Walk - Predannack Downs

6.4 miles (10.3 km)

Predannack Wollas National Trust Car Park - TR127EZ Predannack Wollas Car Park

Moderate - Some short stretches of very steep ascent and descent, and the path is stony in places and wet elsewhere.

A circular route around Predannack, taking in the breathtaking serpentine cove at Kynance and returning inland over the National Nature Reserve at Lizard Downs. The bedrock changes several times throughout the walk, and the landscape changes with it, so that you travel from flat grasslands full of bright flowers into a stony area where the stream has carved a deep ravine in the soft rock at 'Soapy Cove' and delicate harebells flutter in the breeze. Above Kynance the rocky outcrops are crusted with yellow and grey lichen and the turquoise water is fringed with white surf that licks around the islands in the cove. 

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Mullion Cove Hotel

Magnificent cliff top location above Mullion Cove, wonderful harbour and coastal views directly on the Coast Path. A haven of peace & relaxation. Fine wines & excellent food using the very best fresh local produce. All day menu available. Dogs welcome

Trenance Farm Cottages

Only ½ mile from the magnificent coastal path. The perfect base to explore Lizard Peninsular and surrounding area. Dogs welcome and short breaks available.

Polurrian Bay Hotel - LFH

Fantastic views, catering for families with outdoor & indoor pools, spa, tennis court in 12 acres of gardens leading to private beach.

Chyheira B&B

Charming Edwardian B & B less than 1/2 mile from the SW Coast Path. Locally sourced cooked breakfast. One night stays and well-behaved pets welcome.

Atlantic House B&B

High-quality B&B in a beautiful location. 5 minutes walk from the Coast Path and close to many amenities of the village.

The Old Bakery B&B

The Old Bakery was built around 1935 & is situated on the edge of the village. It is only 2 minutes walk to the village centre. The Coast Path and a number of beaches are within walking distance.

The Top House Inn

Mainland Britain’s most southerly Inn- The Top House Inn is unique. En-suite rooms in an adjoining building are contemporary in style and offer guests a touch of luxury.

Hellarcher Farm

Farmhouse with panoramic views. 5 mins from Coast Path. Vast farmhouse breakfast choice, locally sourced with scones & bread baked on the premises, with homemade jams and marmalade. Dogs welcome.

Penmenner House Bed & Breakfast

A warm welcome awaits walkers at Penmenner House. 4 ensuite rooms all with sea views, and a delightful Cornish breakfast. Perfectly situated to explore the Lizard peninsula with its amazing coastal view, fauna & flora.

Silversands Holiday Park

Ideal base to explore the Lizard peninsula. Large pitches for camping, touring & holiday homes. 1km thro Lizard Nature Reserve to the Path

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Glenbervie Bar at the Mullion Cove Hotel

Magnificent cliff top location above Mullion Cove, wonderful harbour and coastal views directly on the Coast Path. A haven of peace & relaxation. Fine wines & excellent food using the very best fresh local produce. All day menu available. Dogs welcome

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Telstar Taxi & Private Hire

The Lizard peninsula is a remote part of Cornwall, public transport can be sparse. Ideally located to assist with one way South West Coast Path walkers.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the National Trust car park at Predannack Wollas go through the gate, past Windyridge Farm, and take the path to the right, leading to the coast. When the path splits, fork left to join the South West Coast Path above Parc Bean ('Little Field') Cove and Ogo Dour ('Water Cave') Cove.
  2. On the Coast Path turn left, towards Kynance Cove, Caerthillian and Lizard Point.

Like the valley inland from Mullion Cove, Predannack Head is formed of schist and hornblende, both metamorphic rocks formed between 251 and 542 million years (see the Predannack Wollas & Mullion Cove Walk). There is a still thin sliver of these rocks at Lower Predannack Cliff; but beyond here the bedrock changes to what's known as the Lizard Complex, composed of peridotite and serpentinite. These are both igneous rocks, formed through volcanic processes between 359 and 416 million years ago (see the Kynance Cove Walk).

