The flowers have yet to bloom and the grass looks hungry and straw-like, but Cornwall’s coastal walks are breathtaking at any time of year. Walking from Kynance Cove to the Lizard Point and back is one such walk that’s not only stunning, but also very good exercise.
Leaving the car at Kynance Cove car park, headed in the direction of the most southerly tip of Britain – the Lizard – with the aim of seeing the cove upon my return. The sun was out and casting beautiful light and shadows against the cliffs, bringing out the deep purplish-brown colour of the 350 million-year-old serpentine rocks that are characteristic of the area and famous among geologists.
At the height of spring and summer, this area is filled with a colourful array of pink thrift and geraniums, yellow gorse and, of course, Cornish heather growing in shades of purple and pink. There’s lots to look out for, and much of it is edible too: sea spinach grows in abundance here, particularly near the Lizard peninsula where you’ll also find clusters of wild garlic, ground elder and pennywort.
The walk itself is varied, taking you along flat plains then up and down rocky steps to a number of inlets where streams trickle out into the sea. It’s about 2 miles to Polpeor Cove; here, a disused Victorian lifeboat station remains that once bore witness to the RNLI’s largest rescue operation in 1907, saving 167 lives. Polpeor Cafe is the perfect place to stop off for a well-earned cream tea, with spectacular views across the Lizard either inside or on the outside seating area.
Before heading back, it’s worth taking a slight detour to see the Lizard Lighthouse. A tower was first built here in 1619 at the expnse of philanthropist Sir John Killigrew; the current beam can be seen for 26 miles. The renovated engine room now houses a Heritage Lighthouse Centre open from March to October, where you’ll find exhibitions and interactive displays about the history of the building. Take the chance to climb the tower and sound the foghorn, or even send messages in Morse Code.
The sun hid behind the clouds for most of my return journey, but the sight of Shetland ponies grazing against the backdrop of the turquoise water brightened the view enormously – and a quick pat on the back was a must.
It might seem tempting to get in your car as you come to Kynance car park again, but resist temptation and continue just another half a mile down to the cove. The path there runs besides streams and as the view opens up you can see what all the fuss is about, especially on sunny days when its colours verge on tropical.
Walking into Kynance Cove is a bit precarious, and it’s worth bearing tide times in mind, but it’s great fun scrambling down. You can enjoy the view from the beach cafe if you prefer, sitting on something a little more comfortable and perhaps partaking in another round of refreshments.
This walk can also be done the other way round by walking to Kynance Cove first and taking the signposted path to the Lizard, avoiding the car park. Whichever way you choose, the walk is great all year, but in summer brings extra benefits – being able to laze on the sandy beaches and run into its crystal clear waters .
To find out about frequent activities held at Kynance Cove and the Lizard Point visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk