“The Game’s Afoot” is how the End to End trail guide heads Day 1 of LEJOG, with an inspiring quote from Henry V. I can’t beat Shakespeare, but can truthfully say that the feeling of setting out on this journey after all the months of planning was unlike anything else I have experienced.
Despite the inevitable delay caused by trying to get two adults and two small children up, dressed, breakfasted and in the car in good time, we managed to get to Land’s End before all the tourist tat opened, meaning that the whole place was almost deserted and we were able to get a photo of the famous sign without having to queue.
Photos taken, it was time to set off. Arran and the kids came with me for the first half mile, then I kissed the kids goodbye and was properly on my own.
Day 1 was very hard. I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, as I am well aware that I am unfit and overweight as well as totally unused to walking up and down steep hills. But I was unprepared for the sheer amount of up and down and found that my speed dropped to about a mile an hour as I descended another set of rocky steps with wobbly knees and aching calves. It didn’t help that heavy rain had turned sizeable portions of the path into muddy, dungy morass, meaning I had to hop from stepping stone to grassy tussock and went even slower. Two heavy downpours didn’t help, as water from overhanging grasses went down inside my boots and soaked my feet.
I had arranged to meet Arran and the kids at the pub in Zennor, but it became apparent that my original estimate of 6pm was wildly optimistic, and I eventually staggered in at about 8.15, exhausted, damp and demoralised.
Spent the evening trying to get warm in the caravan awning and fending off serious attacks of self-doubt with the aid of red wine.
Highlights: Land’s End all silent in the early morning; a group of people sketching a cliffside brook undeterred by the pouring rain; the drenched couple who listened to the weather forecast and came out without waterproofs; a late supper of hot fish and chips as the rain drummed on the caravan awning.
PS. This and the next few entries are late due to lack of internet access – photos to be added later!