At first the high cliff-tops are thatched with heathland and coastal grassland. The mild climate and the exposed southerly location provide an ideal habitat for wildflowers. The path is bright with pink thrift, yellow kidney vetch, the fried-egg flowers of low-growing ox-eye daisy, the pyramid heads of delicate green-winged orchid, and the tiny blue and pink stars of spring and autumn squills. Stonechats call from the gorse bushes and skylark trill from high overhead among the ravens and seabirds.

  1. The Coast Path heads out around Vellan Head, while the bridleway forking off to the left at the start of the headland takes a shortcut across it. The two paths rejoin after a couple of hundred metres.

As the rock changes beneath your feet, so the vegetation changes too. Water streams through the long grass, and tall rushes push through dense and windblown thorn bushes that are furry with lichen. Inland, the Lizard National Nature Reserve is 35 hectares (87 acres) of Cornish heath with pools and wet willow woodland. On mainland Britain Cornish heath is unique to The Lizard. Its narrow leaves are a dark green, growing in groups of four or five, and the bell-shaped flowers are pink or lilac, sometimes white.

As you descend the steep path to Gew-graze ('central hollow' in Cornish), so the rock changes again, and there are some fascinating stones spread across the ground. The deep-cut valley is formed of a very thin seam of Kennack granite and gneiss - igneous and metamorphic rocks dating from the same time as the serpentine around them.

Gew-graze is also known as Soapy Cove, named after the soapstone that used to be quarried here. Related to serpentine, but softer, the soapstone occurs here as a vein of talc in the serpentine, forming an irregular scar heading inland. One of its uses was for early porcelain production.

There are caves in the cliffs above the tiny sandy beach - Ogo Pons('Bridge Cave') and Pigeon Ogo. Listen out for the eerie echoes of the pigeons cooing in the cave and you will understand the origin of the Cornish legends of ghosts in caves (see the Nare Head Walk).

  1. Cross the stream at the bottom of the valley at Gew-graze and climb steeply to the cliff-top again. Carry on along the Coast Path towards Kynance Cove, ahead.

You will sometimes see Merlin and Sea King helicopters circling overhead along here. Predannack Airfield, built during the Second World War to help defend the important dockyards and ports at Falmouth, is now a satellite station of RNAS Culdrose, at Helston. It is used primarily for helicopter training, but also for firefighting training. As you reach the top of the cliffs, you can see the rusted fuselage of old planes which are used for this. At weekends, air cadets learn to fly here with the 626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Look out for their small aircraft swishing softly above you.

  1. At Kynance Cliff the path travels around some rocky outcrops crusted with yellow and green lichens and then drops steeply downhill to the cove.

The trio of islands below you as you descend are aptly named Gull Rock (the one covered in seabirds' nest in summer), Asparagus Island (where wild asparagus grown) and The Bishop (whose pointed mitre is visible between the other two). Like the other rocks in the cove, these are serpentine and resemble highly polished carvings more often found in buildings, furniture and galleries (see the Kynance Cove Walk). On the eastern side of The Lizard, the wares from the serpentine factory at Poltesco were enormously popular in nineteenth-century Britain after Queen Victoria bought many items for her official residence on the Isle of Wight (see the Cadgwith & Poltesco Walk).

  1. After exploring Kynance (be careful not to get cut off by the tide if you visit Asparagus Island), take the path heading off to the right between the buildings, turning right on the track beyond to climb uphill above the cove. At the right-hand bend take the bridleway on your left and follow it up to the top of Lizard Downs, travelling northeast to where it approaches the patchwork fields on your left.
  2. Leave the bridleway to take another on your left which goes through the gap in the hedge by the corner of the last field and then sets off ahead.
  3. After passing Die's Pool turn left to follow the path around the perimeter of the airfield, turning right to stay on the path between the airfield on your right and the fields on your left. Towards the end of the airfield the bridleway doglegs to the right and back again while a small footpath cuts between the fields to join it at the far side. Carry straight on ahead along the track to walk back to Predannack Wollas car park.

Public transport

The nearest bus stop to the start of the walk is at Mullion, 1½ miles away. From here buses run to and from Lizard, Helston and Redruth. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

At Predannack Wollas, at the start of the walk, or Kynance Cove.

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