I grew up in Cornwall, but I never spent much time in West Cornwall. I think, for a teenager mostly interested in skateboarding (and other things I won’t confess to the internet), the rugged coast of the Lizard has little appeal. Now though, as a ‘grownup’ , I have developed a love affair with Cornwall’s most rugged peninsular and the UK’s most southerly point.
We started at Kynance, with a view to walking to the Lizard point and back in a two hour window, fitting in a pasty on the cliff. The last time I was at Kynance Cove, I had just walked 12 miles from Penrose and the Low Bar. It was dark, my knee was killing me and I was desperately looking for a place to pitch my tent. Now, in the bright midday sun, it was a better view and a better frame of mind.
Just off from the carpark, where I finally caved in and signed up to the National Trust, we found the first acorn. Perched on a small rock, it must be the most rugged of all the acorns I have come across so far. We marched, practically running in places, all the way to Lizard Point past gorgeous cliffs, coves and lumps of Cornish Granite.
It seemed to be mostly down hill on the way there. It was the busiest I’d seen the path. Listening to the odd word from the people we past, it seemed people had come from all over Europe to walk it. We reached the bottom of one cliff and found a set of stairs ready to take us up another. At the top we found Shetland ponies.
Lizard Point has no shortage of drama. Jagged black rocks jut out from the water. Masses of cormorants and black backed gulls gather on the larger outcrops while waves smash over the smaller ones creating hundreds of tiny waterfalls. The Lizard is nothing like Land’s End. Apart from the lifeboat house, it is as empty and natural as it has been for thousands of years. The ground is covered in strange and wonderful plants, that are rarely seen anywhere else.
We chose a spot for lunch, in retrospect, dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. It was a brilliant spot to sit to take in the beauty of the point. We were opposite a rock-full of cormorants, and further down the cliff than any of the other punters fancied, so felt as though the entire place was ours.
We sat there for a while, eating, drinking and watching the birds. Just as we were about to leave, we saw a seal bobbing around in the wash. It popped its head up just long enough for Hayley to lock the binoculars on it. Seeing a seal always feels like a treat. Seeing a seal at the most southerly point in the UK feels even more special. On that note we rejoined the path and gunned it back to Kynance. Hayley was going horse riding at Polurrian Cove, and we had about twenty minutes to get there. We made it, albeit a bit hot.
I recognised the path down to the cove by a horizontal, windswept tree that I had photographed on a previous walk. I waited on the beach for Hayley and her band of horses to arrive, busying myself by collecting stones and seashells, to try and identify using one of my new pocket guides. I found so many different coloured stones, in fact it was hard to find many that were the same. I know nothing about geology, apart from the serpentine rocks of Kynance. I found a few more serpentine fragments here to add to my small collection. There are fantastic rock pools on Polurrian beach, full of anemones, mussels and limpets.
I almost missed Hayley arriving as I was deep in amongst the rocks, then I saw them lining up on the far side of the cove. I tried my best not to get trampled, so sat on a rock and watched as she galloped along the sand on a white horse called shadow. I don’t know much about horses, except that Gandalf’s horse ‘Shadowfax’, the lord of all horses, is also white and also a mare. If I was to ride a horse, I’d like to ride one as grand as that.
On my walk back up the hill, I found and picked some wild garlic. It looks like long grass, except it has little white flowers. The flowers look a lot like snowdrops, but obviously the strong smell of garlic gives it away. Later I made some garlic bread. It was GOOD.
Before we went home we ducked into Poldhu Cove to drink a beer on the rocks and watch the waves. We climbed around, inspecting the caves until we found a good drinking rock. While we sat, two surfers turned up and began to shred the waves. For the first time in my life, the surfers were actually really good and put on quite a show. Usually watching surfers means watching them paddle out, bob around and not much else. These guys knew what they were doing and it turns out that is because one of them at least is the resident Poldhu surf instructor, Dan Joel.
I have no idea who this second chap is, but if you happen to be knowledgeable on these things, please do let me know so I can send him the photographs. Surfing, being somewhat of a solo hobby most of the time, probably means that it’s quite difficult to get photographs of you shredding an evening wave.
Yet another beautiful day on the South West Coast Path. I’ve been very lucky so far and have not had to battle the elements too much. My legs feel good on the hills and my boots feel good on my feet. In just just over three months I’ll be trying to walk 25 miles a day from London to Cornwall… I hope my luck with the weather continues.
Subscribe for more like this.
Share with someone who likes surfing.
Find me on Twitter @WillPenrose