Day 2 Sun 01-05-2005
Penzance to Helston
Sleeping in a tent takes a bit of practice – as I was to find out. You can hear every tiny sound outside, and so I was awake at six listening to the local dawn chorus. There had been some light rain in the night but I was warm and dry. I spent a little time planning my route (not that difficult – even I could follow the coast).
After packing my tent away I breakfasted in the Youth Hostel, sharing a table with a nice woman who was doing the coastal path with her friend. I said goodbye, left her to her breakfast, and set off.
I walked through Penzance, and followed the railway along the coast, marvelling at St. Michael's Mount on my right. The path then became much harder, as it plunged up and down the undulating coastline. It was hot and sunny, and I became hot and bothered. It was here that I met the nice woman from breakfast, complete with friend. They were in front of me!
"I never saw you walk past," I panted.
"Ah, you weren't watching," they teased.
Now this certainly wasn't a race, I was in this for the long haul. But still, how had two ladies, a little (tact Richard, tact) older than me, managed to give me at least half an hours start, and in the space of about four miles, end up ahead of me?
"We got the bus past Penzance!"
"Those boots look very new," said the lady I'd breakfasted with. Hers looked well used, veterans of many long expeditions.
"Are you walking far?" said her pal. I don't know why, but I felt very wary of telling anyone my plans, an example of the many superstitions I would develop during my walk. At this early stage, surely announcing to everyone that I was walking Lejog would be tempting fate?
I mumbled something about seeing a bit of the coast, bade them farewell, and walked on.
The path continued to rise and fall, I got hotter and hotter, then at Praa Sands, at last, I came across a pub. Over a shandy I watched happy family groups doing Sunday lunch. They all seemed very content, and probably all had their nice shiny cars parked outside to whisk them home. Lucky bu**ers!
I got to Porthleven, looked around the harbour, and drank an Orange Fanta. The coastal path had been tough, so thinking "Sod footpaths!" I wandered inland to Helston on the road.
Helston is a lovely little town, and right on the main street was a gift shop with a b+b sign. I rang the bell, and the owner answered. Chris had a room, and I was able to lie down and recuperate. Chatting to Chris, it turned out he lived for a year in Basingstoke, running a youth centre. He was off to see Fish (from the 80's prog rock band Marillion) in Falmouth later that evening. I wandered out onto the high street, went into the nearest pub, and had some supper.
I was back in my room by 8:30, feeling decidedly odd. I must have caught the sun, as I felt very feverish, and slept poorly. Worse, my right ankle was very painful, and looked red and swollen. Would this be the end of my walk? A two day marathon before returning home defeated? Not bloody likely.