113 Coverack to Cadgwith to Lizard

I wake up early to the noise of roaring traffic. What are all those cars going at this time in the morning? Then I realise – the sound I’m hearing is the crashing of waves beneath my window.

Getting to the start point of today’s walk is easy. I walk out of the Paris Hotel and I am on the South West Coast Path, heading southwards towards Chynhalis Point. The only place in Coverack closer to the sea is a house, ahead, perched by the water.

01 from Coverack to Chynhalls Point, Ruth's coastal walk, Cornwall

Today there are gales predicted and rain forecast at 3:30 pm – but at the moment the sun is shining. I meander around Chynhalis Point and enjoy the view back to Coverack – although photography is spoiled by the hazy morning light.

02 looking back to Coverack, Ruth on the South West Coast Path

Coming off Chynhalis, I find the path ahead is closed. It would have been nice to know this before I got to the bottom of the slope and found myself at a dead-end.

03 path closure, Chynhalls Point, Ruth trying to walk the coast of the UK

I turn round and have a steep climb up the cliff I’ve just come down. The detour takes me even higher, around behind the back of a hotel, along a path through trees and into an open field. Here I can enjoy the view back down to Chynhalis point – but I am surprised to see several pieces of sculpture sitting among the grass.

04 Terence Coventry Sculpture Park, Ruth's coastal walk in Cornwall

Later I discover this is Terence Carpenter‘s sculpture park.

05b Sea Gulls, Terence  Coventry sculpture park, near Coverack, Ruth Livingstone05a Steel Cormorant, Terence Coventry sculpture park, Ruth's coastal walkWhat I love about the display is how all the pieces sit naturally within their surroundings. There is a polite notice asking me not to climb on the sculptures, but otherwise I am free to wander around – no set paths, no barriers, no fences.

I like this arrogant cormorant – and his partner on the other side of the plinth (not shown) and the wheeling sea gulls.

I can see another field of sculptures on the other side of my path – I am not sure how extensive the sculpture park is – but by now it is nearly 11:00 am and I decide I can’t stay any longer. I must press on with my walk.

Coverack disappears behind me as I approach Black Head. Here there is a lonely lookout station with a National Trust sign. It looks very shut today and I am not sure if it is ever used.

06 Black Head, Ruth's coastal walk, South West Coast Path

From Black Head, I have a good view to the south-west and the line of coast ahead – dull blue in the haze. That must be the Lizard peninsula.

07 Lizard Peninsula, from Black Head, Ruths coastal walk

Crikey. It looks a long way away. Am I really going to get there today? I wonder if I have been too ambitious and I get out my maps and string to check my distances. Yes, I should be able to get to Lizard by late afternoon. I may not beat the rain.

The next section of walk is lovely and, with no sizeable village for miles around, the coast is unspoilt – wild and remote.

08 South West Coast Path, Pedn Boar, Ruth's coast walk, Cornwall

I meet a couple of single male walkers coming towards me – I really am walking the ‘wrong’ way along the South West Coast Path. The first man is young, tall, fit (in every sense) and American. The second is an older Brit and I meet him struggling up a steep slope.

09 repairing the South West Coast Path, Downas Valley“This is very difficult,” he warns me. “Be careful.”

I am looking down into a steep-sided valley – the Downas Valley according to my map. Below I can see people with equipment. I wonder if they are setting up camp, but then I realise they are repairing the path.

There are several groups of people and I interrupt their work as I make my cautious way down the slope.  I am glad of my poles to help me keep my balance. At the bottom of the valley is a stream and workers are also repairing the bridge that crosses it. They seem a mixed bunch – different ages and some women among them. I wonder if they are volunteers?

The climb up the other side of the valley is steep, but I make good progress without too many rest-stops. I must be fitter than normal, with all the walking I’ve been doing.

The next hour of walking is wonderful. The path is fairly straight, running along the top of the cliff, but with enough twists, turns and dips to make it interesting and scenic. Ahead I see the distant shore of the far side of the bay is getting nearer.

10 Carrick Luz, South West Coast Path, Ruth Livingstone

The scenery is beautiful. There are wild flowers along the path, although I notice the gorse is no longer in flower and I miss that coconut smell.

11 looking down to Kennack SandsI come to a point with the strange name of Carrick Luz. There is the remains of a fort here, according to the map, but I am mindful of the deteriorating weather and I don’t leave the path to explore further.

Stopping among some rocks, high up on the cliffs, I have a snack and take photos of the view ahead. Unfortunately the light is poor and the haze prevents good photography. Below me are a couple of connected coves with beaches – together making up Kennack Sands. After miles of rocky cliffs, it is good to see a proper beach again – the first sand since I left Coverack.

I follow the path down and start walking along the sand of the first beach. The tide is low and it looks as if I can walk across the rocky area that separates the two coves.

12 Kennack Sands, Cornwall, from the South West Coast Path, Ruth on her coast walk

A few people are on the beach, walking dogs and strolling by the waves. They must have come from the tiny village of Kuggar, where a road comes down to Kennack Sands. My OS map shows a pub in Kuggar. Good. It’s half past one and I am hungry.

