Predannack to Kynance circular walk

Predannack to Kynance Cove

A circular walk through the Lizard National Nature Reserve from Predannack to Kynance Cove along the rugged Serpentine cliffs where the "great silver ship" was wrecked in 1616 and more than 700 Spanish silver coins have so far been found.

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The reaches the coast at Ogo-dour Cove, then follows the coast path along the rugged serpentine coastline to Kynance Cliff, where a path descends to Kynance Cove. The return route is along a bridleway and footpaths across the Predannack Downs where Cornish Heath flowers in the late summer.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 103
  • Distance: 4.7 miles/7.6 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Waterproof boots (crosses a ford)

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 103 OS Explorer 103 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Rugged coastline with small coves, islets and blowholes
  • Sandy beach at Kynance Cove
  • Serpentine rocks polished by the sea
  • Wildflowers including Cornwall's county flower
  • Wildlife in the National Nature Reserve


  1. Facing the road into the car park, turn right and follow the track marked "No cars beyond this point" to a gate across the track. Go through the gate and follow the track, crossing a footbridge over a brook, until you reach a metal Coast Path sign pointing to a path on the right.

    The settlement of Predannack was first recorded in 1196, as Bridanoc and was already subdivided into two manors of Higher and Lower Predannack (Wollas is from the Cornish word goles meaning "Lower" - the "g" changes to a "w" when it appears after certain letters). During mediaeval times, Higher Predannack was the seat of the Le Petit family, who had a chapel and mansion here. The manor at Lower Predannack (Predannack Wollas) was owned by the Robartes family of Lanhydrock from at least 1696.

  2. Turn right onto the path signposted for the Coast Path and keep right to reach a gate.

    Buttercups produce a toxin called protoanemonin, which is at its highest concentration when flowering. It is thought that buttercups may be partly responsible for Equine Grass Sickness. Fortunately the toxin is quite unstable and drying of the plant in haymaking leads to polymerisation into non-toxic anemonin. Buttercups are also toxic to dogs, cats and humans. They have a bitter taste which puts dogs off eating the plants but pollen can collect on fur and be ingested, particularly by cats when they clean themselves. A man in France who drank a glass of juice made from buttercups suffered severe colic after four hours and was dead the next day!

    Serpentine rocks are well-known for being slippery. Part of the reason is that the serpentinization process produces soft minerals such as talc. These minerals have a plate-like structure that have strong chemical bonds within a layer, but the bonds between layers are weak so that the layers glide over each other. Rocks composed almost entirely of talc are known as "soapstone" as they are so slippery. Also, because the minerals are quite soft, foot traffic causes the surface of the rocks to become polished.

  3. Cross the stile on the left of the gate and follow the path a short distance to a fork. Take the left-hand (upper) path and follow this until it ends on the coast path.

    Cuckoos are migratory birds that overwinter in Africa and are first seen, or more often heard, in Cornwall during the spring. The cuckoo is well-known for laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species. The adult cuckoo is a mimic of a sparrowhawk - a predator; this causes other birds to abandon their nests, allowing the female lay her eggs. Although cuckoo eggs are larger than those already in the nest, cuckoos produce eggs in several different colour schemes to match those of several species of bird. Since the cuckoo chick is a much larger than even the full-grown foster parents (which they seem not to notice, assuming their offspring is just a bit portly), it needs to monopolise the food supply. It therefore methodically evicts all other eggs and chicks from the nest.

    The rocky coast provides holdfasts for seaweed, creating cover for ambush predators such as pollack.

    Pollack spend much of their time around weed-covered rocks, ambushing small fish as sandeels. On offshore reefs and wrecks, pollack can grow up to a metre in length but close to the shore you’re most likely to see young fish of a few cm in length, which there was a word in Cornish specifically for: dojel.

    Pollack is a member of the cod family but until recently was an unpopular culinary fish. There are two reasons for this: as well as having a name that sounds like an insult, when the fish is dead, its flavour deteriorates faster than many other members of the cod family, so fish which is not very fresh smells "fishy". However pollack is excellent to eat when very fresh, and since it is pretty much the only member of the cod family that hasn’t yet been overfished, has made more of an appearance in supermarkets in recent years. It used to be marketed as "coley" which was a fishmongers' collective term for either pollack or its close cousin, the coalfish, but more recently it has been appearing as pollack.

