Sat 5 Sept: Newlyn to Perranporth, via Sennen, St Ives & St Agnes
Train from Bristol to Penzance – 200 painless miles. Cycled to Penlee ALB (All Weather Lifeboat) Station in Newlyn harbour, met Patch Harvey(Cox’n) & Tony(mech) & other crew gutting & frying freshly caught whitebait for lunch, which they kindly shared.
An encouraging start, thanks chaps. Already looking forward to the final stage, sometime next year, when Patch hopes to join me on his bike from The Lizard back to Penlee!
Up and over to Land’s End for the essential photo op at the famous signpost pointing to John O’Groats. This land mark never fails to disappoint. My latest gripe (first of the day) is aimed at the guy who now has private ‘ownership’ of the aforementioned signpost. To gain access, you have to negotiate a low chain link fence he has erected around the post. There is one small opening in the fence, where he stands guard at his sentry-box. To get through, you have to agree to him taking your photo. Very kind, I thought. Keeps other pesky cyclists, walkers & coach parties out of the frame. Trouble is, it has to be his camera, I have to pay him £10, give him my personal contact details and wait for him to send me a print sometime soon. No thanks. Any concessions for someone raising funds for the RNLI? His best offer was an extra print, f.o.c.! Struggling to stop myself suggesting an alternative acronym to “free of charge”, I mumbled another restrained “no thanks”. My only agreement was with a similarly disgruntled family from Weston-Super-Mare.
We swapped cameras and took turns to get out of each other’s way whilst striking a pose in front of the annoying fence.
On to Sennen Cove ALB Station for the second signature on my glossy chart. Having already met a couple of Terry (Cox’n) George’s crew and had a tour of their Tamar All-Weather lifeboat with its newly painted white hull on a recent practice ride back in May, I wasn’t too sad to hear they weren’t in attendance today. I’d forgotten that not even retained crews work on a Saturday unless there is an emergency ‘shout’! Thanks Marene (Sennen Lifeboat Secretary), for the cheery, encouraging words and for authenticating my visit. The 30 second exhilarating descent to sea level at Sennen Cove inevitably had to be paid for, as the only way out is back up. The first killer climb of many to come. A lot slower and a lot harder this time, with a heavy pair of panniers on board.
On to St Ives ALB Station via my old favourite coast road through St Just & Zennor. I’m not sure how many times I’ve driven and cycled along this stretch. It is not possible to tire of it. Always stunning, in any weather. Met Francie Morgan (Staff Cox’n) at St Ives ALB. Newly refurb’d boat house nearly ready. Good luck with getting the new tractor unit floated across from Hayle (St Ives streets too narrow for road delivery)!
Onwards again, via St Agnes ILB(Inshore Lifeboat)Station to first overnight stop with cousins in Perranporth. The last ten-mile stretch of this first day, into a brisk headwind, was a bit of a struggle. Thanks Alison & Jojo, for such a warm welcome, deep hot bath, huge feast and many hours of family reminiscing – you are real gems!