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)

A true force of nature.

Cornish geology typically consists of black, folded slates and pale grey, blocky granites. But there are exceptions:

Polzeath Beach (north coast on the Camel estuary): Stripy slate formations in purple and pale greens.

polzeath (8)

Kynance Beach (south-west on the Lizard peninsula): Serpentinite cliffs are made up of dark green and red rocks, polished by thousands of years of crashing waves to look like shiny snakeskin.

kynance (7)

Up on the cliffs by Chapel Porth on the north coast the rocks were lighter and redder.

And at Boscastle (north coast, north Cornwall) I was intrigued by huge lumps of marble-like granite rocks along the pathway and on tops of Cornish stone walls.

Published by


I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

49 thoughts on “Geology of Cornwall”

  1. Oh, with rocks like those I can imagine myself in your place excitedly taking pictures (as I did on my last morning in New Zealand not so long ago). You made me wonder whether such patterns have ever served as wallpaper, and in searching online I found one site that says: “Imagine an interest wall of your kitchen covered in one of our large selection of faux stone wall papers!” More commonly, though, I found wallpaper of the computer-monitor type that shows rock patterns.

    As for the “journey of 8,000 miles in just 400 million years” that you opened with, I did the arithmetic and found that that amounts to about a trifle over an inch and a quarter a year. The movement would be easily noticeable soon enough if only a person could somehow set up a non-moving marker in the air above a given bit of rock.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post Steve 😀
      Not sure I’d want rock wallpaper, but I have found a company which creates splashbacks of ocean forms and movement using the same method of using resin that is used to make surfboards. Looks really good in a shower room!

  2. Now you’ve done it. As if the beautiful shorelines and green hillsides weren’t enough, now I get a closeup of the rocks – those colors are spectacular and the variety … A collector’s paradise. Cornwall is oddicially on my travel list.

    Thank you for these glimpses of what awaits, Jude. I’m bookmarking this one to show Raqi who is obsessed with rocks and minerals.

    1. The different colours were astonishing! I couldn’t get over that purple and pale green and then we went to Kynance and found the dark green and dark red combination!!

  3. Fabulous, Jude! What a feast for the eyes! Some of those on Kynance look knitted 🙂 Fantastic textures and captures of them.

  4. Interesting, and these are beautiful pieces of nature. Some people (OK, me) like to pickup and take home interesting pebbles, so this would be a perfect place for me.

    1. Sadly LD taking pebbles from beaches here in the UK is considered to be theft. But they are beautiful.

  5. Having been a rock climber for many years I love seeing rocks, the texture, the color. I almost can feel these on my finger tips Jude. Beautiful.

Comments are closed.