  4. Turn left onto the coast path and follow this to a pedestrian gate.

    The white flowers along the coast in July and August which resemble a more compact version of Cow Parsley are the delightfully-named Sea Carrot. Unlike Cow Parsley, the flowers start off pink and become white as they open and sometimes have a single dark red flower in the centre. The Sea Carrot is technically the same species as a wild carrot, from which the carrot was domesticated, but is shorter, stouter and more splayed out than a wild carrot. The two converge the further north and east that you go in Britain: West Cornwall is therefore the pinnacle of Sea Carrot evolution. You should avoid touching the leaves of the Sea Carrot as they can make skin hypersensitive to ultraviolet light which can result in blistering caused by extreme sunburn.

    Grey Seals are one of the rarest seal species in the world and the biggest land breeding mammal in the UK. Roughly half of the world population of grey seals is found in Britain, a large proportion of which are found in Cornwall. They are big animals with the larger males often over 10ft long; the females are somewhat smaller at around 6ft and usually lighter colours than the males. The Latin name for the grey seal translates to the somewhat unflattering "hooked-nosed sea pig" and the alternative common name of "horsehead seal" isn't much better.

  5. Go through the gate and follow the path over a stream and then continue straight ahead to reach a field. Follow the path across the field to a stile.

    Gorse flower wine can be made using 5 litres of gorse flowers stripped from the stems and simmering these in 5 litres of boiling water. Once the flowers are removed, 1.3kg of sugar should be dissolved in the hot water and allowed to cool to room temperature. Then add 500g of chopped raisins and juice and zest of 2 lemons and ferment with white wine yeast and yeast nutrient. Although flowers are present year-round, they are best picked in spring (April and May) when they are most profuse and fragrant.

    Water mint is a wild species of mint which grows in damp places or even in water. It can be recognised by leaves and the strong mint smell when these are crushed. It produces a ball of lilac flowers in late summer.

    Water mint will hybridise with spearmint and this creates peppermint (which itself is sterile).

    Water mint and peppermint have high levels of menthol whereas the sweeter flavour of spearmint comes from a different chemical called corvone. Menthol creates a cold feeling on the skin by activating the sensory receptors in a similar way that chilli creates a heat sensation.

    In Cornwall, cliffs erode at an average rate of between roughly 3cm - 30cm per year depending on the hardness of the rocks and location. In reality this often happens in infrequent sudden collapses rather than as a steady, gradual process. It was found that one massive storm in 2014 caused around 100 times the average amount of erosion. There are obvious implications from climate change leading to more frequent or more intense storms.

  6. Cross the stile and follow the path along the fence on the right to reach another stile.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.


    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).


    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  7. Cross the stone and wooden stiles and follow the path alongside the coast and across a heath to where a wide path departs to cut across the headland and a small pole with a coast path sign points to the right along the coast.

    The unusual geology of The Lizard peninsula combined with its mild maritime climate has resulted in a landscape of great conservation interest, supporting over 250 species of national and international importance, many of which are found nowhere else in Britain. Consequently, over 1,600 hectares of The Lizard are designated a National Nature Reserve and managed by Natural England and others are managed by the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife.

  8. Keep right to follow the path out to the headland, then keep following the coast, heading just inland of the patch of reeds in the dip and crossing the next dip via the stony area. Continue along the coast until the inland path rejoins on the left, then head to the rightmost gap in the earth bank ahead.

    The name Lizard comes from the Cornish lysardh which literally means "high court" but could also be interpreted as "fortress". It is possibly a reference to the high cliffs along the coast and maybe also that it is a peninsula. Much of the rock making up the peninsula is known as "serpentine" but this is thought to be a coincidence; the name is thought to be based on the appearance of the rock and not a reference to the place name.

  9. Go through the gap and follow the path until it cuts across a headland to reach a grassy area where a pair of parallel paths run towards the cottage on the left and the coast path leads ahead down the cliff.

    Much of the rock on this area of the Lizard is serpentine.

    Serpentine is not a single mineral but a broad group of minerals formed when minerals rich in iron and magnesium react with water in a series of chemical reactions known as serpentinization. Rocks containing these minerals are known as Serpentinite. The name is due to the resemblance of the patterning in the rocks to the skin of reptiles.

