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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Walk 153 Porthcurno to Lands End (Cornwall)

Walk 153 Porthcurno to Lands End (Cornwall)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 203
Distance: 6 miles or 10 km approx.
Difficulty: Moderate, overall
Terrain: cliff coastal path
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: Bus 1A runs from Penzance to Porthcurno a few times a day, more regular services from Lands End – check with Traveline as they depend on the season.

After a short walk from Porthcurno you arrive at the unique Minnack Open Air Theatre. It is well worth allowing time here to look around. It owes its existence to a Miss Cade who allowed a group of local actors the chance to perform The Tempest on the rocks adjacent to her home, Minnack Cottage. The first performances in 1932 were on a grassy slope with lighting provided by car headlights, batteries and power brought down from the cottage. It has developed from this time into a fully equipped national theatre with a number of well known actors performing with the sea as a backdrop. Every ten years there is a commemorative performance of The Tempest. A superb sight on a sunny day. If you want to see a live performance book early as it is very popular.

The next feature is the picturesque Porth Chapel, then a bit further along is Porthgwarra. The beach here can be accessed by an attractive narrow archway in the cliff. This was a tunnel dug by tin miners to give farmers horse and cart access to the beach to collect seaweed which was used as fertiliser. The beach is privately owned but members of the public are allowed to enjoy it quietly.

About half a mile along the path is Gwennap Head with its coastguard lookout. In an area close to the path is a very deep hole – not sure whether this was the result of mining or if it is natural. The Chair Ladder along the cliffs is a famous challenge for climbers and has been used by the army for training.

The bright blue of the sea especially around Folly Cove is stunning. The approach to Lands End is distinguished by the jagged granite rocks. A little out to sea is the Longships Lighthouse. It takes its name from the rocks that it sits upon which are said to resemble Viking longships.

The coastal path cuts inland at Lands End and goes past Greeb Farm which is 200 years old. Small animals, various craft workers and a resident artist can be visited.

The entrance to Land End is via the Lands End Experience. I have heard this called 'tacky commercialisation' but leave this judgement to others. Interactive shows, shopping, restaurants and bars are among the attractions.

More about Lands End on the next walk which starts here.

Photos show: The blue sea at Folly Cove; The Minnack open air theatre.

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