The walk between Lizard Point, the most Southerly point in England, and the jaw-dropping Kynance Cove is a stunning 2 mile stretch. A pleasant amble with gentle gradients, this route affords some of the most beautiful views in the country.
A short walk west of Lizard Point, Pistol Cove is the first destination on the walk to Kynance. Here, on the 25th November 1720 a military ship, the Royal Anne, was snared by perilous underwater rocks. Over 200 men died. With their bodies washing up onto the beach, the story goes that locals carried them into the meadow above the sand and laid them to rest. Even when the sun is high, a definite atmosphere transcends.
Although the tale of Pistol Cove is a sad one, it is by no means unusual. Following the coast path from Lizard Point to Kynance Cove, history is etched into every nook. Just around Lizard Point alone, over 500 shipwrecks have been documented and stories abound.
Turning away from the Pistol, the footpath weaves its way slowly uphill. A gradual slope opens up to Old Lizard Head, and the narrow valley of the cove gives way to open pastures high above the sapphire depths below. In the distance The Rill, a jagged headland from where the Spanish Armada were first spotted on 29th July 1588, points like a bony finger out to sea. Beyond this, Land’s End Peninsula stands faint on the horizon.
The footpath of worn-out grass beaten by the tread of countless walkers enjoys awe-inspiring scenery. Atop the cliffs, the 360 degree views span for miles and even on a dull day the scenery serves as the muse for many an artist seeking inspiration.
Continuing west, the path dips into Caerthillian Cove. A gentle valley dissected by two streams, Caerthillian is a mixture of mossy green fields and harsh, dark tones of unsheathed earth and coal-coloured rocks. At low-tide, craggy platforms rise from the soft sand, carved with vein-like channels from the steady flow of stream water and turning tides.
Straying from the path and onto the slim strip of beach, rock pools are exposed as seawater recedes. Inside fascinating glimpses of underwater worlds can be seen with anemones, limpets and small crustaceans content in their salty basins. Big boulders are scattered here and there topped with seaweed toupees, undisturbed only momentarily before heavy swells rearrange the contents of the beach.
On the far side of Caerthillian, the path splits and splinters into vine-like tracks. Taking the arm hugging closest to the cliff edge, the path rounds a corner and is immediately met with views of the regal Lion Rock. Looking more like a giant squatting frog, Lion Rock soars over 150ft from the sea, its head pointing courageously into the breaking waves.
Stage right of Lion’s Rock is Pentreath Beach. Also known as Boiler Bay, low tide at Pentreath reveals the remnants of a large cylindrical ship’s boiler. The boiler, pointing stubbornly out from the sand, is the remains of The Maud, a trawler on tow from Fleetwood to Hull. Overcome by heavy seas, The Maud was cut loose and sank on 11th February 1912.
The walk along Pentreath’s shoulder takes just a short while with the ground pressing lightly underfoot. Unlike many of its cousins, Pentreath Beach is long and straight. On one side, steep serpentine, schist and granite cliffs tower nearly 200ft into the air and on the other, the rolling surf has unfettered access to the beach. On good days, Pentreath feels like one of the South West’s best kept secrets and on others, its dark walls and crashing waves feel ominous and threatening.
Beyond Pentreath, the coast path continues its thread, gently climbing and plateauing once again. Inland, the scenery begins to transform from the lush fields to the tufty thickets of the downs. Spiny arms of almond-scented gorse bushes reach out into the track, their pretty yellow flowers distracting the eye from the multitude of sharp barbs ready to scratch unsuspecting legs. On the left, the views seem wider, broken not by coves and outcrops but open to receive the great expanse of blue. At sea, mounds of teal, aqua and turquoise roll endlessly on.
Rounding the next corner, the unmistakable silhouettes of Gull Rock and Asparagus Island stand proud. Here marks the approach to Kynance Cove, the visually staggering beach made famous by reams of love-struck 18th Century artists and poets. Inside the cove, crystalline sea graces silky white sand. The mesmeric contrast of the great lime-topped slate and granite islands and pristine water captures is aesthetically perfect.
Drawing closer, Kynance is almost in reach. The ballooning mass of Lion Rock stands tauntingly ahead, blocking the views of the magnificent cove. Its great body, home to numerous seabirds, almost encourages you to push closer to get a better view. So close to finishing your journey, it feels like the mighty Lion is teasing you by making you wait. But, when you finally step up to the cliff edge and see Kynance in all its glory, you are glad you did.