  10. Follow the stony coastal path downhill to reach a crossing over the stream at the bottom of the valley.

    The serpentinization process results in rocks that are quite soft. The rock is often also very colourful and may contain veins of green, yellow and red, due to iron compounds within the rocks. Its softness and attractive colours were first noticed on stiles and cattle rubbing posts which had highly polished areas where walkers or cattle had rubbed against them. An industry grew up in the 19th Century making ornamental stone, initially for quite large architectural pieces but it was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who ordered serpentine tables for their home. Over time, serpentine proved less suitable than marble for architectural purposes due to its tendency to crumble in heat and to absorb water and crack. Interior ornaments are still produced although the quarrying of serpentine is now very strictly regulated.

  11. Cross the stream and bear right to join the path up the headland. Follow the path along the edge of the coast for approximately three quarters of a mile until you eventually pass through an earth bank and reach a large rock outcrop above Kynance Cove.

    In Rill Cove is a Spanish wreck which is possibly the wreck from 1616 known as the "great silver ship". More than 700 Spanish silver coins have been recovered. The wreck is now a protected site, with no diving allowed within 100 metres.

  12. The onward route is to the left, keeping the edge of the field on your right to reach a waymark in front of a gateway in the top corner of the field. Beforehand, you may wish to visit Kynance Cove by following the coast path for a short distance to the right.

    Due to its popularity in Victorian times, the caves at Kynance Cove have acquired suitably Victorian names such as The Parlour, The Drawing Room and Ladies Bathing Pool. The rock stacks also have colourful names including The Lion, The Bishop, Steeple Rock and Sugarloaf Rock, and no Cornish beach would be complete without a Gull Rock. Asparagus Island, accessible at low tide, is more functionally-named - it is one of the few remaining places in the UK where wild asparagus still grows.

  13. Go through the gateway ahead to join the track and follow it to reach a gate.

    The county flower of Cornwall is the Cornish Heath - a plant that most people (Cornish included) have never heard of let alone seen. The only place in England that the shrub grows is on the Lizard Peninsula and it looks fairly unremarkable until late summer when it produces the most beautiful tiny lilac-coloured flowers. It is easy to distinguish from other heather flowers by the dark ring around the ends of the pale flowers.

    The word "downs" may seem strange for hilly moorland areas which are, if anything, "up". The reason is that it's derived from the Old English word dun meaning hill or moor which itself stems from the Celtic word din for hillfort (e.g. Castle-an-dinas and London). The word "dune" applied to sand is from similar origins but may have come from the original Celtic via Dutch and French where the meaning is "sand hill" rather than "moorland".

  14. Go through the gate and follow the bridleway past the ruins of a building and between the hedges ahead to reach another gate.

    Blackthorn has been used as a traditional material for hedging both because it is salt-tolerant and the thorns deter livestock.

    To make sloe gin, wash your sloes and prick each one with a fork. Put your pricked sloes into a container with a lid and a suitably large neck so you can pour them out later - 4 litre milk containers, washed out very thoroughly, are ideal. Fill about 80% of the way to the top with the cheapest gin you can find (don't waste your money on expensive gin as you are about to transform it into something altogether different). Fill the remaining 20% with white sugar (it looks a lot but sloes are incredibly bitter and this offsets it) and leave to infuse for a few months; agitate gently occasionally to help the sugar dissolve without mashing the sloes which would make your drink cloudy. Drain the beautiful red liquid into a decanter to admire before consumption.

    Blackthorn stems are often covered in fungi or bacteria and if a thorn punctures skin, these can sometimes cause infection. Any splinters left in the skin can also disintegrate over time and result in an immune response. If a puncture wound becomes infected, it's a good idea to get it checked-out in a minor injuries unit in case antibacterial or anti-fungal treatment is needed to prevent it escalating.

  15. Go through the gate and follow the winding track across the heath and through a small stream at the top of a valley to reach a public footpath sign.

    The building on the left is Kynance Farm.

    The name Kynance is thought to be from the Cornish word keynans meaning "ravine". Kynance Farm is at the top of the valley leading to Gew-graze whereas Kynance Cove is at the bottom of the larger valley cut by the river crossing the Predannack Downs. It's possible in this case that the names independently refer to their individual ravines rather than the farm being named from the cove, or vice versa.

