3 Days in Mullion Cove
There is plenty to explore around Mullion Cove if you have 3 days to spare. If you pair this with 3 days in Falmouth, you can have yourself a nice short break in South West Cornwall.
Day 1 - Lizard Peninsula
Everyone has heard of Land’s End – but the Lizard Peninsula is actually the most southerly point of the UK. Quite unlike Land’s End, it is unspoilt, deserted and so deliciously atmospheric. We visited on a day which started with the blackest of skies and the promise of wind and rain to challenge even the woolliest of hats, which probably helped to ensure both the seclusion and the ambience we discovered there.
There is a Visitor Centre at Lizard Point where you can learn a lot about the history of the lighthouse and the lonely souls who operated it in the days long before modern technology rendered them redundant.
Highlight: Sounding the foghorn at the Lizard Lighthouse. Go on – you know the big kid in you really WANTS to do that?!
Normally, we would search out quiet, deserted beaches. When you know that there is a really beautiful beach though, you just have to go and see it for yourself even though you know it might be crowded. Thankfully, idyllic Kynance Cove was quite peaceful this late in the season (end October). This is a great beach to explore for a while – full of huge caves big enough to lose yourself in and immense sea sharpene, serpentine rocks, shimmering in the weak Autumn sunshine.
Judging by the picture at the head of the beach trail though, you wouldn’t want to visit at high tide in peak season. Rather a large crowd is pictured huddled onto an ever reducing stripe of beach.
Tip for Future Travellers: Check your tide tables and time your visit accordingly!
It is a long walk down. Cows graze the clifftops and keep you company en route though, their rusty coloured hides complementing the Autumnal fall foliage perfectly.
Time your visit right to enjoy one of a huge selection of ice creams on offer at the beach café. I can vouch for the Cornish clotted cream. At the end of October, it is pretty hard to resist a hot Cornish pasty beforehand.
A little further along the coast, you can walk out to Pentreath Beach. Frustratingly, the steps down to it have fallen into disrepair. There is a notice telling you not to use them – but there were some intrepid explorers taking their chances when we visited. There are supposed to be plans to repair then path, but sadly, that has been the story for quite some time.
Sometimes, you can discover a truly hidden little gem of a beach that is so secluded, you feel like you might be the first one to discover it. (??!!) Rinsey Beach is so tucked away that it didn’t even show up on the map on our sat nav. To find it, turn off the road just before you get to Ashton. It is covered at high tide though, so do your research on tide times before you make the trip. There is a tin mine there that was rebuilt for the Poldark TV series.
Day 2 - Minack Theatre/Land's End/St. Michael's Mount/Mousehole/St. Ives
Travelling to Cornwall late in October is always a bit of a gamble weather wise. We were extremely lucky on this trip to have six dry days and a lot of warm Autumn sunshine. Whether I would have enjoyed Falmouth as much in the rain I don’t know – I’m just really glad luck was on our side this trip.
Minack Theatre - Porthcurno
The Minack Theatre is well worth a visit. If you are lucky and well organised, you could book to see a performance while you are there. If not, just a visit to see this special place carved into the cliffside and surrounded by the sea is worth half an hour of your time. Minack means ‘rocky place’ in Cornish. The theatre was planned, built and financed by one extraordinary woman – Rowena Cade – in the garden of her cliffside house. From very humble beginnings in 1932, it gradually grew to be a very popular tourist attraction offering a full programme of events through the year.
You can’t help wanting to visit the end of the land – just to say you have been there, if nothing else, I suppose. Unfortunately, you have to part with £7 to get the “I’ve been to Land’s End” T-shirt and when you get past the car park, it is little more than a giant theme park where you will be enticed into parting with even more cash to visit the “attractions”. It’s a shame, because it would have been a beautiful location before all the development took place in 1996. You can see first and last house and the treacherous rocks where 37 shipwrecks happened over the years in the photo below.
They say that if you can see the Scilly Isles from Land’s End then it’s going to rain – and if you can’t see them, then it is raining!
You can’t even pose for a selfie by the Land’s End signpost any more without parting with cash. Choose your tariff and part with between £11 and £20 for a photo of yourself with a personalised message slotted into the signpost while you wait. Roll up and join the queue please …
I found the Museum of the End to Enders the most interesting part of the visit. Someone actually walked the whole distance from John O’Groats backwards? There are many tales of fortitude and resilience about the myriad of methods used to tackle the walk from one end of our land to the other, but my favourite has to be Steve Gough who did the end to end walk wearing nothing but his boots – in January 2004.
St. Michael's Mount
St. Michael’s Mount – perched high on the rocks near Marazion – is visible from quite a distance and beckons you to explore it further and discover what lies inside. It is run by the National Trust and so the interior of the former priory is well preserved. You get some idea of what life must have been like for the original monks, the military garrison and the St. Aubyn family (who now own it and still live there) from your visit – but out of school holiday season, you need to rely on using your own imagination rather than hearing to from a storyteller. The walk up the causeway up to the top is long, steep and uneven with no shelter, so you have to prepare yourself for that. There are gardens around the castle which open between April and September.
Gunwalloe Church Cove
Gunwalloe – Church Cove – makes a nice stop to watch the sea from. Mousehole is close by too – but parking there is difficult and we were unable to find a spot on this trip.
If it is wet when you visit, the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a good option for a rainy day.
Day 3 - Mullion Cove Beach Walk
From our hotel in Mullion Cove, we were able to take a circular walk along the clifftops and visit three beaches all in one morning. We took a leisurely three and a half hours to complete the walk which was a bit “up and down”, but not too strenuous compared to some stretches of the Cornish coast.
Polurrian Cove, Mere's Cliff, Poldhu Beach
Polurrian Cove Beach was the first stop. A friendly seal obligingly popped his head above the waves for us at Mere’s Cliff. I couldn’t get close enough to get a decent photo unfortunately and soon after we arrived, he persisted on “logging” (falling asleep in the water and lolling just below the surface with his nose barely visible at all, but still – he was there!
If you feel energetic, you could book yourself a surfing lesson with Dan Joel at Poldhu Beach. It is one of the top 5 surfing schools in the UK. You never know – it might just become one of your passions – this is a lovely place to give it a go? We resisted the temptation this time.
St. Ives has a pretty beach, but not too much else to recommend it in my view. We had the last car park space and it is a long, steep walk down into the town and – of course – back up to the top again. Two hours is probably plenty – unless you really love spending time exploring touristy souvenir shops, amusement arcades and all the other touristy trappings. You can visit The Tate St. Ives, but we didn’t have enough time for that on this trip.
Cornish Beach Life
Spending time just messing about on the beach is what a great British seaside holiday is all about. I will leave you with three photos that summed up Cornish beach life for me …