Walk - Kynance Cove & Lizard Village

2.9 miles (4.7 km)

Kynance Cove car park - TR12 7PJ Kynance Cove car park

Easy - Some rough paths and some steep ascent, with a little scrambling over rocks on the beach.

A gentle stroll from Kynance to Lizard village, whose festive air is matched by full facilities. Returning through the rare Cornish heath above Kynance Cove, the walk visits one of Britain’s most spectacular coves, where the red and green serpentine rocks are as beautifully carved and polished by the sea as the Victorian stoneware once produced by the Poltesco factory just around the coast. From Tor Balk, to the west of the beach, there are spectacular views down over Kynance's island trio: Asparagus Island (where wild asparagus grows), Gull Rock and the pointed mitre of The Bishop. The beach is best visited on a falling tide - and take care not to get cut off if you visit Asparagus Island.

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.

Atlantic House B&B

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

Penmenner House, Lizard

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.

The Top House Inn, The Lizard

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.

The Old Bakery B&B, The Lizard

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.

Mullion Cove Hotel

Dog-friendly 3 star hotel; on the cliff-top and path overlooking the harbour, with en-suite rooms, award-winning restaurant, bar & free wifi

Trenance Farm Cottages, Mullion

Self-catering cottages. Perfect base for magnificent coastal walks & stunning scenery. Dog friendly, Short breaks available, free Wi-Fi, outdoor heated pool.

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.

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

Old Vicarage, Mullion

Situated right in the centre of the lovely village of Mullion, this welcoming B&B is ideally located for the South West Coast Path, pubs and shops.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. In the National Trust car park at Kynance Cove take the path through the left-hand field to pick up the South West Coast Path at the far end of the field. Follow it around above Pentreath Beach to Caerthillian Cove.

Here the rock  is 'bastite' serpentine, coarse-grained and flecked with large shiny crystals. This was subjected to less pressure on its journey from below, and so it is closer to its original form.

  1. Immediately before you descend to Caerthillian Cove a path leaves on the left. Take this across the grassland, ignoring the good path on your left to take the path that zigzags downhill. Turn left at the bottom and follow the valley inland, turning sharply right onto the lane climbing steeply towards Lizard village. Carry on ahead along Pentreath Lane, past the houses into the village.
  2. From Lizard Green follow the fingerpost signed towards Caerthilian and Kynance to return to Pentreath Lane, retracing your steps past the playing field on the left. Take the footpath on the right at the end of the playing field, forking left a moment later to follow the hedge alongside the field and into the copse beyond. Carry on ahead through the grassland to the road.

There were once two serpentine quarries here. This rock was formed deep below the Earth's crust, in its mantle, some 10 kilometres underground. Enormous pressures, caused by Earth movements, thrust the rock upwards to create an ocean ridge south of the equator. These then bulldozed it onto the southern tip of Britain, which had been a separate landmass until then (see the Kennack Sands and Kuggar Walk). The same pressure and tremendous heat transformed the rock into the two types of serpentine to be seen around the Lizard peninsula today. Brightly coloured and highly ornamental, serpentine is fairly soft, making it easy to work, and it was quarried in several locations around the Lizard. Queen Victoria, visiting Penzance in 1846, ordered several serpentine ornaments for her house on the Isle of Wight. As a result the local serpentine business became a boom industry. There was an extensive serpentine factory on the shoreline at Poltesco, the remains of which have recently been restored (see the Cadgwith & Poltesco Walk).

In the second half of the nineteenth century the railway arrived in Cornwall. Other visitors followed the Queen's example and Kynance Cove became a very popular tourist destination. Among the Victorian visitors was 'Water Babies' author Charles Kingsley, who came here with his friend, the Reverend C.A.Johns. Kingsley was a botanist of some repute as well as a novelist, and no doubt he pointed out the many different species of plant as they strolled through these meadows. Rev Johns exclaimed: 'If I throw my hat on the ground, wherever it lands there will be at least 10 species of wild plant underneath!' Look out for a rare green-winged orchid among the celandines and ox-eye daisies, and the yellow flowers of the creeping bird's-foot trefoil, as well as the red threads of the parasitic dodder, wound around the gorse bushes.

  1. Continue straight ahead on the road towards Kynance Cove, taking the path on the right just after the bungalow on the corner. Follow the path across the downs and on to the road above the beach car park at Kynance.

The open ground here is one of the few areas in Britain of the rare Cornish heath. In spring and summer the bushes are brimming with songbirds such as robins, blackbirds, wrens and various warblers, with stonechats scolding from their nests. In autumn look out for whinchats, ring ouzels, black restarts and pied flycatchers.

  1. Ignoring the car park (unless you want to finish the walk here), turn right on the gravel path before it and follow it around above the cove, ignoring the path on the right when the road bears left but taking the path on the left to cut off the right-hand bend a short while later.
  2. Reaching the road again, turn left and carry on around the sharp right-hand bend to take the path on the left just beyond. This will take you down past the café and toilets to the beach.

The Cornish name for Kynance is Porth Keynans, meaning 'ravine cove'. There has been a settlement here since before the eighteenth century, and a café here from the following century.

The purply-brown rocks in the middle of the cove are formed of 'tremolite' serpentine. This banded rock has fine grains as a result of the pressure that was applied to it as it surfaced through the Earth's crust. Because it was once molten, there are no fossils in it, and it readily absorbs heat and on a sunny day can be very hot to touch. The pebbles on the beach are of different rocks - white granite and pink gneiss - which were probably brought up from the Earth's crust as the serpentine passed through.

  1. Cross the beach to climb the steps on the far side to return to the car park.
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