Penzance, part 2

September 22, 2014

Originally we had planned to take the bus back to Zennor and continue walking from there, but you had to leave Penzance quite early in the morning if you wanted to get to Zennor by noon. So instead we decided to start from Penzance and walk towards Land’s End. After all we already knew we weren’t going to walk the sections of the path in order.

So we headed down to the waterfront, where we knew the Coast Path was, and headed towards Mousehole (pronounced Mowzl). This section of the path was on tarmac so the going was good. The tide was low and so the boats in the harbour were high and dry. Soon we were in Newlyn where the main industry was fish processing. We passed by a processing plant where they were swabbing the floor, waiting for fish to arrive.

Mousehole harbour

Mousehole harbour

Today’s weather was clear and sunny, and off in the distance we could see St. Michael’s Mount. It was already getting pretty warm as we climbed up out of Newlyn and followed an unpaved path over the hill and down into Mousehole. It was a pretty village, unlike Newlyn which was kind of dingy, but then Mousehole’s main industry is tourism.

Once past Mousehole the path became a proper path and we felt like we were out in the countryside. As with yesterday’s section we went up and down, sometimes walking between hedgerows and other times along the cliff edge. Every time we came to a stream or harbour we climbed down to sea level and then back again up the other side. At one of the beach places we had about 100 metres of boulder-hopping, which we did easily after our intensive Norwegian boulder-hopping course. It did help that the boulders were dry.

Butterfly

Butterfly

The track was much nicer to walk on than yesterday’s section, with fewer rocks to walk over. Later on in the afternoon we turned off the path to have a look at an Iron Age hill fort. But on the way to the fort was a group of Dartmoor ponies who were being pastured there to control the vegetation. One of them came up to us and sniffed our pockets to see if we had any pony treats. Then it tried to chew on the handles of our hiking poles, probably for the salt. As for the cliff fort, we never did find that.

Dartmoor pony

Dartmoor pony

We finally reached Porthcurno, where we could catch a bus. The bus ran every two hours (this week anyway, less frequently after that) and the next bus was leaving in 25 minutes, so we decided to end the day’s walk there. We bought ice-cream cones at the café there, rhubarb crumble for Rosemary and chocolate for Paul. We had decided to carry on from Porthcurno tomorrow and realized we could save some money by getting return tickets for our trip to Penzance. That caught the driver by surprise and it took a bit of discussion before he understood our plan. Again we marvelled at how the driver could drive the bus along the narrow country lanes, and we were amused at cars which had to back up to let us through.

Coast trail

Coast trail

Back at the hostel we had showers and did some laundry before going for dinner. Even though the hostel has a good self-catering kitchen we decided to buy dinner at the restaurant there. Paul had steak and Guinness pie and Rosemary had a burger, which filled us up nicely. We made tea afterwards and drank it while writing up our journals.

September 23, 2014

This morning the fine weather continued, so we had our breakfast and headed down into Penzance to catch the bus back to Porthcurno. We had been planning to catch it at the bus station, but we noticed a fellow walker waiting at a stop in Green Street so we waited there as well. He was going to walk the section we had done yesterday, and he agreed with us that the section from St. Ives to Zennor took longer than either of our guide books indicated. When the bus arrived it was the open-top kind, but to our dismay the seats were quite wet when we went to sit down. We found a Kleenex and sort of got the seats dry before sitting on them.

Porthcurno

Porthcurno

Once we arrived in Porthcurno we walked down to the beach to join the coastal path, and then climbed steeply up the rough stairway past the Minack Theatre. We decided not to pay the entrance fee just to look around the theatre, but thought we would return at a later date to actually attend a performance there. Once past the theatre our route had us walking along the cliff top and a good track. The views were really good once again so it was an enjoyable morning. The walking was easier than yesterday, with fewer ups and downs.

As with other sections of the path there were seabirds and the occasional kestrel flying over. We had heard about the return of the chough to Cornwall, an iconic bird of the county, and to our surprise we actually saw several of them! Apparently they had been extirpated from Cornwall around 70 years ago, but people had been changing agriculture practices to bring them back, and it seems to be working.

Red-billed Chough

Red-billed Chough

Before long we could see the white bulk of the Land’s End shopping centre on the horizon, as well as its massive car park sparkling in the sun. We had lunch before getting there, and then walked around one more headland to arrive there. Despite it being a weekday in late September the place was quite crowded. We continued on the coastal path towards Sennen, which was our destination for today. We were quite surprised to meet a couple who we had bumped into several times yesterday. They were finishing their walk today at Land’s End after having walked from Inverness. Not all at once—their journey had taken them several years to complete and they told us that some of the paths were no longer in use today.

View towards Land’s End

View towards Land’s End

Down by the sea in Sennen we found that we had missed the bus by about 10 minutes. This suited us because we had decided to treat ourselves to a cream tea—tea and scones with lots of jam. So our first stop was the little café to have our treat, which was very yummy. Then we checked out the shops and galleries and walked up and down the main street before returning to the bus stop to wait for the next bus.

After standing there for about 20 minutes Paul was looking at the posted schedule, just for something to do, and noticed that the “1645” bus we were waiting for was footnoted “Starting September 29”. So there would be no bus at 4:45 pm today. The next bus scheduled for departure today was actually at 7:03 pm—not for over two hours! Fortunately Land’s End wasn’t far away and it had hourly bus service, so we walked back there. It was too bad that we hadn’t realized our mistake earlier because the next bus from Land’s End was in 14 minutes and we had over a mile to cover.

Lifeboat at Sennen

Lifeboat at Sennen

The bus stop at Land’s End wasn’t too hard to locate, and we did indeed have nearly an hour to wait. But it was a lovely time of day to be sitting there so it went by quickly. Sure enough, right on time the bus arrived and luckily for us it was a regular double-decker, so we wouldn’t freeze on the way back to Penzance. By now we knew the route so we recognized the landmarks as they went by. So by the time we got back to Penzance it was well after 6 pm, a lot later than we had expected.

After having had cream tea so late in the afternoon, neither of us was particularly hungry. So we sat in the lounge for a while, and then about 8 pm we went and had some soup and our leftover tomatoes for a light dinner.

Next: Port Isaac