Authors & Image Contributors: Christine, Sarah, Marie, and Mags
We’re not going to lie – the weather in the run up to the first full meet since the start of the pandemic was looking grim. Several dropped out and the six remaining souls were contemplating what we were getting into. Gale force winds were predicted to be around 40-50mph, constant rain, and few indoor venues were available as alternative activities. Sigh.
The walkers started their journey early in the day, with Sarah arriving to St Ives via a beautiful and tranquil train ride down to St Ives and took full advantage of showing off to the rest of the group that the weather was lovely (still), as was the fish’n’chips in the sun on the beach. Meanwhile, Marie and Christine arrived later and got busy finding a spot sheltered from the (current) 20mph winds so Marie could set up her tent. Yes – that’s correct. Marie was the only brave one of us – the rest of us decided to heck with the weather! We booked the hostel spaces that we were allowed to instead and we had it all to ourselves.
Later that day, unperturbed by the foreboding forecast, Marie and Christine made their way to St Ives for their first adventure around town for some food and town touring by picking a direction and walking. We saw plenty of boats, ate some fish’n’chips too (while sheltering from the increasingly ferocious wind), and headed up ‘The Island’ peak to St Nicholas Chapel where the wind threatened to throw us off.
The three of us were greeted by wind and rain, but refusing to give up on the day we ate breakfast and studied our maps, got our waterproof kits on and headed out – to the pub! lol.
It was a lovely short walk, where we walked through some stunning pathways almost out of a fairy tale followed by avoiding a small group of cows and finding a pair of horses oriented perfectly to allow the wind and rain pass over them.
After half an hour crossing fields and climbing over many stone gates and we were drenched. We did, however find the Engine House pub, but half hour too early so we detoured to the “actual engine house” which turned out to be the Old Tin mine. Honestly, it looked excellent in the rain.
The three-sided open area with heaters at the pub was just too tempting, so we returned in time to spend a long lunch break feasting on moules marinière, hot pudding, and Cornwall tea. Either completely deserving or undeserving – you pick! As a member in the group chat mentioned, we should call ourselves the Marylebone Mussels Club now. Haha!
By the time we headed back to the campsite/hostel, Oli and Matt (our climbers) and Mags (our last walker) were on their way and joined us a few hours later.
Sunday – Off with Zennor Head!
My sincerest apologies, that was a terrible joke. Both the climbers and walkers woke up on Sunday and checked the weather and with an incredible feat of luck the winds had changed. Literally. The rain and the wind turned away from the north coast giving us an incredible day to look forward to.
Oli and Matt headed off to find some routes to battle while Sarah, Mags, Marie, and Chris made their way to Zennor Head via taxi to hike the coastal path back to St Ives.
We started off in wonderful fields only to realise we took a wrong early turn (woops!) so after directions from the locals “it’s easier to go 20 minutes down the path passing two farms and some old buildings and take the left path down” and map reading, we hit the coast.
And it was glorious. The imposing rocky headlands and inlets, the sound of crashing waves and sunshine was absolutely wonderful.
We hiked up and down the paths sometimes steep and sometimes mildly exposed, briefly said hi to passing walkers, stopped by a small stone circle, and even had a close encounter with a rather loud electric fence.
Oh and this electric fence was set up to confuse those unfamiliar – it was right across the exit! Having not encountered this before we walked back a bit to check if we missed a turn, stopped and asked a trail runner who figured out how to pass the fence (unhook the wiring) and was able to also send a message to his partner via Sarah after his phone battery had died. Thank you, trail runner!
And so we continued onwards through the amazing coastal route – as you can tell, I’ve struggled to be extremely selective about the photos to upload.
Nearer to the end of the route, we started encountering more and more rocky bits which ended up tempting Christine to have a shot at climbing a few bits for fun – with a sigh, everyone else (probably dramatically) rolled their eyes and helped to spot her where needed.
Despite the stops, the walkers made good time and returned to Porthgwidden beach for a top-notch Cornish cream tea. Yum.
As the day was brilliant, that night came equally less brilliant news – the news of ‘cracks in trains’ meaning the whole high-speed fleet of trains back to London had been cancelled.
On Monday, Mags and Sarah endured a torrid lengthy return, entailing four changes and sitting cheek by jowl with other travellers. But Sarah as has said “Nothing, however, could detract from the delight of reconnecting with the MMC and the wilds of nature”.
Monday – Is it Moosel, Mao-zul, Mousehole???
With two walkers down and the Climbers heading off elsewhere, Marie and Christine’s starting location for their walk would have taken far too long to reach by bus and cost too much by taxi. So they needed to change plans fast and grabbed the next bus down to Penzance for a stroll across the coastline from Mousehole to Marazion.
It was a long stroll and the wind did its best to make us fly. We had some lovely fresh seafood from Newlyn and walked on the beach from Penzance to Marazion. In the process we discovered walking on seaweed was easier than sand and Marie spotted a cute little café/water sports gear rental hut which we took a break at.
Unfortunately, the wind was fierce and cooling us off way too quickly so we moved on and finished our journey at Marazion to the view of St Michael’s Mount which looked wonderful.
It was Marie and Christine’s turn to battle with the trains though only enduring three changes.
At Reading most of the train ran up the stair case with their bags to get to the next platform to find the train to London (departing in precisely 4 minutes) wasn’t at the platform. Instead a staff member without the identifying gear (only a walkie-talkie) was directing people to a train labelled in the wrong direction. We jumped on the train anyway and waited in baited breath for the driver to announce the next station – “This is a direct service to London Paddington!” Phew.
And due to the busy service, we spent the rest of the journey atop Marie’s trusty weekend bag.