Lizard Point Coastal Walk
Trek past towering cliffs, secluded beaches, and rolling farmland on a Lizard Point coastal walk. Shaped by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the rippled coast of Lizard Point is rimmed by miles of trails that are part of the spectacular South West Coast Path. Hiking this seaside trail at the southernmost tip of mainland Britain is one of the best things to do in Cornwall, UK.
The Lizard Point plateau is known for its unique and ancient geological features. Our walking routes around the peninsula will take you through tiny fishing villages, haunting moorlands, and rock formations melded over 400 million years ago. See rare Lizard Point UK geography up close as you trek past colorful rocks, turquoise seas, and unusual plant- and wildlife.
In this article, we outline two breathtaking Lizard Point coastal walks. The shorter 2.6-mile (4 km) route begins at the Lizard Lighthouse and follows the South West Coast Path over a mile of breathtaking scenery before retracing the route. The longer 4.4 miles (7 km) route follows the same coastal trail but also takes in meadows and villages to form a loop.
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WHERE IS LIZARD POINT (Address: The Lizard, near Helston, Cornwall, TR12 7NT)
The territory at the southernmost point of mainland Britain is called the Lizard Peninsula. The Lizard Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the ocean, and on one side by the Helford River. The very tip of the peninsula, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the English Channel, is a strip of headlands known as Lizard Point.
The area combines a rugged coast with a working Cornish countryside of farms and fishing villages. Lizard Point is great to walk because of the open landscapes, gently rolling terrains, and a maritime climate suitable for hiking year-round. The nearest large town is Falmouth, UK which is 46 min (24.3 mi or 39km) via A3083 and A394 north of Lizard Point.
WHY IS IT CALLED LIZARD POINT
Linguists have many theories about where the name “Lizard” came from, and none have to do with reptiles. A frequently mentioned theory is that the name is derived from words in the old Cornish dialect. In Old Cornish, the phrase “Lys Ardh” means courtroom or fortress (Lys) and height or high place (Ardh).
SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
The South West Coast Path is a long-distance network of trails that runs some 630 miles (1,014km) along England’s southwest coast. The primary use of the trails is hiking. Large sections of the trail are funded and maintained by the National Trust and Natural England. This is why you will sometimes see the area referred to as the National Trust Lizard Point.
LIZARD POINT GEOGRAPHY
The coast of the Lizard Peninsula formed around 400 million years ago when a section of the ocean floor was lifted onto the continental plate. The gnashing and lifting of the plates created rare Serpentinite, gabbro, and amphibolite rocks. Scientists have studied the rare “Lizard Complex” formations for hundreds of years.
The formations we see on the coast extend under the sea. These rocks are notorious for causing shipwrecks in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. To help combat the wrecks, from this location Guglielmo Marconi performed his pioneering wireless experiments which lead to the birth of radio transmission.
The heaths and pastures of Lizard Point are also the traditional home of farming, fishing, and mining communities. The PBS series Poldark was filmed in this area. As you hike along the coast you will see evidence of old tin and copper mines from the era.
LIZARD PENINSULA WILDLIFE
Along the inland roads of the Lizard Peninsula keep an eye out for ponies, sheep, and cattle. Along the shore, there are frequent sightings of seals, dolphins, porpoises, and the occasional whale. Bird watchers love observing a wide variety of seabirds.
LIZARD POINT OPENING TIMES
For 2023: Coastal Paths' opening time is dawn till dusk.
LIZARD POINT PARKING
There are fee-for-parking lots in “The Lizard” (Lizard Village), at the Lizard Point car park, and by the Lizard Lighthouse.
HOW TO GET TO LIZARD POINT
Most visitors will arrive in Lizard Point by car or bus:
By car: Take the A3083 from Helston south to Lizard Point, UK.
By bus: From Helston take the Lizard bus route 34 to Lizard Point.
LIZARD POINT COASTAL WALK DIRECTIONS
With many miles of South West Coast Path and inland trails to choose from, Cornwall UK is an excellent base for an afternoon jaunt or a week of hiking. Our two Lizard Point coastal walks hit a particularly pretty patch of Lizard Peninsula and are designed to be completed in half a day.
The longer 4.3-mile route takes in quiet country lanes, dramatic seascapes, quaint villages, and sweeping pastures. Most of the route is flat or gently sloping. There are a few sections of the path that contain steep terrain and/or stairs. In addition, some sections of the trail run adjacent to cliffs and there are few guardrails. Take extra care if you have vertigo or children.
The shorter 2.6-mile route follows the coastal portion of the route described above.
Trekkers should come prepared with sturdy hiking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, and rain gear. Lizard Point is a maritime climate and the weather changes frequently; rain and fog move in quickly. There are maps at most major trailheads, but few signs out on the trail. GPS / cell phone service is spotty.
LIZARD POINT MAP - COASTAL WALK 1
LIZARD POINT COASTAL WALK 1: (2.6 miles or 4 km; approximately a 1.5-hour walk)
Park in the Lizard Lighthouse National Trust car park next to the entrance gate. Note: the car park is not suitable for oversized vehicles. Tour the Lighthouse Heritage Center if it is open (scheduled for repairs during the 2023 season). Walk from the car park to the road, turn left onto Lighthouse Road.
Hike to the National Trust Lizard Point – the southernmost point of Great Britain. Take some time to explore the small shops on the point and snaps some photos at the overlook.
Walk down to the abandoned dock and lifeboat station in Polpeor Cove to feel the enormity of the surrounding cliffs and the crash of the Atlantic Ocean. Then walk back to the intersection of Lighthouse Road and the South West Coast Path trailhead.
Turn right onto the South West Coast Trail. Along the route look for Housel Bay Beach. Follow the trail until you reach the Lizard Wireless Station. Then, retrace your steps along the coastal route, ending back at the Lizard Lighthouse.
LIZARD POINT MAP – COASTAL WALK 2
LIZARD POINT COASTAL WALK 2: (4.3 miles or 7 km; approximately a 2-hour walk)
Park your car in the Lizard Village car park by the town square. Follow the signs from the town square to Lighthouse Road. Walk along Lighthouse Road approximately .7 miles to the National Trust Lizard Point – the southernmost point of Great Britain.
Take some time to explore the small shops on the point and snap some photos at the overlook.
Walk down to the abandoned dock and lifeboat station in Polpeor Cove to feel the enormity of the surrounding cliffs and the crash of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, walk back to the intersection of Lighthouse Road and the South West Coast Path trailhead.
Turn right onto the South West Coast Trail. Along the route look for Housel Bay Beach. Follow the trail until you reach the Lizard Wireless Station.
From the Lizard Wireless Station take Lloyds Road back to Lizard Village.
Goodbye from the land of the Lizard, Laura and Randy
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