Monday, 9 June 2014

Lizard Point to Mullion Cove (South West Coast Path 56)

 Looking out to sea from Lizard Point

We arrived yesterday afternoon in rather grey weather at the rather dispiriting collection of shacks that mark the Lizard Point, the most southerly piece of land in England. Today however, the view out to sea is very inviting. The apparent carpet of Hottentot Fig in my picture is, I must confess, the top of a wall. I suppose one should be opposed to invasive species like this, but it is very attractive.

I looked in a little shop which was selling items made out of local Serpentine. This is a hard rock found only in a few scattered places across the world. We learned from our taxi driver that it is becoming increasingly hard to find pieces of Serpentine which are rewarding to sculpt and that the number of people who have mastered the art is dwindling. He mentioned that a lighthouse is a favourite subject for a Serpentine sculpture and the shop certainly bore this out with shelves of lighthouses of different size.

As we climb away from the Lizard we look down on the old Lifeboat Station - we passed the new one yesterday.

And then head along the wide grassy headland you can see on the right in the picture. Signs warn us that Cornish Choughs (a red beaked member of the crow family) are nesting. And sure enough, a glossy pair immediately appeared. After a rocky headland, a curving bay opens up and the white buildings of Kynance Cove can be seen in the distance. 

After a while, there is a steep descent and ascent at Caerthillian Cove.The path on the right descends from the bottom right hand corner. There were some entertaining Gannets flying around and diving into the sea like Terns.

When we reached the top on the other side, there was an especially good example of a traditional Cornish hedge. Yes, not your normal hedge, but a wide stone wall covered in earth and flowers, commonly Thrift.

We walk along a high cliff until it is time to descend to the extremely picturesque Kynance Cove. The tide is in, so we can't see the lovely white sand. We take refreshments at the cafe, along with many others including a massive coach party of Germans.

We climb now onto Kynance Cliff, a rather desolate high plateau which is part of the Lizard National Nature Reserve.

At Soap Rock there is another sharp descent and ascent. We found this section of the walk rather a trial: you are walking at the edge of a high plateau, there is low vegetation, few flowers, not many birds, no butterflies. The most interesting thing we saw was a helicopter practicing hovering in the distance.

It was very striking that when we left the reserve, the hedge was much more alive with life, as was the next field. I was thrilled to see a second Peregrine falcon majestically gliding above (I saw one yesterday as well).

A new section of coast starts at the rocky Men-te-heul. Mullion Island dominates the foreground, with Mullion Cove hidden behind the enormous rocks on the right. Further away the peninsular begins to flatten out as it heads towards the mainland.

As we approach Mullion Cove, we can see that Mullion Island is in fact a three-legged shape, rather than the rectangle it first appeared to be.

Continuing along the cliff top, we soon have a fine view of the Cove, where some harbour repairs are evidently underway, dealing with damage caused in the February gales.

It remains only to walk along the grassy cliff and wander down to the back of the tiny harbour.

Conditions: warm and mostly sunny.

Grading: Moderate.

Distance: 6.8 miles (distance now covered 335.6 miles).

Map: Explorer 103 (The Lizard).

Rating: four stars.

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