It Begins

I think there’s always a point for us all when we are fed up with life in general and in this case I just needed to get away from everything and pretty much everyone as well. We all have those moments but this is a full on ‘what am I playing at?’ moment. And me being me I thought the best way to clear my head would be do something utterly bonkers. I’ve done plenty of long distance challenges already but before now I’d never set out to do one, and camp all on my own. And before I know it I’ve booked a nine and a half hour coach journey while experiencing what I can only describe as a head full of storm clouds. I’ve decided to go to Cornwall because I’m in a seriously crappy mindset, I want to run away as far as I can without leaving the country and I love being by the sea. Apart from the mountains It’s always been my ‘happy place’, especially with the wildness that Cornwall has an abundance of. It’s one of those places where you can get easily accessible and also very isolated areas within a short distance of each other, rugged cliffs with steep paths and hidden steps and golden sandy beaches some that only appear at low tide. And some areas can only be easily accessed by boat or water taxi.

I start my adventure at Birmingham coach station and I’m instantly approached by the usual people asking me for money for travel and booze. I’m not going to give them anything because I’m on a shoestring but I’m not judging them for wanting it for alcohol. Because lets be fair that’s what most of us would be spending it on too! Thankfully the coach gets here on time and as I board I’m greeted by that familiar national express smell. A great mix of a toilet that seriously needs a hardcore extractor fan, and something akin to stale crisps with undertones of baby sick. But bar that they aren’t uncomfortable as long as you don’t own a nose. I try and seat myself as far away from everyone as I can because I am not feeling sociable right now, not that I ever am and get myself settled in with my headphones in to hopefully avoid any conversations. t could be worse though it could be a megabus, which I can only describe as like someone took the ninth circle of hell and gave it wheels.

There’s not really much interesting to see until we cross the Severn Bridge into Bristol. The weather’s pretty nice and for a moment I feel slightly less moody though still like a boiling kettle in the head, and feel like I still need to be further from home. And that gets me onto the subject of just what I’m doing to clear my head this week and that is to hike what can only be described as an extremely long distance with what’s around about 15g on my back, but as I will be finding out later i’ll end up making this just over 20kg by taking extra water. I’m starting in Penzance and then the plan is heading from there along the coast until I reach Falmouth and meet my friends Katie and Jay who live there. I’ve done quite a bit of planning and I’ll be staying at campsites along the way, so I’m hoping the weather stays decent. More reasons for me visiting is that in summer the place looks so amazing you have to remind yourself that you are still in the UK. Generally speaking in most places the locals are friendly and will happily chat away to you. And of course you can’t really come to Cornwall without learning about the pirate’s, smugglers and the various places they used to be famed for frequenting of which there are lots of stories. At this point I’m no navigator so I’ve stuck to using a basic GPS, but as my boss Hugh points out providing I’ve got the sea on the correct side of me I’m going in the right direction. And if I’m wet then I stepped too far to the one side…

This is a long coach journey and soon enough evening sets in and as I’m starting to have a little snooze, a guy gets on that is clearly not one hundred percent on the planet, one of the joyful clientele you get luckily far less of now that chariot of hell ‘megabus’ exists. Typically he sits just across the aisle from me and I force my headphones so deep into my ears I think I might rupture something and stare out of the window because I can just feel it in my bones this guy is going to start a conversation with me. Fact is everyones got a vice and some have worse one’s than others and frankly I couldn’t care less if someone sat across from me spraying morphine directly into their eyes, as long as they leave me alone. And now I said that you probably know that’s just not what’s going to happen.

“Do you know, I’d almost forgotten what your eyes look like, they’re still the same, piss-holes in the snow.”

Jack Carter [Michael Caine] to Eric Paice [Ian Hendry] (Get Carter, 1971)

Only a short time into the journey the dude starts to shake a little and I only know this because I’m watching him from the corner of my eye, just in case he leans over so I can pretend I’m asleep or something. Soon he gets up and disappears into the moving toilet from hell, and stinks out the whole coach by just opening the door of the thing. He’s quite a while but suddenly he’s back in his seat, no longer shaking. And what a surprise now he turns round and starts speaking to me, I take out my headphones because even though I want to left the hell alone I’m very polite. Looking at him I can barely see his pupils, which are almost invisible. And he proceeds to chat my ear off along with the rest of the coach, until of course what I can only assume considering the pupils was probably a boatload of heroin suddenly kicks in and he wilts over his seat and shuts up. Finally. Oh, but it’s far from over, after about ten minutes he lies across the seats and seems fine, until probably the same amount of time later he starts stretching and wiggling all over the seats, making weird noises like a animal dying, or mating with something. I’ve seen plenty of weird stuff in my time which makes me kind of used to weird people so I just chuck my headphones in, and blast some heavy metal out to drown out his very vocal smack appreciation, which consists of loud, orgasmic moans. Eventually it draws the complaints of practically everyone and the coach driver who must have been trying to ignore it too has to throw the dude off because he’s freaking everyone out. I’m sure there’s a sad story there, but I’m on holiday and I’m not a drug councillor.

