Stokenchurch to Land's End by your Editor
June 2nd to 5th 2008
To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail
Day 3 - Fowey to Land's End & Penzance
A map of my outward bound journey.
Courtesy Microsoft Autoroute 2007
Wednesday, 4th June 2008, the dawn came and with it the sun and as I awakened I was conscious of the gulls once again, crying their song as they went about their business and in the distance I could hear the chug of a small engine which drew me to my window overlooking the Fowey estuary. One of the boats in Polruan Harbour opposite was making ready for an early morning departure.
The sun was rising in the east from behind the Fowey hotel shedding its light on the small fishing village of Polruan with its preserved blockhouse - seen in the right foreground, part of the 14th century defences of this part of the U.K. coastline. This blockhouse is comparatively well preserved due to the efforts of various enthusiastic councillors and conservationists on the Polruan side of the river. There were two (the Fowey side being ruined beyond hope) which were built end of the 14th century to protect the harbour from pirates and the French. A chain was pulled up across the river between the two blockhouses to stop vessels entering the harbour and conversely, to stop them leaving if they had the temerity to "cross the line".
As I mentioned at the end of my account of Day 2, I had previously stayed at The Fowey Hotel in 1949 and I savoured the pleasure of luxuriating in a comfortable bed with a wonderful sea view. I had planned not to leave Fowey before noon and so could enjoy a leisurely shower, breakfast and a potter before making my way to the bus that would take me towards to my ultimate destination - Land's End.
Having showered and dressed, I made way downstairs and outside to take in the views and pleasant feel of this place.
It was approaching 8.30 and I was feeling hungry, my dinner from the night before seeming some time ago. I sought out the breakfast room where I found a pleasant table by the window overlooking Polruan Harbour.
The breakfast buffet had a wide selection of fruit, cereals, juices etc and the menu offered an excellent cooked breakfast. Not being a great fish eater, I declined the smoked haddock and instead selected a traditional breakfast which was most satisfying. The views to accompany this excellent meal were delightful as I think you can judge from the pictures below.
Before finally leaving the hotel I enjoyed a pleasant walk in the gardens overlooking the estuary and was surprised by a seagull nesting in the bushes by the sea wall. It made a frightful fuss and suddenly its mate appeared above me swooping down and giving me quite a fright. I am told that seagulls can be quite vicious if roused, so I beat a hasty retreat.
While I was checking out, I was talking to the Receptionist about my last stay back in 1950 or so I thought. She said would I like to see the register for that year to which I said "Yes please". I was surprised to find that they had registers going this far back and she soon found the relative book which I scanned through to see if I could find the entry.
Imagine my pleasure when on the second page I looked at, there was my Grandfather's hand writing and his car registration, HYB300. The date, not 1950 but July 29th 1949.
I must make a return visit next year on that date, which will be 60 years to the day.
On leaving the hotel I needed to make my way to The Safe Harbour Hotel where my bus was to leave at 12:04. I walked towards the town centre down narrow and interesting streets which were often very steep.
I found the local Barclays Bank and attended to some business before making my way to the bus stop, which this time was up an equally steep street by the side of St Finn Barr's Church. I also found the local town bus at its stop by the church. Useful with such steep streets I thought.
St Finn Barr's Church. Dedicated to St Finbarr who passed through Fowey early in the 6th century. The church was rebuilt in 1460 by the Earl of Warwick after being destroyed by French marauders. Situated in the heart of the town it is generally open to visitors during the day. (Service times are displayed on the Church notice board or visit their web site
Arriving at the bus stop I had some minutes to wait and was able to take in the local ambience. I was fascinated by the daisy like flowers growing in many of the walls around the town. A lady at the bus stop was able to tell me that these flowers were called Mexican Fleabane and were prolific in Cornwall. I wonder if they would thrive in Buckinghamshire?
As ever, now that concession passes are in use, quite a few people had gathered for the 12:04 departure which was a few minutes late.
Service 25 Fowey to Foxhole operated by First Devon & Cornwall - Optare Solo M850 N26F - 53109 EO02FLJ new 2002
We departed at 12:07, just 3 minutes late and made our way on the circular route out of town giving me my last view of the River Fowey and Polruan. We headed towards Par, the area once famous for its China Clay trains and soon passed the depot of Roselyn Coaches which are often seen far from home, even at Stansted Airport.
I was interested to glimpse the very varied fleet which includes double deck Olympians.
The coach in the third picture carried the registration 241AJB. Now that seemed familiar. Once on an AERE Harwell Bus I believe.
On Cypress Avenue heading for the Beach Road towards St Austell. Now they could use any bigger buses on this part of the route.
For more information on the arch protecting the entrance to Carlyon Bay read this link - http://www.carlyonbaywatch.com/4.html
Having passed along Carlyon Bay we headed towards St Austell and St Dennis.
