The Real Land’s End: The Lizard, Cornwall
When someone says the word Cornwall most people willl think of surfing in Newquay, the picture-perfect town of St Ives or the fishing port of Falmouth. It seems that the county’s most impressive beaches don’t even make the top five.
So what’s the secret of Cornwall? The Lizard Peninsula.
As the most southerly point of England, halfway between Penzance and Falmouth ‘The Lizard’, as it’s known, seems to dip so far away from the rest of the county that it becomes its own special county. Standing on the coast looking out to sea, you feel like this is the real land’s end.
I first discovered this part of England when I was 15, when I was lucky enough to go on holiday with my friends’ parents. My first camping experience ever was on a cliff overlooking the sea, where we had fresh eggs, bread and clotted cream for breakfast. It was amazing. (This is back when school holiday summers were scorching hot and seemed to last an eternity.)
If you want to base yourself somewhere like Helston or St Austell – perhaps in a Park Leisure lodge or campground – then you can visit the most spectacular sights here by walking or a short drive. Here are just a couple of them.
Cadgwith is the quintessential Cornish fishing village. Take a drive here and you’ll wind up and down tiny and incredibly steep roads where every corner brings you another sweeping view out to sea. In the pubs here you’ll see old men who seem to have been sitting at the bar since the turn of the century, talking about their recent catches. The small pebble bays are good for swimming but better for looking at with an ice cream in hand.
You can get here via a very beautiful walk along the coastal path starting at Ruan Minor, Church Cove or Kynance Cove.
It’s hard to find the right words for Kynance Cove. I was absolutely blown away the first time I saw this incredible beach, with its pointed cliffs and stunning views. There are so many little bays within the cove that even in high season it’s easy to find your own private spot, whether you want to sunbathe or pick cockles. By day it is a gorgeous scene of blues and greens and by sunset it’s a fiery blaze of oranges and yellows. Kynance is the jewel in the crown for the National Trust who fiercely protect the cove and surrounding area (so expect to pay a fiver to park your car a short walk away).
This tiny, secluded bay receives very few visitors due to the fact that it completely disappears at high tide. Time it right, and you’ll have the most gorgeous sandy bay all to yourself. The water is crystal clear, the sand squeaky and white.
This part of Cornwall, and of England generally, is the best example of why we need to work hard to protect our countryside. A visit here is well worth the detour.