After a few short snoozes we arrive In Plymouth Coach station in the early evening, and I get off and wait for the connecting coach journey onto Penzance. When our coach eventually turns up classically late (which is normal for this end of the country, you will understand if you have seen the roads) I’m greeted by a much louder and friendlier coach driver than we got from Birmingham. After he asks me where I’m going and I reply ‘Through Falmouth and onto Penzance’ and takes a lot of pride in correcting how I say ‘Falmouth’ “You city folk! There’s only one L mate its FALmath’. Friendly as he is I really don’t care right now, I’m knackered and I just want to get to a decent seat hidden if possible at the back of the coach, far away from everybody, before my inbuilt freak magnet attracts any more weirdo’s. We head off and after hours of slow going down tight country roads we eventually pass through small and picturesque Cornish seaside towns, and despite being tired out I’m getting more excited for my adventure and impending mental spring clean.


The fogs down and it’s raining a little which doesn’t bode well for my trip, and we pull into the coach station in Penzance as the sun finally sets. I’m super relieved at this point that I’m here as the journey as a whole from my house has taken about nine and a half hours. To put that in perspective it takes about that long to get from where I live (Birmingham) to Jamaica by plane. And funnily enough Jamaica is one of those places that just like Cornwall is connected with Piracy. In the case of Penzance it’s a place that fell victim to what was known as ‘Barbary Piracy’ essentially what happened was when these barbaric pirates raided a location, which in this case was Penzance they captured a reported 60 residents and shipped them off as slaves to work in North Africa. I get off the coach and grit my teeth a little as I take the weight of my rucksack. I know it’ll get easier to carry as time goes on but initially it’s always a bit heavy. I take a moment to breathe in the fresh sea air with it’s salt tinged slightly seaweedy smell, which brings up memories of long days by the sea as a kid, and then call the campsite to let them know I’m already late and I’m going to be even later because I need to grab some food. After taking a short tour of many nautical sounding pubs I eventually settle on the Longboat Inn, which is like stepping into a ships galley. I grab a few beers because I’m on holiday and get my go-to seaside meal which is a plate of scampi and chips, and hide myself in a corner. And finally as i’m drinking my beer, I relax a little because the adventures begun. Then I get the bar to ring me a taxi because the campsite isn’t super close and I want to conserve my energy for tomorrow.

When I get dropped off at the farm campsite I’m greeted at the house by a pleasant pregnant lady and her dad who have a quick chat to me and tell me where I can set up my tent. I head off to find the spot and as I’m stepping into the camp ground I’m set on by a bunch of dogs which start aggressively barking and nipping at me. And this is one thing I hate, I love animals and I like dogs but it’s the owners that piss me off. ‘He’s just playing’ is the dumbest thing you can say when a dogs clearly trying to bite another person. Learn to control them and stick them on a lead. It’s lucky the idiot owners finally call them off and apologise because a moment later and the only thing they would end up with their teeth round would have been my foot. I’m tired and not in the mood for this kind of crap and I tell them as much, which just gets sullen silence as a response. Dickheads. But all this aside it’s a very nice campsite with great grassy pitches enclosed by thick hedge and brambles which shelter me from the wind and it even has its own fire pits. Noticing this I head back to the house to buy some wood and then set up a nice camp fire and settle down for a bit of Cornish mead I’ve picked up. It’s not been a great start but I’m determined to have a better day tomorrow.

I don’t sleep that well because I never do on the first night of camping. Also probably the occasional barking of the dogs isn’t helping. Despite this I still manage to get up around 6am and fix myself a quick breakfast. And while I’m eating it I get to take in the great view from the campsite out over Penzance. Getting myself all packed up I’m heading down a few roads into Penzance and then onto the coastal path which in this case runs along the promenade. The sun’s come up slowly and it’s already getting pretty hot out here, which is nice but with a heavy bag on it’s going to get super sweaty. I’m fired up though and ready to cover some serious milage today, and at the quick pace I’m doing it’s not one until i’m at the edge of village of Marazion with the first iconic landmark of the hike coming into view.

Marazion And St Michaels Mount

The early morning sun is just rising in the sky over Marazion as I head along the coast path with the sea shining and sparkling like its full of silver strands to my right. Even though I’m not yet used to my pack weight it’s easy to ignore because I’m quite happy my trek has begun. Setting off is always exciting, no matter how much of a bad mood I may be in and being by the sea always makes me feel better.

Historically, relaxing by the sea in the UK stems from the Victorian age when steam power and the railway made the journey much faster, and it was believed that the fresh sea air was good for the health. Then again not breathing in the smoke and fumes of the industrial revolution and breathing clean air would just seem like common sense to us now. And in a twist of irony the industrial revolution would have been the very thing creating the pollution in the air. Yet it was also the event that encompassed the creation of the railways, with the first steam train being produced in 1804 followed by the railway system that was built around the middle of the 1800’s making it possible for even working class families to afford a day ticket that would take them to the seaside, and away from the pollution.

As I progress further down the coast the small silhouette of St Micheals Mount gradually becomes larger, and as it comes closer into view I walk down onto the beach to get a better look at the place. I stop to appreciate the monument jutting out of the water out there in Mounts bay, and the sky reflecting in the waters of the small creek to the left of me.

