Little Gwendreath Walk the South West Coast Path - Day 5 - Lizard Point - Cadgwith Cove
Updated: Apr 6
Map: OS Explorer: 103
Distance: 3.6 miles/5.8 km
Steepness grade: Moderate
Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer
We set off from the car park next to the Lizard Lighthouse with an early start in a cold easterly wind.
Lizard Point was buffeted by waves with white crests whilst we walked past the lighthouse wall at
the start of our journey. The current lighthouse has been here since 1751 but there has been a light
warning seafaring craft here since 1619. Tours of the building are run by its managing company,
Trinity house, a charity ‘dedicated to shipping and seafarers’.
Much of the coast here is clifftop fields dropping down to small coves and it isn’t long before we
pass over Housel Bay which is a great sandy swimming beach. The beach doesn’t look too welcoming
today with the waves lashing against the shore but when the sun comes out it does still look
A small black hut sits next to the coast path a few hundred metres east of Housel Bay. The
unassuming structure was used by Guglielmo Marconi for some experiments in what became the
first wireless communication across the Atlantic ocean. We passed by the actual site of the
transmission at Poldhu in an earlier walk.
Rounding Bass Point we descend past the Lizard RNLI Lifeboat Station which does a great job of
rescuing stricken boats and crew and also has a great visitor centre for the public. There has been a lifeboat at The Lizard since 1859, it was originally launched from Lizard Point but it was moved to Church Cove in 1961. In 2010, the station was demolished and in 2012 was replaced with the current one which features a funicular railway line to transport crews from the boathouse to the clifftop car park.
Church Cove is next, which can be confusing as we already passed through a Church Cove next door to Poldhu but this is a smaller cove next to Lizard village surrounded by beautiful old fisherman’s cottages and
cellars. The church in the name is slightly up the lane and is also dedicated to St Wynwallow but is a
larger building than that tucked into the cliff on the North Western tip of the Lizard.
After Church Cove the scenery opens up and there is a long section of unbroken cliff that carries you
along to the Devil’s Frying Pan (also known by the Cornish name of Hugga Dridgee) which has been created by the collapse of a sea cave resulting in a 100m deep funnel-shaped depression. This collapsed sea cave is so named as on stormy days the water fizzes at the bottom of the natural amphitheatre and the central boulder resembles an egg frying in a pan.
After a short descent past thatched fishermen’s cottages we enter Cadgwith’s village centre which
surrounds its two coves. Cadgwith Cove was originally called Porthcaswydh based on the Cornish words kas meaning a fight and wydh meaning wood, which were combined to mean "thicket'. The southerly cove is known as ‘swimming cove’ with the north cove still being used for launching a small fleet of fishing boats. The historic fishing buildings on the cove have just been purchased by the local community in order that the fishermen can continue using them for generations to come. It is still possible to buy fish, crabs and shellfish from the small shack next to the cove straight after they have been landed by the boats and the Cadgwith Cove Inn is just behind the beach should you fancy quenching your thirst.