21 September 2009


We are sitting in a cute cafe in Helford – it's in an old church, next to the carpark... non-residents are not allowed to take their cars into the village. It's been an easy walk, with a few inland detours where coastal routes were not available or there had been cliff falls. The highlight of the day was the crossing of Gillan Creek, which we had to time for low tide and paddle across! Yesterday we had an amazing and restful day off, eating icecream and lazing about . . . BUT! Here is our journal for the first 5 days of our walk. Pictures will probably not follow until we're back in London, sorry! So you can read this now without photos or in two weeks with photos added.

Tuesday 15th September

All photos of the day

This was the day where every leg of our journey took relatively longer and longer. E&L left for Israel in the morning, and probably got there before we got to Land's End! The train to Plymouth was lovely, took about 3 hours and went through some gorgeous scenery – especially the coastal railway section – thank you, IK Brunel! Trains are fun! You pay less money and get more room than on an aeroplane. The stations got smaller and smaller, so that we thought we might have to take a running jump from a moving train just to get off!

d & j on the train from plymouth to penzance

From Plymouth we took another train to Penzance, over a another IK Brunel construction. This trip took a further 2 hours, and we both had little naps. In Penzance, we got pasties and chips,and waited for the bus to take us to Lands End.

d at the bus station in penzance

The bus. Ah, the bus! It was a double decker bus that took us down every laneway in west Cornwall – down roads that you wouldn't think would fit a double decker bus, let alone a lorry coming in the opposite direction. It was meant to take us 50 minutes to get to lands end. It took us an hour and a half. However, it was hard to be angry at the bus, because we were rather thankful to still be alive. Also, the scenery was rather special.

we survived the bus trip, omg!
Us and the bus!

d at the first & last d with the lands end sign

j & d & the proof!
The obligatory shots!

as close as we ever got to nicholas crane or neil oliver. sigh.
As close as we ever got to Nicholas Crane. Sadface.

Once we made it through the bizarre theme park (including giant tardis), Land's End is actually a very beautiful spot.

lands end, beyond the theme park

However, we didn't have much time to enjoy it, as it was almost 5pm, and we had 8kms to walk with heavy packs before sunset at 7.15. So off we set – the beginning off Our Walk! We noticed then,and have continued to notice as we've gone on, that it is nice to be out at that time of the day, as we largely had the path to ourselves – most of the serious walkers having reached their destinations already, and the Lands End tourists not venturing too far from the car park.

the first warning sign!
I wonder why? Hmm...

rock formations near land's end

the path near land's end

golden cliffs and setting sun

sunset colours, near porthgwarra

Signs for the Minack Theatre were a welcome sight as we approached 7pm, until we noticed the decent into Porthcurno – down a sheer cliff next to the Theatre, with rough, steep steps, and nothing to hold on to (J says that this description does not fully bring home the horror of the situation, and other people with a healthy respect for heights will know what he means).

porthcurno, after descending the steps of dooooom!

Breathing an exhausted sigh of relief, we reached the bottom, and headed up into Porthcurno itself (where the bus had passed some three hours hence). We had tickets for a production of The Mikado at the Minack that evening, but came very close to not going. In the end, we made it up, but left at the interval – it was cold and windy, we were tired, sick and achy, and J had forgotten how racist the play is. We headed down the hill in almost total darkness, and paid a visit to the pub,where we excitedly ordered and ate a jacket potato each. It came with salad! Then came the sweet relief of sleep.

Wednesday 16th September

All photos of the day

Breakfast at Sea View B&B (fairly standard place, notable only for the teddy bears on the beds). We chatted to our new nemesisisisis – some walkers from USA/Canada (all in their 60s and 70s, and already been going 11 days). We ended up seeing them every day until our rest day on Sunday. I tell you what, if we are that fit when we're 70-something I will eat my hat. Their style of walking is very serious business, though, so they were constantly overtaking us as we sat down for morning tea or afternoon tea or lunch or second lunch or a 4 o'clock mystery meal. In conclusion: we take a lot of breaks!

penberth cove? new house!

round rock beach

like abstract sculptures

swcp day 2: j and a napple

And we needed them! At the end of the day we agreed that this had been the hardest day of walking we'd done, ever. There were a lot of steep ascents and descents! The first half of the day is a blur of hills, steps that have worn away, and spectacular views. Every time we rounded another headland we could see the next point – and all the while the Lizard slipping faintly out to sea on the horizon.

down down down

E lent us her bird and flower books, which was awesome. The weird little white flowers growing out of egg-shaped bases are called bladder campion (?), and one of the bright pink flowers is another kind of campion. The mystery berries of which we have eaten handfuls are blackberries. Heh. Well I didn't need a book to tell me that!

