If you like rural beauty, you’re going to love the Lizard. And having acquired some amazing new properties both here and at its gateway Heston we’re bursting to spread the word about this unique region.
The Lizard Peninsula falls within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a designated National Character Area. Stunningly beautiful at any time of the year, there is nowhere quite like it anywhere else in Britain. Its tapestry of heaths, valleys, cliffs and glorious coastlines are home to astonishing flora and fauna.
This is wild Cornwall – windswept, rugged and beautiful. Large, unspoilt and almost impossibly pretty, it’s nearly completely surrounded by the sea. Cornwall’s most overlooked and least touristy corner, it stands alone, in a very real sense, from the rest of the county.
With so much to see, it’s hard to do it justice! However (and in no particular order) we have compiled 12 great reasons to book a Lizard Peninsula holiday.
1 The marine wildlife
Take time out to discover some of the amazing local wildlife which enjoys this unique habitat just as much as the visitors. The Lizard has three nature reserves and three Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek. It’s one of the best places to see marine wildlife in Cornwall; from seals bobbing in the water to pods of dolphins, porpoises and basking shark. At low tide, budding rockpool enthusiasts can spot interesting local marine life – from anemones to starfish.
2 The birdwatching
A bird watchers’ paradise too, its peninsular shape and southerly position attract a great variety of feathered visitors, both resident and passage. The cliffs attract breeding seabirds and the unspoilt country is a haven for some rare songbirds. Great seabird spots include Mullion Island, half a mile offshore from Mullion Cove where you can catch a boat by informal arrangement. Or head to the National Trust’s Wildlife Watchpoint at Lizard Point, Housel Bay nearby, Halzephron Cliff near Gunwalloe Church Cove and the cliffs between Rosenithon and Porthoustock overlooking The Manacles rocks. The presence of Cornish chough on the cliffs is also a fantastic bonus. This red-beaked, red-legged crow, one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds, is not just Cornwall’s ‘national’ bird, but a living symbol of the Lizard’s specialness.
3 The adventures on the waves
The Lizard could have been made for adventurers. Whatever your interest, be it sea fishing, water and adventure sports, horseriding or golf, you’re sure to find an activity for everyone! If it’s watersports that you fancy, there are plenty of places where you can dip your toe in the water. How about sea-kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing or snorkelling for starters? If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, then coasteering or a diving trip may be just for you; great for spotting the abundant marine life and discovering wrecks and reefs. Tuition is available for all of these activities. Try Vertical Blue Adventures, Lizard Adventure, Coverack Windsurfing Centre and Porthkerris Divers, all of whom will be happy to help you have a great time, whether you are a beginner or a pro. Your kids will love the sailing courses offered by the Helford River Children’s Sailing Trust too, or learning to surf with Kennack Surf School which operates from the Beach Hut at Kennack Sands.
4 The climate
Standing proud in the sea, the Lizard represents a paradox – ruggedly facing the elements but with a climate that is one of the mildest in Britain! Even in the dead of winter, you can feel the mildness in the air. The first daffodils are out in December, camellias bloom at Christmas, and by February the subtropical gardens at Trebah and Glendurgan are already aglow with the miracle of the Cornish spring. The beaches all face south-ish, so they enjoy a very un-British warmth and all day sun. Of course, there will always be rain at some point, but there’s always something beautiful to spot, no matter what the weather’s doing!
5 The great walking and cycling
If you’re keen to seek out the Lizard’s wildlife and enjoy Britain at its best, don your walking boots and binoculars. The South West Coast Path hugging the rugged coast offers one of Britain’s finest coastal walks. Our favourites include the walk from Lizard to Kynance Cove and from Mullion village to Mullion and Poldhu coves. There are plenty of inland footpaths too across unspoiled heathlands. Find booklets with suggested routes in the shops, or pick up an OS map (No 103) and plan your own. Expect amazing scenery whichever way you trek. Or head to the stunning National Trust estate at Penrose where open parkland, wooded lakeside trails and breathtaking coastal scenery are all within a day’s adventure. Loe Pool, Cornwall’s largest natural freshwater lake is at its core with a spectacular six mile circular trail. Porthleven Cycle Hire is on its doorstep. Kids in tow? They’ll happily head out on a walk if they think there’s the chance of finding treasure! There are quite a few geocaches and trails here or try a Murder Mystery themed driving and walking Treasure Trail and unleash their inner detective!
6 The flower spotting
The Lizard is home to astonishing flora. In fact, the Lizard is recognised as being of international botanical importance and is home to 15 of Britain’s rarest plants. The proximity of the Gulf Stream, exposure to salty winds and rare geology all combine to create a haven for exceptional plants and flowers. This is where you’ll find Britain’s biggest outcrop of serpentine, a rock of many colours said to resemble snakeskin. Not only is it beautiful, but it supports a range of alkali-loving plants. The warm local climate has also led to the abundant growth of sub-tropical vegetation, and a constant profusion of colour all year round, and visitors in spring or summer will find the hedgerows, verges and coastal path ablaze with wild flowers.
7 The adventures on terra firma
Segway your way around the iconic Goonhilly Satellite Station or enjoy the farmland walks and the animals at Roskilly’s and the seals at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in beautiful Gweek. Find out about the fascinating radio telecommunications history surrounding the Marconi Centre at Poldhu Cove, the place from where Marconi sent his first transatlantic radio message in 1901 – an event which was to change the world. Enjoy a guided tour of the lighthouse at Lizard Point with magical views from the top. Operational since 1751, this is the only lighthouse you can climb in Cornwall. Its Heritage Centre provides hands-on exhibits for children and stories about some of the wrecks offshore.
