A Walk to the Lighthouse

High tide, Gwithian Beach

It is lovely and sunny here in the south-west. And I am not complaining. Far too often we miss out on the warmer weather and fine dry days that the south-east of the country seem to monopolise, so I say “bring it on”.  On Monday, on a whim, we decided to drive out to Godrevy and have lunch in the café followed by a walk up to the lighthouse view. The lunch I have to say, was grand. Seafood platter for me and a King Prawn wrap for the OH. Both delicious and fresh. Then for the walk. Only a couple of miles return, but enough on a warm day. So hat on, sunscreen applied, let’s go.

Leaving the NT car park behind (the first one you come to which is closest to the café and Gwithian beach) we set off along the boardwalk through the Towans which are a protected nature habitat. For a minute or two you are enclosed and you feel as though you could be anywhere in the world: for me Australia. Then you round a bend and you catch your first glimpse of  St Ives bay, coruscating and dancing in the sunlight.

This path continues onto the headland where once there were steps leading down to the beach. Lost in a storm several years ago a sign informs you that there is no way on or off the beach at this point. Unless you are my daughter. I distinctly remember scrambling back up the rocks and broken steps a couple of years ago with the phrase “Come on Mum, you can do it” echoing in my ears as I struggled for a foothold. She hasn’t cottoned on yet that my knees and hips don’t move like hers!

From the headland make your way past the lifeguards hut and you will find yourself facing the lighthouse. My muse of last year. How happy I was to see it again surrounded by the deep blue and aquamarine waters of this bay.

You can see the path winding its way towards the car park on the fields (summer only and closed at 10 pm), the path closely follows the cliff edge. Sometimes a little too close. Especially for the OH who suffers from vertigo.

My eye is distracted by the wild flowers along the cliff edge.  Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum), wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus), bell heather (Erica cinerea), sorrel (Rumex acetosa) sometimes called ‘Sour Ducks’ because of its tart taste, English plantain and many other grasses, bird’s-foot-trefoil and kidney vetch. Clover, ragwort, curled dock, common mallow (Malva sylvestris), wild carrot (Daucus carota) also known as Queen Anne’s lace, thistles and faded, dying thrift (oh if only I’d got here sooner!)

and joy of joy, pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis).

Continue towards the headland, passing several parking spaces on your right and a path to your left leading down to the beach. Stop and take a look at that water. Not too close though.

The lighthouse gets closer, the path continues close to the road at this point and when it curves to the right to the parking in the fields, continue straight ahead on a grassy path leading to the Godrevy Cove below and through a meadow and a stile ahead, leading to Godrevy Head. You can just about see the pathway to the Tumulus (ancient barrow)  in the top right-hand corner in the photo below. Go on, click on it, you’ll see the tiny beach too.

I have shown you the stile before, last year in September when I did the full walk to Hell’s Mouth with my son. It is a very pretty stone stile and again, I was too late for the pink thrift which covers it in early summer / late spring.

Here I was captivated by several tiny silver studded blue butterflies (or possibly common blue butterflies, I’m no butterfly expert and these species look very similar to me) all settling on the kidney vetch, long enough for me to actually get a couple of fairly decent shots of them. A darker butterfly, possibly the dark green fritillary,  kept teasing me, flying past but not settling.

From the top of the Head, you face north. The lighthouse is to your left and in the background is the Celtic Sea, north is Trevose Head, if the air is clear. Today though there was quite a bit of cloud over the sea.

Pausing to take in the view and watch a black-winged gull glide above, Meadow pipits or Skylarks flitting through and above the grass and a kestrel hovering over the cliff made this a slow walk.

After looking down into Mutton Cove to see if there was any sign of seals (there were a couple bobbing in the water, but not easy to photograph) we headed back down the hill and to the meadows, where the loos and an ice-cream van can be found. Returning along the cliff, a last look down at the now retreating tide to glimpse the sandy beach (and no that dog should not be on the beach)

And the final sandy track back to the car.

Godrevy Beach is the northen-most tip of Hayle’s ‘3 miles of golden sand’ and probably the most dramatic.  It is connected to Gwithian beach at lower tides to create an impressive stretch of sand. The hundred or so metres of sand all but disappear at high tide so don’t get caught out. The beach terminates with a low rocky headland and the lighthouse on an island just off the coast. (of Virginia Woolfe’s “To The Lighthouse” fame)

It has been a long time since I wrote a walk for Jo. I hope she appreciates this one, she should, it contains water and a lot of blue which she likes.

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.

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85 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful walk you had. I’m quite envious of you. Makes me want to come back to Cornwall again. The blue butterfly is magnificent.

    1. Heyjude says:

      You’d be shivering here at the moment Sylvia!

      1. I survived Antarctica. 😅

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