Passed through one valley the guidebook described as “totally unspoilt”. We used their toilet. Next valley described as “even more unspoilt”. Even more than totally?They didn't even have a toilet! They were both pretty stunning. “Unspoilt” has become our catch-all descriptor for this walk (“Look at this quarry! Totally unspoilt!”)

glass buoy and flowers

St Michael's Mount was in view for the 2nd half of the day, standing there in the bay, looking speccy. The end of the day took us through Mousehole (heehee...pronounced 'mowzel') where we had hot chocolate as we sat in the little port. Mousehole might be a nice spot, for those of you who have asked us to find locations for your new houses.


Then we went through Newlyn where we stopped in a small, friendly local pub (for local people) for beer/cyder, and got chatting to a couple on next table, on holiday from the West Midlands. Lovely.

the medieval quay at newlyn

jubilee swimming pool at penzance

It was all (mostly) flat street walking from Mousehole, and it flashed by. We arrived in PZ at about 5:30 (it was a 19km walk), eventually found our confusingly-addressed B&B, checked in, showered, changed, went out for a meal (“oriental”, serving chips and ice cream cake), came home exhausted and achy, and slept through the noise of the busy road (D is obsessed with its name: Market Jew St, coming from “Thursday Market”) below our window.

Thursday 17th September

Pics of the day can be found here!

We started the day making quick progress over a flat, concreted path running alongside the beach. Other than the striking St Michael's Mount and the rabbit-filled Marazion Marsh, it was a fairly uninspiring stretch of the walk. If we were to do it again, we would probably take a bus from Penzance to Marazion, and use the extra time and energy to climb up St Michael's Mount. The Mount is, I suppose, a semi-detached island, accessible at low tide via a causeway. It used to be a Benedictine priory, then a fortress, then a port for exporting tin and copper. It now rises upout of the bay, topped by some old buildings remodelled by the Victorians. As we walked towards it, we could only see a silhouette, as the morning sun was rising behind it.

morning and st michaels mount

Soon after Marazion, we stopped for morning tea on a rocky beach and were passed by the North Americans. We then passed them on their tea break, and continued along the tops of the cliffs, over green hills and looking out over the blue, blue sea.

and all the world before us

path to the horizon

We climbed one hill to be greeted with an amazing view of where we had just walked, and were passed once again by the Americans. We walked with one of them for a while and he told us that he'd walked the Appalacian trail (I think he said it was 2000 miles?!) over a few years, including one five-month stint. Holy moly!

prussia cove, cornwall

Prussia Cove was a highlight of the day. As you walk towards it, you can look down onto the bay, where smugglers' carts cut deep ruts across the rocks (see above). Just off the beach, we walked past Porth en Alls, the base for the international musicians seminar masterclasses, and piano music wafted past us on the summer breeze. It would have been nice to stay a while, but we were both getting sore and tired and well aware that we still had a long way to go!

toadflax (i think)
Toadflax, I think.

post-lunch thumbs up

We stopped for lunch overlooking Praa Sands by Sydney Cove (above). The beach stretched out for quite a distance – a marked difference from most of the other tiny coves we have passed on this trip. It could have been Sydney! We both de-shoed (un-shod), ate carrots, bagels and hummous, reclined on the grassy slope . . . lovely! The path behind the beach became a little confusing, but a friendly (if rather toothsomely challenged) man pointed out the way. When he heard we were from Australia he shouted incredulously, “What are you doing here?!” We responded with identical gestures and the reply, “It's beautiful!”

wheal prosper engine house 1
wheal prosper engine house, which we passed that afternoon.

white engine house at trewavas head 1
another engine house - unusually white.

After this, the day becomes a bit of a blur to me – there were a few old engine houses that we stopped at for a break, but mainly I remember PAIN, stiflingly warm air, MORE PAIN, the sun glaring off the sea, the pack getting heavier, my feet getting sorer, and the persistent belief that I was going to cause a landslide, fall off the cliffs, and die. Fuck you very much guidebook – as if it wasn't enough to read the signs on every cliff “WARNING! UNSTABLE CLIFFS!” and to see the places where the stone walls have fallen into the ocean, you have to make it abundantly clear: “Take notice of any cracks opening up in the path”. SHUT UP! I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!! My constant mantra for the afternoon was, “Just pretend it's not there. It's OK. Just pretend it's not there.”

warning signs: unfenced cliff ahead

d encouraging me
D encouraging me!

Luckily, our B&B in Portleven (The Copper Kettle) was AMAZING. The room was huge, the hosts friendly, and we had bathrobes! After a bit of a rest, we hauled ourselves off around the tiny harbour for dinner (it was curry night everywhere, apparently!).

porthleven harbour at dusk

We agreed that this 23km was the hardest day of walking we'd ever done. We were beginning to sense a theme.

Friday 18th September

Photos from the day.