When one plans these trips it is difficult to visualise how the connections will work and to me Foxhole could have been in Timbuktu or outer Mongolia let alone Cornwall. I think I could have made a quicker connection in St Austell to my next major stop, Truro but Traveline said Foxhole so Foxhole it was. I was trying to work out in my mind which way my connection would run but the driver was helpful and suggested where I should get off his bus and wait on the opposite side of the road for my next bus, a 22 from St Dennis to Truro.
Readers will not be surprised to learn that this shelter offered very little shelter indeed from the occasional rain showers and a biting wind which seemed to pluck at my very inner being. Looking at the timetable in the shelter there was no reference to any service 22 at all, only the 25 and WG 521 and I began to wonder if I was in the right place. I let a Western Greyhound 521 stop so that I could ask the driver if this was where I could catch the 22. He seemed unimpressed, only adding to my impressions of this company and with a curt yes closed his doors and moved quickly off. After what seemed an age a First Dart hove into sight with its destination reading Truro 22. What a relief. I hauled my bags aboard and was greeted by a friendly smile and the request "where to please". I showed my Concession Pass, said "Truro please" and settled down in the warm front seat.
Service 22 Foxhole to Truro operated by First Devon & Cornwall - Dennis Dart SLF - Plaxton Pointer N35F - 42439 P439ORL new 1996
This service comes from a place called Treviscoe and is mainly it seems for the use of college students. It operates through places with unusual names such as Nanpean, Grampound Road and Probus. The driver was very forthcoming and told me about the mines and the general area. I really enjoyed the run and saw some interesting places.
The driver waited whilst I took a picture in Grampound Road and then we ran on to Probus.
We were soon heading into Truro and I wondered what we would see of Truronian, so recently taken over by First Bus. The bus station is centrally located by the river and has pagoda shaped roof structures which covers which look rather nice. It is a busy location and I was sorry not to have more time. As it turned out I had just enough time to take a few pictures, dash to M&S for a sandwich, much cheaper than Exeter and its bus station caf'. In fact the M&S is really convenient but I still had a chase to get my next bus, this time to Penzance.
I noticed that the Dart had a Concession Pass sticker in its window and think this would be a most helpful thing
to apply to buses used on services which qualify throughout the U.K.
Maybe it should also be used on qualifying coach services and also on web site timetables.
My Dart awaits, already quite full, with returning "twirlys" on the one hour long journey to Penzance.
This service is some 35 minutes faster than 18 seen above which will arrive in Penzance 29 minutes after us.
Not having much time in Truro for pictures, I quickly snapped this old boat by the bus station and only now have checked up through the wonder of the internet on its history. You can read all about the Paddle Steamer Compton Castle at the following link.
Service X18 Truro to Penzance operated by First Devon & Cornwall - Dennis Dart SLF - Alexander ALX200 N37F - 42469 T469JCV new 1999
This service turned out to be a very busy service as we picked up a large number of students at Truro College having also called at the RCH (Royal Cornwall Hospital.) In fact two ladies sitting opposite me said how much bigger buses were needed. It seems that things have got a lot worse since the introduction of free concession travel in April and they wondered how it would cope when the full holiday season gets under way in July and August. Of course they will not have the students to cope with at that point in time.
I should mention that the only spare seat for me when I boarded was a tip up facing backwards but the above mentioned ladies kept me informed as to what was coming up.
On our way through Hayle I took a picture which I have really found interesting. It is a view of Phillack and when researching this page brought up some interesting information. I knew nothing of Phillack and indeed I did not even know where the picture was, except that it was taken in Hayle. I enlarged the picture to see the sign board which said "The Salt Gallery" which is on Fore Street, Hayle. I then deduced that the picture was of Phillack but to check put this place into the Google search engine which led me to the Francis Frith web site and to my surprise a picture of Phillack which seems almost identical to my picture. I would note however that the picture was taken in 1927. Readers may find the link of interest.
One of the kind ladies, who had lived in Penzance all her life, with the full load many of whom had to stand from Truro to Penzance.
The "standees" are to the right of picture. At least half the load were concession riders.
A Mounts Bay coach is seen through the window.
We pulled into Penzance Bus Station just a few minutes down and our Dart heaved a sigh of relief as the heavy load alighted. These buses are now some eight or nine years old but appear to keep charge of the 18 group service which is, I am told, always a very busy route.
Penzance is nearly at the end of the line and indeed for the railway it is the end of the line. I could see the curving station in the distance but did not have time to investigate. I had less than 30 minutes before my next bus was due to leave.
The bus station has ample parking space, what a change from our local bus stations.
Here we see an Olympian 34691 and Volvo Citybus, recently converted to open top, 38004, laying over with our Dart 42469 having a well earned rest.
Comings and goings at Penzance Bus Station with Western Greyhound Y28WGL on a 513 departure to Leedstown,
a First Vario unloading before forming the 1605 service 6 to Mousehole
and finally a 53 registered First Dart 42873 which will form the 1603 to St Ives.