Kennack Sands, back to Black Head, Ruth walking the South West Coast Path

I am right: you can walk from one cove to the other through the rocks that separate them.

Where the road comes down to the beach I can see a couple of cafes and I decide to eat here. I choose the cafe with the blue railings – because it advertises Cornish pasties and the seating is sheltered from the chilly wind off the sea. Unfortunately, they are not serving pasties because there are not enough people around. I have a truly awful beef burger instead – not much beef, mainly gristle. With a cup of tea.

beach cafe, Kennack Sands, Ruth's coast walk, Cornwall

The South West Coast Path follows the road for a short distance and then a footpath strikes off towards Cadgwith. At one point the path crosses a mini golf course. A line of static caravans  sit on the crest of the hill, peering down at me as I walk along.

Kennack Sands holiday park, Ruth on the SW coast path

Unexpectedly, the path dips down into a wooded valley. Ruined buildings are visible among the trees. People are wandering about, taking photos. This is Carleon Cove, Poltesco, and the ruins are the remains of buildings that once serviced a thriving pilchard processing and serpentine stone industry.

Serpentine stone is ancient rock that exists in the earth’s mantle and is usually buried deep under ground – and by deep I mean tens of kilometers below the surface. The Lizard is the only place in England where serpentine rocks are found – thrust to the surface due to tectonic activity millions of years ago.

Poltesco Valley and Carleon Cove, Ruth on the South West Coast Path, Cornwall

A new bridge has been built to cross the stream that runs through the bottom of the valley. It has a lovely boat shape and its upright supports are surmounted by stones – serpentine rocks I assume. There are still a few workshops left on the Lizard that make decorative objects from serpentine stone.

 Bridge to serpentine works, South west coast path, Ruth Livingstone

The sky grows darker and the wind becomes stronger. I worry about rain – due in one hour, according to the BBC forecast – and I walk faster.

The stretch of coast between Poltesco and Lizard Point is all owned by the National Trust. There are ‘wild’ ponies grazing on Enys Head. They seem remarkably tame and, although I do nothing to encourage them, they follow me along the paths. Every time I turn round, they put their heads down and pretend they are just grazing.

wild ponies on Enys Head, South West Coast Path, Ruth's walk

Cadgwith is a lovely fishing port. I pass a pub – tempting – but I need to finish my walk while the weather holds.

Cadgwith, Ruth's coast walk, SWCP

I climb up the other side of the valley out of Cadgwith, walking along the edge of the cliff. Two young women have been walking the same route as me – they overtook me on Enys Head, but now I come across them sitting on a bench.

20 Devil's Frying Pan, Cadgwith, Ruth's coastal walk

I suddenly realise why they are sitting in this particular place. They are admiring the view over a remarkable rock formation – a wide and deep basin in the land, with a hidden cove at its base, linked to the sea by an archway.

On my map, just at this point, are marked the words ‘Devil’s Frying Pan’. I was wondering what the phrase might mean. Well, this must be it.

I imagine at high tide the wild waves come frothing and boiling through the narrow archway.

After taking a few photos, I walk on. It is beginning to rain. I check my watch. 3:29 exactly. Right on time. I stow my camera and iPhone away, put on my waterproofs and put the rain cover over my rucksack.

The next section of the walk is spectacular as I approach the Lizard – the most southerly point of mainland Britain. This represents such a milestone in my coastal walking that I desperately want to enjoy it. But the rain continues to fall and the wind has become very fierce, whipping the rain sideways across the path.

Ahead I see the Lizard Lifeboat Station. The rain stops for a few brief minutes and I take a photo. It seems very close – only a few minutes walk away. But this is a trick of perspective because I don’t appreciate how large the structure actually is – and it take me another 40 minutes to reach the cliffs above the station.

21 Life Boat Station, Lizard, Ruth's coast walking

At this point, I nearly abandon the coast path and head overland into the village of Lizard. I am soaking wet and the wind is really blowing at gale force. The path ahead looks very narrow and very wet. But I have my heart set on getting to Lizard Point today. Wondering if I am mad, I decide to continue.

A few hundred yards behind me I see the two young women I passed earlier, beginning to follow me along the same route. I feel a pang of responsibility. I hope this path is safe.

The next structure I come to is the Bass Point lookout station. This is manned by volunteers and there is a box asking for donations. Normally I would contribute to this important service – but it is too wet to risk unzipping my rucksack to find my purse, so I keep walking.

22 look out station, Lizard, Ruth on the South West Coast Path

Beyond the lookout station is Lloyds signal station – where a plaque informs me that this is the oldest working wireless station in the world. The rain stops for long enough for me to take a photo of the signal station.

23 Lloyds Signal Station, Lizard, Ruth's coastal walk

The wind is blowing me sideways, trying to knock me off the path. I continue walking. The two young women behind me have disappeared – I hope they haven’t been blown away. I reach Housel Bay, where there is a hotel, and I find a convenient seat next to the path. It is sheltered by some bushes and I sit down to rest. The strong wind is very energy-sapping.

