The Lizard coastal walk, Cornwall
This walk around the Lizard Peninsula, the southerly tip of mainland Britain, takes in dramatic cliff scenery, rare wildflowers and an interesting coastal history.
Draw pictures in the sand at Kynance Cove
Kynance Cove has a sandy beach and islands of serpentine stone. The bay attracted visitors in Victorian times and still captivates people today.
Kynance Cove, grid ref: SW703125
Set out from Kynance Cove, heading towards Lizard Point. Look for the Devils Letterbox on the north side of Asparagus Island - a cave crack with powerful suction caused by the pull of air from the waves below.
A favourite spot for day-trippers since Victorian times, many of the caves around Kynance have names from that era like the Ladies Bathing Pool, the Parlour and the Drawing Room. Today, the café at the Cove is full of eco-friendly features including solar panels, a turf roof, wool insulation and compost toilets.
Steps lead to a headland from the eastern end of Kynance beach. Walk through the car park and rejoin the cliff path.
One of the richest botanical areas in the UK, the cliffs are a colourful picture in spring, carpeted in the blue, white and pink of wildflowers like squill, campion and thrift. Many more quirkily named wildflowers bloom along the coast through spring and summer like dropwort, bloody cranes-bill, ladies bedstraw, milkwort and self-heal. The exotic looking pink and yellow flowers of the hottentot fig can be seen near to the lighthouse. Although it looks pretty it's actually a botanical bully and can smother our native flora. Cornish heath is a rare plant which grows here but nowhere else in Britain.
Follow the cliff path, passing above Pentreath beach.
Seals and basking sharks are commonly spotted on this route. Basking sharks can be nearly 30ft (9m) long but cruise these warm waters feeding on nothing more than tiny plankton. In summer 2007 more than 40 were spotted in one day.
Look down towards the disused Victorian lifeboat station at Polpeor Cove.
Wild choughs are once again breeding on the Lizard coast. This acrobatic red-billed crow, with a distinctive chiaow call, can be seen throughout the year feeding on insects in short coastal turf. Buzzard, peregrine, raven and stonechat also may be seen at any time of the year along the cliffs. Spot gannet, shearwater and guillemot offshore.
The Lizard Lighthouse is just round the headland from Lizard Point.
An electric foghorn kicks in when humidity levels rise above a certain point. Make sure you cover your ears! The blast is so thunderous (about 30 times louder than a pneumatic drill), you'll feel the vibrations if passing close by. Tennyson described the twin towers of Lizard Lighthouse as 'the southern eyes of England'. Built in 1752, thousands of ships safely pass through these rock-filled waters thanks to its 26-mile (42km) beam.
Lions Den is a 39ft (12m) hole in the cliff created when a cave collapsed one night in the mid-1800s.
Look out for the strikingly beautiful serpentine stone in the cliffs around the Lizard. With veins of red, white and green, it was formed by the extreme pressure of rocks being thrust up to the Earth's surface from under the crust millions of years ago.
With stunning views, Pen Olver is the perfect spot for a picnic. Please take your rubbish home.
Lizard wireless station
Two black huts have stood on the headland of Pen Olver for more than a century. They are one of the sites that Guglielmo Marconi used for his pioneering radio experiments. In January 1901 he received a message here that had travelled 186 miles (300km) to the Isle of Wight - a new distance record. We restored the station in 2000. Call 01326 290384 for opening times.
From Bass Point Old Signal Station, head left inland to Lizard village.
Pass the village green taking a path towards Kynance Cove.
Kynance Cove, grid ref: SW703125
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