Sennen Cove to Land's End
Cornwall Coast Path

Cornwall Information & Accommodation Guide

Sennen Cove to Land's End 1.3 miles (2.1 km)

This section of the coast path takes you from a popular surfing beach, the first landfall for Atlantic storms, an RNLI lifeboat station, past an ancient cliff castle and the sites of several shipwrecks, to glimpse a rock with a tragic history before arriving at the end of the land.

Car parks are shown on the map.

Sennen village is a short distance away with two small supermarkets. The Land's End Visitor Centre has some facilities.

1. Begin this walk at the car park at the bottom of the hill or park in the harbour car park at the end of the road, past the RNLI Lifeboat Station.

On the steep hill you have driven down there was formerly a chapel called Chapel Idne (35522632). This chapel was used until the Reformation. The name means 'narrow chapel'. The building was 45 ft long and 15 ft wide. When Blight visited the Land's End in the 1870s the chapel had been converted to a dwelling. "Tradition says it was founded by one Lord of Goonhilly, who possessed some portion of the land of Lyonesse. There was a holy well of some repute here also".

2. Walk along the sea front. (If you have parked in the harbour car park you may wish to walk along the sea front before continuing or pick up the walk at 6.)

As you look across Whitesands Bay you can see Cape Cornwall in the distance and the Brisons, an islet with two peaks, 72 ft (22 m) and 89 ft (27 m) high, their name from the French 'brisant', meaning 'reef, breaker'. Seals often haul out on the Brisons.

Closer is the lovely Gwenver Beach which merges with Sennen's main beach with almost a mile of golden sand curving around the bay.

Sennen beach is good for fishing for bass. Looking up above the main car park you will see a Pill Box, a reminder of the Second World War defences which guarded the coast of Cornwall. See War in Cornwall for more information.

3. After a short walk you reach the Lifeboat Station.

A lifeboat house was first built in Sennen in 1853, after the New Commercial was lost on the Brisons in January 1851. This first boathouse was sited at the top of the beach. It was extended in 1864 to accommodate a larger lifeboat. A new lifeboat house was built on a new site in 1876 but in 1896 another one was constructed on the original site. The lifeboat station has gone through a number of modifications since and now houses an all weather Tamar-class lifeboat and an inshore lifeboat. Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station has a shop where you can purchase souvenirs to raise money for the RNLI. Open March to October 10.30am - 4.30pm.

4. A few steps later and you arrive at Sennen's harbour and slip.

The harbour was established in 1907 by a Parliamentary Order. It is a Trust Port, administered on behalf of the government by a board of commissioners with its members being drawn from harbour users and local authorities and organisations. The port limits extend from Aire Point to the northeast, over to Little Bo rock and then to the Irish Lady.

Fishermen are often seen on Sennen harbour's pier/breakwater with wrasse, pollock and at times bass being caught. Take care not to walk out onto the pier if the sea is rough or at high tide. The waves often break over the pier.

5. Continue along the road and you walk past the Round House.

This building once housed a capstan winch for hauling boats up from the beach.

6. You soon reach the Sennen Harbour car park.

Stop and enjoy the view of the pier, lifeboat station and Whitesand Bay. The group of rocks just offshore are called The Tribbens. Some of these rocky islands have individual names. Cowloe (Grid Ref: SW 3483 2668) is believed to mean 'the bay with a building', which would refer to the time when Chapel Idne was one of a few buildings at Sennen Cove. Bo Cowloe lies slightly further out and Little Bo a little further. On your left, towards Pedn-men-du, the view of the sea in stormy weather is stunning with spray thrown so high into the air that it falls onto the old coastguard lookout building. Some of the local shops have photographs of these dramatic events.

7. Continue walking through the car park and pass the toilets on your right and the Cape Cornwall Pilot Gig Club on your left before following the coast path to the left beginning a steep ascent up the steps.

Don't forgot to stop and enjoy the wonderful views as you ascend the cliff. Watch out for the colourful, hairy caterpillars crossing the path and avoid stepping on them. These are moth caterpillars members of the Lasiocampidae family who pupate into beautiful Eggar, Drinker and Fox moths.

The row of buildings above you is Coastguard Row, the former coastguard cottages built in 1812. They are now Grade II Listed.

8. The path climbs up and to the right. You soon reach a small granite building.

This is the Old Coastguard Lookout built in 1891. It stands on the headland of Pedn-Men-Du (Headland of black rock Grid Ref: SW 3477 2622). The building is now owned by the National Trust and serves as a wildlife lookout point during the summer, when it is open to the public. Equipped with telescopes, dolphins, sunfish and basking sharks have all been sighted from here. In the 1870s the old preventive station with its flag-staff stood here.

