On the high ground of Lizard Point stands one of the most strategically important lighthouses in Britain. A coal-fired Lizard Lighthouse was built in 1619, but was short-lived, and it was not until 1752 that a more substantial lighthouse was built. It was first powered by coal and then, from 1812, by oil. Today’s light is electric and has one of the most powerful beams in Britain.
The route of the walk first leads to the picturesque Kynance Cove, then on to Lizard Head and Lizard Point. In Polpeor Cove, on the western side of Lizard Point, stands the disused lifeboat house of the old Lizard lifeboat. This was a bold location; the launching slipway faced into the teeth of southerly and westerly gales and too often it was impossible to launch the lifeboat, though epic missions were carried out over the years. In 1961 the lifeboat house was closed on the opening of a new lifeboat station at the more sheltered Kilcobben Cove near Landewednack’s Church Cove to the east. A new lifeboat house in a stylish modernist design was opened in 2012.
The Lizard was also famous for its connections with radio communications, a technology that has played its own crucial part in search and rescue at sea. East of Lizard Lighthouse, the route of the walk leads past the little wooden building of the old Marconi Wireless Station. From here, in 1901, the first wireless transmission was sent by Guglielmo Marconi. The letter ‘S’ in Morse code was sent from a now-demolished 164ft (50m) aerial. It was received faintly – but almost immediately – over 2,000 miles (3,240km) away at St John’s, Newfoundland, where the aerial had been attached to a kite. Within sight of the ‘Marconi Bungalow’, as the little building is called, is the ugly, white-painted building of the old Lloyds signal station on Bass Point. The original station was established in 1872 to take note of all shipping that passed the Lizard. In front of the Lloyds building is a one-time coastguard lookout that is now manned by members of the National Coastwatch Institution. The new lifeboat station is just a little more than half a mile away.
Turn right, when facing the public toilets at the bottom end of the car park, and go along a surfaced lane signed ‘To Caerthillian and Kynance Coves’. In 80yds (70m) bear right at a junction and go along a track, signed ‘Public Footpath Kynance Cove’. After 30yds (28m), at a public footpath sign, bear off left behind a chalet and go up some steps, then follow a path along the top of a broad stone wall (known as a ‘hedge’ in Cornwall).
Descend steps, keep right at a junction and then go through a privet grove. Negotiate two more sets of steps, then bear slightly right across a field. Go over a step stile to reach a road.
Follow the road ahead past the house, called Carn Goon. In a few paces bear away slightly right along a track. Reach a junction with a wide stony track at the bottom end of the National Trust car park for Kynance Cove. Turn right to take the track to Kynance Cove, arriving by the café.
Walk left along the beach and up the cliff steps and path to where a path goes off right, signed ‘Coastal Path to Lizard Point’. Follow a cobbled and stepped path steeply uphill, then keep to the edge of the cliff along the coast path for about 1.25 miles (2km). Pass above Pentreath Beach and Caerthillian Cove and continue to rocky Lizard Head, then to Lizard Point and a car park and cafés.
Cross the car park and follow the coast path past the lighthouse. Look for access to the Lighthouse Visitor Centre. Descend steeply into Housel Cove and ascend just as steeply, ignoring a link path heading inland to Lizard village. Pass the old Marconi Wireless Station, now a small museum, the old Lloyds Signal Station and then the National Coastwatch Institution Lookout at Bass Point.
Follow a track past houses, then bear off right and follow the narrow coast path past Hot Point and on to the modern lifeboat house at Kilcobben Cove.
Go down steps on the far side of the lifeboat station and follow the coast path to Church Cove. Follow the public lane inland past St Wynwallow Church and continue uphill. Keep left at a junction to a second junction on a bend beside a granite cross and a seat. Go left along Beacon Terrace to the car park.
Coastal footpaths, inland tracks and lanes - take note of path diversion notices at any erosion repair areas; several stiles
Spectacular sea cliffs backed by open heathland
Dogs on lead through grazed areas
OS Explorer 103 The Lizard
Large car park at centre of Lizard village, donation box, can be busy in summer
By car park at Lizard village and at Kynance Cove
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.
In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.