Cornish favourites: the geology of cornwall

The rocks of Cornwall have an amazing story to tell. They have been on a journey of 8,000 miles in just 400 million years. This journey has included tropical seas, deserts, volcanic eruptions and hot granites, mineral vapours rich in tin and copper and ever-changing climate and sea levels. (Cornish Geology)

Polzeath Beach, North Cornwall

Cornish geology typically consists of black, folded slates and pale grey, blocky granites that form the backbone of Cornwall stretching from Dartmoor in Devon westwards to the Isles of Scilly. With their associated minerals they have underpinned the Cornish economy for hundreds of years.

But there are exceptions:

  • Polzeath BeachΒ (north coast on the Camel estuary):Β Stripy slate formations in purple and pale greens.
  • Kynance Cove (Lizard peninsula) :Β The most extensive rock type is the serpentine which, spanning 20 square miles, is the largest outcrop of such rock in mainland Britain. It is found nowhere else in England.
Kynance Cove, Lizard

Come and join me on a tour around some of Cornwall’s most interesting rocky places.

View Original Post | May 2015


  1. The purple polzeath beach is especially delicious. I sailed once from Hamble to the Scilly Isles stopping in Plymouth and Falmouth along the way. Can’t wait to come back

    1. Heyjude says:

      The Polzeath rocks are very different to anything else I have seen. Sailing is probably the best way to see our coastline in all its glory. Sadly I do not have sea legs!!

      1. The best way indeed. Sea legs can be acquired overtime. πŸ€’πŸ˜£πŸ˜•πŸ˜πŸ™‚πŸ˜€β›΅οΈ

        1. Over time or leaning over the rail, alas.

        2. 😁 I started out my sailing career as a rail leaner 🀒

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    These are great photos, Jude. The Lizard really does have scales. And I love the quote from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. It makes geology so exciting

  3. beetleypete says:

    I was around for this the first time. But it was great to see the different rocks and colours again.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I need to get out exploring again. It has been a while since I was on a beach.

  4. Sue says:

    Marvellous! I think you and Meg are outdoing each other on the geology front!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Aah, but Meg is far more knowledgeable than I am!

      1. Sue says:

        Yes, N but you still have an eye for a nice rock formation!!

  5. restlessjo says:

    The Kynance Cove colours are lovely, Jude. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Our beach walk today was much longer than planned. The Sunshine Bar over on the Ilha hasn’t reopened yet for the season. The things some people will do for a drink!

  6. Isn’t the serpentine a gorgeous colour.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I need to return and get some better images, the rocks look amazing when wet.

  7. pommepal says:

    Fascinating. Now to go over and look at the rest…

  8. Lucid Gypsy says:

    The last photo looks like very expensive mosaic bathroom tiles.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Such a lovely colour too! I would love these in my bathroom πŸ™‚

  9. Anabel Marsh says:

    Ah, I see I liked that originally! I still like it.

  10. Once again your pictures make me want to be there with a camera.

    The Cornish Wildlife Trust takes the long view in speaking about “just” 400 million years. I trust the Trust won’t be around for even one one-millionth as long as that.

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