The cliffs here are very popular with climbers. There are nearly 200 climbs between Sennen Cove and the Old Coastguard Lookout.

9. Continue following the coast path.

This area is called Mayon Cliff. There are a number of archaeological sites here including a ruined cairn, an earth mound with some surviving granite kerbstones and a central kist; more cairns; two barrows at Grid references 34812601 and 34902609; Mayon green barrow was destroyed in 1959 and stood at Grid ref: 3584 2633; a round/fortified area at Grid ref: 3584 2598; crosses are mentioned at Grid ref: 3608 2566; and flint implements and flakes have been found.

The hamlet of Mayon which gives this area its name is believed to have been named from Table-Men, meaning Rock Table, a large flat stone at which seven Saxon kings are said to have dined together. Hals names them as Ethelbert, fifth king of Kent, Cissa, second king of the South Saxons, Kingills, sixth king of the West Saxons, Sebert, third king of the East Saxons, Ethelfred, seventh king of the Northumbers, Penda, ninth king of the Mercians, and Sigebert, fifth king of the East Angles, who all flourished about the year 600. Merlin, the wizard, added a rider to this unlikely tale with his prophecy that an even larger number of kings will assemble around Table-Men before some great event, or the destruction of the world itself.

10. Looking offshore you will see a towering rocky island.

This rock is called the Irish Lady (Grid Ref: SW 3467 2609) It is named after the sole survivor of a wreck, who was seen clinging to the rock but she drowned before help could reach her. The ghost of the shipwrecked Irish lady is reported to still frequent the rock. Fishermen still report sightings of a lady perched on the rocks with a rose in her mouth.

Further offshore marked by white foam is Shark's Fin.

11. The path passes Carn-men-ellas.

There is a barrow here. Blight in 1876, mentions the remains of a kist-vaen and some arranged rocks which were considered Druidical.

12. Below you is Castle Zawn, a small cove.

13. Continue along the coast path. A small path leaves the coast path heading out onto a promontory overlooking Gamper Bay.

You are now at Maen Castle, an Iron Age cliff castle dating from around 500BC. This ancient promontory fort is one of the oldest cliff castles in Cornwall. A stone rampart, ditch and counter-scarp bank were built across the neck of the headland. About 300 sherds of early Iron Age pottery were found here during excavations undertaken in 1939 and 1948-9. The ditch and parts of the counter-scarp bank are still visible. The stones at the entrance to the cliff castle still stand and a former gate post lies on the ground. Maen Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The word 'maen' is from the Cornish word 'men' meaning 'stone'. Folklore tells that a giant called Myen Du lived at Maen Castle.

14. Return to the coast path after exploring the castle.

Below you is Gamper Bay. The RMS Mulheim, a cargo vessel carrying 2000 tonnes of plastic waste, was wrecked here in spring 2003 after running aground in the bay. The chief officer had become unconscious after accidentally hitting his head and by the time anyone realised, it was too late. The majority of the cargo was removed. The Mulheim was eventually broken into two parts by storms and washed into Castle Zawn.

15. The path now crosses a boggy area where a couple of small streams drain to the sea.

You soon reach Carn Clog with its unusually shaped rock formation. Its name is believed to mean (cairn of hard rock). Cross what was formerly known as Hal-hagar, meaning 'ugly moor'

16. Continue along the path. You are now walking over Trevescan Cliff.

At certain times of the year a stream crosses the cliff and cascades into sea. There are several ancient features in the landscape here, amongst the maritime grassland and heath, including a prehistoric field system and two ancient lynchets.

Below you is Gamper Hole (Grid ref: 3439 2543), a large cavern. In the late 1800s the caves here were accessible with caution but not today.

17. You pass another chasm in the cliff. It is called Zawn Turbis.

18. As you approach the First and Last House on the Land's End, you will pass another large cave in the cliffs below you, known as the Land's End Hole (Grid Ref: SW 3419 2538).

19. The walk ends at the First and Last House.

Public Transport

First Kernow and most bus services in Cornwall now offer contactless payment.

Bus Service A1 between Penzance and Land's End (calls at Sennen Cove) operated by First Kernow
Bus Service A3 between St Ives and Land's End operated by First Kernow

Visit Cornwall Public Transport for latest timetable

OS Explorer Map for this walk - 102

For a circular walk based on this section of the coastline visit Sennen Cove to Land's End Circular Walk

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