Land’s End to Penzance
After an ok sleep last night (only woke up three times) I put on my walking clothes – less boots – and popped down for breakfast, which consisted of a bowl of chopped fruit (thought I’d better try and have something healthy) and a full fry up with a round of toast. The hope was that a good stomach full of food would keep me going…only time would tell if that was the case or not.
While eating breakfast I had a lovely call from Alice and Elisa, both wishing me luck on this first day of my walk. It was completely unexpected and to be honest, made me quite emotional. Thank you Sarah for sorting that out, it meant a hell of a lot to me.
Once breakfast was finished with it was time to put my boots on, take the pack to the car and do the short drive to Land’s End. Nine miles and about fifteen minutes later we arrived, instantly having to front up £3 just to get in to the car park – outrageous!
The weather wasn’t too bad, a bit windy but there were patches of blue sky and white fluffy clouds. At this point I made a silent wish for the weather to last, put the pack on my back and walked to find the famous sign post.
When we found the post that was exactly all it was, a post. The actual sign bit of it was nowhere to be seen. Upon reading the blurb in the hut next to it we found out the (1) the chain around the sign was to stop people standing in front of the sign and taking their own photos, and (2) the top of the sign is removed at the end of every day as they kept on getting stolen. Damn it! No stereotypical photo for me then? Matt took a snap of me by the post anyway so maybe Photoshop can sort the rest out when I get home? Once that ritual was finished it was time to head off, and only ten minutes later than planned.
Fortunately, with all the planning I’ve put in to the walk, I managed to start the walk without going in the wrong direction straight off the bat…bonus! I’ve read quite a few stories of people starting their LEJOG walks and going in completely the wrong direction. Glad I didn’t join that group I can tell you.
The start of the walk took me along the coastal path which was absolutely stunning. I couldn’t have chosen a better start to the walk. It was a shame when I had to turn inland all too soon. Still, tommorow’s walk is completely along the coastal path on the south coast so I’m really looking forward to that.
With only a couple of minor hiccups the first four miles went by without incident and I was feeling pretty good. As I made my way towards a rather big hill I took a small wrong turn which took me over a field and to a locked gate. Not wanting to turn around I decided to throw my pack over, jump the gate and carry on. No problems there but because I wasn’t on exactly the right path I ended up trampling through lots of brambles, and when I finally found the correct path I was then faced with a barbed wire fence to traverse – doh! Fortunately I came across another locked gate which I climbed, pack on this time, and the journey up the hill continued.
As the path went on it soon became clear that this was a path that wasn’t used that often as it narrowed right down and the brambles got worse and worse. As I looked at the path ahead one thought went through my mind: I’d decided to take the path less trodden; was this symbolic of the rest of my journey?
With the hill finally conquered the weather started to take a turn for the worse, swiftly turning to torrential rain. Clearly my wish hadn’t been heard earlier, or if it was it had been completely ignored as it rained for the next three hours!
The next three or so miles went by without too many problems, although the wind and rain made the going considerably harder as there was absolutely no cover from the rain, and no pub to stop at fir a break from it all! Bad route planning by me there, but in all honesty there’s not a great deal around that area.
If the path up the hill was the path less trodden, the path through Tremethick farm, which was clearly marked on the map – hence the reason I chose to take it, was a whole new kettle of fish. It soon became clear that it hadn’t been kept very well by the farmer and I soon found myself negotiating fallen trees and areas of the path which almost meant crawling in my hands and knees. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse the path became completely and utterly impassable! At this point, with the rain still streaming down, my spirits sunk and I had to give myself a good talking to. Good job nobody else was around to head that!
To get round the problem I ended up trudging across a few freshly ploughed fields, making my boots weigh twice as heavy, eventually finding an escape route through a gate on to a small road. A quick check of the map, a short stroll up the road, and I was on my way again.
By about 2:30pm the rain started to ease off and I was only a mile and a half away from Penzance. Shortly after that the blue sky was back…typical!
I finally made it back to the guest house by 3:05pm. It took a little longer than I’d planned but what with the detour roundthe impassable path and the wind and rain, I don’t think I did too badly.
All the kit worked great, with only a couple of minor leaks in the pack and my coat pockets, but with that amount of rain I could hardly complain could I?
All in all it was a very good start to the walk, even with the rain, and I can only hope that I don’t ache too much for tomorrow’s thirteen miles!