Praa Sands now looks more like Praa Pebbles as storm washes away the beach
BEACHES across the south coast have been transformed after the recent heavy storms with some being stripped of their sand and left with rocky shorelines.
Rocks and stones which haven't been seen in a generation have emerged at locations such as Praa Sands and Perranuthnoe, as thousands of tonnes of sand have been dragged out to sea by the powerful storm waves.
The storms have also brought in huge amounts of litter.
Steve Blatchford, Cornwall Council's senior land drainage engineer, said regular inspections are taking place but that it was impractical to take any action at the moment.
"The combination of severe weather and tides caused extremely large volumes of sand movement which hasn't been experienced in recent times," he said.
"We appreciate residents and business owners are concerned about the situation and want us to intervene in the movement of sand; however any work we do, working in between tides, would soon be overtaken by nature and this, along with the extremely large volumes of sand involved, makes it impractical to take any action at the moment.
"When the weather pattern and sea settles down we will be able to decide what the best action is."
At Praa Sands, virtually all the sand has disappeared and an area of cliff has collapsed at the Hendra end of the beach.
But Carol Crow, who runs Sea Meads holiday homes overlooking the beach, said she was confident the sand would soon return.
"I'm not particularly worried as there was a worse storm 20 years ago when a café was washed away," she said.
"The sand soon came back then and I think it will come back this year."
Perranuthnoe's beach level has gone down by several feet and local resident and keen walker Carolyn Scobie says there is currently less sand there than at any time since 2000.
Of more concern to her though is the amount of litter on all three beaches and the state of the footpath.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of plastic bottles lying around as well as lots of other stuff and that needs to be cleared up.
"There are also several areas of the coastpath which are very dangerous – where the sea has got in under the path and undermined it."
At Marazion, some of the cliff face has been washed away to the east of the town, near the ferry quay, along with large quantities of sand.
To the west, some of the dune next to the Red River has been washed away while the sand has moved the course of the river itself, the two things prompting fears that Marazion Marsh might be at risk from flooding if the sea broke through in a future storm.
However, former mayor and current town councillor Martin Britten said he believed there was no immediate threat. He said: "The river can be rerouted and they are keeping a close eye on the dune, continually replanting with marram grass and restricting access."
As for the sand disappearing, Mr Britten said: "We always lose sand in the winter and it always comes back."