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All Aboard Cornwall’s Most Famous Shipwrecks image header

6th December 2016 | Regional News

All Aboard Cornwall’s Most Famous Shipwrecks

Cornwall is renowned for being one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK. Its beautiful coastline stretches over 250 miles, and is home to some of the best beaches and coves in Britain. From picture perfect white sands, ideal for sunbathing, to exposed stretches of coast offering a surfer’s paradise, it would be rude not to visit the coast if you’re on holiday in Cornwall.

What many people don’t realise is that Cornwall’s coastline is full of mystery, and has claimed thousands of vessels since the 14th century. A lack of navigational tools in the early years of shipping required captains to sail close to the shoreline to maintain knowledge of their position. By doing this, many vessels hit submerged rocks and reefs which resulted in countless shipwrecks. Here at Parkdean, we’ve rounded up some of the most famous shipwrecks that can still be seen today.

RMS Mülheim, Land’s End

On the 22nd March 2003, the RMS Mülheim was on a voyage, transporting over 2000 tonnes of scrap car plastic from Cork, Republic of Ireland, to Lübeck, Germany. Unfortunately, the German cargo ship hit ground near Land’s End after the chief officer had an accident and fell, leaving him unconscious.

By the time he woke, the boat was already too close to the shoreline. Although the crew managed to be airlifted to safety, the boat was not so lucky.

If you fancy seeing the shipwreck for yourself, Land’s End is less than an hour’s drive from Mullion Holiday Park. Once you’re at Land’s End, head towards a rocky inlet named Castle Zawn, where you’ll find the shipwreck lying in its final resting place. Access to the cove is now almost completely blocked by the wreck, however, the superstructure of the vessel is still largely intact.


Video sourced from UltraWhammy

SV Carl, Booby’s Bay

The SV Carl was a 60-foot-long German vessel that was impounded in Cardiff docks at the start of World War One, as she was suspected of being an enemy minelayer. Three years later, on 7th October 1917, she was being towed towards London to be broken up for scrap when she broke free in a fierce storm.

In a letter to the Padstow Echo in 1966, Lieutenant Commander Langford of the Royal Navy recalled his mother’s eyewitness account of how the SV Carl met her fate. He described how two Admiralty tugs came from Devonport to try and refloat her, but she was “completely uncontrollable” and ended up just yards from shore. She was declared a total loss, and after anything of use or value was taken from the vessel, she was then left on the beach.

The SV Carl was hidden from view for nearly a century, until just two years ago when heavy storms washed away sand on the beach at Booby’s Bay. It became possible to see the mast, bollards and bits of superstructure, which were well preserved from being under the sand for so long.

Booby’s Bay is just 36 minutes from St Minver Holiday Park, and some parts of the wreckage can be seen at low tide. There’s a car park within half a mile of the beach, and plenty of rock pools to explore when you’ve finished looking at the remains of the historical vessel.

Ben Asdale, Maenporth Beach

On a particularly wintery night on the 30th December 1978, the Scottish trawler Ben Asdale was offloading mackerel into the hold of the Russian factory ship Antarctica, which was anchored in Falmouth Bay. A force eight gale was battering the coastline and heavy snow was turning into blizzards, so the conditions were extremely dangerous.

When Ben Asdale’s stern line was released, ready for her to move away, the line got caught around the rudder, making the boat completely uncontrollable. The crew desperately tried to anchor her, but she was eventually driven onto the rocks at Maenporth, where holes were ripped into her side and she soon began to topple over. There were 14 members of crew on board Ben Asdale, and despite heroic actions from the rescue teams and members of the public, three men lost their lives. Over the following days and weeks many parts of the vessel washed up on the beach.


Video sourced from Geoff Claydon

The wreck of Ben Asdale is easy to see from the headland at Maenporth Beach, and when the tide is out you can scramble over the rocks and get really close to the vessel. Just over half an hour away from Sea Acres Holiday Park, Maenporth Beach has beautiful golden sands and rock pools, making it a great day out for all the family.

Have you ever come across a shipwreck whilst on holiday in Cornwall? If so, we’d love to hear about it on our Facebook page.

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Registered Office: 2nd Floor, One Gosforth Park Way, Gosforth Business Park, Newcastle, NE12 8ET