South Cornwall Hike Day 7, Lizard Peninsula
160 Mile Hike On The South West Coast Path, South Cornwall – The Journal
Day 7 Coverack To Mullion (Predannick), Including Lizard Point
Sunday 26th September 2022
- 18 miles
- Sunny and very windy (and a stormy night ahead)
Previous and next journal entries
Index to other all entries from this South Cornwall Hike
The Lizard Peninsula is hands down one of my favourite sections of the hike on the South Cornwall Coast. It’s not the most demanding (though there are a few sections that’ll get your quads working), but there’s wildness and beauty in equal measure. If you’re hiking the South West Coast Path in sections it’s worth doing the Lizard Peninsula in one go (say from Helford to Porthleven).
My journal of this hike in South Cornwall covers the Lizard Peninsula in three walks – day 6 was from Falmouth to Coverack, then there’s this one that includes Lizard Point, and day 8, which turned out to be a short walk from Mullion (Predannick Downs) to Porthleven.
There’s so much variety from peaceful creeks and pretty fishing villages to the magnificent cliffs of the UK’s most southerly point at Lizard Point itself and I woke up to a beautiful morning, really looking forward to getting there.
The weak sun and shimmering sea put me in a good mood for the day right from the start.
I crawled out of my tent about 8:15 (late), packed up then sat on a rock to feel the warming sun and brush my hair. This takes 20 minutes – and it’s torture. I swear to god if you don’t have long curly hair you have no idea what it’s like. It’s not just the pain of ripping through knots and tearing your hair from your scalp, knowing you’re shredding your locks in the process, it’s how long it takes. This accounts for the fact that I don’t do it every day and mostly look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards, as my mother would say.
Still, when there’s a wispy warm-yellow sun rising on the horizon over the sea it could take forever and I wouldn’t mind.
There were 20-ish miles to walk though, so I couldn’t hang around too long. In fact, I was only taking my time because I needed to buy water before I got going. Imagine my delight when I discovered free drinking water as I walked into the village! And then realised that the free water meant I didn’t need a shop and could have started an hour before (*rolling eyes*).
I decided to pop into the wonderfully stocked Coverack Village Stores beside the harbour anyway, knocking stuff off the displays with The Beast on my back as I mooched around. I spied fresh fruit. An apple, a tangerine and an ice-cold drink for breakfast – the path out of the village would be a rude awakening so some sugar wouldn’t go amiss.
It’s steep-ish and the path’s narrow and constantly rocky and bouldery for a few miles. There’s a fair amount of clambering and I tripped and fell within 15 minutes (trying to avoid brambles in my face) and just missed banging my head on a rock and a nice concussion. Swearing and berating ensued. Then I did it again – two trips within 3 miles – frickin wake up woman!
Sandy coves and the crystal clear aquamarine sea belied the strengthening winds. The trail’s safe though so you can enjoy the scenery without the fear of being blown off a cliff – which is reassuring if you’re as sleep deprived and lacking in caffeine as me.
There are 7 beautiful miles between Coverack village and Cadgwith (about 8 or so from my wild camp) revealing cove after cove, and roughly halfway is a popular beach at Kennack Sands. I virtually collapsed on the sand when I got there and slept for half an hour before lunch at the beach cafe (a very mediocre panini, but full of welcome calories, and an undrinkable coffee – a waste of money) before I had the energy to hike on to Cadgwith.
Before you get to the village you drop down into Carleon Cove (Poltesco) where there are some fascinating historical buildings to explore (not that I did this time round, so no photos!).
It was once the site of a fishery and early in the 19th century became a serpentine factory. Knowing this means you’re getting close to Kynance Cove, and this always spurs me on. The Lizard Peninsula is famous for its serpentine rock and there’s nowhere better to see this geological wonder than Kynance cove, which comes after Cadgwith and Lizard Point. Onwards with renewed energy then!
Cadgwith. Coffee? Hmm, tempting, but time was getting on and if I could hold out for the cafe at Kynance so much the better. (I really needed caffeine!)
It’s hard not to linger a bit in Cadgwith though, a typical fishing village with a maze of narrow streets, desirable thatched cottages and an air of gentrification – like a Cornish Helen Allingham. Surprisingly it’s still a traditional working fishing village and there’s nothing better than watching the goings on down at the harbour. It’s like time’s stood still, but alas I couldn’t.
When the imposing cliffs of Britain’s most southerly point finally came into sight I felt like I was getting somewhere. You’re rounding a point, changing direction and heading north-east along Mounts Bay for the next section, and it’s strangely momentous.