This is just one of those places in the world that you’d have to actually try and take a bad photograph of, despite me only being armed with a camera phone. I kick myself a bit that I wasn’t organised enough to time my passing with the low tide or mid tide and take a moment to walk out the 500 meters to the small tidal island across it’s man made granite causeway. Maybe even check out the castle on the island, and that would have made for a great photo opportunity, but maybe next time because I’m on a bit of a time limit to get to my campsite by the end of the day.

And just like so many places in Cornwall the mount has it’s legends. Stories are recorded as long ago as 495AD of mermaids that would lure fishermen boats towards the rocks of the mount. Yet there are also stories of the ghost of St Micheal guiding some to safety, which is pretty appropriate as St Michael is the patron saint of fishermen. St Micheal, also known as the Archangel Michael was said to appear on the western side of the mount, just below the entry to the castle and warn fishermen when they were danger, like some sort of heavenly traffic cop. And unsurprisingly it’s that legend from which the mount gets it name and what brings the religious here to worship. For spiritualists, of which Cornwall has many the mount is said to be the place where ley lines intersect and therefore a place with spiritual energy. I’m not religious though so I can only really appreciate the place because it looks nice.

Picture copyright National Trust (Better than mine)

Older legends speak of the mount being the home of Cormoran the Giant and his wife Cormelian, and being built from granite quarried and carried by the giants. Cormoran was said to have told his giant wife to carry the granite to the site in her apron, but because of the weight she decided to pick up lighter greenstone instead after she noticed her husband had fallen asleep. Unfortunately, while she was doing this her husband awoke and caught her in the act, and apparently being a bit of a tosser he kicked her, snapping her apron strings and making her drop the greenstone. And in line with the legend there is a chunk of greenstone on the mounts causeway, apparently dropped by Cormelian. Later the villagers of Marazion tire of Cormoran coming ashore, and stealing their cattle to eat. A reward is offered to anyone who will kill the giant and a young man called Jack volunteers. Cormoran meets his end at the hands of Jack when during the night, lit by the moon Jack digs and covers a deep pit in the mount. He then blows his horn to wake Cormoran who rushes out and falls into the pit, only to have Jack swing his axe at this neck and behead him. And from that moment onwards Jack is known as ‘Jack the giant killer’.

Perranuthnoe And Perran Sands, onto Cudden point

Next i’m heading past the town of Perranuthoe and the beach here called Perran Sands, I’m about four miles away from Penzance now and soon heading up the cliffs again heading for Cudden Point. Cudden point is national trust owned and the setting of yet another Cornish legend, but this time it’s treasure not Saints and Giants. This time it’s the legend of the silver table. The Lord Of Pengerswick lived in the area and he was rumoured to be not just a nasty piece of work but also a wizard. He could apparently magically disguise himself and they say only people who had ‘second sight’ would be able to find him when he did. And rather appropriately only a few miles away from Cudden Point, in the Praa Sands area is, of course Pengerswick Castle. The castle itself is less an actual castle and really more of a fortified manor house. The Pengerswick family lived in the area from the 12th century and the castle was built in around the 16th century. The castle itself is meant to be one of the most haunted places in the UK which is hardly surprising considering the history. Henry Pengerswick, who may have been our Lord Of Pengerswick earn’t his evil reputation with ease, apparently being a devil worshipper and at one point he was excommunicated by the church for murdering a tithe collecting ( a tithe is a church tax to support the clergy or one tenth of the earnings) monk from Gloucestershire. Apparently a spectral monk is still seen wondering the grounds of the castle. Other ghosts include Henry’s wife, the daughter of the Godolphin family that owned the adjoining estate. Henry was a violent man and it’s speculated that this is why her ghost is witnessed around the castle but mainly in the main bedroom. There are many other ghosts said to haunt the castle but that aside, lets get back to the legend of the silver table.

As the story goes on a summers day whichever evil lord of Pengerswick it may have been invited his friends who were meant to be just as evil as him to go sailing around mounts bay on his impressive ship. At one point they stopped and weighed anchor close to Cudden Point with the intention of enjoying the now setting sun. And they did this sat around a table made from silver and drank and ate. And then the boat sunk, (Maybe it was that big ass silver table?) all the friends and the lord too vanishing straight down to the sea floor, along with the riches on the boat, and of course the silver table. Following this local fishermen reported they could hearing sounds coming from under the sea, like the clinking of glasses and even the laughter of dinner guests. Some even went as far as saying that when the weather was calm around the point they could even look down into the sea and witness the drowned guest, sat around that legendary silver table still enjoying their dinner and drinks, on the sea floor. Now I don’t know what these Cornish fishermen were drinking to see that kind of thing but I’d love to give it a try! The weather today is calm and I wonder, maybe if I had the time to walk to the end of the point, would I catch a glimpse of this undersea dinner party?

Readers: FYI I got much further than this in a day but you’ll have to wait until part 2 because I got caught up in the folklore! Have you been in this area? Tell us about it in the comments!


I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

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