Exploring the Lizard Peninsula
The Lizard Peninsula is bounded, as its name suggests, on three sides by the sea. On the northern, landward, side it is almost separated from the rest of Cornwall by the Helford River cutting deeply into the landscape as far as Gweek. Indeed examining a map will show you that there is a strip of land only 3 miles in width at its narrowest point. Running from Gweek in the east to Loe Bar and the Penrose Estate in the west, almost half of that land is out of bounds as it belongs to the Culdrose Royal Naval Air Station (HMS Seahawk). Travelling south from Helston you begin to feel that you are entering a different world, leaving the rat race behind, with the prospect of leisure and relaxation now firmly in your mind. Some of the most spectacular scenery and geology of Cornwall is to be found here. For more on the geology of the area please click here. A trip along the coastline from west to east will exhibit Cornwall at its best:
Porthleven - A small working Cornish harbour, with local boats fishing for crab and lobster or hand-lining for mackerel. Not so commercialised or 'plastic' as some other harbours. Quite good shops and pubs for its size
Loe Bar - A long stretch of fine shingle beach running from Porthleven to Gunwalloe Fishing Cove. It may be reached by a number of small car parks dotted along its length. Dangerous currents make swimming impossible here
The Loe or Loe Pool is the largest freshwater lake in the county separated from the sea by a large shingle bar. Several woodland walks have been created here within the Penrose Estate. There are a choice of car parks and features include Birdwatching; Degibna Wood; Loe Marsh; Carminowe Creek and the Bar Walk Plantation. A full circuit of the Loe is about 5 miles and paths may be muddy in places.
Halzephron is an anglicised form of the Cornish word 'Als-Ifarn' (Cliffs of Hell) as the 200 feet cliffs here are gouged out in a big gully at Pedngwinian. Interesting stops include the 'Halzephron Inn' and also the Halzephron Herb Farm
Gunwalloe Dollar Cove or 'Jangye-Ryn' is the site of a shipwreck sometime in the 17th or 18th Century with over $60 million worth of gold coins supposedly lost. Despite frequent visits however I am still waiting to find something. Geologists should look out for highly contorted slates here.
Gunwalloe Church Cove gets its name from the church set against the cliffs on the northern end of the beach. It is unusual because the tower is separated from the main church by some 14 feet. Mullion Golf Course overlooks this very popular yet unspoilt beach.
Poldhu Cove - Most famous as the cove from which Marconi's trans-Atlantic radio signal was sent in December 1901. Overlooked by the imposing Poldhu Residential Home, formerly an hotel. Excellent cliff walking area although it can be a little windswept at times.
Mullion Cove forms a boundary in the geology of the Lizard. North of Mullion the cliffs consist of slate, south of Mullion the cliffs are made up from schists; Mullion Island is pillow lava and Mullion Cove's cliffs consist of serpentine. See the Geology of the Lizard Peninsula.
Goonhilly Earth Station - For more information please telephone Goonhilly free on (0800) 679593 or online at www.goonhilly.bt.com.
Predannack - A former airfield now used as a training area for helicopters from nearby Culdrose (Culdrose Royal Naval Air Station - Viewing Area on (01326) 565805). Large areas of Predannack have been designated a Nature Conservation Area by the National Trust and offer excellent walks south towards Kynance Cove and north to Mullion Cove.
Ogo-dour Cove and Vellan Head offer excellent walks along serpentine cliffs south towards Kynance Cove and north to Mullion Cove. An excellent place to 'get away from it all'.
Gew Graze (Soapy Cove) is a dramatic inlet and site of a disused Soapstone quarry midway between Mullion and Kynance Cove.
Kynance Cove is possibly the most beautiful cove in Cornwall, its character changes dramatically from winter to summer: In the winter it shows the sea at its fiercest, yet in summer, especially at low tide, the rocks look set like jewels in a jade sea.
Lizard Point is famous as the most southerly point of mainland Britain with a fine lighthouse - built 22nd August 1752 - open to the public and good cliff walks. There are a good selection of shops selling mainly local serpentine gifts and other geological specimens.
Cadgwith is most people's idea of the Cornish fishing village. Boats lie at rest on the shingle beach and the houses surrounding the cove have thatched roofs. The local Inn is famous for the singing of Cornish songs especially on a Friday evening in summer.
Coverack grew up around the pilchard fishing industry which has now sadly died. The local Inn, 'The Paris Hotel' is named after the ship 'Paris' wrecked on the nearby Manacles Reef.
Porthallow village was once a pilchard landing station and processing area. This provided much needed employment to local fishermen until the collapse of the fish stocks around 1900. Known locally as 'Pr'alla'.
Porthkerris is a haven for divers and fishermen alike. Privately owned in parts so please respect the wishes of the owner with considerate parking.
The Helford River is made up of several winding heavily wooded creeks and has remained largely unspoilt. It is very tidal in nature and is not so much a river but actually a 'ria' or drowned river valley (same as the Carrick Roads at Falmouth) formed after the last Ice Age. Places of interest include the villages of Durgan; Gillan; Port Navas; Gweek; Frenchman's Creek; Tremayne Quay; and of course Helford Village and Helford Passage.