The Dragon of Porthtowan

Porthtowan beach

From the sea came the sprinkle sound never heard before, the flip flap of great wings, the snip snap of a scaley tail as the dragon flies above the spray roaring. The dragon’s wings are gold as gorse, her flanks grey like a knight’s strongest armour, her back and legs are covered in scales sharp as cliff edges. Her fire is ice white, as the foam in the waves, warning of rip currants drawing huge gasps of strength from the certain sea.

But the dragon wasn’t always a wraith above the waves, no, once she lived up Rose Hill on the road to Portreath. She terrorized the moorland and farmland for miles about. This dragon was hungry and ruthless in her hunting, she breathed a fire red as hot coals, and ate the farmers’ cattle and snacked on the farmers’ lambs. No one dared approach the dragon as she prowled the cliffs and rolled in the sand, drank from the stream, and roared all around.

Then one May Eve, as the warm spring air was tinged with salt wind, padding towards the dragon was a huge white dog. The dragon didn’t notice as she had her eye on the farmer’s favorite ewe. She turned her huge head and drooled over her supper, but as she prepared to catch the unsuspecting sheep in her claws, the dog pounced and bit deep into the dragon’s leg. The dragon wheeled around and roared, she screamed at the dog and tried to catch it, but as she thudded her claws into the dog’s back, they went right through it and landed on rock. As the dragon floundered in surprise, the dog leapt on the dragon’s tail and bit deep. The dragon howled and shook and shook, trying to dislodge the dog but the dog bit harder and harder sinking his teeth into the forked tip of the dragon’s tail and ripped it right off. The dragon roared in pain.

Now the dragon loved her tail, she was proud of her tail and couldn’t bare to be seen without its forked tip, she ran through the valley of gorse and stunted trees to the beach at Porthtowan and she dived into the waves never to eat the sheep again. The farmers were delighted and looked long and hard for their savior the big white dog but he was nowhere to be seen.

Some years, as light fades on May Eve, the ghostly form of a huge white dog is spotted prowling the beach and cliffs of Porthtowan making sure the dragon stays in the sea.


retold by Anna Chorlton

  • The Surf Coast