On the Road with The Rumble
Land's End to Nanjizal
Cornwall has many hidden gems, but Nanjizal Beach, close to Land's End is perhaps the regions most beautiful.
JULY 4th, 2021
Photography courtesy of Reed Gallery
ornwall is renowned for its breathtaking coastline, crystal clear waters and unrivalled beaches, and whilst some may be more accessible than others, there are some bays which are much harder to reach. Nanjizal beach is one such bay.
Situated one-mile to the south-east of Land’s End, the quaint and peaceful shoreline of Nanjizal beach (which also goes by the name of Mill Bay) is a stunning location reminiscent of the tropical shores of the Caribbean. With turquoise water which barely goes above waist height when the tide is out, and white sand cocooned by soaring cliffs either side, Nanjizal is the definition of paradise. But how does the public get to this hidden haven? With one robust walk, that’s how.
Unfortunately, the beach is inaccessible via road and can only be reached by foot. Usually walkers begin from Land’s End to the north, or from Porthgwarra to the south, and both provide equal distance from start to finish.
The best location to begin from however, is Land’s End. There is a coastal path which leads directly to Nanjizal from the car park of the resort. The surrounding headland is referred to as ‘Dr Johnson’s Head’, after Dr Samuel Johnson wrote the first Cornish Declaration of Independence in 1755, and was the inspiration for Turner's 1813 watercolour, 'Land’s End, Cornwall: Approaching Thunderstorm'.
The walk continues outlining the narrow coves, known locally as ‘zawns’ which is derived from the Cornish word for chasm. Whilst for the most part the route remains flat, there is the occasional small valley, which can prove more difficult for those who prefer even ground.
Further on the route, there is the rock arch at Enys Dodnan. This breathtaking natural monument is just south of the inslet known as the Armed Knight. Named after King Arthur, there are local legends surrounding the role the inslet played in Arthur’s final battle, said to have been fought around Land’s End. The arch is a perfect location for budding photographers and provides some of Cornwall’s most dramatic seascapes.
Strolling past the arch, there is Pordenack Point. Here archaeologists recently discovered a number of Bronze Age tumuli - burial mounds, which date back over 4000 years ago. This part of the walk perfectly showcases the unique coastline of Cornwall. From the towering granite rock formations created over 275 million years ago, to the concealed caves pounded by the Atlantic ocean, Pordenack Point also highlights Cornwall’s deep and historic connection to religious teachings.
Beneath this area is a large cave known as ‘Lion’s Den’. This references the bible story, which saw Daniel banished to a cave full of lions for his faith. For centuries pilgrims would visit this area of Cornwall believing it to hold healing powers.
As you continue onward from Land’s End, the pathway becomes much more narrow and perilous. There are large parts of the walkway edged with gauze and nettles. It is also exposed to the elements, both good and bad, and parts of the pathway are situated close to the cliff edge.
Besides the natural magnificence of the route, there are also the remnants of shipwrecks, including the wreck of RMS Mulheim, which ran aground at the base of Castle Zawn in 2003. There have been numerous ships which have run afoul of this part of the Cornish coast and the area is littered with their rusting carcasses. Overlooking it all is the mighty Longships, continually warning ships off making the same mistake.
At this point Nanjizal beach comes into view. Whether basked in sunlight or the haze of a seafret, the beach is a welcome sight. Following the coastal path, which has much more varied terrain at this point, there are steps which lead down to the beach, where the remnants of the old watermill can still be seen.
The stream that once turned the wheel flows onto the beach in front of a stunning rock arch dubbed "Song of the Sea", a favourite for photographers. If timed correctly, the sun directly sets between the archway, and reflects another formation of rocks on the other side of the beach - the “Diamond Horse”. Veins of quartz are etched into the granite which sparkle when touched by the sun, giving the illusion of twinkling diamonds.
Nanjizal is rarely busy, and although rocky towards the land, at low tide the scale of beach and white sand is revealed, which is perfect for beachgoers.
The beach is a hidden gem in the south-west of Cornwall and although the walk to and from its location is lengthy (estimated over an hour), it is well worth a visit. From the cerulean ocean, caribbean tones and peaceful demeanour, Nanjizal is arguably one of Cornwall’s coastal crown jewels.
To see more of the wonderful photography featured in this article, you can follow Reed Gallery's Instagram here.
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