Bedruthan Steps | Bodmin Moor | Cadgwith Cove | Cornwall Coastal Footpath | Eden Project | Kynance Cove | Land's End | Lanyon Quoit | Lizard Peninsula | Lizard Lighthouse | Pendennis Castle | Restormel Castle | St Michael's Mount | Tintagel Castle | Tolverne Cottage
Bedruthan Steps is a spectacular area of rock formations on the Cornish north coast between Padstow and Newquay. The National Trust maintains a car park on the cliffs from which steps lead down to a viewing area. From this vantage point you can look out along the beach to a series of granite rock stacks which stretch into the distance. At low tide another series of steps permit visitors to descend onto the smooth sands below. This descent should be made with caution, however, as treacherous currents and submerged rocks make the beach unsafe for bathing and the tide can come in rather quickly to maroon the unwary.
The name "Bedruthan" is that of an ancient giant who is said to have hurled the great rocks across the beach to act as stepping stones to carry him across the beach. This may not be true, of course, and less romantically minded folk claim that the "steps" were formed by erosion over eon's of time.
This ancient moorland, located in the centre of Cornwall, is an open rolling landscape scattered with granite boulders, giant tors and many sacred and mysterious sites. Read more...
Cadgwith Cove lies on the east coast of the Lizard and may be familiar as the setting for the 2004 film Ladies in Lavender. A pleasant stream trickles down a valley lined with whitewashed, thatched cottages and out onto the large beach where a line of crab-boats sit pulled up out of the water. The Cadgwith Cove Inn remains the centre of village life and if you are lucky you may catch a session of traditional Cornish singing on a Friday night.
The pathway closely follows the Cornish coastline, for the full length of the county, and forms part of the 600 mile (965 km) route of the Southwest Coastal Path; Britain's longest National Long Distance Right of Way. The pathway offers varied and spectacular scenery, from dramatic craggy cliffs, intimate coves and quaint little harbours to long stretches of golden sands.
The footpath is well sign posted and easy to follow, however it covers such long distance (over 300 miles) that it would take several weeks to complete in a single journey. Very few people walk the route in one go and the majority of walkers do the path in short sections at a more leisurely pace, taking time to experience the dramatic scenery. The pathway passes through (or nearby) many coastal Cornish towns and villages so there is ample of opportunity to take advantage of the plentiful accommodation in Cornwall for overnight stays or short breaks.
Built in the disused quarry of an old china clay workings, it contains one of the largest greenhouses in the world. Its three hexagonal domes (or tropical biospheres) are now famous worldwide, they even appeared in the James Bond film, Die Another Day in 2002 (starring Pierce Brosnan). The attraction has become a great success and is immensely popular, so be sure to arrive early (or off peak) if you want to avoid queuing. The site has a large car park and shuttle buses run regularly from most of the main towns in south Cornwall.
Kynance Cove is located on the Lizard Peninsula about 10 miles south of Helston.
Once remote and inaccessible, this unique and spectacular place can now be reached via a National Trust vehicle track and car park. The South-West Coast Path also provides access along the cliff- top. A fairly steep path leads down to the cove but the view out over the towering rock-stacks with the turquoise sea stretching into the distance make it a trip well worth making. These rock formations and islands bear names like The Bishop, The Bellows, Gull Rock and Asparagus Island.
In winter, the cove can be a maelstrom of crashing waves and boiling foam; but in summer, particularly at low tide when the twin beaches are revealed, the place becomes a delight. The sunlight dances off the wet green and red serpentine rock surfaces, there are caves waiting to be explored and even a beach cafe to introduce civilisation into a wild and primitive scene. The serpentine rock formations are of particular interest to geologists being originally part of an ancient ocean floor and the cove was once home to prehistoric man. From the cliff-tops above the cove the Spanish Armada was first spotted back in 1588.
Land's End lies some 13 kilometers from Penzance and marks the western limit of the British Isles. It is a "must visit" for most tourists even though these days it seems rather over commercialised. The view, however, may well be worth the visit, particularly at sunset when the dying sun sinks down into the western sea and the offshore Longships Lighthouse stands silhouette against the shining sea You may then be forgiven for believing that the mythical lost land of Lyonesse does lie drowned beneath the waves somewhere between the cliffs of Land's End and the Isles of Scilly approximately 45 km to the southwest.