The day began well at the Copper Kettle, with much chatting with other guests – two of whom were walking little sections of the coast path – and PANCAKES! Om nom nom. We were handed our packed lunches . . . OH. MY WORD. They were HUGE. In fact, we didn't even need to get dinner that night, because we were still eating them! The breakfast made a nice change from the standard breakfast fare here. I have thought of a business plan: there seems to be money in making good coffee for Australians in London (see: Flat White, Taylor St cafes, etc), so maybe there is money in making horrible, bland, greasy breakfasts for English people in Melbourne. “Tired of seeing green things on your breakfast plate? Sick of herbs and spices? Come to [NAME], where the most exciting thing you'll taste is the HP Sauce!” Genius.

the gull on the chimney

danger signs: steep and crumbling cliffs!

After a clear start, the day was overcast and a bit cooler. Basically, we could recount this day to you framing it entirely using toilet stops. J's first toilet break was two blocks from the B&B (where he had also availed himself of the facilities). The next PC (public convenience) marked on the map was not for another few miles, so he went again near the appropriately named Loe – this is a lake, cut off from the sea by a bar of gravelly sand (the Loe Bar).

a couple beside the loe
The Loe

pink costal flowers

We cut inland at one point, avoiding Halzephron Cliff (meaning CLIFF OF HELL cliff), and taking a shortcut to Winwaloe/Gunwalloe Church – Church of the Storms. This was a solitary little place tucked in behind a hulk of hill, protected from much of the weather. We had a snack stop, D used the PC and bought a postcard (which I lost later in the day) and headed around the next headland to Poldhu Cove and Point, where Marconi's wireless station was located, and some more PCs were used by J.

Saint Winwaloe Church, Gunwalloe

walk away from the cove at gunwalloe

We lunched at Mullion Cove, which is very picturesque and unspoilt. We watched a goose follow a couple around like a dog for a bit, and a dog be completely uninterested in going anywhere near the goose (the goose was probably the larger creature). J used the PCs at Mullion Cove, and we pressed on.


stone walls

MY LEGS WERE SORE. MY FEET WERE SORE. There was no access to public transport or even to many roads along this section of the walk. It was difficult, and it felt very isolated. Then we were overtaken by a man in jeans and a business shirt carrying a bag of shopping, his jumper thrown casually over his shoulder in the style of a catalogue model. There was also a cyclist who spent most of his time carrying his bike up and down hills.FULE.

At soap rock (an old soapstone quarry, now grown over with grass, and looking very unspoilt) we stopped for first afternoon tea. I dipped my feet in the little stream and demanded a toll in blackberries from passers by. This is my new favourite job in the world.

cornwall's green and aqua colours

hairy coo with horns!

We took a bit of an unplanned detour near Kynance Cove, through a field of hairy coos (above), past one of the OS maps mystery “settlements” (where D used nature's very public and very convenient public convenience – a tree. Up in the carpark J used the more man-made and more flooded version.

we totally had to walk down these
I admit that I only took this to scare my parents. We didn't actually have to walk down here!

The last couple of miles to the end of the Lizard peninsula were painstakingly slow, as J whinged about his sore feet and made D stop at every possible opportunity to admire the view, or the bench, or to have a cup of tea. BUT! Eventually we made it to the southernmost point of mainland Britain (not Lands End, but the Lizard), saw a seal in the water, passed the lighthouse (with its inactive foghorn), and wandered the last km of our 23km around to Housel Bay Hotel just before 7pm. Once there, D blocked the toilet.

Later in the evening, with the toilet unblocked, we had a BATH! J wondered if his feet were more or less sore than the day before. We came to the conclusion that it was the hardest day . . . just joking!


Saturday 19th September

All photos of the day

We awoke, ready for another long, hard slog. Breakfast was had with a stunning view overlooking the bay. We were sat with the other guests, with tables seemingly randomly allocated via room number. J thought it was rather like being at school, and wondered what hotel guest politics had been going on for people to get the best seats.

lizard lighthouse in the sun

We had a plan of attack – walk to Cadgwith for morning tea, break the 11kms between Cadgwith and Coverack into 3 manageable sections, have fish and chips at Coverack, and walk on to St Keverne. It was a good plan, in theory. It seemed to be going well as we passed the coast watch,flying the Cornish flag, and the man in the booth leant out his window and had a little chat with us, before marking our passing.

coast watch

day five: looking back towards lizard

The walk to Cadgwith was relatively easy, along the tops of cliffs and through the unique vegetation of the Lizard. The sea was a brilliant turquoise and looked very inviting. The descent into Cadgwith was very pretty, through private gardens and past thatched roofs, and the mug of tea and toasted tea cakes were very welcome. The village itself was unspoilt.

