Day 1: Penzance – Lands End – St Ives

Distance: 30.03 miles
Time: 2 hours 38 minutes
Average speed: 11.4 m.p.h.
Distance from Lands End: 20 miles
Distance to John o’Groats: 1000 miles

After what seemed to be a very long train journey from Bath we arrived in Penzance at 1.15 feeling slightly nervous. It had been fairly cloudy on the way down but when we stepped out of the train we realised it was warmer than it looked.

We donned our cycle-wear (shirts kindly designed for us by Roger Pugh) and headed to the Cornwall Cycle Centre, where the tandem was waiting for us, freshly serviced and ready to go. As we walked up to the shop we were accosted by two men from a support team for another group of cyclists starting LEJoG today. “Ah”, they said, “you must be the tandem”. Spooky! With an exchange of “Good luck” and “See you on the road”, we set off up the hill out of Penzance. We had ten miles to complete before the start of the journey ‘proper’, to Sennen and then Lands End. There were a few small hills to climb but the journey was swift and enjoyable; the tandem running very smoothly and the scenery getting progressively more impressive as we neared the end of the peninsula.

We’d been warned about Lands End, and indeed there was a general air of tackiness about the complex, which thankfully diminished after we cycled past a mocked-up Tardis (why?!) to the famous signpost. We had our picture taken, then set off back up the road, cheered off from the ‘Start’ line by a friendly group of hikers. A few friendly toots on car horns sent us on our way, and soon we turned left off the A30 onto the road to St Just. This was a lovely, rolling, scenic road, goats to the left, Belted Galloway (we think) cows to the right. The traffic was light and the hills relatively gentle – a perfect warm-up for the journey to follow. We passed a tin mine at Geevor, operating for the benefit of tourists, and lots of ruins with chimneys, which were presumably something to do with Cornish tin mining. Soon we passed Zennor (where D.H. Lawrence lived with Frieda von Richthofen for a while) and climbed the final hill of the day before a rapid descent into St Ives. We were just in time for the tourist information centre and found accommodation fairly easily.

So, a good start, warm weather and quiet roads – just what we needed. Tomorrow we travel via Padstow to Wadebridge.