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Gwithian Towans and Hayle Estuary Paintings and Prints: Dog Walking, Surfing, and Swimming

  • 8 min read

Artist John Dyer standing on the beach at Hayle, Gwithian Sands in Cornwall

Above: Cornwall Artist John Dyer standing on the beach at Hayle, Gwithian.

Looking for something different to hang on your walls? Why not consider paintings or prints of Godrevy, Gwithian Towans or the Hayle Estuary? This beautiful part of Cornwall has been the source of inspiration for many artists over the years, and it's easy to see why. There's something about the scenery here that just seems to capture people's imaginations. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the paintings and prints that have been created of this area by our Cornwall gallery artists, John Dyer, Joanne Short and Ted Dyer. We'll also explore some of the history and local knowledge surrounding Hayle Estuary. So if you're looking for something special to brighten up your home, take a look at this amazing collection of artwork most of which is available at the John Dyer Gallery.

Circular walk from Hayle, over the dunes, to Gwithian Towans and back along the mouth of the estuary

Another favourite cornish coastal walk of ours starts at Hayle and takes you across the amazing dunes down onto the long stretch of beach which, at low tide, sweeps from Godrevy along to the Hayle estuary. The views as you drop down from the dunes are breathtaking. I find that the smell of the sea in the air, the colour of the sand, and the sheer length of the beach take me straight back to my childhood. It is a beach scene that we both love to paint.

This walk, starting in Hayle, takes you along the estuary, over the dunes, and back along the beach.

Artists John Dyer and Joanne Short standing on the beach at Gwithian

Above: Cornwall artists Joanne Short and John Dyer in the dunes at Gwithian with St Ives Bay in the background

Hayle Estuary

The name Hayle comes from the word 'heyl' which is the Cornish word for estuary.

The estuary is an RSPB nature reserve and home to a variety of different birds, including gulls, terns, sandpipers, and plovers. In the winter months, you might also spot some wading birds such as curlews and redshanks. If you're lucky, you might even see a Blue-winged Teal or a Dusky Warbler. In the winter, due to the mild climate, the water never freezes and up to 18,000 birds can be found here! It is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

As we made our way over the enormous dunes and popped out to a fantastic view of the ocean and the long stretch of beaches I remember sitting on the beach painting last summer...


Looking out to sea, on the far right is a view of Godrevy lighthouse and beach in one direction and St Ives in the other.

'Wild Flowers on the Cliff', original oil painting by artist Joanne Short

The pretty wildflowers and grasses on the cliff overlooking Gwithian Beach and Godrevy Lighthouse bring to life this oil on canvas original painting of Cornwall by artist Joanne Short.

This is a lovely view of the sweeping sands and rolling waves at this famous beach. The Lighthouse proudly stands in the bay, while summer blues in the sea and sky transport us straight to holidays in beautiful Cornwall. The artist painted it on the cliffs at Gwithian, Cornwall, surrounded by wild Cornish grasses, blooms, light and colour. This is a fantastic example of the work of this renowned artist. 

John Dyer Gallery

Artist Joanne Short sitting in the dunes at Gwithian, painting

Above: Cornwall based artist Joanne Short painting in the dunes at Gwithian

On a beautiful summer's day, we often visit Godrevy beach. Imagine the beach scene - the sun is shining and there's a light breeze blowing. I can see surfers catching a wave, swimmers, sunbathers, children playing, the lighthouse in the distance, small fishing boats at sea, and cliffs in the background. All these things make the perfect John Dyer painting! It's a stunning scene and I can't help but take some photos and do some sketches almost every time we visit - the view is so stunning! This is the essence of a perfect seaside holiday.

A question John is often asked is - "How do you manage to paint on the beach?" He says:

"It's not as easy as it looks! You have to be very careful of the tide and the wind. I like to set up in the dunes, so I can get a good view of the beach and I'm not affected by the water. I use a lot of bright colours in my paintings because that's what Gwithian is all about - the fun, the sun and the sea."

‘Spring Fun, Godrevy Lighthouse’, Signed Limited Edition art print by John Dyer

On the north coast of Cornwall, John Dyer's print depicts Godrevy lighthouse with vitality, colour, and life. Swimmers, seals, fishing boats, dogs, yachts, and seagulls are among the figures that make this Cornish seaside scene vibrant. In the lower-left corner is a couple sitting on the cliffs. The Cornish sky blue and turquoise sea provide us with year-round summer seasons.

Many a time John and I have sat here and painted the lighthouse and the busy beach below, and I’m sure we will never get bored of painting beach scenes like this.

Artist John Dyer sitting on his Landrover Defender, holding his painting of Godrevy

This photo of John was taken in 2004. John would sit on top of his Landrover and paint - quite a sight for passers-by!

"I've always loved painting and drawing landscapes and seascapes, so this is heaven for me. I'm particularly drawn to the contrast of the bright blue sky with the turquoise water. And the way the light dances on the waves is just mesmerising."

John Dyer

Original oil painting by artist Joanne Short, ‘Summer Evening, Godrevy’, 18 x 18” oil on canvas

Godrevy lighthouse has been immortalised in art by a number of famous painters and photographers, including Alfred Wallis. It is also said to have inspired Virginia Woolf's novel ‘To the Lighthouse’.

