At Cornwall’s most westerly point sits a stunning section of coastline, with beautiful Land’s End granite, shipwrecks, a lighthouse and some of Cornwall’s most iconic bays.
On a very gloomy day back in November I took a trip to the end of the world. This walk started just up the road from the formal Land’s End attraction as I refused to pay for the parking in their carpark, finding a perfectly legal and free spot a bit further away.
The first feature you’ll reach is an Iron Age (200 BCE – 100 CE) cliff castle called Maen Castle. There are roughly 60 cliff top castles around the country, of which 40 are in Cornwall, with this one being particularly unique in that Early Iron Age pottery was found here. Little remains of this castle today, with the primary element being the upright granite posts of the former entrance. Beyond these are the remains of the stone ramparts and a wall.
Just a bit further up the path at the base of the cliff is the rusted remains of the RMS Mulheim. This small vessel hit the rocks in 2003 when the chief officer fell unconscious following a trouser incident.
From here, take the coastpath back toward Land’s End. The actual Land’s End is the small headland just above the hotel and features the First and Last House, while the tourist complex is on Carn Kez. The path winds through the base of the tourist area, past the famous signpost and down to a little farm area. After examining the chickens and alpacas, rejoin the coastpath behind the enclosures.
A little way down the track will give you the iconic views of Dodman’s rock, a natural arch just off the main cliff.
Before long you’ll reach Nanjizal Bay or Mill Bay. This section of coast is famous for its rock structures, such as the Diamond Horse, but more importantly the ‘Song of the Sea’. Zawn Pyg meaning ‘pointed chasm’ is a famous local photography spot.
While making your way around the bay, about half way take a look down into the water and at lower tides you should be able to spot the remains of another wreck. This is of the City of Cardiff, a collier that ran into trouble during early 1912 as it came around the Lizard on its way back to Wales. By the time it got near Land’s End it was drifting closer to the rocks, pushed by strong gales. All of those on board were rescued by Sennen rescue crew, but the ship was ultimately grounded at the base of the cliff.
This walk ends at Nanjizal beach, a secluded little gem down a set of steep steps. This beach is very ‘bouldery’ and to reach the piece de resistance requires some goat-like scrambling to get to.
This whole walk is free to access, being on public footpaths.
There is a pay and display car park at Land’s End, but brace yourself it’s expensive. There is a small amount of free parking on the road closer to Sennen.
BBC News (2003) ‘Ship wrecked by “trouser snag”’, 6 August. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/3128323.stm.
Historic England (2021) Cliff castle known as Maen Castle. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1006757.
The cargo ship City of Cardiff (1906) aground in Nanjizal Bay [Mill Bay] (no date). Available at: https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/1114671.html.