The Lizard is a peninsula in south Cornwall and Lizard village is the most southerly village on mainland Great Britain. It is suspected that the name “Lizard” is derived from the Cornish name “Lys Ardh”, meaning “high court”.
The Lizard’s coast is known for being hazardous to shipping and the seaways around the peninsula were historically referred to as the “Graveyard of Ships” following many maritime disasters. The Lizard is a naturally deep estuary and it forms a natural obstacle to the entry and exit of Falmouth. The Manacles, near Porthoustock are 1.5 square miles of jagged rocks that lie just beneath the surface of the sea.
The Lizard Lighthouse at Lizard Point was built in 1752 by Sir John Killigrew at his own expense to warn of the hazardous waters off Lizard Point. King James I wanted to charge vessels to pass and this caused uproar over the following years, so much so that the lighthouse was demolished. In 1751 however, it was successfully rebuilt. The twin towers of the Lizard Lighthouse mark the most southerly point of mainland Britain.Smuggling was a popular way of life despite many attempts to prevent it. In 1801, the King’s pardon was offered to any smuggler who could provide information about the Mullion musket men who had been involved in a gunfight with the crew of HM Hecate.
In 1901 Marconi’s wireless experiments famously took place on The Lizard. His aim was to locate a coastal radio station in order to receive signals from ships that operated his equipment on board. The Lizard Wireless Telegraph Station still stands today and has recently been restored by the National Trust. It is the oldest Marconi station in the world to survive in its original state.
In August 1903, the Great Western Railway operated a road motor service from Helsten railway station to The Lizard. This was the first successful British bus service run by a railway and was considered a cheaper alternative to the railway.
On 11th August 1999, the Solar eclipse departed Great Britain’s mainland from The Lizard.
Things to do on The Lizard
The Lizard Lighthouse attracts many visitors who are able to ascend the 70 metres to the top of the tower in order to take a glimpse of the stunning surrounding views. The coastline either side of the lighthouse offers beautiful walks along the cliffs. There are also many coves in the surrounding area to visit.
Poldhu Cove is a special place of interest as it is from here that Marconi, in 1901, sent his first transatlantic radio message. This was received in Newfoundland and was considered an event that changed the world.
There are various craft and gift shops and galleries in the region to visit. There are many beaches to take a trip to as well as centres for water sports. Scuba diving schools offer lessons to those who wish to explore beneath the waves.
Goonhilly Earth Station is Europe’s largest satellite tracking establishment and for those interested in wildlife, is also part of a National Nature Reserve.
The valley of the River Helford is popular amongst tourists. It boasts numerous creeks and inlets as well as idyllic hamlets.