‘Blue Skies, Godrevy’, open edition fine art print by Ted Dyer

We have recently launched a collection of open edition fine art prints by Ted Dyer. This beautiful print is a timeless classic that evokes the style of the Newlyn School of painters with its excellent use of figures, light, and sense of place. Two girls looking across Gwithian Beach in Cornwall to Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance are depicted in this print. Ted's attention to detail is incredible; it will be a treasured addition to any art collection

Gwithian Towans

Gwithian Towans is a beautiful sandy beach that stretches for almost two miles, and it is a popular spot for dog walking, surfing, and swimming. Half way along this three mile stretch of beach is an area inexplicably named 'Mexico Towans', situated below the dunes. When the Cornish tin industry collapsed in the 19th century, many of its workers emigrated to Mexico. Wheal Mexico mine was discovered in the area in the 1990s, so it's possible that the name is a reflection of that connection. The name 'Towan' derives from the Cornish language and means 'a place of dunes or sandhills'.

It is not surprising that Gwithian Towans features prominently in many artists’ paintings and prints with its sweeping beaches and sparkling water. The beach here is so vast that it never really gets overcrowded.

‘Hayle Estuary’ by Louis Grier, C. 1905, oil on canvas

Painting by Louis Grier of Hayle Estuary

In 1889 painter Louis Grier opened a school for Landscape and Marine Painting in St Ives, with the idea of teaching students out of door effects or 'en plein air' painting, which had been adopted by the early French Impressionists. 

Grier and fellow artist Julius Olsson’s painting school was based at Porthmeor Studios in a vast studio that was later divided up to form several smaller studios. Grier then set up a school in his studio called The Foc’sle, situated on the wharf overlooking St Ives Harbour.

There has been a thriving artist community of 'en plain air' painters in St Ives and Cornwall ever since.

Artist Ted Dyer's paintings are impressionist in their style. He has painted many beautiful beach scene canvases, many of which are available to purchase as fine art open edition prints.

’A Cornish Summer, Gwithian’, Open edition Cornish art print by Ted Dyer

The Gwithian beach scene is perfectly captured, with the brilliant blue sea and wide sandy beaches as a backdrop to families and children playing in the sand. This print is one of the finest you'll find if you're searching for a work of art that captures the essence of Cornwall and its spirit.


Towards the end of the walk the direction takes us back to Hayle, across the estuary is Lelant.

Lelant is a lovely seaside hamlet with a large sand beach on the Atlantic side and a tiny collection of sandy coves that amble along beside the swift-flowing estuary water further inland. When swimming, care should be taken.

Lelant was formerly a significant port and still retains relics of its numerous quays, which are visible in the form of stone revetments. Nowadays, there are only a few boats moored on the muddy estuary beach, referred to locally as Mackerel Boats, due to siltation at the mouth of the river.

St Uny's church is located in the hamlet of Lelant, between the village and the beach. This church, which is partly Norman, was restored in the 13th and 15th centuries. From here you may start walking along the St Michael's Way to St Michael's Mount in Mounts Bay, also known as the St Michael's Way. This ancient pilgrimage route begins at Lelant Church and follows the coast road to St Ives before cutting overland. A sign outside Lelant church provides directions.

‘In love at Lelant, Hayle’ by John Dyer, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 10"


Looking at John Dyer's painting, you can almost feel the salty breeze blowing through your hair. The bright colours and vivid details transport you right to the edge of Hayle estuary, where you can see the house on the cliff overlooking the river where the artist John Miller used to live and paint. In the foreground, a couple are enjoying a romantic moment by the water, while a colourful fishing boat sails by. It's easy to imagine yourself standing there next to them, taking in all that beauty.

John Miller

The artist John Miller (1931-2002) lived and worked in Cornwall from the 1950s. His style in painting changed dramatically over time, from early figurative landscapes of great beauty and detail, to later abstracted sea and landscapes with large blocks of bold colour depicting the horizon where the water meets the sky. 

August Day - St Ives Bay painting by John Miller

Above: August Day - St Ives Bay painting by John Miller

Miller latterly lived in a house on the edge of the estuary at Lelant (John Millers' house can be seen in this John Dyer painting) and was inspired by the movement of the ocean and the changing patterns of the water on the sand. These are the paintings that made him such a renowned artist and this work is easily recognisable.

I moved to Cornwall from London in 1958 to celebrate a land I had already come to love. Now I am joyful that after forty years of painting, those celebrations of Cornwall are in collections in many parts of the world.

John Miller (1931 - 2002)

John Dyer Gallery

We hope you have enjoyed this blog post about our paintings and prints of Godrevy and Hayle Estuary. If you are ever in the area, be sure to take a walk along the estuary and enjoy the beautiful scenery for yourself. Who knows, you may even spot a painting or print on our online gallery that inspires you to start your own collection. It's easy! Just visit our gallery website and browse the various categories of artwork - paintings, prints, posters, art mugs, art t-shirts and art phone cases. You will be sure to find something you love and that suits your budget.

Cornish artist John Dyer once said,

"To be an artist is to walk in two worlds."

We hope this blog has inspired you to do just that.

Thank you for reading and until next time, happy exploring!

Joanne Short.

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