Thursday, 12th March 2015 (Day 4, week 10)
Today it’s raining! Never mind, we’ve had a good tramp around The Lizard with our waterproofs on.
It feels like a long way because its so uppy and downy (yes, those are real words), and then you find you’ve only done 5 miles which is a bit of a let down. Still, every little helps.
Target: 1000 miles in one year (20 miles a week)
Achieved so far: 213 miles (Target 200)
Achieved this week: 12.3 miles
The Lizard circular via Church Cove, Lizard Point and Old Lizard Head (5.3 miles)
Today we are followed all around the most southerly part of the Lizard Peninsula by the haunting sound of the Lizard Lighthouse foghorn, bellowing out it’s sonorous warning every 30 seconds. We plan to walk around the headland starting at Lizard village; it’s raining and foggy and it feels like winter all over again.
Leaving the village, strangely silent and dreary in the fog, we head for Church Cove with its charming thatched cottages and pretty gardens, and then turn right to climb up the steep hill and along the coast path towards Kilcobben Cove and the Lizard Lifeboat Station. A look behind us and across the cliffs, reveals the path to Cadgwith that we walked last week. Ahead, the grassy cliff tops and rugged coastline are hazy in the fog, although for a very brief while the foghorn stops and we wonder if the skies are clearing.
The Lizard Lifeboat Station sits 140 feet down at the bottom of the cliff in Kilcobben Cove. When the boat needs to be launched the crew must run down more than 200 steep steps from the car park and visitor centre at the top to the boathouse itself.
As we reach the top of the hill and walk past the Lifeboat Station a group of seven or eight cormorants fly across the water in tight formation – a ‘swim’ of cormorants. As we walk on we see many more, some huddled on rocks and others flying solo around the cliffs. We soon reach Bass Point, the site of the Coastguard Station with the Lloyds Signal Station sitting behind it. The signal station was opened in 1872 and sent and received messages by flag, to and from ships passing the point. It was of limited use on days like today however, and when another company set up its own station next door there was, predictably, lots of confusion for shipping. Common sense eventually prevailed and the offices were amalgamated in 1875. By 1877 more than 1000 ships a month were using the services of the signal station. The building is now owned by the National Trust and privately leased as residential accommodation.
The foghorn continues as we make our way down over the cliffs at Housel Bay and back up the other side, towards the lighthouse itself, which is signalling its warning by a flashing white light every 3 seconds. The Lizard Lighthouse is the most southerly on land in Britain and has a checkered history, originally established in 1619 amid much official opposition, as it was thought that it would guide enemies and pirates to land. Sir John Killigrew eventually erected the lighthouse at his own expense but the cost of maintaining it nearly bankrupted him.
Passing the lighthouse we make our way down over the hill, past some National Trust workers precariously perched on the cliff edge mending fences, and into Polpeor Cafe for a cup of tea. The views from the cafe are fantastic and even though its foggy we can see the gulls and cormorants perched on the rocks in the sea. As we watch, a small trawler makes its way between the rocks, rising on the choppy waves and then crashing down until it seems as if it may disappear underwater at any minute. The whole cafe is mesmerised as we watch its progress until, having safely navigated the point it disappears from view.
Onward for us across Lizard Point and the climb upwards towards Kynance Cove. As we make our way up the steps and across the cliffs we keep an eye out for the pair of ravens that we saw last time I was walking this way with Ms B. They’re not around today however. Instead, we’re excited to see…..a pair of choughs! Pecking around in the grass just ahead of us, with their long red downcurved bills and their purply black plumage, they stay long enough for us to take a good look with the binoculars before sensing our presence and taking flight down over the cliffs. I am well-chuffed (haha!!).
The excitement keeps us going on up the hill and across the marshy grass at Caerthillian Cove. Here we turn inland and cross a couple of stiles and a field before climbing on to the drystone wall which supports the track back into Lizard Village, accompanied all the way by the bellowing foghorn.
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major: