The RMS Mulheim shipwreck, also known as the Sennen Cove shipwreck or Mayon Cliff shipwreck, is the remains of a German cargo ship that ran aground on Cornwall’s rocky coastline back in 2003. Today the wreck sits in a small, rocky bay located between Sennen Cove and Land’s End in the South West of England.
The Sennen cove shipwreck is one of the most easily accessible, and impressive, shipwrecks in Cornwall. Setting off on an adventure to explore the shipwreck makes for a great day trip and can also be combined with a walk along the spectacular South West Coast Path from Sennen Cove to Land’s End.
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Shipwrecks in Cornwall
Cornwall has a long history of shipwrecks. It is thought that over 6000 ships have been lost to Cornwall’s rugged coastline, dating back to the 1200s. This is more than on any other comparable coastline of the British Isles.
The stretch of the Coast around the Lizard seems to be particularly dangerous to ships. This has earned it the moniker ‘Graveyard of ships’.
Luckily, ship safety has improved vastly in modern times. However, this doesn’t stop vessels from still running into trouble in the area. As recently as August 2021 Fishing vessel Fredwood MT338 of Maryport, Scotland ran aground on Battery rocks in the early morning after the crew fell asleep on watch. Thankfully, no one was hurt; but this just goes to show that accidents can still happen!
What happened to RMS Mulheim?
On 22 March 2003, RMS Mülheim was on a voyage from Ireland to Germany as a cargo vessel carrying 200 tonnes of scrap car plastic.
The chief officer, who was on watch at the time, caught his trousers on one of the ship’s levers. This caused him to fall down and get knocked unconscious! By the time he came to and regained consciousness, it was too late and the RMS Mulheim had already drifted into trouble. The Sennen Lifeboat and Land’s End Coastguard Cliff Team were able to reach the ship quickly. And the six-man crew of the vessel were airlifted to safety by rescue helicopter and treated for shock.
This is the official story. Sennen Cove locals will often tell you that the ship’s crew were drunk and fell asleep!
Sadly, the ship itself could not be saved and has been resting in a small cove at the base of Castle Zawn ever since.
How to find the RMS Mulheim
If you are asking yourself ‘How do I get to RMS Mulheim?’ then fear not! Finding the RMS Mulheim is actually very easy!
From the Sennen Cove harbour car park simply follow the signpost up the hill onto the South West Coast Path. Walk for approximately 10 minutes, past the old coastguard lookout, and you will come across a small path that leads to the edge of the cliff that overlooks the shipwreck. There is a small sign with info about the wreck of the RMS Mulheim. However, it is quite small and easy to miss. So keep your eyes peeled!
If you have access to Google Maps, simply type in ‘Mayon cliff shipwreck’ and you will be able to see the precise location. However, be aware that phone reception can be very patchy in this part of the country.
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Sennen cove to Lands End walk
Like most of the South West Coast Path, the Sennen Cove to Land’s End walk is spectacular! As well as the wreck of the RMS Mulheim there are also several other points of interest along the way.
As you head away from Sennen and towards the shipwreck you will first come across a former coastguard lookout. The lookout was built in 1891 and has been restored by the national trust. The views from the lookout are stunning and there is even a telescope that you can use. I recommend looking out to sea and trying to spot some basking sharks or dolphins. Both of which are fairly common in the area during the summer months.
Continue walking towards Land’s End and you will also come across the ruins of Maen Castle, an Iron Age cliff castle/fort, built around 2000 years ago! There are also a few bronze age cairns scattered around. Also, if you look out to sea you will be able to spot the Longships Lighthouse.
The cliffs are popular nesting sites for shags, fulmars, gulls and many other seabirds. Peregrine falcons and kestrels can also be seen hunting here, so don’t forget to look up!
Is it safe to visit the wreck of RMS Mulheim?
The honest answer is yes and no. Whilst it is perfectly safe to view the shipwreck from the cliffs above Gamper Bay, if you wish to get a closer look at the wreck you will need to practice extreme caution.
It is possible to scramble down the rocks to the cove where the shipwreck rests but please be aware that it is very steep and is definitely not advisable for young children or anyone with mobility issues.
The bay itself is littered with scrap metal where the ship has broken apart. If you do climb down to the wreck please be careful not to cut yourself on any of the jagged metal.
Something else to keep in mind is that this stretch of coast is notorious for dangerous and frequent heavy swells. Always check the tide times and visit at low tide.
That being said, it is possible to safely climb down and view the RMS Mulheim up close if you so wish. Just make sure to use common sense and of course respect the sea! I recommend using the live Sennen Cove webcams to check the sea conditions before you visit.
If you don’t fancy the climb down you will still be able to get an excellent view of the wreck from the cliffs.
Other things to do in Sennen Cove, UK
There are lots of fun and interesting things to do in Sennen and Cornwall! Here are a few of the best things to do in Sennen Cove:
Walk the South West coast path from Sennen Cove to Lands End
Spend a day at the Sennen cove beaches
Watch the lifeboat launch from the harbour lifeboat station
Check out the local shops
Visit the Roundhouse Capstan Gallery
Take a day trip to nearby St Ives.
Plan your trip to Sennen cove
Sennen Cove is a lovely village to stay in and spend some time in. In fact, it is one of the best places to visit in Cornwall. You can easily visit on a day trip from one of the more popular nearby holiday destinations. Such as St Ives, Penzance or Hayle. It is also a great place to stay for a few days.
Cornwall has many live webcams which you can use to plan your trip. The webcams allow you to check weather and surf conditions before you head out for the day.
Sennen Cove has many accommodation options such as camping, guest houses and holiday cottages.
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