England Europe Travel Diary

A Cornish adventure: Walking the South West Coastal Path

In Cornwall, you can walk to the end of the world (Lands End) on the South West Coastal Path.

On the South West Coastal Path, you can walk the entire Cornish Coast
On the South West Coastal Path, you can walk the entire Cornish Coast

You can potentially, walk the entire Cornish Coast

The entire Cornish coast is served by the South West Coastal Path, England’s longest marked long-distance footpath and a National Trail. The trail begins all the way back in Somerset, through the coast of Devon and wraps around Cornwall ending in Poole in Dorset. That’s 1014 km of walking through 4 Counties!

The sign post at Lands End.
The sign post at Lands End.

And a small part of this walk goes to the most southerly point in the country, to Lands End, the so called ‘end of the world’ when we used to believe the world was flat, and if you kept going you’d fall off the face of the earth.

My husband and I are keen walkers. We enjoy both long distance hikes (when we first met, we both completed the 4 day Inca Trail) and have enjoyed many short day walks in places we have travelled to.

Cornwall is perfect for walking/hiking.
Cornwall is perfect for walking/hiking.

While the South West Coastal Path is essentially a 2 week’s worth of walking from beginning to end, we were able to pick it up from places and do smaller circular walks that gave us the opportunity to view the dramatic Cornish coast.

Here’s two of the small sections we did:

The Cadgwith to Lizard section

Old fishing port of Lizard.
Old fishing port of Lizard.

Lizard is known to be one of the most wild and insanely beautiful place in Cornwall.

We had stayed at the tiny fishing village of Cadgwith at Cadgwith Cove Inn, and joined the locals for a bout of quiz night before retiring to our cozy inn room. This is known to be a walker’s stop on the South West Coastal Path and besides the locals, you’ll find groups of geared up walking enthusiasts piling in for their afternoon beer with weather proof gear and sticks and all, to chat about the walk and the wildlife they’d seen on the way.

The small fishing village of Cadgwith
The small fishing village of Cadgwith

With no mobile phone reception (unless you are a BT customer) this was the perfect place to rest for a day.

Cadgwith is exactly what you would imagine Cornwall villages to be: small winding streets, with width enough just for one car, built on a hill so there are some steep up and downs throughout the village. Not fit for drivers (so if you are driving, park at the town’s car park at the top of the hill and walk down) but fantastic for walkers.

You can enjoy great day walks from Cadgwith. Just follow the path!
You can enjoy great day walks from Cadgwith. Just follow the path!

From here it is an approximately 2.5 hours walk to Lizard Point, passing Devil’s Frying Pan and mostly rugged landscape. The coast line is stunning, and we spent a good while of time to stop and admire the view.

This part of the world has plenty of wildlife to view, and on reaching Lizard Point, the most southerly point of UK’s mainland, we saw couple of fur seal heads popping up and down in the waves, and a variety of sea birds congregating on the rocks off the coast.

Then there’s the lighthouse, constructed in 1619 and is still a working lighthouse today. We visited the heritage centre and learned that it can be visited on a guided tour. Unfortunately we were out of time and were unable to join the next available guide.

Lizard Lighthouse have been guiding ships off this dangerous coastline since 1619!
Lizard Lighthouse have been guiding ships off this dangerous coastline since 1619!

From here, we walked a little further before heading away from coast into Lizard town, there the walk loops back towards Cadgwith via an in-land route. Lizard is a great little place to stop for lunch/snacks before continuing on your journey.

Alternatively, you could always begin the walk at Lizard and do the loop from here.

Click here for map and information about this circular walk.

From Lands End to Sennen Cove

The beautiful surf town of Sennen Cove, just one of the many great spots along the South West Coastal Path
The beautiful surf town of Sennen Cove, just one of the many great spots along the South West Coastal Path

Driving on from the Lizard Peninsula and having gone to the most southerly point of the country, we decided to visit Lands End, which was the place, previously believed to be the end of the world.

Not wanting to pay the extravagant parking fees often charged by National Trust (and to avoid the traffic going towards Lands End, for it is a major tourist attraction in this part of Cornwall), we parked our car at the council car park at Sennen Cove. (Tip: park at the one at the top of the hill and walk down – if you drive into Sennen Cove town itself, you are likely to be stuck in small narrow streets only to find the car parks are already full!)

Walking towards Lands End from Sennen Cove
Walking towards Lands End from Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove is a surfing paradise with a beautiful golden sandy beach and a cute little town centre. Walking from here to Lands End only took about an hour, and you get a great view of Sennen Cove from the top of the cliffs on the other end of town.

This stretch of the walk offers jaw dropping scenery and is slightly more crowded than the walk we did at Lizard.

The amazing Cornish coastline is one of the reason why this walking path is so popular
The amazing Cornish coastline is one of the reason why this walking path is so popular

Along this stretch of the coast you’ll see these ‘pill boxes’ on the cliff tops. These were built all along the coast in the fear of invasion during the second World War. Today, they have become historical relics for walkers to spot.

Stopping to take in the view.
Stopping to take in the view.

When we eventually reached Lands End, large crowds of day trippers have already gathered to photograph the sign post that marks this spot. For me, it was the sight of the distant light house that captured my experience here. Imagine, looking out to this expanse of water without scientific knowledge that we have today, seeing ships sail past and disappear in the horizon, I too, would believe this to be the end of the world, and should I continue its path, I would fall head first into the waterfall of hell never to come back.

These bits of rock marks the 'end of the lands' - when we used to believe earth was flat, this was essentially the end of the world.
These bits of rock marks the ‘end of the lands’ – when we used to believe earth was flat, this was essentially the end of the world.

However, it was no place to linger, for Lands End as an ‘attraction’ really is a little over hyped. It was the walk, the journey here that we much enjoyed and both of us, should we ever have two weeks spare, will attempt the entire coast on foot, one day.

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