Address: Sennen, Cornwall TR19 7AA

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Phone: +44 (0) 871 720 0044

 

Land’s End History

For centuries it’s been pretty much just the end of the road, with the Romans naming it ‘Bolerium’, the seat of storms, and it also had the Cornish name ‘Pedn an Wlas’. There was never a place of activity, but it was a place of curiosity with travellers making the journey on foot, horses or wagons to simply visit the place at end of the road. And when the Great Western Railway ran to nearby Penzance in 1859, the tourist numbers increased.

The original building was an inn, which later developed into a small hotel. To deal with the influx of visitors, changes were made and Penwith House was built. The ‘First and Last House’ was then built and the hotel was extended. The place became quite opulent and business flourished as its reputation as a tourist attraction spread.

The hotel suffered structural damage in the Second World War when it became a base for servicemen. By the end of the war it was in a state of disrepair and needed large investment to turn it back to its former glory. This happened, but not until 1980.

This development added buildings and set it on the road to the attraction it is today. In 1987, businessman Peter de Savary took over and as he also owned John O’Groats, took hold of sites at both extremes of the British mainland. He looked to maximise the potential of the area and created roads and paths to minimise landscape erosion and enhance the tourist experience. The area was bought by Graham Lacey in 1991 who then sold it to Heritage Attractions in 1996.

Today we see the place run as a theme park attraction that provides a marvellous experience for young and old alike.

 

Land’s End Visit

It’s such a famous place, yet the name simply refers to the area at the end of the road past the village of Sennen. There’s no village or town called Land’s End. But whilst most people have heard of Land’s End, relatively few have heard of Sennen.

Geographically, it’s about 8 miles west of Penzance, with the Scilly Isles lying 28 miles off shore. Between Land’s End and the Scillies are the ‘Longships’, a series of rocks about a mile offshore. It’s also reputed that ‘Lyonesse’, the mythical submerged city, lies towards the Scilly Isles too.

Whilst it may be simply the end of the road, there’s certainly much to see and do here. It comes across as being marketed to the hilt, but if people flock here, it’s obviously worth coming.

Depending on where you travel from, it’s a long drive – and an even longer journey when you travel from John O’Groats like the estimated 5,000 cyclists each year.

Once you get here, there’s a large bar and restaurant on the headland and a series of shops and entertainment next to it with a very large car park which is much needed as it can be a very busy place in the summer. The roads are fairly narrow as you near Land’s End, but after travelling all the way down, not narrow enough to stop you reaching your destination. It’s normally one of those places that you travel to, to cross it off your list. The top of the headland has the expected plaques and information and there’s the famous signpost that the owners put to good use. They sell photographs of tourists standing next to it with the post showing New York 3147 miles, John O’Groats 874 miles, Isles of Scilly 28 miles and ‘your home town’ (wherever that is) x miles, and obviously change the home town for each tourist.

Amenity-wise, it gives the impression of the typical seaside resort with all kinds on offer, but is tastefully done and provides a memorable visit, and even more so if you’ve travelled a long way.

The attractions on offer are exciting and certainly worth the journey. There’s the End to End Story, detailing people that have made the journey and the stories that surround them. You are also shown a film of the John O’Groats to Land’s End journey (at 6,000 mph!). Also on offer are examples of local activities in ‘Air Sea Rescue Motion Theatre’, ‘The Lifeboat’, ‘The Trawler’ and ‘Air Ambulance Helicopter’. You can visit the Shopping Village, the Visitor Centre, the famous Signpost, Penwith House and the Such Gallery and Wendy’s Gallery, which both show scenes from Cornwall. For refreshments there’s the First and Last House, the Cornish Pantry, the Old Bakehouse and the bar and restaurant in the hotel. There’s also an adventure play area for kids, and animal lovers are catered for with the RSPB Wildlife Club and Greebs Farm and Crafts.

If you visit for the sake of reaching the end of the road, as most people do, you may as well visit Lizard Point. Whilst Land’s End is at one end of the longest major road journey on British mainland, Lizard Point holds the (probably more enviable) distinction of being the most southerly point of Great Britain, and as it’s less than an hour away and probably pretty much on your way back, as all places are! The last half a mile or so to Lizard Point is a narrow road from the wonderfully named village ‘Lizard’.

Whilst Land’s End exudes all the razzamatazz, Lizard Point is at the other end of the spectrum. It’s really quite quiet, quaint and understated. It has a car park with a small shop and cafe, fabulous views and great coastal walks. There’s a lighthouse a short distance from the Point, and a Youth Hostel nearby. Down on the beach there’s a boathouse and a few boats and it seems a haven for seabirds. It’s certainly well worth a visit, even if it’s just another one to cross off your list!