Across Housel Bay I can see the path going across the top of the cliffs and the distant white shape of the Lighthouse. I know I have another mile to go before I reach Lizard Point. Coming down the path, towards Housel Bay, are some walkers – they are laughing because they are being blown along by the wind behind them. Oh dear, I will be struggling against a ferocious head wind as I leave the Bay.

24 Lizard Lighthouse, Cornwall, Ruth on her coast walking

It begins to rain again – hard, sideways rain. That settles it. I’m heading inland to find my B&B. I will leave Lizard Point for another day when, with better weather, I can really appreciate arriving at this landmark and standing on the most southerly point of mainland Britain.

When I reach my B&B and start chatting with other guests, I discover the pub in Kuggar has closed. My fellow guests are moving on to the holiday park in Kuggar where they have rented a mobile home directly overlooking the sea, one of the row I walked past earlier.

Miles walked today= 11 miles
Miles walked in total= 1,129


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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9 Responses to 113 Coverack to Cadgwith to Lizard

  1. Sideways rain? Now that’s proper West Country rain. I don’t blame you at all for calling it a day.

    Carrick Luz is only strange because it’s in Cornish. ‘Karrek loos’ just means ‘grey rock’. Most Cornish place names are in Cornish, for obvious reasons, and, like their closely-related Welsh counterparts, they seem to be mostly named on a ‘what am I looking at?’ basis. Variants of porth (port/bay), ros (heath), heyl (estuary), meyn (stone), pol (pool) and karrek pop up quite regularly. I quite like it because it means you can often look at a place name on the map and have a vague idea what it’s going to look like when you get there.

  2. Hmm, messed up my HTML italic tags there. Oops.

  3. mariekeates says:

    Ah Kennack Sands, that brings back some memories. I had a lovely holiday there when I was in my teens staying at one of the caravans on the top of the cliffs and climbing down to the shore each day. It doesn’t look like its changed much since the 1970’s

  4. griff says:

    Ruth. Walked this yesterday. Loved the walk. Tha pub at cadgwith was worth the stop.

  5. Tim says:

    Just found your blog just now – I’m doing the same walking trip around Britain – have been for the last few years…takes me a bit longer since I don’t drive, and don’t like walking in bad weather, but have done Gravesend > Cliffe, Teynham > Shoreham (ugh how I HATE shingle after those ranges near Dungeness – yes I walked that, all 5 miles with no-one to be seen!), and then Bournemouth > Swanage and Weymouth > Lulworth…it’s kind of an extension of a longer photo project since 1999 walking rivers, mostly the river thames – I was walking Dartford – Greenhithe today in fact, connecting that with the coastal eventually – I’ve gone upto Henley and down to Greenhithe over the years in stages! I’m just connecting them, hence also doing Oare Marshes on Sat to Teynham, want to connect to Sittingbourne and Isle of Sheppey (I have a rule, if it’s connected to the land at all tides it’s coast, and I have to walk it! I know, I made it hard for myself – also have to walk inland to the next bridge which made Dartford & Faversham fun…I wonder if I’ve passed you on the coast? 😉

    Should have blogged it – I do tweet about it at radioclashblog – but the idea is a book or website in the end of the best photos. Love the less ‘pretty’ areas, the edgelands as much as the nice, I find those more interesting.

    I have walked a few ‘Private Beaches’ too and ignored them – it’s not actually correct unless they are the Queen, upto highwater mark is hers and not theirs. Seems so many land owners like to put up ‘PRIVATE’ to scare off walkers when the coastal path is there, and marked usually…

    Enjoy Cornwall – walked the coast around St Ives many years ago, not part of this, and was amazing. I think I’m gonna have to start camping out when I do those parts!

    • Hi Tim, what a wonderful walk you are doing – and up and down all the tidal estuaries too! Maybe you have passed me along the way. If you do put a book together I would love to know. Yes, I like the ‘in between’ areas too and find them interesting. Devon and Cornwall are brilliant though. Just got back from 8 consecutive days of walking and got round Lands End to St Ives and found the Cornish coastline absolutely stunning as well as challenging. Good luck with your venture and stay in touch, Ruth.

  6. Pingback: 192 Stackpole and Bosherston | Ruth's Coastal Walk (UK)

  7. Dee Smith says:

    We are gradually walking our way around the Cornish Coast Path. Usually check this website for useful information, distances and photos. Thanks Ruth, for taking the time to share your walks. We walked from Lizard Point to Coverack Cove 10.3.18. We had perfect weather and this walk is extremely beautiful. We particularly loved Poltesco and Church Cove. This is the tail end of an extremely wet winter and our walk followed two days of heavy rain, with snow and floods last week. The section between Coverack Cove and Kennack Sands was so muddy it was hard to remain upright. Descending into Downas Valley was steep and really slippy. The steps are completed now so getting up the other side was no problem. If doing this walk in the winter, I recommend bringing a walking pole. The NT hut at Black Head was unlocked and had some interesting displays about the local geology.

  8. Hi Dee. It’s a beautiful area, but tough in bad weather, and sounds like Downas Valley was really difficult. Well done on completing this section, despite the conditions. 😄

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