First of all, you see the finger of land with the 1752 lighthouse on it, which seems too hunkered down against the elements to me. It doesn’t look tall enough to warn ships of the rocks from far away enough, but the fact that it’s been there for 250 years (and is still working) means I must be wrong (whaaaat?!).
Soon enough the bottom of the Lizard Peninsula is in front of you, that iconic hump-backed cliff dropping down into the swirling ocean. It’s always busy, unsurprisingly, so you can always expect a cafe… this one (tired looking) bills itself as the ‘most southerly cafe in Britain’.
I looked at my watch (are all my South West Coast Path hikes dictated by cafes? Probably. I embarrass myself) and calculate that it’ll be a close run thing to get to the cafe at Kynance Cove (much the best) a couple of miles away. Honestly, I thought I’d die if I didn’t get caffeine in my bloodstream in the next 5 minutes.
I waited to be seated and was regarded like I’d committed the ultimate sin when I said I only wanted a coffee and a coke and not the recommended shrimp-fest special. How dare I take up a table for that. I’m a vegetarian for a start and carried a not-very-appetising packet of pasta Mug Shot (a cross between a cuppa soup and pot noodle) in The Beast for dinner. Whatever, it was another barely drinkable so-called ‘cappuccino’ and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I joined the throngs looking for seals right down at Lizard Point and peered over the cliff at the rusting old lifeboat station then rejoined the path away from the mayhem. Funnily enough, the seals had gone round the point for a bit of peace as well – I watched several sliding in and out of the surf before hiking on.
Kynance Cove – The Jewel In The Lizard Peninsula Crown
My joy reached its peak at Kynance Cove. I couldn’t wait to see the serpentine rocks and the beautiful beach where you can swim between the tall islands rising from the sea.
The tide was in. The cove is covered at high tide. FFS.
It’s impossible to get down there when the tide’s in and even though it wasn’t particularly high I didn’t fancy a waist-high wade across to the beach carrying my rucksack over my head. I was disappointed and the photos I took didn’t do this phenomenal place any justice at all.
As an aside, I should tell you that it’s a fantastic place in a storm too – huge waves thundering into the cove, smashing high over the islands are a memorable elemental experience – you definitely feel alive after that.
High tide means a diversion, but it’s not too far round (for a change) and when I got back on track part of the beach was still accessible – hurrah!
There are lots of pebbles, large and small, at the top of the beach and when the tide washes over them the unsurpassed figuration is revealed like a magic trick. It’s mesmerising and I could watch it for hours (I have!) but with my aesthetic sensibilities fulfilled I pressed on up the cliff.
There’s one final gaze-worthy view of the cove before I walked across the downs at the top, the day closing, thinking about finding a wild camping spot (I had somewhere in mind – as long as there weren’t any cows!).
I pitched up at Predannick, somewhere before Mullion Cove, with the wind really picking up. (You know that fight you have with your tent blowing like a sail and your pegs being pulled out – yeah, that.)
The sunset was glorious and as I watched it sink into the sea I dug out my much anticipated (not) Mug Shot and an instant hot chocolate (only drinkable when I’m camping), which always signifies the end of the day.
Gas on. Gas ran out. FFS!!! One tepid hot chocolate and crispy pasta later and I was tucked up in my sleeping bag – but not quite prepared for the stormy, sleepless night ahead…
How Much Did I Spend Today? (More Than Was Worth It)
- Fresh fruit and drink £2.35 (worth it)
- Cafe, Kennack Sands £8.40 (not worth it)
- Cafe, Lizard Point £5.40 (not worth it)
Other Entries From This Journal
- Day 1 Plymouth, Kingsand-Cawsand, Rame Head, Whitsand Bay (14.5 miles)
- Day 2 Portwrinkle, Looe, Polperro, Lantic Bay (20 miles)
- Day 3 Lantic Bay, Fowey, Charlestown, Pentewan (20 miles)
- Day 4 Pentewan, Mevagissey, Gorran Haven, Portscatho, Towan Beach (23 miles)
- Day 5 Towan, St Anthony, St Mawes, Falmouth (6 miles)
- Day 6 Falmouth, Helford Passage, Coverack (19 miles)
- Day 7 Coverack, Cadwith, Lizard Point, Kynance Cove, Mulllion (Predannick) (18 miles)
- Day 8 Mullion Harbour, Gunwalloe, Porthleven (8.5 miles)
- Day 9 Porthleven, Penzance, Mousehole, Lamorna (21 miles)
- Day 10 St Loy, Penberth, Land’s End (10 Miles)
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Thanks for reading about this stunning hike on the Lizard Peninsula – Land’s End is finally in sight! Catch up with earlier entries via the links above and pop back soon to find out what happens next. (You can click the green button below to get an email notification when new articles go live – don’t miss them!)
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