Light illuminates waves through a rock formation in Cornwall

Spray of sunshine! Golden beams of light illuminate the breaking waves through the ‘Song of the Sea’ rock formation in Cornwall during rare winter sunset phenomenon

  • Stunning rock formation is called Zawn Pyg, known as ‘Song of the Sea’ at Nanjizal beach in Sennen, Cornwall
  • The sunset causes light to alight with a rock arch and arcs of light are cast through the surf created by the sea
  • Nanjizal gets its name from the Cornish ‘Porth Nansisel’ which roughly translates as cove of the low valley  

Stunning pictures show a streak of golden light burning through a rock formation in a secluded cove in Cornwall. 

The annual light show only occurs over the winter months, from December to January, when the sun traverses the sky at a lower angle than normal.

When it sets, the light aligns with a rock arch and arcs of golden light are cast through the surf created by the sea.

It attracts many visitors to the cliffs at Nanjizal beach in Sennen, Cornwall, desperate to capture a picture of the rare phenomenon.

The tall narrow passageway is called Zawn Pyg, though many know the cave by its more romantic name, ‘Song of the Sea’.

Light shines through the rock formation tall in the narrow passageway called Zawn Pyg, which is part of the cliffs at Nanjizal beach in Sennen, Cornwall

When the sun sets, the light aligns with a rock arch and arcs of golden light are cast through the surf created by the sea drawing many visitors to view the spectacle 

Zawn Pyg lies to the south of Nanjizal beach. Nanjizal gets its name from the Cornish ‘Porth Nansisel’ which roughly translates as cove of the low valley

Waves splash against the rocks as a glimmer of light is seen shining through the cove as sea foam gathers in the tidal pools 

The rock formation has been photographed since Victorian times, and been the subject of countless paintings.

Nanjizal gets its name from the Cornish ‘Porth Nansisel’ which roughly translates as cove of the low valley.

It is also sometimes referred to as Mill Bay, due to the remains of a mill in the valley just above the beach.

Zawn Pyg is in the cliffs on the southern side of the cove and there are large tidal pools in front of it.

The tidal pools are called Big and Little Muzzan, coming from the Cornish name ‘Morzawn’, which means zawn of the sea – a zawn being a deep and narrow sea inlet.

One of the earliest known photographs of the winter sunset beaming through Zawn Pyg at Nanjizal was taken in the 1860s by William Brooks.

The remote Cornish beach attracts visitors to its mesmerising cove. People are advised to not visit the cove alone due to a lack of phone signal 

The tidal pools are called Big and Little Muzzan, coming from the Cornish name ‘Morzawn’, which means zawn of the sea – a zawn being a deep and narrow sea inlet 


Waves crash against the narrow rock formation as the sun creates a golden glow (left). The magical cove was once the location for the 1966 episode of Doctor Who, where the Tardis appeared on the beach

In more recent years, pictures of this natural phenomenon have become a hit on social media.

Greg Martin, who photographed the cove, said: ‘In between the bigger waves coming through the cave, the Song of the Sea looks almost like a cathedral, as the mist in the air from the waves is lit up in the golden sunlight.

‘To add to this cove’s magical allure, it was once the location for a 1966 episode of Doctor Who, where the Tardis appeared on the beach.

‘How they managed to get the Tardis down to such a remote spot is a mystery in itself.

‘Due to its remoteness, there are plenty of things to be aware of if planning a visit to Nanjizal. There is no phone signal in this cove, so going alone is not advised.

‘It is also very important to be aware of the tide times, because the sea can almost cover the beach at high tide.’

Earlier this month, British actor and musician Sam Palladio, known for his part in the drama series Nashville, also posted a video of the sunset shining through Zawn Pyg.

He wrote: ‘ ‘Welcome to the magical kingdom of Cornwall Nanjizal Beach.’

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