Address: Lizard, Helston, Cornwall TR12 7NT

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Phone: +44 (0) 1326 222170

 

Lizard Point History

For a place of such location, it’s hardly surprising that much of its history relates to seafaring or nautical events. Some due to its proximity as the most southerly point of the British mainland and some due to the treacherous stretch of water it oversees, with many shipwrecks over the years, particularly on the nearby ‘Man o War’ rocks. It has also been an area inhabited by Cornish smugglers in the many coves nearby.

One of the earliest events recorded was the first sighting of the Spanish Armada in 1588. This was an enormous invasion, numbering 120 ships, 29,000 men and 1,000 cannons. They were defeated by the British, under Sir Francis Drake, who, when told of the invasion, famously suggested that he’d finish his game of bowls first.

The first lighthouse was built here in 1619. It was built at the expense of Sir John Killigrew, but only functioned for ten years as ship owners baulked at the toll charge for its upkeep. The current lighthouse was built in 1751 and is run by Trinity House who welcome visitors.

The instigation of a working lighthouse was prompted by an incident that happened 30 years before. Fifteen of the crew of the Royal Anne Galley lost their lives as the ship crashed into the cliff in a storm. The fifteen are buried in a mass grave in Pistol Meadow near the Point, this being next to the Old Lifeboat slipway.

The Old Lifeboat House was the scene, in 1907, of the biggest rescue in RNLI history when SS Suevic hit the nearby Maenheere Reef. Crews rowed out for sixteen hours to rescue a total of 456 people. The present lifeboat station is found at Kilcobben Cove, 2 miles north east.

Other local incidents include the Battle of Lizard Point in 1707 which was during the Eighty Years War with the Spanish, and the sinking of the French trawler Bugaled Breizh in 2004.

The location of Lizard Point makes it a turning point for one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and also a starting and finishing point in many nautical races and challenges. Dame Elen MacArthur broke the Atlantic record in 2004 when she reached this point in her trimaran.

The area is also famous for the Serpentine rock, a unique rock that is green veined with red and white colouring. The local shops sell all manner of goods relating to this with the local ‘Lizard Inn’ even having pumps made from the rock.

Another local event took place in 1901 when Marconi sent his famous transatlantic radio message, thus opening the door for telecommunication as we know it today. This great event took place at nearby Poldhu Cove and there is a Marconi Centre at Housel Bay.

 

Lizard Point Visit

It’s a fairly remote spot and if it wasn’t for the fact that it was the most southerly point of the British mainland, it would certainly be a lot quieter. As it is, people flock here and as the lanes are narrow – normal for a small village at the end of a peninsula – the volume of traffic far exceeds the capacity of the road network. That said, if you go in quieter times, the lanes should be clear, but even in the height of summer, it may not be too bad as there isn’t a major attraction to visit as there is at relatively nearby Land’s End.

Lizard Point’s simply the name for the headland of the wonderfully named village of ‘Lizard’ and you get there by driving through the village and on down to the sea. The road to Lizard is fine and it’s only when you drive the half a mile or so past it that lanes get little more than one car wide. It may be a good idea to park in the village when busy and walk down.

The village itself is quaint and the kind of Cornish village that’s wonderful to relax in, ideal to while away the time when on holiday.

If you drive down to the Point, there’s a small car park and you’ll find a gift shop and cafe on the headland and a boat house at the bottom of the cliffs on your right. The place has a great feel to it and is wonderfully small, and when busy must create a special atmosphere with many people enjoying the spectacle of the place together.

There isn’t actually a great deal to do here apart from relax and enjoy the spot, look around the shop and have a coffee or picnic. If you do want to make the most of it, there are lovely walk paths and you can imagine the views on offer further down the paths. To the east (or your left when looking out to sea) is a lighthouse station and on the way there a youth hostel, which must provide a great base for a holiday.

It’s the kind of place that’s ideal for couples having a relaxing time. For kids, it’s good to say they’ve been there but they’d have a better time at Land’s End where there’s so much more to do. But there’s a saying ‘less is more’ and many people would apply it here. It’s a great place!