  16. At the sign, bear right off the track onto the path and follow this to a waymarked gate. Go through the gate and follow the path across the heath and along the hedge to reach another gate.

    To your right is Predannack Airfield and some of its derelict aircraft are visible from the footpath.

    RAF Predannack was opened in May 1941 as a satellite airfield for RAF Portreath. The waste tips of the Wheal Unity mine were used for the construction of the airfield. During the 1950s it was used for some aircraft experiments and then it was taken over by the Royal Navy in 1958. It is now used as a satellite airfield for RNAS Culdrose. The western side of the airfield is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the population of orchids, butterflies and snakes. The southern part of the airfield has a collection of derelict aircraft, which are used for crash rescue training, and dummy aircraft which are used in fire rescue training by the Royal Navy Fire Fighting School.

  17. Go through the gate and turn right onto the track. Follow it a short distance to a waymark with green and yellow arrows at the bend, then bear left off the track and follow along the left hedge to a gap with a waymark post.

    Various copper mines were worked on Predannack Head, Mullion cliff and the Predannack Downs during the 18th Century. Many of these were amalgamated into Wheal Unity in the early 19th Century, which was later re-opened as Wheal Trenance. Although the usual copper ores were also extracted, the remarkable feature of this mine were the large pieces of very pure copper metal that were found. One weighed 30 tonnes and had to be cut up to get it out of the mine. The largest chunk of this, weighing 3 tonnes, was displayed in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and is on display in London's Natural History Museum.

  18. Go through the gap and turn right, keeping left of the gap in the protruding hedge to stay in the field. Follow along the hedge on your right and continue on the path through an area of heath to reach a gate.

    Lichens are a partnership of two different organisms: a fungus providing the "accommodation" and an alga or cyanobacterium providing the "food" through photosynthesis. The fungal partner provides a cosy, sheltered environment for the alga and tends it with mineral nutrients. However, the alga partner is more than simply an imprisoned food-slave: it is such a closely-evolved alliance that the fungus is dependant on the alga for its structure. If the fungal partner is isolated and grown on an agar plate, it forms a shapeless, infertile blob.

  19. Go through the pedestrian gate on the right of the gate and follow the meandering path to reach another gate.

    During the winter and early spring when the ground is wet, frogs make use of the more long-lived puddles to lay their eggs.

    Biologically, there is no such thing as "toads": there are just many species of frog, some of which were given the name "toad" if they were a bit drier- or wartier- looking. However, the 2 species of frog known as the "Common Frog" and "Common Toad" are those you are most likely to encounter in Cornwall, so for discerning fairytale princesses, here's how to tell them apart:

    • Common Frog: always found in or near water; smooth moist skin (green or brown and able to change colour slightly to match surroundings); lays eggs in a cluster.
    • Common Toad: quite often found in dry places; dry, warty skin which is always grey or brown; lays eggs in long strings.

    Serpentine rocks produce soils which are low in nutrients and sometimes contain metal compounds that are toxic to many plants. The areas above these rocks are consequently known as Serpentine Barrens. The flora that is found here is very specialised and often slow growing due to the limited nutrients. The resulting low growth means that it is a good habitat for lizards and snakes to "catch some rays" but this is a happy coincidence rather than anything to do with the name.

  20. Cross the stile or go through the gate if open and then turn left at the junction of paths. Follow the path a short distance to reach a stile. Cross this and follow the path between the fence and the hedge to reach another stile.

    From the stile there is a view across Mount's Bay to Penwith. The headland in the distance is Treryn Dinas (with Logan Rock on the top) near Porthcurno.

  21. Cross the stile and follow the path alongside the left hedge to reach a waymarked gate. Go through this and follow the track to a junction of tracks at a waymark.

    Blackberries are closely related to raspberries and technically neither is a berry but an aggregate of many individual tiny fruits, each containing a tiny stone like a miniature cherry.

    Bramble seeds are spread very widely by being attached to a tasty blackberry. Mammals, birds, insects and even some fish will eat blackberries. Bramble seeds can survive up to 100 years in the soil, which helps them to colonise recently-cleared land.

  22. Continue ahead at the waymark and follow the track back to the car park to complete the circular route.

    There's a parking donation box for the National Trust just on your left as you re-enter the car park.

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