Day 1 Sat 30-04-2005
Land's End to Penzance
Why is it if you've got to get up early you can't sleep? I tossed and turned, wrestling with this problem, until the alarm went off at 6 a.m.
Tina and I got up, had coffee and toast, and drove to the station for the 7:08 train to Reading, where I would connect with the 8:00 to Penzance. It felt weird saying our goodbyes, and as the train pulled out, we waved, and I was off.
At Reading, I dragged my huge backpack off the train, put it on (God knows why) and stood waiting. I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"All ready to go, then?"
It was Sue, one of my learners. It was great to see her. She wished me luck, and went off to work.
Eventually, the train pulled in. Thankfully, there were some empty seats. For a moment, I tried to get the damned backpack into the overhead lockers. It didn't take long to realise it wasn't going to go. My fellow passengers seemed to be of that opinion, too. Looking round, I saw I'd passed a huge luggage rack as I had boarded the train. Sheepishly, I stowed my gear and sat down, looking forward to a good read of the paper.
We got to Swindon very quickly, but the further west we went, the more stops there were. A party of ladies of a certain age got on, and sat near me. They were on route to the Scilly Isles. I gave them my paper to pass the time, and chatted.
The train pulled in to Penzance at around 1:30, and the bus to Land's End left at 2:20. There was the sea to look at, the town, and the local pubs. I resisted the lure of a pint, and wandered along the concrete sea wall.
The bus was an old double-decker, and it threaded it's way along tiny lanes towards the end of Britain. I would spend the rest of the day walking back to where I had just come from, an amusing if tiring thought. It was quite busy at Land's End, so I made my way to the (in)famous sign, took a photo, and strode off. The sun was shining, everything I needed was on my back, all was right with the world, I was off!
I walked north along the coast, toward Sennen Cove. Striking inland, I realised I had lost my water bottle. I retraced my steps, and found it on a seat. One mile done, and the first cock-up out of the way. It's about 11 miles to Penzance, and although I crossed the A30 a couple of times, I tried to use footpaths. I quickly discovered that when crossing easy walking farmland, there is a bit of a difference between the map and the farmer's version. Paths peter out into brambles, walls and fences sprout up with no hint of a gate or a stile, and you either have to scramble over, or detour in the hope of an easier passage.
I reached the youth hostel in Penzance (Castle Horneck), and pitched my tent. I showered, and dried myself on toilet paper. (Mental note to self – must get a towel).
Before sleeping, I had a swallow of the whisky my lovely daughter Lesley had given me, and prepared for my first night under canvas since I was in the Scouts.