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Dramatic Cornish scenery, with wild rocks and rough waters

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The Lizard Peninsula is best known for the spectacular coast and seascape at its very end. This is Lizard Point, the most southerly place on the island of Great Britain. Land's End may be commonly acknowledged as the place where England finishes, but if you consult an atlas, you'll find that Lizard Point is further south. The two locations both feature dramatic scenery, with wild rocks and rough waters. The cliffs at Lizard Point are notable for their sinister-sounding "serpentine rock", which is a dark green colour, veined in red and white. It is actually very beautiful and several nearby craft and gift shops sell ornaments fashioned out of this unusual stone.

Lizard Point
Photo Karen Roe
Lizard Point comes without any of Land's End's glitter or glamour. Guarding the cliffs stands the magnificent Lizard Lighthouse which is open to the public for tours and amazing views over the coastline. The point was once rather unnervingly known as a "graveyard for ships", as many sailors have lost their lives on the treacherous offshore rocks. And yet, elsewhere on the peninsula there are dozens of pretty bays and fishing villages. One of the best spots is at Kynance Cove, which boasts some seriously photogenic coastal scenery. At low tide, the receding water reveals an intriguing network of caves guaranteed to enchant children and adults a like. High tide, meanwhile, is best watched from a distance. Swimming is certainly not encouraged, as the currents here can be dangerous, and are not to be underestimated. Despite its rough waters, or perhaps partly because of them, Kynance Cove is often thought of as one of the most beautiful places in Cornwall. It was popular in the Victorian times, but since then it has been taken over by the National Trust, who soon set about preserving the area, and building a toll road to allow easier access.

Lizard Lighthouse
Photo Mr ATM
Another noticeable part of the Lizard Peninsula is the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, which is visible from miles around. The site contains over 60 satellite dishes that measure up to 32 metres in diameter. It was once the largest station of its kind in the world, but was recently taken out of use. It has since been converted into a visitor's attraction, featuring all sorts of interactive exhibits that explain how the dishes worked. There is an internet cafe here, offering what is possibly the fastest connection in the world! The site's newest attraction is "Futureworld", which asks all sorts of questions about upcoming technology - and then tries to answer them. Elsewhere, you can take a closer look at Goonhilly's first-ever dish, which is nicknamed "Arthur". In its heyday, satellite dishes like this helped to broadcast such huge television events as the moon landings, and the Live Aid concerts.

Goonhilly Earth Station
Photo Lee Jordan
Another important technological event in world history happened on the Lizard Peninsula, in the year 1901. An Italian called Guglielmo Marconi was trying to prove that wireless communication by use of radio waves was really possible. At the time, many people thought he was mad, which is why he hid himself away in Cornwall. He built a wireless station at a small coastal location called Poldhu, and sent a signal to Newfoundland, in Canada. When they received the message, it finally proved that Marconi was right. He was awarded the Nobel prize for Physics. More information about the man and his achievements can be found at the Marconi Centre, which was built at Poldhu in 2001, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the successful transmission.
As a peninsula, Lizard's land is of course surrounded on three sides by the sea. But even its northern, landward side is nearly cut through by the serene Helford River. This means that the Lizard Peninsula is almost an island. And in fact, when you visit, this really does feel like a different place. None of the towns or villages here are on any major train routes, or any major roads. Most visitors to Cornwall seem to drive straight past missing all the treasures it has to offer. The only reason you'll ever come here is if you decide to make the journey for yourself.
Visitor Information
Helston and Lizard Peninsula Tourist Information Centre, 79 Meneage Street, Helston, TR13 8RB. Tel: 01326 565431

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