Cape Cornwall vs Lands End
February 14, 2015
Whilst our guests are enjoying their Cornish breakfast with us at The Rathgowry Guesthouse, we like to find out what they have planned for the day. A lot of our guests set off on their day trips to Lands End or The Lizard, but last year I heard people talking about Cape Cornwall.
Being relative ‘newbies’ to Cornwall, Mike & I decided to go and explore the Cape for ourselves, as we had never been there before.
We set forth on a blustery January morning, and just a few miles up the coast, in sight of Lands End, is Cape Cornwall. Until modern mapping techniques showed otherwise, it was originally thought that this was in fact the most westerly point in mainland England, and not the place that we now know as Lands End.
It is also apparently England’s only Cape, although I’m not sure what it has or hasn’t got that makes this so. What it does have, in abundance, is natural beauty. Cape Cornwall is a natural granite outcrop rising up out of the sea in an area of spectacular cliffs and historical landscapes. An area now predominantly owned by the National Trust and part of a World Heritage site, the area is accessible by way of either the South West Coast Path, or a useful National Trust car park at the base of the outcrop. As in much of Cornwall, the approach roads are not for large vehicles or drivers of a nervous disposition! It’s worth the effort though. The area is known for its views, walks and mining heritage – evidence of which can be seen all around! (The picture on the right is an open mine shaft on the cape).
Nearby and overlooking the cape you will find the ancient Bronze age grave site of Ballowall Barrow. It was re-discovered in the 1870’s under a waste heap from a nearby mine. Unfortunately it was ‘investigated’ in a less than sympathetic manner and has been altered. It is nevertheless an impressive site / sight (!) and worth a visit. Being so close to the road, it is one of the few ancient sites in Cornwall that are very easy to get to by car; no hiking across muddy fields or lanes required!
BEANZ MEANZ HEINZ
Atop the actual Cape outcrop sits a renovated chimney, originally built for the Cape Cornwall tin mine, which operated up until 1883. It was renovated in 1987 and the site donated to the nation by HJ Heinz & Co, the company famous for it’s baked beans. At the base of the chimney are some seats, which are welcome after the climb to the top of the 229ft summit. The view is worth the climb too, whether you take the shorter steeper route or the slightly longer but much easier one. Neither route is for those who require sticks or assistance. From the top you can see Lands End and Longships lighthouse with ease, and on a clear day, the Isles of Scilly. On route you may see rare wild flowers and plants or perhaps a Chough. There is also a small coastguard watch station just below the summit in the seaward side, where visitors are welcome to look around.
Roughly a mile to the south west, out at sea, lie two outcrops of rock. Called The Brisons, they have been the scene of many a ship wreck, and today they are also used as either a start or finish (I’m not sure which) for the annual (but weather dependent) Cape Sports swimming race. The picture on the left is Mike looking out at The Brisons.
ST HELENS ORATORY
On the way back down, at the base of the cape, on landward side, is the remains of the medieval St Helen’s Oratory, which replaced a 6th-century church. It has been repaired many times over the years and at one time is thought to have been used as an animal shed! A font in the porch of St Just church (a different St Just from the one in my other blog!) may be from this building. An ancient cross with a chi-rho monogram (one of the oldest known monograms or letter/symbol for Christ) was discovered on the site in the mid-19th Century, but was sadly lost – it was allegedly thrown down a well by a local vicar! The current cross on the chapel is one that was found nearby and is also very old. Looking down into this field you will also see a solitary gravestone besides the church.
Somewhat windswept but definitely invigorated, we headed back to The Rathgowry for a cup of tea! Why not book into The Rathgowry guesthouse and then take a trip to see these places? You’ll have a great time! Book online here or call direct on 01326 313482 for best prices!