Sunday, 13 October 2013

Day 16 - Epilogue

I had a restless night and my sleep was broken up with some bad dreams, I was dreaming of cycling in the dark and suddenly running into the backs of cars, perhaps all of the night riding sometimes at speed downhill had worried my subconcious more than I had admitted to myself and now I was more free to rest it was making it's way to the surface.

In anycase I woke up late around 9:30 and had a breakfast of porridge coffee and toast, my ankle was swollen and my wrist was stiff and sore, it is strange but I have often noticed that when you need your body to be available it will do it's best and after when it's time to rest there is some kind of signal that tells it everythings ok now you can fall apart for a bit, have you ever noticed that you get a cold the minute you get a few days off??

With this in mind I decided it would not be a good idea to try the 56 odd mile trip to Lizzard point and back, by the time I was dressed and ready it would be too late and I was probably asking too much of my achilles unnecessarily.  I was dissapointed because I had said in the beginning "it's not a true end to end for me unless I do Dunnetts Head and Lizzard Point", being the most northern and southern points respectively.  I cheered myself up by convincing myself that I had nothing to prove and that I was taking the sensible and prudent option.

The weather was great and I headed out into Penzance at around 12 noon for a tour of the promenade.  I had a look in the various curiousity shops and avoided the really vulgar touristy places like the plague.  I have nothing against them, they are vital to the local economy but just not for me.  I bought some bit's and pieces but as with the whole trip nothing really stood out to me as "wow that will really remind me of my journey"  nothing could stand up to my travelling companion trail dog and the recent addition A73 the bear run over and abandoned at the side of the A73, who because of his riding position at the front of the bike had far more conversations with me than trail dog who was used to me shouting back at him as his seat was on top of the rear pannier.

I planned to follow the waterfront until I would head off for St Michaels mount, that iconic distant figure that I had always planned to visit.  I rode into a little section of the promenade with a stone cross in memory of the great war and some steps down to the sea where i met an American couple who were very chatty and polite, they told me that she works in the states and he is in kenya and they meet up whenever they can, they looked very in love as they had been sitting clasping each others hands on the rocks, it made for a beautiful site but I didn't take a photograph, it seemed too intrusive even if they were unaware.

They kindly took some photos of me and he went to great pains to get the best shot possible, taking great care just another two very kind people I had met on my journey.

Further on there was a large fishing vessal moored and I cycled to the end of a pier with a small lighthouse on it and as is usual at the end of piers there were a few locals fishing happily in the fortunate weather.  There were two young men and an older one, I enquired how the fishing was going, I couldn't see any catches and it was confirmed when they were a little negative about the chances of catching anything but a cold today.

The asked me how far I had come and when I told they they said that's amazing, I said surely you must get lots of end to end travellers through, he said not really they are all heading for lands end and tend to whiz through Penzance without so much as a wave, they did recount meeting Ian Botham who's picture incidently hangs in the photographers hut at lands end along with a picture of James May and Gary Barlow who aparently drove from John O'Groats to lands end in a pink cadilac...

The old guy told me a tale of when he was 15 he and a friend ran away bored with village life and headed out to the Lake District where they lived off fishing and shooting rabbits with air rifles for the whole of the summer holidays.  Returning home tails between legs and facing the music, but he agreed it was well worth it and the punishment that followed.   I laughed with him, and said today there would have been a nationwide manhunt..

I mentioned my dissapointment at not reaching Lizzard Point, and he said never mind look in the distance you can see it from here..  Indeed I could jutting out from the coastline, I recalled the maps of the countries outline I had seen since a child at school and superimposed the coastline onto one of those maps, with a tinge of sadness that I hadn't quite done what I set out to do.  The thought made me feel very quiet and after asking them for some photos and getting them to take one of me I headed off again towards St Michaels Mount my final destination.

The journey towards St Michaels Mount is flat and easy, I arrived at the car park and was told they won't take my bike across (something the boatman flatly denied telling me he takes several across every year for cyclists such as myself).  Without a lock I was a little stumped but the car park attenedent was a genuinely helpful chap who put my bike into his hut where he promised it would be ok as long as I returned before 4:00 pm.

