The ‘busy’ stretch.
I was sat on a headland trying to observe seals on The Carracks, in earshot but out of eyesight, whilst a combination of sweat and suncream irritated my eyes and dripped down my face. I can hardly believe my luck, well there was a little planning, to be experiencing these perfect conditions at this time of year. Little boats out of St. Ives were ferrying tourists to view the seals at close quarters, certainly closer than I could get. I had encountered lots of people using the path today most were intending to get the bus back to St. Ives. Everyone was in a good mood enjoying the hot sunshine and the spectacular scenery. The stretch out from Zennor Head was however particularly gruelling with lots of scrambling on awkward granite rocks as well as the usual ups and downs. Over the years I’ve become more aware of the need for caution in these situations, thoughts of a broken leg ensure I’m no longer the mountain goat I once was. At least I’m better shod than many of the holidaymakers I pass although there are quite a few hardy backpacking types, mainly women for some reason; I think this type of walking on well-marked tracks in a fairly civilised part of the land enjoying good weather attracts them but why oh why do they have to burden themselves with those enormous rucksacs?
I had started the day in Zennor village where I had time to look around the little Norman church of St. Senara which was full of interest. It is most famous for the unique medieval Mermaid Bench with the mermaid carving on one end. There are many reminders of the sea in the church, indeed its roof is shaped like an upturned boat keel. Hanging from the roof is a model of a West Country schooner, created as a memorial to WA Proctor, who died on a solitary round-the-world voyage, and also to all unnamed sailors who were shipwrecked along this stretch of the Cornish coast. There is a colourful collection of hassocks made by the congregation many depicting coastal themes. The Burma Star window dedicated to WWII forces. A Norman font, a C18 sundial showing symbols of death [cross-bones] and immortality [an angel], celtic crosses and plaque to a John Davey [1812 – 1891], one of the last locals with knowledge of the Cornish language.
A friendly gent in a mobility scooter was manoeuvering himself down the track towards the sea, as I walked alongside I warned him that the path became much rougher but he seemed pretty determined, hope he made it back up. As you can see my departure from Zennor was delayed, by the way there is a cafe in the village as well as the pub. Once on the coast the going was fairly easy undulations and despite the roughness mentioned above I strode along enjoying every moment of the dramatic scenery. Up here in patches the heather and gorse are still giving a good show plus I’ve just learnt from mine host Rachel one can eat Gorse flowers which have a faint coconut taste. A good few of the serious backpackers were Germanic and I’m not sure what they made of my friendly how do and now then. These two had the dog in tow for the whole trip.Passing a trig point where a lady from near my home town was in deep thought. A few more headlands and bays with Caribbean blue seas and St. Ives, from where most of the people had come, was in sight.The section I’ve been walking was relatively busy today, deservedly so, but from here on the crowds mass, ice creams are everywhere. people stagger out of the sea in wet suits and the pubs are packed. The Tate is passed, closing in 10 minutes, and little narrow lanes of former fishing cottages are navigated from one of St. Ives’ beaches to the other. I don’t have time for any of the art studios on every corner but was tempted by fish and chips. But I’ve still some way to go, surprisingly sylvan tracks by the railway take me first to Carbis Bay and on past the quieter Porth Kidney sands. I’ve had enough by the time Lelant railway station appears, there are some busy roads and industrial areas to negotiate around the Hayle estuary so I jump on a train back to Penzance.