A while back, before we all came down with the dreaded lurgy, we decided to spend the weekend exploring the southernmost tip of England. We chose a small but cosy Airbnb in Saint Martin.
The tiny ‘drive through’ village was quaint as were the surrounding villages. The accommodation was lovely, definitely small but very charming. Our gracious and kind host Diana met us on arrival, welcomed us in and bestowed on us a few secrets of her own. We’ll share with you our favourite one…
Kennack Sands on the east coast of the Lizard peninsula is separated into two beaches by a sizeable rock formation (Caerverracks) responsible for a terribly exciting amount of rock pools. The second of the two beaches is a designated nature reserve and can be reached by the footpath that runs along the back of the beach and over Carn Kennack.
Well known by surfers for its regular 4 to 5-foot waves, it also boasts many of its own shipwreck stories that this stretch of coastline is so famous for. The remains of vessels can still be seen today from Kennack Sands on exceptionally low tides. It is purported that one, in particular, ran aground on the rocks, laden with treasure and now lies sunken just offshore. “This belief was reinforced when, in 1960, a visitor and his son came across something shimmering in a rock pool by the beach. On closer inspection, it was found to be a gold hand-hammered coin dating back to 1366 and originating from Belgium” (simplyseaviews.co.uk).
The beach itself is one “hiiighnormous” (Evie Warren aged 3 3/4) expanse of sand bookended by rugged headlands and littered with oh, so many rock pools. I imagine it will suffer the same fate as most of Cornwall’s beaches do in the summer with the mass invasion of holidaymakers, but on this particular day, we were almost the only people around. We walked along the shoreline as our daughter plunged through ‘sand pools’ and delved into rock pools. Every step was an adventure accentuated by stories of pirates and treasure.
But the real secret of Kennack Sands is in the rocks. Here you can find Serpentine. Once a favourite of the Victorians, who had jewellery and trinkets made out of it now can be found in variously sized pebbles strewn across the beach. We set to looking, all three of us caught up in the hunt, we were not disappointed. I have heard that if you are very lucky, it is even possible to find the most favoured of gemstones, Amethyst. We searched for luck that day but alas there was none to be found.
We traversed the beach, heads bowed, scouring the sand. To Evie, every stone was an “Amazing” and “very important” find, and so as the day waned, we left the beach with soggy, sagging pockets, crammed full of her ‘treasures’.
Here, by the ocean, fresh footprints were made, tiny crabs were discovered hiding under their rocks in sun-warmed pools, while the waves came rolling in to gently stop at our wellie boots. In this place, we were reminded that this really is what life is all about. During the summer months, beaches are a place to relax, cool off, play and soak up the sun… during the winter they take on a completely different persona. The winter beach speaks of the full force of nature at it’s wildest. It accentuates solitude yet holds a strange comfort. It brings peace and clarity of mind but most of all it allows freedom. Freedom to run, freedom to explore, freedom to let go. Freedom at the very edge of the world.
It turns out that when the sun goes down, the feeling of freedom is cold, incredibly cold, freezing in fact. When that winter wind blows from the ocean and whips up those fierce Atlantic waves, you really do feel like all your extremities might just freeze and drop off all at once.