I walked the rest of the way to the beginning of the causeway which was at high tide making St Michaels Mount only accessible by boat, thereby keeping the three boats that service the journey in full time employment.  The price to get across was £2.00 and I quickly figured out that it didn't include the journey back, whatever happend to people who didn't have the fare back??  Where there groups of itinerents wandering the island doomed to stay until they collected the fare from dropped coins??  the thought amused me and i must have looked mildly lunatic smiling inanely at nothing.

Before joining the boat the skipper was standing with three other skippers and said you have two choices you can go straight over for £2.00 or have a tour of the island for £3.00.  I hadn't intended to walk round the island, I was in spd shoes for one and didn't fancy hill climbing with a dodgy achilles, no a tour round the island would allow me to take some great photos.

The skipper of the small boat announced he would collect payment as we crossed over, I said to him "don't pay the Ferryman until he gets you to the other side",  he caught the reference with a smile and said yeah but this isn't the river sticks.  As we moved towards the island I gave him m £3.00 and he said no it's only £2.00 but I said I wanted the tour round the island.  He said o god im sorry I should have said you need to get into the other boat for a tour.  He said never mind come back and I will get you on the other boat, it's my fault I was to busy gabbing to the other two,

So we let off the other passengers and he carried me back to shore, so I still hadn't paid the ferryman.  I swapped over to another boat and the new skipper gave us a running comentary on the basic history and architectural features of the island, I took a video of the entire circumnavigation lasting about 8 min till we dropped off the other passengers. I explained I wasn't getting off but going straight back, he charged me another £2.00 lol £5.00 in all.  For the whole of the circumnavigation my eyes kept straying out to the imagined Lizard Point, now hidden from view...  As we headed back towards the landing point I was gripped with a crazy thought..

I must have already ridden 6 or 7 miles so the journey out to Lizzard point can't be that far I lied to myself after all I had seen it from the shore...  I had no food only a bottle of water but I decided there and then I was going to do it regardless of what trouble it got me into or how my leg and arm felt.
I grabbed my bike and headed out wanting to cover some distance before the sensible person took over my head and talked me into turning round, it had become cloudy windy and cold so I had better get a shift on.

The night before the owner of the Blue Dolphin Back Packers establishment had told me that it was a hilly ride out to Lizzard point, which I recalled and then buried i the pile I keep in my head marked "useless but sensible information to be ignored" and pushed on.  There were indeed some nasty little hills and some very fast downhills dangerous because of the trickling rain that was making the road damp.   I passed through various villages and past an RAF base taking time to photograph a radar and a giant stone sign saying HMS Seahawk and ann aeroplan marking the entrance to the base.

As I cycled around the perimiter a plane took off towing a glider right above my head, by the time I had stopped the bike and recovered my camera it was disapearing leaving me to watch it go by.  I suppose if I had waited I would have seen the glider flying but I was anxious to save the rest of the daylight for my lizard point visit.

I pushed on through the final villages watching the various markers for "Lizzard" count down to one that sad 2 1/2 miles until I came to the last sign called "THE LAST MILE" which I photographed.  From there it was a short hop to the lizard point car park and down some gravel and a flight of stairs to the eponymous lizard point... I wondered at the origin of the name lizard David Icke followers would have a field day..  No doubt the site of the Lizards first landing..  The place was closed and only a woman reading a book on a bench with her dog remained.  I carried my bike down the short flight of stairs and rounded a small corner to see the National Trust sign announcing "Lizzard Point".  There was a girl packing up a camera and tripod, I asked politely if she would take a photo, she was german and more than happy to oblige.

She asked if I had come far and I explained my journey she then related she had spent 6 days walking the coast and this too was the final point of her journey.  We stopped just further up the cliff edge, there were some rocks in the distance and suddenly a gap in the clouds had appeared, I asked her to take a photograph of me as the huge shaft of light piercing through the gap in the clouds would make a lovely picture.  She did so and then asked if I would do the same for her as she too thought it would make an excellent shot.

We took a photo together agreeing it was a lovely way to end our trips two people meeting on their final steps.  We walked on together chatting just a little further about our trip and she headed off to the left walking back a few miles over the coast.  I veered right through a path back to the car park where I opened the gate to the lighthouse and musem so I could take some photos of the sign there and the lighthouse itself.  I made a final video and turned round to beging the journey back to Penzance.

It's here I will end my tale, as the final miles were done in the rain and dark, and although dangerous and probably a little stupid for me they aren't even part of the journey because my journey ended with the parting of the ways with that lovely German Girl who I had shared my last steps with...


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