Sunday, 5 July 2009

Adventures at Dawn

Last night I went to bed saying to myself, if I wake up then I know I should go, if I don't then I wasn't... Where you may ask? Land's End of course! Will of Pedal Power Adventures was setting off on the a little jaunt from Land's End to John o'Groats. These are the two points the furthest apart in the British mainland.

So I woke up and tried to ignore the fact I had and went back to sleep. Probably only a few minutes later I woke up again with a little voice in my head saying that I was meant to go. So I got up (3.20!), showered and dressed and left the house at 4.00. It took 40 minutes for me to get to Land's End.

Now Land's End has long been given a very special place in the heart's of the public. With it's iconic signpost showing distances to places all over the world. Steeped in legend and history with archaeological sites and a dramatic coastline prone to wrecking ships it should be amazing.

Last time I went to Land's End I paid the exorbitant parking fee and wandered through the dire tourist mill buildings to the coast. Any connection to the place was lost in the crowds and the unsymmpathetic development. Tacky is a word many use....

I had been planning recently to go and treat as a tacky place with S and F and pay all the different fees to the different exhibitions so as not go get to sad about the way the place has been treated. I hadn't gotten round to it. They charge for parking but as there is a public footpath they can not close the gates and you just have to wander through the deserted money mill. They even charge for photographs at the signpost. They take away the top of the post to prevent theft over night and removed the second post that you could use for free.... So i got photos of the post but no signs...

So dawn. When exactly is dawn? According to this handy website, it was at 4.50 this morning. So I was there. Except it had been getting light for a while. It seems twilight began at 4.03. Apparently this is when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon and is the limit for distinguishing objects. There is also nautical twilight with the sun at 12 degrees below the horizon when outlines can be distinguished and astronomical twilight with the sun at 18 degrees and at this point the illumination of the sun starts to affect the sky. Nautical twilight was at 2.52 and the sun never made it below 18 degrees, too close to Solstice.

So all in all, Will could have set off earlier and been able to find his way. He might not have known to make his way through the ghost town to the coast. He might have arrived when I was exploring the area around the most westerly point and not seen me with Little Dog in the distance.

I stayed for quite some time and it was magical. The ticket machine wasn't working either which was great. I could finally feel some attraction to the place, a connection. The sun slowly lit up more and more of the sky, until when I left it was relatively high and breaking through the clouds. It was lovely and clear and I managed to spot both lighthouses, Longships is easy to spot being only 1.25 miles from Land's End but Wolf Rock Lighthouse is 8 miles from the coast and harder to spot.

I didn't see anyone till about 6 and then I saw some hotel guests waiting for reception so they could book in and go to sleep. I saw a man with a dog and a couple wandering aimlessly. It was time to leave the point itself.

I wandered along the path to the attractions petting farm and discovered a standing stone, covered in lichen, with a small stone circle around it. Almost overgrown it was pretty much ignored... Thankfully. Returning to the car I realised I had missed another one earlier to the side of the buildings. It was all spruced up and used as the setting for some tasteful model houses. Personally I find that a bit wrong...

Giving up on meeting Will and deciding to leave before it got any busier I left, dragging Little Dog with me. I took the first tiny little lane I found to a lovely cove called Porthgwarra. Houses nestle at the bottom of a valley from which a steep slip way leads to a tiny sandy cove edged with blocky granite. Looking back up I suddenly realised that the headland actually had two tunnels one of which led to the next cove which was rocky. I decided to lose a page of my wreck this journal to the waves here....

Next was a stop at St Levan but I hadn't looked up how to find the well exactly or what the other interesting things might be there... So I missed the ancient pagan rock, split in two. I did spot a nice celtic cross or two and a lovely entranceay to the graveyard. Strips of granite had been spread to make a cattle grate with granite benches at each side of the grate facing across it. In between the two seats, dividing it in two, was a coffin shaped stone.

Next I drove down the valley of Penberth but didn't stop at the car park (mostly because I didn't find it, I don't think I drove far enough...) and then to the car park at Treen and then Lamorna Cove, both of which I stopped at briefly...


  1. That sounds so beautiful, My daughter has been to England and she said when she left to come home it was so wonderfully green and then she approached Tucson and it was brown without a tree in sight. I would move there if I could bring my entire immediate family it sounds like heaven,(only colder)!

  2. sounds like a lovely early morning much to see, so many tourists to avoid...;)

    its a shame that its become so commercialized...its like Niagara Falls -- take a wonder of the world and turn it into a wretched, plasticky, tourist-trap that really does border on obscene...*sigh*....

  3. Rose, you've made me smile! How amusing it would have been if you'd bumped into Will ~ and I expect he was still tucked up in bed somewhere! Did you leave him a comment to say that you'd been?
    I'm so impressed with your early morning mission. Thanks for sharing it. I only ever make the effort to get up for sunrise at Winter Solstice, which is nowhere near as early as you got up today.
    Thanks for cheering me up with this.

  4. It was lovely and it cleared my head far better than the beach trip on Friday.

    Misty - I can understand why your daughter loved England. Sometimes though the rain gets too much. I would love to visit the desert one day!

    Mel - I can well believe that Niagara is touristy!

    Sam - Still in bed? Oh dear.... really? *laugh* I did leave a comment...

  5. same thing has happened here with tourist attractions. I live in one of the World Heritage listed areas - the Blue Mountains of Australia.. and day after day, buses of tourists arrive, take out their cameras, take a photo of themselves in front of the bus, drop their rubbish and go home. I hate it. Here where I live is a Sacred place, much like I imagine Stonhenge to be, except it is not man-made.. Mother Earth herself made these standing stones that the tourists come to see... and they nail metal spikes into them to go rock climbing.. makes me sick.. hmmm a post on my blog coming up, I can see.