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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Day 2 - Gurnards Head to Lelant. Stiles

Unwelcome anxiety reared its head this morning, the chipper calm of yesterday merged into catastrophic thinking instead. Although the breakfast looked amazing at the Gurnards Head (what a find!), I couldn’t face much, and whereas normally I’d force myself, we thought today was not a big day before we got to St Ives, so it was a small bowl of excellent home made yogurt and home made muesli before hitting the road. The long grass was wet and luxuriant, making my trousers similar.

David was walking with me today, and I really enjoyed having the company, it soothed the worried voice a little. And fortunately hitting the trail immediately settled me, the process of walking calms the worry about what might happen when I’m walking. People have commented in advance of this trek about how brave I am. Actually nothing is further away from how I mainly feel. But I suppose there’s a courage in feeling mainly petrified but carrying on anyway.

My original plan was to do the coastal path to St Ives today. But my good friend Ruth who moved to Cornwall from Seer Green recommended that we take the ‘coffin’ path to St Ives from nearby Zennor instead. One story is that this was used by those in St Ives carrying their dead to lay to rest in Zennor church. Others disagree, pointing out that there are no coffin rests on the stiles, and they believe that in fact it is a route for the spirits of the dead, or follows natural lines of force, or relates to witchery. Whatever the story for the route, stone walls surrounding the unusually small fields are the oldest stone structures still being used for their original purpose in the uk. And each field was separated by a stone stile. I am aware that some friends consider me prone to exaggeration, so I was glad to have David’s validation that there were around 50 to climb over, or up and down, some in cattle grid formation, some as steep edifices as high as 5 feet.

Although being off the coastal path meant less incline, this alternative route was by no means the easy option when the fully laden pack was messing with my centre of gravity. I won no prizes for elegance in their negotiation.

We had our first proper cow episode - a field full of mothers and calves. Walkers are supposed to avoid that scenario. We had no option. I made lots of reassuring conversation to the mums as we made as wide a berth as we could. Fortunately they were calm, and we lived to tell the (not very exciting) tale.

A lovely diversion into Zennor. First to enjoy the 19th century version of hand sanitiser to prevent the plague.

Then to Zennor church to admire the carving on a pew end and read about the young chorister swept off his feet by a mermaid. The full and excellent story is here if you would like it. I really enjoyed not carrying the pack for a bit as we looked round the church. I’m already debating losing some of the contents, though quite what isn’t going to make the cut isn’t clear.

And after a very slow 6.5 miles we made it to St Ives. First stop the Tate, where the locker was just big enough to take the rucksack. I really enjoyed the gallery, lots of interest but not too big. There was an exhibition by Ad Minoliti, an Argentinian artist who is new to us. Their work is dramatic and eye catching.

And part of the exhibition was an interactive colouring area. If you’re visiting, there are now some excellent orange kittens with green ears. You’re welcome.

But the piece that really grabbed my attention was a Barbara Hepworth. I was really struck by her strength and the way she used the organic nature of her medium.

A short stroll over cobbled streets to the Crab and Rum shack. Food is very important to me, and I really enjoy choosing interesting things to eat. A great dressed crab whilst we sheltered from the mizzle was an excellent way to spend an hour. Again the benefit of the charity signage on my rucksack came into its own, a lovely group of people noticed it, and then Jenny was the first person to use my pay by text number. Thanks Jenny!

We followed the coastal path from St Ives up to Lelant, where we are staying tonight. Climbing up and down to the side of the sea was energetic, but worth it to see the clarity and soft stillness of the water, so different to the sea further up the coast in North Devon.

Walking over the dunes we stopped to admire the obedience of a spaniel, and the dog’s owners then noticed my sign and chatted about why I was walking and for whom. Without hesitation, Lyn gave me the change from her purse for the charity, and then pulled up her jumper to show me her t shirt which had an End to End map. She had walked the equivalent mileage during lockdown. What a star, and generous to boot.

Another mile or so in the drizzle walking through the very well to do area of Lelant and we arrived at the Badger inn. A lovely old pub with a friendly welcome and excellent food, Virginia Woolf was a fan and stayed on at least 3 occasions. I’d be happy to come back.


Distance - 10.5 miles

Ascent - 1027 feet

Calories burned - 1600

Local tipple - pint of Cornish best (that’s double the amount I drank yesterday, where will I be by day 104?)

Dinner at the Badger Inn - excellent

Stuffed jalapeños

Scampi and chips

Number of stiles climbed, shuffled and teetered over - a confident 50

video of the day can be found here

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