Our day out: Cornwall road trip around The Lizard Peninsula
Out of season, on a quiet day, there’s something really rather appealing about a Cornwall road trip. If you’re able to share the driving, even better, so you can equally share the views. The ooo’s and ahh’s that tumble out without realising because yet another stunning vista has come into view!
Cornwall road trip
Of all the road trips in Cornwall, the one that proffers the most varied and rugged of coastlines, and views beyond, and within, has to be the circular drive around the Lizard Peninsula. But it couldn’t possibly start without a decent breakfast.
From Helston, we drove down past Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station to St Keverne and enjoyed a delicious Cornish breakfast at Roskillys Farm to set ourselves up for the day. It was then on to the unspoilt fishing village of Coverack for a walk along the coastline and around the small harbour and its quintessentially Cornish cottages.
Crossing Goonhilly Downs we then drove through the sleepy hamlets of Kuggar and Ruan Minor on to the archetypal fishing cove of Cadgwith, which is best reached via footpath from the car park.
The end of the road
Suddenly, we were in ‘tourist territory’. An abundance of cars and coaches was vying to reach the most southerly point at The Lizard, home to the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre. We left the crowds to it, also having to abandon any hope of getting to Kynance Cove as the main car park was full and there is no alternative parking within one mile of the beach.
Undeterred and in need of refreshment, we drove up the western edge of the peninsula to Mullion. We partook of coffee and cake at the most welcoming Polurrian Bay Hotel and breathed in its stunning coastal scenery.
Revitalised, we continued past Poldhu Cove, through Cury and on to our final point of call at Gunwalloe. Walking to the neighbouring beaches of Gunwalloe and Church Cove they are like chalk and cheese but both offered us breathtaking views. Between the two is St Winwaloe church. Known as the Church of Storms it is the only Cornish church sited on a beach. In the most recent adaptation of Poldark, this is where Aidan Turner’s Captain Ross married Demelza. Exhausted but invigorated, we headed for home.
Why visit The Lizard Peninsula
The perception of The Lizard Peninsula is that it stands alone, in a very real sense, from the rest of the county. As a popular tourist destination in Cornwall, we needed to see if that was true and discover its unique landscape and vista, so that we can better inform our guests seeking things to do in Cornwall. We also wanted proof that Cornwall doesn’t have to be expensive. Rather that you can experience Cornwall without having to pay a fortune in attraction admission costs when the scenery, paths and beaches are free to enjoy.
Little did we realise that we were going to be so taken with the area that we would spend 10 hours breathing in crisp, clear fresh air. We had reckoned on a leisurely drive around this relatively unknown part of our county with the occasional stop off at beauty spots along the way. In fact, we found ourselves partaking in more exercise than we have in a long time when we are usually sat either behind an office desk or a steering wheel! What’s more, other than food and beverages, we spent a total of £4 in the entire day, and that was on car parking.
Not to be forgotten at the start of our 10-hour jaunt is Roskilly’s Farm, where we stopped for breakfast. It has stayed true to its roots and remains a working, organic dairy farm. Relatively uncommercialised, visitors to the farm can meet the animals, stroll around the meadows, enjoy the delicious homemade and home reared food in the restaurant and sample Roskilly's award winning ice cream. Daily milking of their Jersey cows happens 08:30-10:30. Despite being a working farm, it’s a pet-friendly attraction providing they’re kept on a lead.
The rejuvenated coastal village of Coverack was also a delight to visit. Picture perfect, unspoilt and with very friendly locals. It proved to be perfect for a stroll around the sheltered bay and small harbour watching children crabbing from the harbour wall, people paddleboarding and swimmers in the crystal clear water.
The question of overtourism
It’s our job to encourage people to visit Cornwall, to explore our beautiful and varied county, and to return time and again. However, our most well known tourist attractions are becoming inaccessible due to ever-growing visitor numbers. Unfortunately, Lizard Village has become an over commercialised hotspot with shops and cafes catering for the coachloads. We never made it as far as Lizard Point or the Lizard Lighthouse because of all the holiday traffic. We’ll have to attempt this again at a later date. Kynance Cove was also on our wish list but we found that the National Trust car park gets full early and quickly.
Lizard Peninsula road trip - need to know:
•There really is something for everyone to enjoy
•It is not advisable to rely on public transport in this area; we only saw 1 bus the whole day.
•Visit out of peak season if at all possible or head to the main tourist spots early.
•Ignore satnavs and maps, just follow your nose and let the lanes take you on a mystery tour.
•There are an abundance of cafes everywhere you go but they do tend to be small with limited seating and get packed out.
•Why not make use of the facilities at some of our terrific hotels that welcome non residents; we had the entire sun terrace to ourselves at the Polurrian Bay Hotel in Mullion.
•Coverack and Lizard car parks operate on an honesty basis - please give generously.
•Kynance and Gunwalloe car parks are owned by the National Trust so take your membership cards.
•Take your time; nobody rushes down here so allow yourself the whole day to explore.
•All you need are shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and some loose change (& possibly a camera).
Insider tips for Poldark fans:
•For Poldark lovers, Kynance Cove stars in clifftop riding scenes and the opening sequence of series 2.
•Gunwalloe provides the setting for night-time shipwreck scenes for series 1 and is also the setting for Dr Dwight ‘s most recent cottage.
The tiny church of St Winwaloe we are told by locals is the location setting for where Captain Ross Poldark marries Demelza.
About the authors: Ali is our holiday home manager and Charmian is our new holiday home specialist.