Follow the long, winding lanes of the Lizard Peninsula southward and you’ll be treated to a world plucked straight from the pages of a story book.
The very last point in Cornwall before you tumble into the sea, the wild and rugged Lizard Peninsula exudes raw beauty and is scattered with the most picture-perfect villages imaginable – two of which are Ruan Minor and Cadgwith.
Cadgwith is one of those places you have to know about to find. Hidden away between wooded clefts in the cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula’s east coast, it requires a little know-how to get there – and my word, you’ll be happy when you do. Peppered with thatched fishermen’s cottages that perch in hodgepodge formation down the cliffs and along the valley basin, this time-forgotten fishing cove boasts a rare kind of beauty that simultaneously roots you to the spot and transports you hundreds of years back in time.
The quintessential fishing village, Cadgwith has a deeply entrenched relationship with the sea. Inhabited for hundreds of years, its centuries of residents have comprised survivors of the Spanish Armada, sailors, smugglers, Naval press gangs, fishermen, rowers, lifeboatmen and more – all intrinsically linked with the watery blanket of the sea that laps the edges of the cove in summer and furiously pounds its cliffs in winter. Even today, a working fishing fleet operates from the cove’s shores and fires the heartbeat of the community that thrives there.
Things to do
If you find yourself lucky enough to be visiting Cadgwith, you’ll find a car park just above the village and a small footpath that connects the two. You won’t find parking in the cove itself, but you will find lots of other amenities including a fishmonger, giftshops, toilets, a pub, café and more. If you head down in the late morning, you’ll be able to see the local fishermen returning to shore and tending to their catch, while in the afternoons, you can often see the local gig rowing crew pulling their boat down to the water and slipping out to sea.
Should you feel like stretching your legs, you can take the coast path out of the cove to the right (as you face the sea) and follow it to reach the famous Devil's Frying Pan, an enormous hollow in the cliffs made from a collapsing sea cave many years ago. Otherwise, on a sunny day pure joy can be found in simply laying out a blanket on one of the cove’s two beaches (the fishing beach and ‘little beach’) and refuelling on local ice cream or fish from the weekly fish barbecues that take place in summer. Towards the evening, you may even be lucky to catch the local singers gathering to perform traditional sea shanties – a real highlight of any trip.
Nestled atop the cliffs just above Cadgwith cove is the village of Ruan Minor – a picturesque village home to a small but lively community.
Many years ago, the village’s population was heavily involved in Cadgwith’s booming pilchard fishing industry and later the local serpentine works in nearby Poltesco. Though today both of these industries have faded with the passage of time, the village is still very much connected to its neighbour of Cadgwith and the two run in parallel with each other – only separated via a 15-minute walk.
Things to do
A pretty village with traditional values, Ruan Minor is home to a local church, village shop and the Recreational Ground and Pavilion Bar – known fondly as ‘The Rec’. Boasting far-reaching views across rolling fields and the open sea beyond, the Rec enjoys one of the best locations in the whole village and is complemented by plenty of seating to savour the panoramas. During the summer, you can take a pew outside on one of the benches to drink in the sun’s golden rays (and a Pimm’s or two), while in the winter, the bar’s sofas will lure you in from the cold.
If you’d like to get involved in one of the many events held at Ruan’s Recreational Ground and Pavilion Bar, you can keep an eye on their Facebook page for all the latest news, events and updates. Open throughout the year with seasonal opening hours, it makes for a welcome destination whatever the weather. With weekly quizzes, sports matches, yoga, music, fish nights and more, there’s always something going on. Not to mention a well-stocked bar.
A brilliant base for walks, Ruan Minor is also a really popular place amongst walkers and lovers of the Great Outdoors. Located a stone’s throw from the flowing ribbon of the South West Coast Path and many splinter trails, it offers many beautiful options. Particularly enjoyable, walks east along the coast path will lead you towards Kennack Sands, a long, sandy beach served by popular eateries; meanwhile, walks west will send you in the direction of the Lizard and Polpeor – the most southerly point in the country.
If you are considering a holiday in Ruan Minor, you’ll enjoy a year-round catalogue of things to look forward to. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or can’t wait to get stuck into local events, there is something for you. Best of all, with the great number of facilities available in both Ruan and Cadgwith and so much to see and do on foot, you can easily abandon your car for a few days and simply relish life in the blissful bubble that envelops this little pocket of Cornwall.
Explore our cottages in Cadgwith and start planning your lovely coastal excursion today.