Day 1: Start

May 15, 2017

Land's End to St Just. 5.99 miles. Miles to date: 5.99.

 

 

It didn't exactly start well.

 

After two weeks of sunshine – and the annual UK drought warning – LeJog day dawned cold, wet and windy. As I journeyed west from Paddington it grew colder, wetter and windier, sea mist rolling in as settlements thinned. By the time I reached wave-blasted Penzance you could barely see Saint Michael's Mount out in the bay.

 

I caught the last bus out of town; the 17:40 1A to Land's End. By the time we reached the potholed end of the road - and country - it was just me and the driver left, which was one more person than could be found in Land's End itself.

 

The last bus out: empty.

 

 

Last time I was here - a decade ago - the tourist shops were open, the arcades and cafés doing a good trade. Today Land's End felt like a cast-off set from Scooby Doo - a boarded up seaside resort with creaky Mr Whippy signs and an owner who'd had enough of pesky kids. Even the guy who takes photos of you next to that sign had given up and gone home. Which meant a couple of quick selfies (on the first one the camera blew over), then I was on my way along the South West coast path.

 

Land's End: The signs all say 'Sea'.

 

 

Fortunately, as I turned the corner, things turned a corner. Although it's a short day today (just six miles to St Just), after the ominous start I'd half expected the first few miles to be a soggy solo slog. But as I sloped down to Sennen Cove and Whitesand Bay the rain stopped and there was life everywhere: surfers on respectable waves; a school group braving heavy skies to play beach volleyball; and an old lady carrying a one-legged seagull who told me she'd nursed it back to health after it lost its leg - but didn't know what to do now that it had also lost a wing. The surfers, she told me, didn't seem to care.

 

Lovely Whitesand Bay.

 

Braving the English summer.

 

 

Over the beach and back onto cliffs that are a riot of summer colour; last of the bluebells overhung by first of the foxgloves – pinks, blues, whites and yellows as the path picked its way through granite outcrops.

 

 

To St Just, my first night's stopover. Arriving at 20.55 I was just in time to grab a meal. Then en route to my B&B I passed The Star Inn, and the sound of bouzouki, fiddle, whistle and accordion. Which meant I checked out of my B&B five minutes after checking in, made my excuses and ended Day One in a packed-to-the-rafters watering hole with a Maytime fire in the grate and a fiddler playing wild reels.

 

I hope it's an omen.

 

St Just. Or, in my case, St Just in time for dinner.

 

 

Next: St Just to St Ives

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