LEJOG Virtual Challenge: Toward Dylan’s Corner-Lands End to Mousehole

Upon seeing the sunrise and taking the obligatory photos of the signposts and First and Last House in England, I’d have promptly started walking as this portion of the path is said to be a bit challenging. Of course the weather would look exactly as it does in these pictures. House: Robert Pittman, Flickr Commons. Sunrise: Wallpaper Flare

Being a librarian my real life journey was going to be based around literature. Though the trip I had decided on didn’t end up including Cornwall, I had very much wanted to make it work. Depending solely on public transport however, I decided it was too much to fit in for the time I had available. Had I done this route, Mousehole was definitely on the itinerary as it was a honeymoon stopover for the poet Dylan Thomas.

To get to Cornwall, in this virtual journey and a real one, I would take the overnight train from London to Penzance, fight off some pirates, and then take the bus to the Lands End. When traveling by public transportation I highly recommend the Rome2rio website to help plan your trip.

Lands End History

In the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1870-1872, Lands End was described as follows:

LANDS-END, a headland in the SW of Cornwall; the most westerly point of England; 10 miles, by road, SW by W of Penzance. It is the Penwith of the ancient Britons, and the Bolerium of the Romans. It consists almost wholly of granite; has an elevation, at the extremity, of only about 60 feet; is pierced there by a natural tunnel; rises on each side, into cliffs of much greater altitude than the extremity; exhibits, all round, a broken, shattered, cavernous, and gloomy aspect; and commands, in times of storm, a sublime or even appalling seaward view. …

So gloomy and appalling that it has been a tourist attraction for over 300 years. There are also the obligatory stories of giants and pixies, pirates and smugglers, and of course, King Arthur and the lost land of Lyonesse. You can “experience the legend” at Arthur Quest if Arthurian legends and gift shop swords are your cup of cream tea.

Porthcurno Beach

After 5 miles of challenging walking along the cliff tops, passing near Minack Theater, an open air theater perched on the cliffs, you will come upon Porthcurno Beach which in pre-Covid days looks to have been a popular summer excursion. Here you can leave the path to go dip your toes or more into the surf and then relax at the beach cafe with a scone and cream tea. Apparently there is a battle between Cornwall and Devon as to the origins of cream tea. I take no sides but I do I highly recommend clotted cream for the scone. You’ve earned the extra calories by this point I’d think! From there it is a little over a mile until you reach the picturesque Penberth Cove and its quaint fisherman’s cottage and fishing boats. This area is also about the halfway point to Mousehole and can be a good overnight stop over if you want to break the walk up into two days. Which to be honest, I’d probably be tempted to do. But for the sake of this virtual journey on to Mousehole we go!

Top Left: Path near Minack Theater by Nilfanion/Cornwall, CC-BY-SA-4.0. Top Right: Porthcurno Beach by falco (pixabay.com) Bottom Left: Penberth Cove fisherman cottage By Jane White, CC BY-SA 3.0, Bottom right: Fishing boats at Penberth Cove by Bob Jones / Penberth Cove / CC BY-SA 2.

Lamorna Cove

The path then meanders another four miles past more lovely coves, Tator-du Lighthouse and breathtaking cliff side views toward America before reaching Lamorna Cove. Lamorna drew Post-Impressionist artists in the early 20th century and today still draws painter, potters, and other artistic types…including drunken poets. But we will come to that later. So this could be a good spot to pull out the sketchbook and have a spot of lunch or tea. Or if you are like me, be poet like and get a pint at the pub. An inland excursion will take you to the Merry Maidens stone circle, which was the second cute little postcard sent to me for the virtual challenge where the route takes you along the road verses the footpaths.

I’m a bit concerned at how the virtual challenge folks knew about my dating history…

Mousehole

First we should get the pronunciation settled. It’s pronounced “Mowzel”. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

So as I mentioned, my real life trip to England was based around literature and I was looking at visiting Cornwall. Mousehole was on the itinerary because of the poet Dylan Thomas who apparently described this small fishing village as the loveliest in England before going on the disparage the woman he was seeing at the time. “Mousehole is the best village. I want to live [here], not with Wyn but cosy and cheaply with something dumb and lovely of my own choice, with a woman who hasn’t been psycho-analysed or rodgered (sic) by celebrities’. Wyn lucked out and throw the happy couple a party instead after Dylan married. Now I’m not a Dylan Thomas fangirl. Don’t even like poetry much. But during a literary pub tour of Greenwich Village in NYC, we visited a pub that also had a Dylan’s corner as he frequented it often, so thought I had might as well visit another! The Ship Inn was where Thomas and his new wife drank, and drank, and drank some more while on their honeymoon. A corner is still dedicated to him. This is where I would have chosen to stay had I visited because who doesn’t like to surround themselves in the history of a womanizing, drunken poet.

Top Photo: Dylan Thomas. Reposing or fallen down drunk? https://sites.udel.edu/britlitwiki/files//2018/06/Dylan-Thomas-010.jpg Bottom Photo: Ship Inn by Robert Pittman, Flickr Creative Commons.

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