Metal Detecting Cornish Beaches

Can I use my metal detector on Cornish beaches?  That's a question often asked. Most of us know we can't detect on privately owned beaches and need the owners permission. So that aside what about the rest of the coast in Cornwall which comes under the Duchy of Cornwall estate owned by Prince Charles, are we allowed to just turn up with our machines and detect away?  The Duchy of Cornwall has never allowed metal detecting on any of their land or beaches. Saying that, detectorists have been detecting Cornish beaches for years and I for one have never come across anyone prosecuted for it. I live on the Devon side of the Devon/Cornwall border and have ventured onto a Cornish beach a few times to metal detect. Like hundreds of detectorists it never crossed my mind that it might be illegal until I found this report in the Guardian newspaper. You can read the report by clicking "Guardian Report". Another report can be found from the BBC News Cornwall by clicking "Link to Report"

That report was published in 2011 and to date (2014), is still ongoing.

Also since the above reports,  the Duchy have met with the NCMD. The NCMD told the Duchy to have a look at the Crown Estates free licence and its easy to use website. Lets hope the Duchy do and they think about how they are going to police it. That should make the Duchy think, just imagine how many £60 they will get to pay for someone to patrol miles and miles of beach, their sums just won't add up.

My own opinion on this subject is until something is set in stone and we all know where we stand I would personally carry on detecting Cornish beaches. Think about all those kids digging holes that never get filled in. All those other beach activities that go on, take fishing, are the people who fish on beaches going to have to pay for a licence, or the kite fliers. Two good points to remember about not upsetting any other beach goers is always to fill your holes back in and try and go detecting either early mornings or late afternoons. Or better still, during the winter months. Another good idea is if you have to do a bit of travelling it may be best to find a contact number to phone them up and ask if its ok to detect there.

I read a good statement from someone on a forum once and I quote, 
"If Fishing is allowed from the beach (and other activities) but it is only detecting that has to have a paid permit, surely this is discrimination against a section of the community.
I am led to believe that discrimination against a minority group is illegal and a breach of a persons rights. I can see that it could be legally challenged. I think the NCMD should look into this."
***** UPDATE ***** 
Today the 14th January 2015 I came across this thread on a metal detecting forum regarding this subject. Seems like things are starting to move. The thread can be read here at the:

Happy Hunting,


  1. This summer --August 2014--I spent a glorious 4 days detecting late evenings and early mornings on several beaches which were not signed as privately owned in Cornwall this summer.

    One worn broken 9ct gold gents signet ring and 17 old sixpences were found in a "glory hole"--magic 15 minutes digging that lot out ---and filling in the hole afterwards.
    No members of the Thought Police were around---I carried my technically " Not valid in Cornwall" Crown Estates licence with me plus a print out of the non-responses from the Duchy following the meet with NCMD.

    One early morning I was accosted by a couple with a dog ( digging holes like mad!) as to why I bothered metal detecting when as locals, they have seen dozens and dozens of detectorists "waddling up and down the beach seemingly finding nothing".

    I replied by showing them 4 x 1 old shilling worn coins , £3.09 in modern currency, 14 ring pulls, 2 penknives, a silver locket with a lock of hair inside--hall mark Birmingham 1959---that must have brought tears when its loss discovered!!.

    They were fascinated, then the man said he thought he had heard the Duchy was against metal detecting as it damages the environment.
    Someone in the pub had told of detectorists being hounded off a beach near St. Ives by a jobsworth female who used "fruity language"...apparently they returned to the same beach an hour later and were told it was one of the local tree-hugging, yoghurt knitters who shouts at children for messing in rock pools and at kids for digging holes and burying their GrandPa!! Nutter!!

    .Not as much damage then as your dog is doing digging his way to New Zealand!!" I said!!!

    We parted finally laughing at their final comment ..." Why should stuff be left there to corrode away and maybe damage paddlers feet, just because a rich pensioner dislikes people who do not pay him to use his inherited assets!"

    I rest my case M'Lud!!

    1. Excellent post there Bill, thanks for that, sums it all up nicely.
      Personally I have not been bothered by anyone on Cornish beaches yet. In fact, just the opposite, the people that have approached me seem very interested in what I'm doing and wish me luck.

  2. What does the duchy say about us clearing up all the beer cans,used nappies,old barbecues,fishing tackle,broken bottles and all the other rubbish we remove from the beach free of charge ? Perhaps the people who leave this crap should pay the licence fee...

  3. Excellent write ups everyone... I am here in Cornwall at the moment with my metal detector which has not been used since purchase as it seems a ball ache to get permission from anyone to detect anywhere. I have a Crown permit but seems like it might be as much use as tits on a queer, but will have it in mind should any doo-gooder come along and threaten any sort of fatal consequence of continuing at me.

    As the posts above have said, and, from what I have seen from scanning the millions of interesting videos on you tube of various detectorists looking for reward have shown... detectorists clean the beaches of waste... much dangerous... penknives! Broken Glass! Rusty Metal for those behind on their shots! cans/bottle/wire etc etc.

    I think detectorists should be accepted with open arms as who the hell else is going to pick this crap up!

    Please Cornwall Council... sort yourselves out, we spend all our hard savings and earnings holidaying down here and at the same time clean up your beaches!! Seems a brainless choice really!

    hurry up and get on with your passes or whatever else, until then I will pretend I know nothing as you don't respond to emails and enjoy my first metal detector hunt today!! Up yours!