Posted by: Emily | September 29, 2010

My South West adventure (day four)

Day four: Bodmin -> Land’s End (72 miles)

I woke early again on day four and was feeling very excited about the prospect of reaching Land’s End. Despite all the cycling I’d already done my legs still felt surprisingly fresh, but I was permanently hungry and a large breakfast was fast becoming an essential part of my daily routine. For the second day in a row I had a big bowl of muesli, beans on toast and another four pieces of toast with jam. I could have quite happily continued eating all morning, but I had a long journey ahead of me so decided it was time to hit the road.

The plan of the day was to cycle to Redruth, 50 miles away, where I’d have lunch and then do the final 35 miles to Land’s End. The ride out of Bodmin was great but hillier than I’d expected from looking at the map of The Cornish Way (the part of the route that I was now on). I had been cycling for over 1.5 hours but barely covered 12 miles. This wasn’t quite the progress I was hoping for. The route headed into the Eden Project and the signs started getting very confusing and instinctively it felt like I was going in the wrong direction. Checking my location on Google Maps confirmed this, but I couldn’t work out which path was the right one. By now I’d spent so much time messing around with the map that it was close to midday and I was still miles away from Redruth. The chances of me reaching Land’s End by sunset were getting slimmer by the minute. I decided to ignore the official route and just make my own way to the nearest town, St Austell, where I’d have a cup of tea and a scone and work out what to do next. The ride to St Austell was absolutely wonderful. The sun was shining and the views from the road were breathtaking.

Approaching St Austell

I reached St Austell with the sole purpose of finding the best scones they had to offer. A very friendly man directed me in the way of a local bakery where he assured me I would not be disappointed. He was absolutely right. I sat outside in the sun, eating and drinking, feeling carefree and very happy. At that point I started thinking about where I should aim to get to by the end of the day as I’d all but given up on the Land’s End plan. Although I’d only just had a large tea, I suddenly had a hankering for a Starbucks. Much to the dismay of my family, I’m a huge Starbucks fan and normally have at least one of their cappuccinos every day without fail. I knew there was a Starbucks in Truro, about 10 miles away, and even though it wasn’t on the route, I decided that if I wasn’t going to get to Land’s End that day, I might as well enjoy myself and if it was Starbucks I wanted, then it was Starbucks I was going to have.

The ride to Truro was fast. Probably because not only was I was spurred on by the thought of my cappuccino, but I was on the A390. Within 30 minutes I was there. The caffeine did it’s magic and it wasn’t long before I was reconsidering the Land’s End plan. I had a look at the map and it seemed like I could take two B roads that would get me to Penzance, less than 15 miles from Land’s End. To get me there by sunset would require a lot of cycling in not much time but I was feeling determined so after a huge baguette from a lovely Cornish deli I was on my way.

It’s amazing how the miles fly by when you don’t have to keep stopping to look for signs or check a map. I took a very direct route from Truro to Penzance and although I wasn’t on the quiet country lanes that I’d spent much of the last few days on, the B roads weren’t bad and I was able to go at a fast pace. The last few miles into Penzance were on the A394 but I was so elated by the fact I’d managed to get there that I just kept cycling and ignored the cars flying by me. At this point I was still not entirely sure whether I was going to stop in Penzance or try for Land’s End. The sun was getting lower and although in London I regularly cycle at night, I wanted to avoid it on this trip if at all possible. As I was approaching Penzance there was a sign for Land’s End and I knew I wasn’t going to be stopping until I got there. 10 or so miles along the A30 later and I was there. I had reached Land’s End just as the sun was setting and it was wonderful. I was exhausted but overjoyed.

Sunset at Land's End

Now that I was there, I needed to find somewhere to spend the night as this was the first place that I hadn’t booked accommodation in advance. I was assuming I’d be able to stay at the Land’s End Hotel, but they had a very big ‘No Vacancies’ sign outside. I went inside anyway and the receptionist told me that a large group of cyclists had just arrived and confirmed that all their rooms were indeed occupied. She very kindly offered to ring around for me and I was extremely grateful. The first few places she tried were also booked and I was starting to wonder whether I was going to have to cycle back to Penzance, but finally she found somewhere nearby.

I had dinner at the First and Last Inn with a delicious crumble for dessert. After 72 miles and over 5,400 ft of ascent it was well deserved.




  1. Congratulations on making it and thanks for keeping us in touch with your exploits. This may be the first epic tale that ends with a bowl of crumble.

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