Friday, 31 July 2015

Penzance to Marazion

Well it's been a long time coming. The next section of the South West Coast Path I mean. It's been two years since I reached Penzance on the South West Coast Path. Somehow the last 24 months have slipped by what with walking round Japan and moving to Edinburgh (and back) and wot-not.

But here I am on a Friday evening heading down to Penzance by train. I'm at the station at Lostwithiel and the train is late. Very late. Checking my new smartfone I learn that tragically a man had been killed that afternoon at Collumption. Suddenly I don't feel like moaning that the train is late, after all, at least I'm still here. I sit patiently and eventually it arrives, packed out and standing room only and it is gone half-seven in the evening when I leave Penzance station and set off along the coast towards Marazion.
Leaving Penzance on the Coath Path

This section of the coast path is not that interesting unless you are a trainspotter, as it trundles between sea and railway line. But as I walk around the curve of the bay, the vista opens out and I'm suddenly glad I didn't skip this section and get the bus.

St Michael's Mount

Approaching Marazion the dramatic isle of St Michael's Mount, with its castle perched atop the rock, draws the eye. The tide was in, no sign of the causeway to the island, and the sea is still. Between the shore and the island a group of brightly coloured canoes paddle in the shallows, bright lines of red, orange and yellow gently bobbing about in the calm blue sea. The shadows are lengthening as I join the road into the village. To my left was Marazion Marsh and I take the chance to duck through a gate and walk along the springy grass of the path through the reserve rather than the unforgiving tarmac of the road. It's that time in the evening when creatures come out to play and the path is strewn with rabbits frolicking. It amuses me how some bolt for cover straightaway while others stand their ground until the very last minute before disappearing into the bushes. I'm reminded of Watership Down - which one is Hazel and which is Fiver? I wonder. Anyway, like most creatures, they are not stupid enough to hang around when an Upright is on the loose.

Marazion Marsh
Rabbits on the path

Anyway, no idea where I'm going to sleep but then I pass a field with a few tents in. And I espy a portaloo. This looks promising. So I wander in and ask a family what the set up is. She explains that there is a sailing competition in Marazion and a local farmer has kindly allowed competitors to camp in his field. I ask whether she thinks he would mind if I camped too and she doesn't know but kindly looks up his number. The farmer has no problem with this so I set up camp. An hour later he turns up, collects six quid and we have a chat about the coast path etc. Both sides are happy with the transaction. Later I walk along to the village, drink a pricey pint of Proper Job in the King's Arms before heading back to my little tent for the night.

The next morning rain is hammering on the tent. Quandary. Do I get up and pack up in the rain or stay in bed awhile? Not much of a quandary actually. I pick up my book, snuggle deeper into my sleeping bag and start to read. Sure enough an hour later the rain has stopped and the sun is trying to put in a feeble appearance over in the east. Now it's time to get up and pack up. It's still only nine o'clock by the time I leave the field and buy a coffee in the tea-hut in the carpark opposite.

Causeway to St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount does not open on Saturdays but it makes for a pleasing view while I drink my coffee on the bench opposite. The causeway is just beginning to be revealed by the morning's receding tide and on the way through the village I wander partway along it's length. The island is the family seat of the St Aubyn family who live in the house on the island. They are descended from a Norman family who, as we all know, invaded England in the eleventh century. In the nineteenth century John St Aubyn was made Lord Levan for political services to the Liberal Party.The island was given to the National Trust in the nineteen-fifties, although the family retained a 999 year lease to remain living on the Island. It is apparently at their request that the Mount is closed on Saturdays. I shall have to come back another day.

Marazion is a pretty little village which straggles up the hill from the shore. A small square forms the hub, where aside from the King's Arms there is a chemist, a newsagent and a baker which between them seem to sell pretty much anything you could possibly require for a walk along the Cornish Coast Path. I purchase batteries for my headlight, a comb, some wet wipes (chemist), a lightweight rain cape for covering my backpack and a bar of chocolate (newsagent) and an enormous cheese and onion pasty (baker). It is still a bit mizzly and it doesn't occur to me to buy suntan lotion which later turns out to have been something of an oversight. After stuffing my wares into the top of my rucksack I haul it onto my back and plod up the narrow road lined with squat whitewashed stone cottages, which climbs out of Marazion towards the west.

Not all traffic in Marazion is horseless carriage

A Very Useful Item - raincover, mat, pillow, and good for changing under on crowded beaches
Miles walked: 4