The shopping mall at the end of the world

Only 12 miles to go and I’ve got Dave Bamford as back up. A rather good breakfast at the rather underwhelming Coldstreamer and we’re on our way.

Penzance looks interesting but no time to stop except to photograph this strange empty but open seaside swimming pool.

Hitch up with National Cycle Route 3 for the last few miles includind a sandy cliff top path into the ‘Lands End Experience shopping mall’ . Manage to get the necessary photo without paying a tenner by hanging around outside the railings.

I’ve done it. Feel rather satisfied but a little bit lost. What now? We go to St Ives thats what. Barbara Hepworth – 0, Crab Sandwiches – 4. End up shacked up above the town in a Hotel the size of Buck Palace with amazing sub tropical gardens.

Eat fish and chips off of specially printed Times facsimiles. Home tomorrow.

Almost there

Spent last night in an excellent B&B in Mevagissey. Everything worked,everything you needed was there, landlady friendly but not nosey – the St Meva on the cliffs above the town * * * *  Have not included any pics of Mevagissey as one pretty little Cornish fishing harbour looks much like another. Set off this morning with all the weather forecasts predicting a plague of frogs but surprise, surprise not a drop fell on me all day. Caught the ferry from St Mawes to Falmouth, very tricky negotiating the steep steps down the harbour wall with a 7ft recumbent but luckily a friendly ex-biker gave me a hand. Spotted this ridiculously over canvassed (?) little boat on the way across.

Took a bit of a shine to Gweek on the way through – a real working boat yard village

Took even more of a shine to it when the local roadside cafe offered up this for lunch (posh eh)

Am now sitting in the The Coldsteamer pub near Penzance waiting for Mr Bamford to show up feeling rather weird now its almost over,

Rabbits and cows

Had a really excellent stay at Carrie and Martins in Bratton Clovelly, not to mention the venison stew and a lot of very helpful advice on the next bit of the route. I also made the acquaintance of the village rabbit – a free range bunny who seems to have cracked both who is going to feed it and where the big dogs live and is consequently living a life of quiet luxury.

Set off for another sunny ride through the lanes but alas on entering Cornwall I find many gradients, its sort of like riding from Presteigne to Knighton to Clun over and over again. There was a little light relief in the form of ancient monuments like this one that looks even more phallic than the geezer who fell over his balaclava.

But the big treat was just over the fence. While we were in Scotland we had a high stakes game going called Spot the Belted Galloway but they seemed to have become extinct, however lo and behold here was a great gang of them hanging round on a Cornish hillside!

I have just one more treat for you that I remembered to photograph before I ate it. Can you guess? …You’re right It’s a smoked mackerel scotch egg.

Baked spuds and Balaklavas

The Mitre Inn turned out to be another game of 2 halves in as much as I spent the evening listening to the self-important landlord telling me how he could have been a big songwriter if he’d wanted to while the local acoustic guitar trio gently vivisected everything from Blue Suede Shoes to American Pie in the background but then in the morning (as is often the case) the landlady turned out to be a real sweetie despite having that slightly harassed, worried, is that the bank manager at the door again look that is increasingly common to the breed i.e. owners of large crumbling country pubs.

Then off into the Devon countryside in remarkably good weather. With time on my hands I dawdled through the sandy coloured lanes stopping occasionally to admire John Henry Thomson’s erect monument to him falling over his balaclava . No sorry, that should be falling at Balaklava.

Stopped to take a picture of a roadside plant stall in order to keep my feminine side up to speed.

 Eventually landed in Hatherleigh  hoping for a spot of light luncheon only to discover it was in the grip of socially corrosive jacket potato habit. Perused the menu at the delicatessan – jacket potatos, The George – jp’s, The Tally Ho – jp’s, the coffee shop jp’s What the hell is going on here? So it was back into the lanes heading for Martin and Caroline’s place. The final approach to Bratton Clovelly from the North is a magnificent 3 mile downhill swoop …… yippeee.. and the sun is even shining.

Nomansland

I thought this all looked a bit familier. Turns out I’ve been down this road a couple of times before.

One time I remember passing through with the band and trying to get them to stop at the pub in Nomansland so we could go in and sing them our song ‘No mans Land’ but for some reason both John and Hugh thought this was a stupid idea!

Another time I stopped in Witheridge, where I’m now staying in the Mitre Inn (not sure what to report yet), in order to pick up a toffee crisp during one of our Electric Bike enthusiasts jaunts round Exmoor – 115 miles of rather challenging terrain made all the more scarey by Mr Ching the ezee bike importer insisting on riding in the middle of the road even at night. The majority of my ride from Bridgenorth despite a really bad B&B breakfast  has been really pleasant and has included big lumps of the Tiverton canal and even a look at Tiverton church? Cathedral? Anyway it seemed a safe place to park the bike.

Back on the bike in Bridgewater

Had a very weird day yesterday. Started riding towards Lands End with my friend William on the other bike but after a very pleasant ride through the lanes to Ewys Harold William realised he felt really shitty and sensibly decided to pull out. He said “Pete my batterys run down and I don’t mean the one on the bike” So we all got ferried home by Willo and I sat around all evening pondering my options and late this morning Al drove me down to the Severn Bridge to carry on where I’d left off, travelling by myself. Its a very different vibe cycling alone and after a concerned Samaritan had prevented me jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge –

and accepted I was actually just taking pics for my blog; had quite by chance met up with Rhoda’s son Piers; and fought a rather violent battle with the A38 I have arrived in a well equipped triple room with en-suite on a busy intersection in Bridgewater. Sorry no pics till tomorrow – forget the USB lead!

Back in Rumbaland

Cycled like loonies (73 miles) to get to Llanfyllin  near Oswestry in time for the soundcheck. The gig had been organised by Pete Beresford aka Herbert Spliffington and the plan was to meet the rest of Little Rumba there plus Ben Garman who was going to play drums. Sure enough there were all there plus Alison, Willo and Nikki and we got stuck into a really nice evening at The Old New Inn. The gig is in a little hall tacked onto the back of the pub which soon filled up with an enthusiastic crowd who all got up and danced like crazy. What a brilliant way to end the musical bit of part one.  Unfortunately I was having such a good time i took no pics but after everyone had gone we went round to Su’s house round the corner to stay the night before the ride to Presteigne. Her house is stupendous a mixture of 15th,17th and 18th century bits all decorated in a sumptuous slightly Eastern style It was a privilege to stay there.

On Sunday we set off for a leisurely ride to Presteigne, cold but sunny, very beautiful and incorporating a stop at Will’s in Bishops Castle for lunch at the 3 Tuns and a few snaps of the corrugated barn (soon to be demolished) behind his house.

Then home via Bedstone and Brampton Bryan chatting abourt the trip and marvelling about how well the bikes and eZee electric motors had coped and also how comfortable they had been, no stiff legs or sore bums for us. We rode down from Letchmore Lane to find a banner of toilet paper across the road and as it was my birthday there was a full-on tea party waiting!

760 mls on the cycle computer so far. Next stop Lands End as soon as I’ve finished the next issue of Broad Sheep and put up all the photos you haven’t seen on a separate page of this blog.