Coverack and St Keverne
Walking the Cornwall Coast Path from the Lizard, you arrive in Coverack for the night, a sheltered harbour built in 1724 with a beach beside it, suitable for all kinds of watersports, with one of the most successful windsurfing centres in the country.
The village and its surrounds have a wealth of evidence of its long history, with thriving plants which have grown since before the last Ice Age, flint tools, pottery shards, standing stones, burial mounds and hut circles from the Mezolithic to Iron Ages.
The Paris Hotel on the harbour was so named after a liner ran aground at nearby Lowland Point in 1899 and three years later another sailing ship bound for West Africa hit the rocks carrying 600 cases of whisky, 400 of brandy and a large consignment of treacle.
This is just one tale from many to give credence to the many hidey holes in local cottages. The local church was built in the 19th century, before that all wedding and funeral processions had to walk to St Keverne, and just across the road, the fossilised rocks have been found by geologists to be a dramatic junction between the earth’s mantle and the oceanic crust.
The Harbour Lights cafe is open for snacks until 8.30 pm and The Paris Hotel is a fabulous location on the harbour to eat and drink in a friendly atmosphere. Alternatively, a candlelit dinner in the restaurant of the Bay Hotel with its stunning uninterrupted views over the ocean, would be a romantic way to spend the evening whilst staying in this unforgettable place.
If you stay in St Keverne, one mile inland from the coastal path, you will find a much larger village, with the buildings clustered around a central square with a couple of pubs, a handful of cottages and a few shops, all overlooked by the 15th century church of St Akervnus. Although the church is built in the typical Cornish style, it has a distinctive octagonal spire, thought to have been added as a daymark for ships as they sailed past the treacherous “Manacles” (meaning Church Rocks from the Cornish Maen Eglos), a barely submerged reef just over a mile offshore and scene of as many as three thousand wrecks. Nowadays, it is a favourite diving site with a wealth of marine life living on a around the skeletons of past ships.
Two famous uprisings have had their roots in St Keverne.
The first and Cornwall's most famous historical event, was the 1497 Cornish Rebellion when Michael Joseph An Gof led a protest against King Henry VII over the raising of war taxes on impoverished tin miners. Cornwall, at that time, was still very much an independent nation with most inhabitants being Cornish speaking, so a war with Scotland was completely irrelevant to them. Fifteen thousand Cornishmen marched to London where they were met and comprehensively beaten by the King’s men. The two leaders were hung, drawn and quartered, but their memory lives on in the recent bronze statue of the pair, as well as an earlier memorial tablet set into the church wall.
The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1547, also had a bloody end, with the village priest being executed and his head mounted on a spike on London Bridge!
Finding places to eat in St Keverne is easy. An organic restaurant, The Greenhouse, The White Hart Hotel and two pubs means that your main problem is which one to choose.