Friday, 4 April 2014

Trail Report: Lizard to Coverack

I've run the west coast of the Lizard more times than I can remember. Its one of my favourites, plus I can get to Gunwalloe in fifteen minutes from home so it makes a good starting place.

I fancied a change this weekend so I headed down to Lizard with a view to running a few miles up the East coast. Whilst I know some of the tourist spots along this coast and, some years ago, dived a fair bit from Porthkerris, I've never run - or walked - this stretch of coastline before.

On arriving at Lizard village there is ample parking (at this time of year anyway) on the green - an honesty box awaits your contribution - though there is also a paying car park closer to Lizard point, by the lighthouse.

I opted for the former and the dog and I were soon under way, following first the road, then a track down to the Lighthouse where a steep path leads on to the coast path just east of the Lizard. Its possible to walk straight down to Lizard point by following the road a little further should you wish to tick the box of visiting the Southern-most point but been there, done that so I took the most direct route.

Turning left the path runs under the imposing wall of the lighthouse before skirting around the picture postcard perfection of Housel Bay and on to Bass point, where the Loyds signal station awaits - this rather odd looking half house half castle is the oldest surviving communications station in the world and was used in the first transmissions by Marconi at the turn of the twentieth century.

From here a couple of ups and downs lead to the newly built Lizard Lifeboat station which is periodically open to the public. This was only built a few years back and replaces the long defunct structure at Lizard point.

Soon after you will drop down to a little treasure - Church Cove (not to be confused with ... ahem ... Church Cove at Gunwalloe on the West side of the Lizard) - where a few cottages sit above a tiny slipway flanked by high cliffs.  The path actually runs behind the houses but its worth a detour to check out the slipway.

Moving on the path continues on towards Cadgwith, passing the incredible collapsed cave of the Devil's Frying Pan. Cadgwith itself is a beautiful village, with a small fishing fleet and an abundance of thatched cottages. This is the architypal Cornish coastal village and is often busy with tourists in the summer.

Leaving Cadgwith I could see the rain was on its way. However the sun found a break in the clouds and for a moment or two the coast was flooded with an eerie orange light before the flat grey clouds descended once more and closed the gap in the sky.

The next feature encountered is the Poltesco valley. Once a thriving port due to the abundance of Pilchards and later the site of a Serpentine factory there are many ruined buildings to explore, plus a very impressive wooden bridge across the stream.

Its a good climb up from here - one of many on this stretch of coastline. But before long you are popping unexpectantly out onto a pitch and put golf course below a caravan site. From here the path leads you to the road and down to Kennack Sands. This is a really lovely beach split by a small headland and with wetlands behind, a toilet block and during the summer at least a cafe.

If anything the going gets tougher now with some very steep climbs. At one point the path drops down again to sea level and I was surprised to find the bridge across the stream had been ripped from its moorings in the winter storms.

After a while the houses of Coverack come into view but its not all over yet. The final mile into Coverack is very steep, technical and, frankly, not that run-able, at least not when its wet.

By now the rain had set in and on arriving at Coverack we did't hang around before turning round and heading for home. All in all, its eleven miles from Lizard to Coverack. There are a few options to cut the return journey short, either cutting inland at Church Cove, Bass Point or Housel Bay should your legs or timescale require it.

All in all this is a superb run taking in a rugged, varied piece of the coast path with some beautiful coves and villages along the way.

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