identify this flower! a cuppa in cadgwith

white cottage and thatch in cadgwith

Our guidebook warned us that the next section to Coverack contained some “tiring climbs”, so we were pleasantly surprised that the first twothirds was a beautiful and easy walk under the warm sun with a cool breeze blowing. The National Trust signs told us to look out for Shetland ponies and basking sharks (sharks in the sea, not on the path), and D demanded ponies at every possible opportunity. PONIES!!! I WANT THEM NOW!!! We'd been warned not to eat our lunch at the bottom of Downas Cove, in case we couldn't make it up the other side afterwards, so instead we sat near the bottom to enjoy the view and ate a chocolate bar for energy. D said “No walkers have passed us today” and the first Canadian obliged by poking her head over the ridge. They all descended and told us that their breakfast had been served an hour late, explaining their tardy appearance. We watched them struggle up the hill with a sense of foreboding, took a deep breath, and marched on. I say march, it was more of a crawl. And an agonising one at that.

the first side of the hill of doom.

the hill of doom and our nemesisises

us at the top of the hill of doooooom!

We were rewarded, after passing the resting North Americans, by FIVE SHETLAND PONIES blocking our way!


We rested at the old coast guard lookout at Black Head for a final cup of tea as the North Americans passed us for the last time, and totally missed the spectacular panorama that we were enjoying – we could see as far as Falmouth! We were warned about the horrid path coming into Coverack, so we took an inland detour through a field of turnips! Down in the town, we saw a few of our nemesisisises in the pub, and our choice was vindicated – even they said it had been tough going.

black head

colours of the coastal heath

Ah, but the reason we were in the pub was that the fish and chip shop was closed between 2:30 and 5 (we were there a bit before 4:30), so we decided to check out the pub menu. Unfortunately, they also didn't serve food until after five. So we tried the cafe. They stopped serving food at 4. Our plans were going very awry. We ended up buying a small tub of Roskilly's ice cream and eating it with a stale bagel overlooking the harbour. It was at this point that we realised we were sitting next to a bus stop, and a bus was due to leave for St Keverne in 10 minutes time. WE WERE SO VERY TEMPTED . . .

SO tempted.

We resisted. Barely. Instead, we shouldered our packs and marched on to Lowland Point (which used to be a beach when the sea levels were higher), stopping for a breather in what would have made a lovely campsite (if you're in to that sort of thing).

d on lowland point

From there, it was a painful and winding route through the unspoilt Dean Quarries (they were not blasting when we were there!), onto the beach, up the byway, onto the sealed road (fucking OUCH OUCH OUCH) and to the intersection where I HOPED our B&B would be. It was. Thank goodness!

quarry, man.

green fields in the sinking sun

We'd been given the family room, because they couldn't remember if we'd booked a twin or a double, and as there was a single and a double bed, it would be very easy to move the pillows “like this” so we could sleep in separate beds. LOL.

parc-an-grouse, st keverne

After a shower and a recoup, we tottered slowly into the village for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the pubs. This was super because it involved sitting next to a display of knots (they all sounded kinkier than one might expect of seamen... oh, hang on...), seeing a bit of random live music, eating a delicious fresh fish (D) and a veggie burger that was literally that: a veggie pattie between two halves of a bun. Nothing else! The chips, however, were fantastic.

j <3 d <3 j <3 d etc


  1. Jellus. Thankful. Jellus. Thankful.

    I think jelllllusy is winning in the war of "wow!" and "I'm so glad I'm not walking that."


  2. I dipped my feet in the little stream and demanded a toll in blackberries from passers by


  3. There is a lot of text here. I would find it very pleasant if you could upload an audiobook version narrated as if you were Nicholas Crane.

  4. lovely lovely lovely!!! I love your regaling tales of walking, they are my favourite thing for cheering me up at work from the ever-present drudgery.

    However, this morning sydney awoke to a garish orange dust storm. !!! A thin layer of desert dust blanketed the whole city. the herald is awash with artful sillhouettes of the harbour bridge and Turneresque billowing orange clouds where you can't see the opera house.

    Keep on with the regaling! xoxoxx

  5. hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!! omg, i miss having conversations with peope i know other than db (who i love to bits, but sometimes it's nice to talk to more than one person)! sj, if i would you i would also be jelllus and thankful! steph, it worked to the extent that they said they might, but the blackberries were all at the top of an extremely large hill and we were at the bottom, so . . . hmm. danni, we have been saying "THAT'S FANTASTIC!" whenever we have to ford a creek (once), or otherwise get our boots wet and/or muddy. unfortunately we have yet to see nicholas crane, neil oliver, griff rhys jones, julia bradbury, or any other of my lolarious nature-program icons. sadface. gaylourdes, yay! i am glad we are helful in the cheering-up (up-cheering?) department! we have seen brief hints of the orange dust cloud over sydney, but it struck when we were walking, so we haven't been keeping up to date with everything. i hope you are wearing a bandana to keep the dust out of your lungs - stylin'!

  6. What agreat adventure that translates into an even greater read. Thank you and happy trails!