The Atlantic-battered North Cornish Coast is for most of us a classic sea coast. Cliffs, inlets, coves, stacks, reefs ... a different face as the rock changes.
Hartland, including its 11km section in Cornwall, is perhaps the wildest of all Heritage Coasts. Its sheer cliffs and reefs are the stuff of wreckers' tales. Waterfalls tumble from hanging valleys and magnificent views reach as far as the granite tooth of Lundy Island.
Dramatic folding and faults create spectacular designs in the cliff faces around Crackington Haven and cliffs of dark volcanic rock give a brooding setting to Tintangel, 'birthplace of King Arthur' on the Pentire Point - Widemouth coast (52km).
Storms beat on the headlands of the Trevose (4km), St Agnes (11km) and Godrevy - Portreath (9km) sections. Blowholes, stacks and caves are works of the powerful sea, but man also leaves landmarks in the crucial lighthouses along this stretch, and the imposing redundant mine chimneys around St Agnes.
Everyone wants to stand on Land's End, on the wild Penwith coast (54km) and Lizard Point on The Lizard peninsular (27km) ... the western and southern tips of England! Too many feet, too many cars, vanishing flowers, ever-spreading paths - challenges for management on all of the well-used Heritage Coasts. Penwith is renowned for its ruggedness with stunning heath topped cliffs and promontories sprinkled with lighthouses and mine chimneys and backed with distinctive patterns of ancient small fields enclosed by stone walls (Cornish hedges!). The Lizard formed on green Serpentine rock supports a rare heathland habitat scattered with colourful and rare flowers. Delightful hidden coves, beaches and small fishing villages are treasures to be discovered.
The Roseland (54.2 km) provides a more gentle coastline, still dominated by cliffs but with smoother lines softened by coastal heath and scrub, curving around bays containing sandy beaches, but becoming rugged on promontories such as Dodman and Chaple Points. The colours and lushness of the historic park and gardens around Caerhays Castle are evidence of the mild maritime climate.
Gribbin Head - Polperro (24 km) with the wood lined Fowey Estuary and its sinuous creeks, became famous as the home of writer Daphne Du Maurier. The picturesque harbours of Fowey and Polperro nestle on steep slopes at the mouth of wooded valleys.
The final tiny stretch of heritage coast in Cornwall is at Rame Head (7.6 km) on the western tip of the entrance to the magnificent natural harbour of Plymouth Sound. Rame Head itself is a dramatic treeless conical headland topped with an ancient chapel. The sheltered eastern side of the headland is softened by woodland and is a stark contrast to the exposed wind battered cliffs to the west.
North Cornwall Coast section from Porthcothan up to Hartland:
North Cornwall Coast & Countryside Service, North Cornwall District Council, 3/5 Barn Lane, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 1LZ
Tel: 01208 265642
For all remaining sections:
Cornwall AONB Unit, Fal Building, Treyew Road, Truro TR1 3AY
Tel: 01872 322350