A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

 A walk round Kennack Sands

Starting from the main car park, you can follow this route as a circular walk, or simply visit the parts you are most interested in. Check out the Kennack Sands geology, wildlife and heritage icons above for more detailed information.

Do check tide times, though. Many places on the beach can only be reached at low water. If you explore the rockpools, leave them as you found them and be sensitive to the creatures and plants for which they are home.

 

Key

1 Car park
2 Western Cliffs
3 Western Beach
4 The Caerverracks
5 The Towans
6 Eastern Beach
7 Eastern Cliffs
8 Coastal Footpath
9 Stream, Pond and Bridge
10 Quarry Viewpoint

Base map - Google: Imagery © 2016 Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Map data ©2016 Google

1. Starting from the main car park, walk down the slipway onto the beach.

2. If the tide is low, bear right over the rocks into the next cove. Here, the Western Cliffs are colourful with serpentine, gabbro and basalt. You might also spot Rock Samphire, a fleshy, yellowish-green plant that grows in crevasses. It is edible, and especially good lightly steamed with fish.

3. Retrace your steps to the Western Beach, the sandiest of the beaches here. Listen quietly and you can almost hear all the telephone conversations travelling along the submarine cables to Spain, hidden under the beach. This is why the house on the cliff is known as The Cable House. If you find some flint pebbles on the beach, you could try to make some sparks, but remember it took prehistoric man a long time to get this right!

4. At low-tide, you can go on to explore the rocks and pools seaward of the headland, called The Caerverracks, that separates the two main beaches. Here you will find a rich red serpentine rock, decorated with spectacular intersecting veins of white and green. It is easy to see why this beautiful stone was a favourite with the early serpentine workers and their customers. In the rockpools you might find sea anenomes, limpets, mussels, periwinkles, shore crabs and blennies. Don’t forget to put them all back before you leave.

5. Follow the footpath and steps up onto the headland known as The Towans, the Cornish name for sand dunes. Here the shell-rich sand has encouraged Marram Grass, Sea Bindweed and Carline Thistle to grow. The calcium in the sand also attracts thousands of snails. During the Second World War, Kennack Sands was considered a possible invasion beach. From The Towans you get a good view of the anti-tank walls at the back of the eastern beach, and take a look at the pill-box built in the dunes.

6. Now walk down towards the Eastern Beach, where you will find more red serpentine and a special Kennack Gneiss. About four thousand years ago, the sea was several miles offshore, and this part of Kennack was a swampy marshland. Peat was formed, and you can sometimes see it exposed after winter storms. There is still wet marsh behind the sea wall, giving you an insight into what Kennack might have looked like all that time ago. The pools and stream are fringed by reeds and other wetland plants, while on the drier areas you can find Sea Radish, Sea Orache and Sea Beet. Look out for dragonflies and damselflies in the marshier areas.

7. Join the Coastal Footpath and make the short climb to the top of the Eastern Cliffs. The view is spectacular, looking across Kennack and its beaches. Gorse and the rare Cornish Heath, at their most colourful in July and August, grow on the shallow serpentine soils next to the path. In the summer months, look out to sea: you might be lucky enough to spot the world’s second-largest fish, the plankton-eating Basking Shark that can often be glimpsed close inshore.

8. Walk back along the footpath behind The Towans, which passes through Blackthorn scrub. In the spring this is a mass of white blossom. By autumn, dark purple sloes have ripened on the branches, providing winter food for the birds, as well as a good excuse for gin drinkers to go a-gathering! Look out as well for Butcher’s Broom, a plant from the Mediterranean. It is green and spiky with bright red winters in the autumn, but no real leaves. What look like leaves are in fact flattened stems, and were once used by butchers to sweep their floors and work surfaces clean.

9. Make your way towards the Stream Bridge, where the Gwendreath Stream is fringed with reeds, Yellow Flag-iris, Purple Loosestrife and Hemlock Water-dropwort. In the right seasons, you will also find Dragonflies, Frogs and their tadpoles, and Minnows. The adjacent woodland was once dominated by Elm trees, but after the advent of Dutch Elm disease, Alder, Hazel and Sycamore trees have taken over.

10. Before returning to the Western Beach and car park, you could take the footpath that branches off just before the Stream Bridge. In late summer, you will walk through a tunnel of sweet-smelling Gorse and colourful swathes of Cornish Heath up to the Quarry Viewpoint, where there is one of the best views of Kennack and The Caerverracks. The small quarry here was an important source of serpentine, and formed part of the larger quarry complex at nearby Gwendreath. The old tipped stone is being colonised by Stonecrop and other plants.

Hopefully you have enjoyed exploring the delights of Kennack Sands. For more detailed information on geology, wildlife and heritage, use the icons at the top of this page. You might also like these other walks [downloadable walks] on The Lizard.