8 The magnificent gardens
Alternatively lose yourself for a few hours in one of the wonderful gardens in the area. Basking in the warmth of the Gulf Stream, the magnificent gardens at Bonython, rated as one of the ‘Great Gardens of Cornwall’, are home to our three beautiful holiday cottages where guests can freely roam the 20 acres and enjoy the wealth of exciting, rare and beautiful plants and trees. Green-fingered guests could also check out Bosahan Garden, Godolphin House and Estate (NT), Trebah Garden and Glendurgan Garden (NT) nearby. The latter two are in the tranquil Helford River valley, renowned for its scenic beauty and comprising many leafy lanes, creeks and inlets. Be sure not to miss Frenchman’s Creek, where Daphne du Maurier found inspiration for her book of the same name.
9 The coves, beaches and harbours
There are superb hidden coves and gorgeous sandy bays to keep you occupied, even if some are a bit of a mission to get to! Our favourites include Kynance, Kennack, Coverack, Cadgwith, Mullion and Polurrian. The stunning cove at Kynance is a ‘must visit’, where the local serpentine rock offers a colourful backdrop to the ‘white’ sands. There are many interconnected caves and glorious little rock stacks to be explored at low tide. There is a lovely walk to Polurrian where you can watch horses and riders cantering along the beach. Stroll along the thick harbour walls at Mullion Cove dramatically surrounded by tall stacks of black volcanic rock and the picturesque harbour at Coverack complete with brightly coloured fishing boats. Many of the coves carry tales of wrecks and smugglers, bringing in the duty free spirits and other goods from the continent. For example, at Church Cove, near Mullion, two treasure ships were known to have been lost – one in 1526 and the other in 1785. Keep an eye out for coins, you never know! Visit St Winwaloe Church located right on the beach at Gunwalloe Church Cove. Dating from the 13th century and also, due to its location, known as the Church of Storms, there is a separate bell tower behind the church, inside which you’ll find a 16th century rood screen made of wood from a Portuguese wreck. Explore the shingle beach at Loe Bar separating Cornwall’s largest lake (Loe Pool) and the sea. The surrounding area is owned by the National Trust and if you’re feeling energetic you can take the 6 mile walk around the lake.
10 The UK’s most southerly point
Make the trek to Lizard Point and stand right on the tip at the most southerly point of England with some lovely views out to sea. Watch the waves as they hurtle to the shore and imagine the thousands of ships that have passed by this treacherous part of the coast on their way to cross the Atlantic. Take your binoculars as there are usually seals bobbing around in the waters off the Point and you may see sea lions and possibly some dolphins. While you’re there, pop into the National Trust’s Wildlife Watchpoint to find out more about the choughs which have come back to nest in the surrounding cliffs. When you’re finished head over to the cafe for a cream tea!
11 The glorious local food and drink
Holidays are made for eating – and visitors to the Lizard are in for some tasty treats – from beachside bars and fine-dining restaurants to handcrafted ice cream and local brews. Experience freshly caught seafood and the finest local produce. Watch ice cream and local fudge being whipped up at Roskilly’s farm, Trenance Chocolates being crafted in Mullion and enjoy award-winning cheeses like Helford White and Blue from Treveador Farm Dairy. At Lizard Village you’ll find Ann’s famous Pasties and Smugglers Fish and Chips for a delicious takeaway with an ocean view. Other eateries of note include the New Yard Bistro at Trelowarren, the Halzephron Inn, Polpeor Café, The Witchball and Coast Coffee Bar and Bistro. The harbour town of Porthleven just 4 miles from Trevarno Barn has become something of a foodie mecca with harbourside restaurants including Rick Stein Porthleven, Jude Kereama‘s Kota and Amélies. Quaff a pint of Spingo ale at the Blue Anchor in Helston – they’ve been brewing the lovely stuff on the premises for over 600 years. Or raise your spirits with a tot of Curio artisan gins and vodkas, handcrafted in Mullion. And don’t miss the chance to sample Origin coffee, roasted locally in Helston and served in a host of local cafes. Foodies love the Porthleven Food Festival in May combining great food with music, literature and plenty of activities for the kids.
12 The quaint villages and towns
The rocks and cliffs of the coastline offer shelter to numerous fishing villages such as Mullion, Coverack and Cadgwith, Portholland and St Keverne with whitewashed and thatched cottages clustered around tiny harbours. These picture-perfect villages with their hospitable locals have hardly changed over the centuries and are good for a short mooch. In the quiet winter months, fishermen’s choirs sing in the local pubs, and the harbours are decorated with lights and lanterns for Christmas. Mullion is the largest village on the Lizard, famous for Cornish crab and lobsters. Its many amenities include shops, convenience stores, inns, cafés and restaurants, craft shops and art galleries. At the northern end of the peninsula, the market town of Helston is home of the famous Floral Dance on the 8th May each year, a traditional celebration of spring not to be missed.
10 Make a break of it
The Lizard is not a cross-roads, a junction, or a place to drive through, but a journey’s end, a destination. To rush in and out is to miss a rare treat, so why not stay for a few nights or longer at one of our luxury West Cornwall properties and bag yourself a perfect Cornish break?