Saturday, 11 February 2012

Land’s End to Pendeen

Just to let me know what I've committed myself to!

A hearty breakfast – the first person to have one this year, as the hotel had only re-opened the day before.  Then signed the end-to-end book, for those doing the Land’s End to John O’Groats trip, by whatever means.  A somewhat diffident entry, saying I planned to get to JO’G in 2013, as there’s always the chance I won’t complete it.  Those that finish at Land’s End have no such problem.
There are various maps in the hotel covering difference versions of the journey, the end-to-end book records successful trips - by wheelchair, bike, on foot, in vintage cars – you name it.
Photographed by one of the staff outside the entrance to the hotel, and then off at 9:15. It really is Land’s End. Though the map shows more land, it’s just cliffs and rocks. 
The first mile and a half is high, and the path then descends to Sennen Cove, a rather ugly little village with a lifeboat station and various surfing facilities. But the beach is glorious. And there were surfers, even in February.  Though of course it was the weekend. Crossed as much as possible on the sand, but couldn’t go all the way, as the tide was only half out, and rocks prevent a complete transit. So I went via the inland route to the far end.
From there (Tregiffian Vean Cliff - 363279) to Cape Cornwall is a spectacular walk, largely on clifftops with the sea foaming over rocks below. The going is often hard, with rocky climbs and descents as one skirts the higher cliffs above the various coves. And when one thinks one has gained enough height to last a long time one finds the path dipping to cross another watercourse, such as those at Maen Dower and the Cot Valley. 

Cape Cornwall from the Southeast

Cape Cornwall sits below as you reach the crest of Cairn Gloos – which incongruously is also a green and tee on a golf coursed which covers most of the land immediately inland of the cape itself. I climbed to the monument at the peak of the Cape; the map identifies it as a chimney, but there is no accompanying building, so it’s difficult to believe it actually was what the map says it was.
After the descent back down to the shoulder of the cape it’s up again on the landward side to regain the Coastal path at a higher level.  Then it’s all at a fairly high level until you turn an abrupt corner and drop again to cross another stream.  This is a pretty little sheltered valley with ordinary garden birds rather than the ravens and jackdaws of the open high cliffs. There is also a striking set of old mine buildings just above the point where one crosses the stream. But it’s up again in a steady climb on the far side to one of the highest points on this section of the path.
As you reach the top the scenery changes to become dominated by old mine buildings.
Old Engine Sheds
For the most part there are only modest piles of spoil, which is hard to understand given the amount of work that must have been put into building the engine houses that served the mines. But it changes with Levant and Geevor mines, which were two of the most substantial and longest lived in West Cornwall. Here the ruins are extensive, and there are huge remnants of mining spoil.
Below Geevor I met Brian and Jilly Rowson, who had come from Pendeen where we were all due to spend the night, and to which they had driven from Penzance. For them, it was back the way they had come – though without any need to spend another hour in a gorse thicket as they had after taking the wrong track from Pendeen Watch.  For me it was a (relatively) easy couple of miles to the Pendeen road, though longer than it should have been to get to the North Inn because we took the wrong road up.
The last mile threatened cramp, but it didn’t develop (will it tonight?)  The pint at the North Inn was wonderful, but the rugby (a snow-covered stadium in Rome) less so. Fortunately England overcame their shortcomings to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The room was good, but no hot water – so no eagerly anticipated luxuriating in a hot bath. I didn’t have the sense (or desire?) to substitute a hot shower, so went in to dinner later changed but unwashed.
Dinner was solid pub stuff, with a surprising range of curries. Conversation about what we should all do when we are “a certain age”. Adventure? Projects? Move or stay? Inconclusive, of course!
Bed by 10:30 after (hopefully) a weather forecast.

Fine and Sunny, up to about 8C, but colder later. 21.09 km; 7 hrs; 609m ascent; 525m descent.

Map -

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