Land’s End & Cape Cornwall – Aug 22nd – 27th
Sub-tropical palm trees swayed, and the exotic plants of Penzance were almost flattened in the decidedly non-tropical lashing of an English summer storm. We stared from our hotel room out across the bay to where St Michael’s Mount should be; it was invisible in the blend of heavy mist and grey skies. How will it possibly clear for the beginning of our ramble in two days time?
But the sun did come out, and we eventually set off with our newfound companions in high spirits, and with everything from sun-cream to over-trousers on board. We were soon delighting in the profusion of fuchsia and montbretia growing wild in the hedgerows, and far better than in our gardens back home. Higher onto moorland, and it was the riotous mauves and yellows of heather and gorse which caught our eye.
Our second day started at the Minack Theatre. We were fresh at the beginning of our walk, so able to take in the amazing facts concerning the construction of this architectural gem. Rowena Cade had lived in a house on the cliff top in the 1920s. With the help of just two skilled workmen she personally constructed first a stage, then over the years a full open-air theatre, set into the cliffs and with the ocean for its backdrop. The steeply tiered seating and cleverly designed stage lend an intimate feel, where audience and players appear to blend. Rowena herself was a middle-class lady, no manual labourer, but at 89 she was still adding finishing touches to her master-piece in 1983, the year in which she died.
For our third day, stormy weather had again set in. We made a brave start from the point at which we had left off the day before, and soon found ourselves in tin-mining country. The ruins of the engine houses loomed out of the swirling mists, and signs warned of danger of death by straying off the path and falling down one of the old mine shafts. After a couple of miles our leader began to review his responsibilities, not least in the face of dangerous off-shore winds, increasingly rain-sodden paths, and some members of the party, in spite of all-weather gear, beginning to shiver.
The reluctant decision was eventually taken to abandon the day’s walking. But the only available bus back to Penzance was the two-hour round trip via Land’s End, complete with open-top!
So of course, in high wind and driving rain, a few of us just had to ride ‘on top’. We waved at incredulous pedestrians, and lifted our feet every time the bus braked or accelerated, when a small tidal wave swept from one end of the bus to the other.
Thankfully our last day was dry once more, so with a final triumphant march into St Ives, we were able to complete our journey.