Lizard Point - the most southerly walk
The Lizard, near Helston, Cornwall TR12 7NTRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
A scenic walk around Britain’s most southerly point and a chance to find rare plants, see Cornish choughs and enjoy a cream tea to finish.
- Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
- Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Beautiful Views'
- Bus stop
Start: Lizard Point National Trust car park, grid ref: SW703116
Start at the National Trust car park next to the Lizard lighthouse. The lighthouse, one of the largest in the world, was automated in 1998 and its engine rooms are now open to the public during the summer months.
First built in 1751 but altered in 1903, the electric lantern has 150,000 candlepower and casts its beam for more than 20 miles (30km). It also has one of the worlds loudest fog horns which you'll definitely hear on a foggy day. The construction of the first lighthouse was fiercely opposed by the locals who gained an income from the wrecking. Their attitude is best summed up in the prayer of Parson Troutbeck in Scilly; 'Dear God, we pray not that wrecks should happen, but if it be Thy will that they do, we pray Thee let them be to the benefit of Thy poor people of Scilly.'
From the lighthouse car park walk down to Lizard Point, following signs to the most southerly point. Look out for seals in the cove. The succulent plant growing here is the Hottentot fig, an import from South Africa which has been steadily encroaching in areas, smothering some of the rare plants that grow on these cliffs, like the prostrate asparagus.
As excise duties increased, smuggling became an industry in Cornwall, and perhaps nowhere more so than on The Lizard. Luxury goods, like tobacco and brandy, came from France and were landed on the quiet coves of the peninsula where pack horses quickly took the barrels to hiding places. As Methodism became stronger in the county an itinerant preacher came to The Lizard in 1802 and recorded '...walking on the cliff in the afternoon [to see] a smuggler land his goods, but in consequence of this we had very few hearers.'
At the Point car park bear right and join the South West Coast Path in front of the Wave Crest café.
The choughs you may see flying overhead are easily distinguished from other members of the crow family by their red bills and legs, and their distinctive 'cheeow' call. Formerly widespread around the UK coast, the chough became extinct in England when the last Cornish bird died in the 1970s. The reintroduction of grazing to coastal grasslands and heaths has greatly improved the availability of the short, open vegetation, rich in insect life, which the coughs rely on for feeding. This is enabling a slow recovery of the Cornwall population following the return of a breeding pair to Lizard Point in 2002.
Walk along the coast path and look out for some Cornish choughs on the way. The birds returned to Cornwall in 2001 after an absence of 30 years and have been here ever since.
Take the steps down to Pistol Meadow, the burial site of over 200 people when the Royal Anne troop ship went down on the off-lying reefs in 1720. In keeping with the tradition of the day, the troops were denied a Christian burial and put into a mass grave at the valley bottom. Climb out of the valley on the coast path up the slope towards Lizard Head.
From the top of Old Lizard Head, looking west, you can see out towards Kynance Cove and beyond. Our hardy band of Shetland ponies and our tenants cattle help maintain the rich flora and fauna of the coastal slopes, which make an ideal habitat for feeding choughs.
Take the footpath inland over the stile built into the dry stone wall and walk across the field back towards Pistol Meadow.
Carry on over another stile into Pistol Meadow field and rejoin the coast path to return to Lizard Point. To avoid the stiles, retrace your steps from route point 6 along the coast path.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: Lizard Point National Trust car park, grid ref: SW703116
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer 103
There are some steep steps on this walk, as well as stiles and close to cliff edges in places. Dogs welcome.
- How to get here:
By bus: Western Greyhound 537 then 15 minute walk
By train: Redruth train and Western Greyhound 534 to Helston and 537 to Lizard then 15 minute walk
By car: A3083 Helston to Lizard. Drive through Lizard village and follow signs to Lighthouse and car park
- Telephone: 01326 561407
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard-and-kynance-cove/