Porth Hellick Beach
© John Rostron and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Porth Hellick Beach lies in a sheltered cove on the south-east of St Mary's; the largest of the Scilly Isles. This lovely, rural beach faces south-east and has a good stretch of coarse light golden sand which curves around the bay, almost forming a complete circle. The bay itself is very rocky and at low tide a large number of rocks and seaweed are revealed, making this a good place to hunt for marine life in the exposed rockpools, although care should be taken as the rocks can be quite slippery. From the beach there are pretty views of the rocky shore and of the headland at Porth Hellick Point.
The beach is backed by fields, marshes and Porth Hellick Pool- a large body of freshwater. The varied terrain around here provides a habitat to a wide range of interesting plant life and has been designated a Special Site of Scientific Interest.
The area around the beach has a number of interesting historical features. In October 1707 one of the worst maritime disasters in the history of the Royal Navy took place when four ships in the fleet of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell were shipwrecked off the Isles of Scilly on their return from Toulon. It is thought that as many as 2,000 sailors lost their lives. The admiral's body was washed up on Porth Hellick Beach and was temporarily buried here. Some versions of the story recount that he was still alive when he reached land, but was murdered by a local woman who then stole his emerald ring. Today a stone monument marks the spot where he was buried before being moved to Westminster Abbey.
South of the beach is Giant's Castle, which is the site of an Iron-Age coastal fort. There are also a number of Bronze-Age tombs to be seen on Porth Hellick Down.