Cornwall's unique and scenic Lizard Peninsula, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covers approximately 14 by 14 miles (23 km). The Lizard probably derives its curious name from a corruption of the Cornish 'Lys Ardh', meaning 'high court'. A particularly hazardous stretch of coastline in the past, it was once also known as the "Graveyard of Ships".
The peninsula contains mainland Britain's most southerly point, Lizard Point, notable for Cornish heath and other plants similar to those found in southwest Europe. The point is also home to the Lizard Lighthouse, which dates to 1751 and was built by Thomas Fonnerau. Standing on soaring 70 metre high cliffs, the lighthouse guards the treacherous waters and hazardous rocks around Lizard Point and is open to the public.
The peninsula has a warm climate which has led to the abundant growth of sub-tropical vegetation, and a constant profusion of colour all year round. Palm trees and tree ferns flourish along the banks of the wooded Helford river, while primroses bloom before Christmas in the area..
The Lizard is also home to one of Britain's rarest birds, the Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a species of crow, which bears a distinctive red beak and legs, and has a rather haunting "chee-aw" call. The Chough returned to Cornwall and began breeding on Lizard in 2002. An extremely acrobatic bird, its tumbling display flights make a truly impressive sight. Its inclusion in Cornwall's coat of arms along with the miner and the fisherman, reflects the chough's importance in Cornish culture.
Amongst the attrractive villages on the Lizard are Gunwalloe and Church Cove. Gunwalloe consists of a fishing cove and small settlement situated between Cury and the sea. The village church of St. Winwaloe is said to be one of the oldest in Cornwall and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Curiously situated at the foot of the sand dunes, with only the rocks of Castle Mound separating it from the sea. Picturesque Church Cove at Landewednack is a small but popular sandy cove, characterful thatched cottages stand on the cliffs above. There is reputed to be lost treasure from a wrecked Spanish ship in nearby Dollar Cove.
The charming village of Cadgwith (pictured right) brims with character, A small brook runs through the cove over the sand and shingle beach and into the sea. On either side of the gushing brook, characterful old cottages built of the local rock, serpentine, many roofed with thatch, (which is fairly rare throughout Cornwall) cling to the sides of scenic Cadgwith Cove.
The pleasant and unspoilt fishing village of Coverack, situated on the south east corner of the peninsula, occupies both sides of a spur of rock that juts into the Atlantic. The village has a large sand and pebble beach in a sheltered bay that presents an ideal spot for windsurfing, sailing and diving. The Manacles Rocks, which lie nearby, were once the site of many shipwrecks and are now a favourite diving destination.
Beautiful Mullion Cove has an attractive working harbour, protected from raging winter gales by two strong harbour walls. There is a small, sandy beach in the harbour at low tide, a car park is provided which is a few mnutes walk from the harbour. The cove, known in Cornish as Eglosvelyan, has been owned and maintained by the National Trust since 1945.Rugged and picturesque Kynance Cove, a designated Area of Outstanding Natual Beauty, is reputed to be one of the loveliest coves in Cornwall and is certainly one of the most photographed locations in the south west of England. The cove is situated just two miles north of Lizard Point, the most southernmost point in mainland Britain.
Rugged Kynance Cove, now owned by the National Trust, is famed for its white sandy beach, clear deep turquoise water, soaring stacks and arches and towering cliffs and has been a popular tourist location since Victorian times.The cove is reputed to be one of the loveliest in Cornwall and is certainly one of the most photographed locations in the south west of England. Kynance Cove is situated just two miles north of Lizard Point.
The tranquil, sleepy village of Helford, considered by many visitors to be the loveliest villages on the Lizard Peninsula lies on an inlet off the Helford River and makes an excellent base for exploring the area. Whilst the nearby village of Gweek has been a thriving port since Roman times.
Visitor Attractions on the Lizard Peninsula
National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, founded in 1958 and devoted to seal rescue and care, baby seals are in the sanctuary from September - March. Open daily, except Christmas Day, from 10a.m..
Lizard LighthouseThe Lizard Lighthouse is open to the public, a visitor car park is provided by the entrance gate. Visitors may ascend the 70 metre high lighthouse tower from where there are stunning views. The coastline around the lighthouse offers spectacular walks along the cliffs. Open July 11.00 - 18.00, August 11.00-19.00
*Lizard Countryside Centre fully interactive exhibition based on local countryside, history and wildlife. Open Easter - Oct, daily, 11am - 5pm.
Bonython Manor The superb garden at Bonython covers 20 acres and its plantations of Montrerey pine and beech trees were planted in the 1830s. There is much for the gardening enthusiast to see at Bonython. Open April - October, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10.00am - 4.30pm
*Trelowarren House and Craft Centre Magwan-in-Meneage, Elizabethan style Stuart building with a Victorian interior, home to the Vyvyan family, hosts crafts exhibition. Open all year.
*Marconi Memorial , Poldhu, art deco obelisk just south of Poldhu Bay, first radio signals across Atlantic were sent from here by Guglielmo Marconi.
*Goonhilly Earth Station, futuristic satellite tracking station built in 1962, visitor centre with interactive displays and hands on exhibitions, tours of the site. Open, Easter - Oct, 10am - 5pm (6pm in high season).