The coastline around Land's End is some of the most spectacular in Britain. For outstanding views and a worthy tour, you can catch the open-topped bus, which runs along the coast from St Ives during the summer months. The Legendary Land's End theme park is also located on the headland, which includes a sweet factory and several multimedia experiences. However, a short walk further along the headland will reward those purists who seek to view the headland's natural beauty and watch the Atlantic rollers pounding against the last bastion of Britain's coastline.
Lanyon Quoit is an impressive Neolithic structure dating from 2500 BC, located 3 km outside Penzance. It can be found standing close to the minor road that runs from Madron to Morvah. The heavy capstone was once supported on four granite pillars which permitted a horse and rider to pass underneath. But following a storm in 1815 the Quoit was rebuilt on three surviving legs and is not as tall today. It still remains an impressive sight, particularly at sunset when the dying sun is viewed through the pillars. The name "Quoit" comes from an old superstition that the structure was formed by ancient Cornish Giants playing a game of quoits on the moors. It is thought to have been a tomb, a centre for pagan ritual or both.
Oil painting by D. L. Benney (2010)
The Lizard Peninsula stretches some 14 miles south of Helston and the Helford River. The most southerly point on the English mainland can be found just a short distance from Lizard Point. The area has been designated as one of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is recognised as being of international botanical interest. Fifteen of Britain's rarest plants can be found growing here.
The Manacles, two square kilometers of mostly submerged rocks lurking just off Porthoustock, have menaced ships rounding the Lizard into Falmouth Bay since seafaring began in the region. St Anthony lighthouse at the mouth of the harbour provides a "red sector" to warn ships away from the danger of these rocks.
St Keverne is the largest village on the Lizard Peninsula and lies slightly inland of the Manacles near Porthoustock. The tall steeple on its church tower has provided a landmark for ships over the years. It is possible that the Manacles (Cornish for Church Rocks) were named from St Kevern church.
Down the years the treacherous rocks of the Lizard coastline have claimed numerous ships and the lives their crews. Back in 1619 Sir John Killigrew of Falmouth erected a warning light at his own expense on the Lizard Point to protect ships navigating these often stormy seas and today a powerful lighthouse is maintained by Trinity House. A Heritage Centre enables visitors to learn more of the fascinating world of lighthouses.
Located in Falmouth, built in 1548 by Henry VIII as a link in his coastal defence system.
The remains of the 12th century castle stand on a hill overlooking the River Fowey, surrounded by a 60 feet wide moat. Run by English Heritage
A rocky island, around 250 feet high, cut off from the mainland at high tide. According to legend it is part of the lost kingdom of Lyonnesse.
For many centuries the Mount was a popular destination for pilgrims. In the fifth century A.D., local fishermen claimed that St. Michael the Archangel appeared to them high on the rock and a church and monastery were built at the spot. Later Edward the Confessor built a more impressive chapel and gifted it to the abbey of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France. Later the Mount passed into private hands and was fortified. Today it is still privately owned by the St Aubyn family.
The Mount is open to visitors by courtesy of the National Trust. At low tide, a causeway permits vehicles and pedestrians to visit the island, while at high water passenger boats convey visitors across the short stretch of water.
Supposedly birthplace of King Arthur. The earliest parts of the ruin date from 1145. By the 16th century, the central part connecting the inner ward with the lower ward had been washed into the sea.
Tolverne is a 500 year old Smugglers' cottage on the River Fal just north of King Harry Ferry. The cottage is now run as a cafe by the Tregothnan Estate. It can be reached by car from the Roseland or by boat from the river with moorings available alongside. During World War II the Cottage was requisitioned, a new road built and the beach strengthened to provide an embarkation point for the D-Day landings. Thousands of members of the 29th Infantry left Cornwall at this point for the perilous crossing and dangerous landings on Omaha Beach. The landing craft needed to be driven bow first onto a "Hard" beach where they could lower a landing ramp in order to embark the soldiers and vehicles needed for the invasion.