Saturday, 11th April 2015 (Day 6, week 14)
Aiming for 1000 miles in a year
Total so far: 285.2 miles (13.7 miles this week)
One of our favourite walks today, around Sennen Cove and Land’s End.
Lots to see and talk about.
Sennen circular via Land’s End and Nanjizal (5.5 miles)
Leaving the car at the top of the hill we head down towards the cove, then turn left along Maria’s Lane to avoid the main road. A little way along we turn right and stumble down the steep narrow path into Sennen Cove itself, before turning left and heading up the steep incline towards Mayon Cliffs. Stopping for a photo halfway, I catch sight of a juvenile wheatear, scurrying around amidst the heather and gorse. I’m not quick enough with the camera sadly though!
At the top we pause for a brief perusal of Pedn-men-du Coastguard Station, built in 1912 and in use until the1940s but now owned by the National Trust and open as an information centre during the Summer. The views across the water here are spectacular and today the sky is fairly clear so that we can see, not only Longships but also right out to the lighthouse at Wolf Rock, 8 miles away. Both of these lighthouses were built in the late 1790’s and are now automated.
There are plenty of gannets, swooping and diving out to sea and on the way along the cliff top and on the detached rocks out to sea, we spot nesting pairs of kittiwakes and
black headed gulls. Sorry – these are Great Black Backed Gulls!
The granite cliffs here are topped by moorland with abundant gorse and heathers. The rock formations are fascinating, like lego bricks stacked up high.
We divert from the main path, towards the sea, investigate an intriguing sign for Maen Castle, an important landmark, dating from 500 BC. These promontory forts are common around this coastline and consist of little more than a series of ramparts and ditches although these are not easy to see now. According to legend, the giant Myen Du was said to have lived in this one. Not wishing to meet him on the top of these cliffs we move swiftly on!
There are a couple of miles of moorland path from here, the banks lined with dog violets, sea campion and sea pinks. We hear skylarks amongst other birdsong and continue to watch the gannets, gulls and kittiwakes as we go.
We quickly traverse the Land’s End Theme Park and head down over gritty paths and across a wooden bridge to return to the coast path which is now narrow and tricky and as we make the rocky descent towards Nanjizal a few spots of rain fall. As a raincoat was not on my list of essential packing for today’s walk, I can only hope it’s a passing (brief) shower!
Nanjizal is a pretty little cove with only two disadvantages. It’s at the bottom of a very steep climb down, and to leave it, there’s a very steep clamber up! I knew this was coming of course, we’ve done this walk lots of times before, but you never quite get used to just how steep and uneven the steps are. Today they seem worse than ever, they’re eroding away and it’s sometimes difficult to find a foothold.
Across the valley, descending the steep steps on that side, we catch sight of an elderly couple who look to be in trouble. Unable to help from where we are, we watch for a minute until we’re sure they’re both on their feet and continuing their long descent. Hopefully, they’re not intending to climb back up the same way as us!
Finally we’re at the top and the path now flattens out. We can see across to the other side of the valley, where half a dozen horses are startled by a tractor and take flight across the field. That would have made a good picture if I’d been quicker!
The path here is lined with pretty white flowers, greater stitchwort, with delicate bifurcated (big word!) petals and lichen covered tree branches, and we catch sight of a leaf beetle ambling his way through the undergrowth:
Emerging from the path we cross several fields of harvested cauliflower and a field full of wild pansies, tiny little purple and yellow specimens. On the way we pass a very attractive doorway; look at this for workmanship!
That’s all individual slate tiles forming the arch over the door itself.
Across a stile and we’re into a field of cows. Now, I have to say, I’ve managed to conquer my cow phobia for the most part, but I have a tinsy winsy, minor panic when Mr RR is a little slow moving through the kissing gate and Cow number 2053 becomes a mite inquisitive. To be fair, we had made her move away from the gate, when she was happily munching away at some overhanging goodies, so that we could pass by, so its only fair that she should want to know who we are. There is a limit to my bravery however and it is with sweating palms and pounding heart that I turn and snap her picture.
Luckily, just across the road is the lovely Apple Tree Cafe and we make swiftly for a bacon sandwich so that I can have hot, sweet tea to recover (unfortunately they don’t serve brandy!)
Fortified and revived we leave the cafe and walk along the roadway back into Sennen, watching carefully for the deaf white cat named Claude said to roam these parts:
This warning has been here ever since we first walked this way – maybe 12 years ago, so poor Claude must be getting on a bit now!
Bird of the day:
Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Sleek, neat bird with a short tail. Juvenile is spotted or mottled on upper parts and breast.
We also saw:
Gannets, pipits, kittiwakes, black headed gulls, herring gulls, buzzard.
Flower of the day:
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea):
We also saw:
sea campion, sea pinks, hawthorn, wild pansy.
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Mr RR: