars, pubs and clubs, and, the site claims, is the only beach in the UK to allow topless sunbathing. It also says police do not patrol the area, as the local council believe they distress the elderly residents in the area.
The website states: “Porthemmet has great surfing all year round and attracts surfers from across the globe. It’s a great place for pros and beginners alike and has a host of (very attractive) surf instructors.”
This is an old fisherboat that has been turned into a sight-seeing vessel. The boat takes visitors on tours of Emmet’s Head, Emmet’s Stump, and Emmet’s Reef.
Emmet’s Head – A large headland to the north of the beach. Its rugged beauty is typical of the Cornish coast and many species of seabirds nest on the cliff face.
Emmet’s Stump – Often referred to as “Stumpy Emmet”, this is a rocky outcrop a few hundred feet from the headland and home to over a hundred puffins.
Emmet’s Reef – A beautiful coral reef that can be seen in great detail through a glass panel in The Stug’s hull.
The webpage reads: “There are regular diving expeditions to Emmet’s Reef which has many species unique to this part of Cornwall. The local dolphin pod make an appearance most days and are very friendly. For more information head to The Conger (a bar on south Porthemmet) and ask for Chris.”
Nanny Ogg’s pasty shop holds the title for the ‘Best Pasty in Cornwall’ and, therefore, the world, according to the page. It adds visitors should always call it a ‘parsty’ so as not to be made fun of by the locals, and states ‘Rick Goldstein’ owns another popular restaurant in the area.
It is claimed that locals in the area will pretend not to know where Porthemmet beach is, and that visitors should ‘tell them that you are an “emmet” (someone that loves Cornwall) and that “there’ll be ell-up” ( nothing to do) if they don’t tell you.’
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