Graham's End to End - Part 11

GRAHAM’S GREAT BRITISH JAUNT - The lanes of Devon and Cornwall


Where the Lans Ends

The penultimate day dawned fine and from Camborne we were soon in the lanes with many reminders of Cornwall’s industrial heritage just off our route. There were expansive views as we headed for Lizard Point, the most southerly point on our mainland. The first port of call was Gweek at the head of the Helford River. I first visited Gweek in June 1961 when I stayed in a farm in the village and enjoyed a week of perfect cycling weather. The farmhouse is still there, but no longer a farm as it is clearly a second home now. There is much commercial activity here as the marine and boating enthusiasts have taken over the head of the estuary, but a few miles through the oak woods restored our spirits. A pub lunch at “The Wheel” and a tail wind put us in good heart for the final few miles to Lizard and Lizard Point. which was proving a popular place for the many visitors. The National Trust owns much of the coast line along which runs the South West Coast Path, the longest trail in the country. 

Hazel went off to inspect the lighthouse and I lazed on the grass in the sunshine, and then we returned to the village for tea and cakes to celebrate my having reached the most northerly and southerly points of our mainland. The signposts pointed to such attractions as Kynance Cove and Mullion Cove, but these had to be omitted for the days when we tackle the coastal path! Annabel had secured accommodation at Helston and sheltered by the hedgerows we made good time into the wind until we reached the exposed acres of RAF Culrose. Our four star Bed and Breakfast was soon found: we even arrived before the landlady returned from work. Afterwards we indulged in a curry and a few beers and fell into conversation with the proprietor of the Indian restaurant and his other customer to round off a good day.

The ultimate day was horrible! We stepped out into the open only to put on wet weather gear to leave Helston for Leedstown and St Erth getting within touching distance of Hayle and St Ives on the northern coast. We then changed direction southwards for Gwallan – a local professed never having heard of it despite living in the next village. Marazion and its sandy bay was not a beauty spot today. St. Michael’s Mount was hardly visible and I certainly hated the few miles on the promenade cycle way to the shelter of the bus station café at Penzance. The harbour and docks and the road to Newlyn and Mousehole brought some relief from the elements. Mousehole was not on the planned itinerary, but the signposts kept beckoning us into such places as Lamorna Cove and Portcurno. They may be delightful on fine days, but to visit them means a few minutes’ descent followed by an ascent to regain the higher ground. After a struggle with the wind, rain and mist we reached St Buryan and hereabouts we gained telephone contact with Annabel at Land’s End. A final push through Sennen and we arrived at the large theme park which is now Land’s End, the start of many endeavours for John O’Groats.

Our arrival was marked by hugs and kisses plus a few enquiries from bystanders about where we had come from as we both looked weary and a little bedraggled. We had arrived, but others were now setting off for the north! We made our way to the steps of the hotel which is the starting point for the End to End and the signpost for the obligatory photograph. The weather was bad enough to cause a complete electrical failure on the whole site so we dismantled the bikes, got in the car and drove to Trengwainton Garden for a full cream tea. Penzance beckoned – we had cycled past our Bed and Breakfast in the morning – for a celebratory meal. Then it was off to home over the next two days. No cycling – thank goodness – as I had been on the road for 27 days in some unkind conditions provided by the weather and terrain. Now for my next long ride watch this space.

 Graham Thompson


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