I rejoin the South West Coast Path next to The Housel Hotel, standing and taking photos from the exact same place as last time. The rock at the end of the promontory is called Bumble Rock. It looks like a cat to me.
What a difference the weather makes. Last time I was here the wind tried to blow me off the path and I was wet from the rain. Today it is calm and dry. The path ahead is beautiful, lined by wild flowers above a blue sea.
Today I will reach an important milestone – the southernmost part of mainland Britain. One disadvantage of the better weather is that it attracts more people to the path. I feel strangely resentful about sharing this moment with strangers and walk quickly to get away from a couple of middle-aged strollers just behind me.
The footpath dips up and down as it follows the contours of the coast. I am pleased to make rapid progress with ease despite the steep slopes. I must still be fit from my walk here a couple of weeks ago.
Above me, the Lizard Lighthouse stands behind a field of wild flowers – a surprisingly squat structure to mark this important place – but high enough, I suppose, to warn ships. Attached to the building are two enormous trumpets – foghorns. I wonder if they still work?
Green fields slope down towards rocky outcrops and islands. It is difficult to decide which point is the most southerly, but I would like to think I am standing on it here. The other likely place, a little further along, has road access and is crowded with people.
Another walker has climbed some rocks and is lying with his head on his rucksack and taking a nap in the watery sunshine – but I don’t take a photograph of him – it feels too intrusive – even though I think he must be the most southerly human in mainland Britain. I consider climbing out on the rocks to find a place to stand that is even further south than he is, but I decide it isn’t worth the risky scramble.
Ahead is a road that ends at a car park and there are several cafes and gift shops. This is a popular place with tourists and the next section of path is fairly crowded with some VERY slow-moving people. I am used to having the path to myself and try not to get too impatient with the meandering strollers who get in my way.
The path comes to a point where there is a low sea wall. A track used to lead down to a boathouse, jetty and a small beach, but the route has been cordoned off as recent landslides have made the beach unsafe. Ahead I can see the footpath leading along the low cliffs to Lizard Point itself – which is, surprisingly, not actually the most southern point of the mainland, but is a bit further north than where I am standing now.
I linger for a few minutes, taking photographs, before picking up the path and heading onwards. Still there are a lot of people milling around, although their numbers drop off as we leave the road behind.
The path is wide and easy, across the top of cliffs. I pass a constant stream of walkers. Below is the clear sea with numerous little rocky bays. Signs say that Cornish choughs are nesting on the bank below – but I don’t see any. Above the path are fields that slope up gently to the houses of Lizard village and I can make out the B&B I stayed in last time I was here.
It is chilly for the end of June with a gentle sea breeze. The sky becomes overcast, making photography dull, although overall visibility is good – the clouds are high.
Kynance Cove is a dramatic place. The path approaches it from above and I look down on a strip of white sand, surrounded by dramatic rocks. Lion Rock, Gull Rock, Asparagus Island.
As I make my way down the slope, towards the bottom of the valley and a beach cafe, I meet my husband coming up to meet me. We walk down to the beach together and spend some time on the sand admiring the rock formations and taking photographs. There are families here with children – enjoying the soft sand and the pools of water. Signs warn of rip tides and I notice nobody is swimming – although whether that is due to the watery dangers or due to the chill of the day, I don’t know.
The walk along Kynance cliffs is dull in comparison. The land is National Trust heathland with short grasses and wide, well-worn paths. I persuade my husband to ignore the ‘motorway’ of the South West Coast Path, and stick closer to the cliff edge along narrower trails. This makes the walk more interesting as we walk beside dramatic drops above a clear sea. Across the wide bay, blue in the distance, we can see the distant shore leading to the point that is Land’s End. It looks both enticingly close and frustratingly distant.
We come to a place where we can see a beautiful little sandy cove below us, with a couple of walkers standing on the tiny beach.
This is a very remote place, being more than a mile from any road, and is known locally as Soapy Cove. Above the cove, the path turns inland for a short way and we have one last steep dip down into a valley with a stream running along the bottom. Although I am tempted to follow the valley downwards to reach the sandy cove, I resist the urge. It is past 5 o’clock and we are both tired. So we simply cross the stream and head up the other side of the valley, following the official South West Coast Path.
From here onwards the path is flat and it is a straightforward walk across Vellan Head to where we pick up a footpath heading inland to the tiny hamlet of Predannack, where my husband has parked the car.
Miles walked today = 6.5
Total distance since start = 1135.5
High point = standing on the most southerly point of mainland Britain