Land’s End Ahoy!

Rest Day, 15th March:  Lizard

We had what can only be described as a bit of a hippy weekend on Henry’s camp site in Lizard. My first visit to what I thought were the toilets reminded me of an ablutions block from a 1970’s rock festival with three leeks sitting bizarrely on a chair outside a shower which was half full of leaves. However, having discovered a much newer and very well equipped bathroom my faith was somewhat restored. Strange signs bedecked the site such as “Rosie’s cider, £2.50 a jug! We have the jug!”.  Pigs, ducks, alpaca and huge swarms of chickens roamed freely and the remnants of a tropical beach bar gave the place huge character – and I loved it.

We drove into Penzance and I dropped Sharpie off at the station for his trip back to pick his car up in Plymouth. It was the end of a really good ‘Max and Paddy’ type of week during which Sharpie had looked after me brilliantly and at the same time had become a master of both Snickers and of schmoozing the locals. I hung around Sainsbury’s car park all day, eating two big breakfasts in their cafe, shopping, using their loo and catching up on bits and pieces before returning to the station for my week 5 driver, Alec, late afternoon and another night back at Henry’s.

Stage 22, 16th March: Lizard to Prussia Cove

A much chillier start than previous days but dry as I walked out of Henry’s to rejoin the coast path. I met just one person all the way across to Porthleven, when the path livened with the now familiar mix of dog walkers. A large party of students gathered around a preaching lecturer on the foreshore with yellow hard hats and field notebooks in hand. Geology students are just so easily spotted when you know one (photo).

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I also got my first glimpse of Cornish copper and tin works as I passed the engine house to Wheal Prosper on Rinsey cliffs. It wasn’t a well named mine as it only worked for six years.

A fine drizzle and cold wind picked up as I continued on towards Praa Sands and Prussia Cove, but it was nothing to worry about and only offered to freshen rather than chill. I met Alec parked up in a field just beyond Prussia Cove who greeted me enthusiastically with tales of his eventful first day.

Stage 23, 17th March: Prussia Cove to Penberth

The weather was largely unchanged as I left Snickers to walk back down to the coast path. Fifteen minutes later, I returned as the damn path was closed and diverted back to within inches of our overnight parking spot. I restarted my tracking and GPS like a good boy even though I had already done two-thirds of a mile.

It was an easy walk to Marazion with a stunning view of Saint Michael’s Mount. I rounded the headland and dropped onto the beach at low tide for a good long walk over wet sand to Penzance. I spotted Alec parked up at Sainsbury’s no doubt sipping a proper coffee rather than the naff instant one I’d knocked up earlier.

Penzance and Newlyn were both a little scruffy and clearly storm damaged. I thought they were deserving of some of the investment I had seen a week or so ago, or whenever it was, back in Plymouth. I have to admit that days and weeks are already seeming to roll into one another and if it wasn’t for my diary and this blog I wouldn’t have a clue what had happened, where I’d been and when.

After a pretty walk around a twee Mousehole harbour I then had a real scramble across to Lamorna and beyond. Hands were in use almost as much as feet and I think you’d be hard pushed to call it a path in any real sense of the word. I’d only planned to go as far as Lamorna, but my feet felt good so I decided the extra three miles round to Penberth would give me a bit of insurance for any duff weather over the next few days.

At one point today I did note that, since Southampton, I had only been overtaken by two people walking and they were both in towns. Today I was steam rollered on a quite tough bit of coast path by a woman in her 40’s and her three dogs who flew past faster than an HS2 train – I think she enjoyed showing me how it should be done.

Oh yes – and we did cheat today. Graham and his p.a. Sara met up with us at Land’s End for quick catch up and a photo shoot (photo). Yes we were a day early, but at least the rip-off photographer had gone home for the day and we could get access to the famous signpost which he usually has chained off to retain custom.

Stage 24, 18th March: Penberth to Cape Cornwall

With the weather unchanged I had plenty of ups and downs over heaths and grassland to Land’s End. After an encouragingly attractive approach to the world-famous landmark, the place itself was very disappointing. It comprised a rather tacky amusement park, an empty hotel, a few sparsely populated cafes and gift shops and the aforementioned photographer cooped up in his tiny hut waiting for the next middle-aged man in lycra (MAMIL) to turn up on a bike destined for John O’Groats.

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The mileage chart at Land’s End didn’t help the cause either. It said that Southampton was 231 miles away and I’d just walked 427 to get there and ascended over 85,000ft.  At least Sennen Cove lifted my spirits. The beach is undoubtedly the best I’d come across in Cornwall so far and I strolled across enjoying the sound of the surf and dodging the remnants of the waves washing up the sand. As I walked on I noticed that my energy seemed to be draining. Whether this was psychological, after passing my first real target at Land’s End, or physiological I don’t know. But I was glad that I was only going as far as Cape Cornwall.

When I finally reached Cape Cornwall my legs felt weak but a grin shot across my face as I bumped into the same hoard of Geology students (University of Plymouth) I had seen at Porthleven two days before. I tried, in vain, to gather a coach load of students for a quick photo shoot for this blog, but they were clearly looking forward to their gallon of beer rather than pose for a freak with a trekking pole who wanted an ironic picture for his website which meant absolutely naff all to them. Instead I talked enthusiastically to their lecturer for ten minutes as the yellow hatted brigade of students boarded their coach and headed with a little more enthusiasm for a night in a hostelry whose takings would probably see record levels.

Slightly disappointed my spirits were soon lifted when I found that Alec had blagged a night in the car park of the Cape Cornwall Golf and Leisure Club. George the manager was truly delightful and allowed us use of his showers and toilets, offering clean towels and a free run of the place. His staff were equally friendly and after an evening of chat we headed to our beds cheered by the generosity of pocket (thanks John) and heart they had shown and that which had also been shown by so many people to date.

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