This weekend my parents came to stay. For some, the arrival of the generation above might bring out a cold sweat and a serious case of tidying-those-places-that-no-normal-human-being-would-ever-clean-but-your-parents-will-definitely-notice-if-you-don’t. For me however, the arrival of these two wonderful people who inspired a love of the Cornish coast in their offspring, forecasts a fantastic time of walking, exploring (and eating) and this weekend’s daughter-parent outing to Nanjizal did by no means disappoint. Even if I did have to bust out the duster.
The beach of Nanjizal isn’t well known to most visitors to Cornwall. Or even to many locals in fact. The name doesn’t overpopulate the pages of any guidebooks, there is no road to the beach and, despite its beauty, the Cornish highlights reel that is the BBC Poldark series hasn’t filmed there. (Yet). Despite these things, the beach of Nanjizal has been heralded by some visitors and publications, as one of the best beaches of the Penwith Peninsula. Now, when you consider that the other competitors in this class are the famous beaches of Porthcurno, Sennen and Porthgwarra, you realise what a feat even a mere comparison to these others is. Let alone being considered superior. It is for that reason that our curiosity was piqued and so, the weather forecasting a beautiful, sunny September day, I steered my parents away from the carpet which apparently needed re-hoovering, and towards the coast – destination Nanjizal.
Walking to Nanjizal
As access to the beach is by foot or by sea only, we jumped in the car and headed west to meet the coastal path, parking up in a layby just outside of Trevescan. Trevescan is a small hamlet located on the B3315 just before the right turn for Land’s End. For those of you interested in following our walking route, I’ve included detailed instructions at the end. For those keen to read on, I’ll keep directions short and let the photos do most of the talking. If not for keeping your attention then because my typing fingers are currently preoccupied with a bag of fudge. And the rugby’s about to start.
The route to Nanjizal beach is beautiful in itself – cornflower edged fields and a cloudless sky accompanied us to the coast and once there, a sweeping bay of blues and aqua greens stretched out in front of us, extending out to meet the horizon.
We had timed our visit to coincide with low-tide, when the beach would be at it’s largest and it’s famous arch and surrounding rock pools the most exposed. As we neared the beach however, it became apparent that something was amiss.
Namely, the beach.
It was only after returning home and doing some further research, that we learned how the beach at Nanjizal can vary between sand and boulders depending on recent tide and storm activity. Unaware at the time, our descent on to the beach dealt us a surprise when the sandy beach of the Google image search was devoid of, well sand, and instead, was covered in large dinosaur eggs of granite boulders.
Puzzled but undeterred, we clambered and slipped our way over to the left to behold the famous Song of the Sea arch and it’s legendary, blue rock pool. This, the Google image search had spot on. Extending out in front of us, sheltered by the shadow of the arch, was a rock pool of the most brilliant blue. Framed on either side by steep rocky walls, the colours of this sandy bottomed pool were in brilliant contrast to the warmer hues of the rock and kept in a becalming stillness, the glassy surface of the water protected from the wind.
After the arch and pool, Nanjizal offers caves, stunning rock formations and waterfalls to explore. For us, our feet still fresh and unwilling to say goodbye to the coast just yet, we climbed back up the wooden steps and on to the coastal path. For those also wanting to extend the walk, I can only recommend that you keep walking south, along what is one of the most breathtaking stretches of coast I have ever seen in any country, let alone on this windswept, little rocky isle. We continued on the coastal path past ‘Corribean’ coves, over caves and boulders and always accompanied by a seal or two, before reaching Porthgwarra where we stopped for a well-earned, Cornish cream tea.
Nanjizal, though small, remote and with more boulders than Fred Flinstone and the residents of Bedrock could shake a cartoon club at, is a must for those keen to explore the hidden gems of the Cornish coast. Rugged yet serene, the beach is well worth the walk and even more so if you are able to extend your path further.
Directions to Nanjizal
For those interested in walking directions to Nanjizal, please see below:
- Drive towards Trevescan (TR19 7AQ) located on the B3315 before Land’s End.
- On either side of the village, a few hundred meetings from the last dwellings, are laybys you can park in. For those able to plug in coordinates, we parked here 50.065338, -5.693536
- Whichever side of Trevescan you park on, it’s one road in and the same road out, so leaving the car on foot, follow the road until you see the sign for the public footpath to Nanjizal situated opposite a bus stop.
- The sign points to what seems like a driveway for a house. Don’t be put off, walk down the driveway to the left of the sign and behind the last house is a small series of stone steps into a field. Now you’re on the path.
- Follow the path through some fields and then on through a farm. Exiting the farm at the back (next to the wooden, shed library), follow the road ahead in front of you until you join the footpath again leading in to some fields.
- Follow the path through several field fields until the ground starts to slope down and you reach a pedestrian, gate. The lane here is surrounded by tall bushes – keep following the track to the right at the fork and stay on the path, walking along the top of the valley.
- At the end of the valley, the bay will stretch out in front of you. Follow the path down to it, over a stream and down the wooden steps on to the beach.
- For those interested in following our route to Porthgwarra, when exiting the beach, continue on the path to the right and hug the coastline until you pass the coastguard station. The path leads down in to Porthgwarra.
Interested in other beaches on the west Cornish coast? Then why not check out our visit to Gunwalloe for tales of shipwrecks, storms and silver. Or, if you’re interested in other sites on the Cornish coastal path then be sure to read our guide to the mines at Botallack.