Monday, 8 October 2012

The Four Corners: Ardnamurchan and Lizard

The four corners – Dunnet and Lowestoft

Ardnamurchan Point

There can be little doubt as to the most scenic of Britain’s four corners. With islands like Rum, Eigg, Mull, Skye, Barra and Coll on three sides of the peninsula, Ardnamurchan feels less like the end of the land, more a springboard to the islands.

Ardnamurchan foghorn:

Cliff-girt to the south, Ardnamurchan Point boasts a beautiful machair beach to the north, all on the site of a long extinct and eroded volcano, viewable from space

Reaching Ardnamurchan is however an adventure in itself, as the single track, dead end road from Strontian takes forever. Patience is a virtue for anyone visiting and, once you get there, there is little to do. As such, it is probably the least visited of Britain’s cardinal points. Yet in other ways, it is the most magical. In the words of Alastair Maclean in Night Falls on Ardnamurchan:
I have always looked on the ferry that crosses the Narrows of the Linnhe Loch at Corran as a kind of mobile decompression chamber, where various kinds of pollution were drained from the blood and I was fitted to breathe pure air again.
Ardnamurchan from Castlebay ferry:

Lizard Point

The south of England is the misanthrope's perfect holiday destination. The reason is not wilderness, but the opposite. Being the most densely populated area in Europe, people have had to develop strategies to deal with proximity. This manifests itself in politely ignoring the people around you. Thus you can be happily lost in an English crowd, when in a similar situation in Glasgow or Ireland you would not be left unmolested, asked about your family, etc.

Wide Cornish St Pirin’s beach:

But Cornwall is different: beyond the south and in the west. And despite the incredible number of tourists – 25 million visitor nights a year, in an area the size of Galloway – the south-west coastal path is largely quiet. The Lizard is one of the main attractions on the coast, but even here, you only need to walk a mile and the crowds disperse.

Southmost rocks:

The southernmost point of Britain is an archetypal place, low seacliffs crowned by rough grazing and a white lighthouse. It could be almost any headland along the coast. But the rocks offshore are the southernmost save Scilly: and if you were to head directly south from here, you would miss Brittany and land on the Asturian coast. Instead, we headed northwest, towards Mullion via the picturesque Kynance Cove.

Kynance Cove:

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