Day 72 Penzance to Mousehole 9th July 2016

Today is probably going to be the shortest day of the whole walk – a mere 3.3m from Penzance to Mousehole, where I started Day 69 last year.

The walk was simple – along the cob from Penzance to Newlyn. Newlyn was interesting: I enjoyed seeing a real working fishing port rather than the little ports that just seem to run pleasure craft. IMG_0704The warehouses were shabby, and the place does not seem to be very wealthy but there were dozens of ships crowded into the harbour and numerous fish wholesalers lining the streets.  I also came across another of the cycle way signposts – haven’t seen one of those for ages.IMG_0703

Just outside Mousehole there is a memorial garden to the volunteers of the Penlee Life Boat station. Closed now, it performed its last service in 1981, when the Solomon Browne set out in hurricane force winds and 50ft seas to help the Union Star. After initial reports that four men had been saved, contact with the station was dropped and both ships were lost with all hands. Eight men from Mousehole had been in the lifeboat, a very high number for such a tiny village, but within forty-eight hours sufficient volunteers had come forward to form a full crew. The replacement boat, the Mabel Alice, was stationed in Newlyn.IMG_0717

The weather was not much to write home about. The cloud stubbornly refused to lift and the west wind was quite strong.  I reached my destination by 10.45, and caught the bus back to Penzance. My original plan had been to return to Marazion to go into the castle at St Michael’s Mount, but my landlady informed me at breafast that it is closed on Saturdays.

I wish I had taken the chance to go around quickly yesterday. My second thought was the open air theatre at Mynack, which I missed last year through going inland, but the weather was so dull it hardly seemed worth the bother. In the end, I took a bus to Gwithian, a small town in North Cornwall where a branch of my family came from, before emigrating to South Wales in the 1840s. The churchyard was full of Hockins, Cocks, Andrewarthas and Pascoes, all cousins in the 99th degree. A swift bus ride back (First Kernow operate an excellent and comprehensive service) gave me time to go to the Penlee Gallery to look at an exhibition of sea painting.

Day 71 – Porth Leven to Penzance 8 July 2016

IMG_0582Today was a perfect day to get me back in the swing of walking – not too hard, not too easy, ideal walking weather and the right sort of distance – just under 15 miles, plus nearly two to get to the start point.

I took the train to Penzance yesterday lunchtime, and it was no more than averagely late, getting in just before six. The weather was poor. It began to spit just as I was popping into a pub for supper, and by the time I came out it was of plastic trouser proportions. Last year the walk up to the youth hostel from the town centre seemed endless, even though Chris carried my bag, but this year the nearly two miles were no problem, especially as the rain eased off, although it was dreadfully muggy. It’s a good youth hostel (Castle Horneck) and despite being in a dorm with four others I got a good night’s sleep – no snorers, and although it was fiendishly hot, as they always are, I managed to grab the bunk by the window.

I was able to drop my bag off early at tonight’s B&B so was just walking with a day pack – so much better! The bus dropped me at Porth Leven where I finished day 68. The path climbs up the headland, but none of it was too steep, and the weather, which started poor with a low sea fret, cleared around eleven, to give a mix of sun and cloud. Absolutely ideal.IMG_0603

This is the start of the tin mining area and there are a number of old wheals dotting the landscapes. In our trip to Geevor mine last year, Chris and I found out all about the mines – absolutely fascinating. They were copper and tin, and many of the shafts can go more than a mile out under the sea. I cannot imagine how terrifying that must have been. If a mine collapsed inland you might have some hope of rescue, but not in these.

I reached the gorgeous Praa sands around 11.30 and had my first paddle. Icey! I stopped on beach cafe for coffee and a square of lemon drizzle cake that would have fed a family.

IMG_0631Another couple of hours of gentle up and down on a good path brought me in sight of St Michael’s Mount.  It can be seen for several miles before you actually reach the town of Marazion. It is a quite remarkable construction, inaccessible on its headland other than when the tide is low enough to reveal the causeway.

I didn’t have time to look at the castle before I needed either to turn back or miss the tide, so I shall go tomorrow afternoon – it should only take a couple of hours for me to go from Penzance to the point in Mousehole where I started day 69. Originally a monastery, a priory of the IMG_0688Norman abbey of Mont St Michel, it was captured by the Earl of Oxford in 1473 and held for Lancaster against the prevailing Yorkist dynasty for nearly six months. After the dissolution, it was held by the Crown until it was granted to Sir Robert Cecil, later Marquess of Salisbury. It was sold to the Bassets, a prominent Cornish family, who supported the King during the Civil War. It eventually came into the hands of another old Cornish family, the St Aubyns, who are still in residence, although the place is managed by the National Trust.

I walked a long way across the beach toward Penzance. I am not generally a fan of sand walking it is very hard on the legs, but this sand was firm. The last couple of miles into Penzance are on a cycle track parallel to the railway, so easy going. A very fine day indeed.