I had planned to take the 17 service to St Just where I would connect with the 300 open top service coming from St Ives on a circular service from Penzance via Land's End and back to Penzance. Once again a busy service is foreseen with scholars and "twirlys" all making their way home. The 17 is a through service between St Ives and St Just via Penzance.
Service 17 Penzance to St Just operated by First Devon & Cornwall - Transbus Dart 10.7m - Transbus Pointer N37F - 42874 SN53KKD new 2003
Dave Richardson was my driver and he proved very helpful and friendly as we shall see later. The Dart left with a full load some seven minutes late and we loaded more passengers including scholars as we progressed out of Penzance.
Our Dart was now fully loaded with standing passengers as we headed towards St Just where I was to take the 300. The rain was of and on and it was quite dark for the time of year. I would have just eight minutes to make my connection in St Just at Lafrowda Close. I really should have discussed my connection with Dave since as we began our descent into St Just the 300 passed us on its way to Land's End. Oh dear, another missed bus!
Dave kindly suggested I should return to Penzance with him and take a service 1 to Land's End. This would be later than planned but would save a very long wait in St Just for the next 300.
This I did and was rather pleased to have done so as we went through a place Called Nancherrow (there is a book and TV film by the same name - Rosamunde Pilcher the author) and then onwards to a tin mine museum Geevor.
Approaching Geevor and time for a picture.
Up until 1990 Geevor Tin Mine one of Cornwall's largest tin mines, employing up to 400 people, with workings extending far out under the sea, reaching a depth of 350 fathoms. Now managed as a Heritage Centre and Museum- the county's largest preserved mining site. Set amidst the magnificent coastal scenery of Cornwall's Atlantic coast. Here you can see the whole process of mining and extracting tin.
Indeed had I not missed the bus I would not have seen this so "it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good".
We now pressed on towards Penzance and with only one passenger on board, me, there was time to talk to Dave. He told me his father also worked on the buses, having been with Western National and driven on National Express. He even remembered my Managing Director, Martin Sutton, who was with WN at the time.
We were soon in the bus station, even a few minutes early and I was able to catch the next number 1 service to Land's End at 17:40 which would bring me to my final destination around 18:30 an hour later than planned.
I was pleased to see a closed top bus, in view of the rain now beginning as a mist to set in for the night. However I was to be disappointed as the bus was covered in contravision, not the best if you want to see out.
Service 1 Penzance to Land's End operated by First Devon & Cornwall - Leyland Olympian - Northern Counties B45/29F 34858 F158XYG new in 1988
We operated by Sheffield (no not the one in Yorkshire), St Buryan, Treen and Porthcumo to Land's End and it really was impractical to take any kind of pictures. The light was so poor and one could not see out of the blessed side windows. My picture of our approach to Land's End shows the poor weather conditions clearly.
Land's End at last
During the few minutes we had at Land's End my driver told me that he should have had one of the ex London Heathrow Airbus Olympians but a problem resulted in him having to take our contravisioned Olympian. Pity really as i would have liked to ride on an Alexander Royale bus but then I would have missed out on an elderly 20 year old Leyland Olympian.
We were soon on our way back to Penzance and my third night stop. However the was one nice surprise for me and that was Sennen Cove. My kind driver allowed me to get off whilst he went to turn round and I was able to get some great pictures.
We now headed back towards Penzance and slowed to let this 300 service pull out from the coast road coming from St Just. As readers will see he is well loaded with nobody but who can blame intending passengers on a night like this.
A final surprise was in store for me as we passed the First & Last coach company near Sennen Cove and my driver obligingly pulled over for me to get a picture of this far flung operator.
We were now getting close to Penzance and passed a Vario on service 1 heading for Land's End on this now wet night.
My driver told me he would drop me close to my hotel for the night, Glencree House in Mennaye Road, just off the promenade. I was looking forward to getting to the hotel as I was also very hungry.
As we came along the prom I noticed an Indian restaurant and as it was not too far from The Glencree I determined to have my dinner there.
I left the warmth of the bus and crossed the road to my hotel and after settling in made my way, albeit rather a wet one, to the Indian for my dinner.
Not quite the grand end to Day 2 but nevertheless a very satisfying day and I had reached Land's End as planned on my Concession Pass in 3 days from home.
Stokenchurch, 23rd July 2008
Day 4 will be published shortly.
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A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Following one complaint from a bus driver in Oxford but considering the fact that the photographs are taken of the vehicle not any person,
I will blank out the face to avoid any discomfort to the individual concerned. If you are the person involved send me an email to have this action taken.
I am sure people will realise that to ask everyone in advance of publication, whose face may appear in a picture is wholly impractical in both time and practice.
I am sorry to have to mention such a matter but we now live in a world of human rights and political correctness which must be considered.