Land’s End, Cornwall
The British summer (the entire five days of it…) is/was upon us, and how better to take advantage of it through a traditional seaside holiday? I’ve spent a fair bit of my time touring seaside resorts (Chinese articles on Blackpool and Devon here), yet the most famous of all, Cornwall, had always eluded me.
Maybe it was the ‘extreme’ distance from London and the North-East, or maybe it was because I’m always more ‘Devon’ than ‘Cornwall’ in between this long-running feud, but for whatever reason I’ve never ventured as far down the South-West as Cornwall. Fortunately, through a last-minute family holiday I finally had the opportunity the conquer this extreme corner of the Britain.
Armed with my phone and a newly-acquired National Trust membership, after my then-current one conveniently expired on the very day that needed it, I’ve managed to spend some very enjoyable if packed days in and around Cornwall.
There were certainly many famous and worthwhile sites in Cornwall, not least St. Michael’s Mount, which I’m confident that I’ll cover in the near future. However, in my view there is only one appropriate place to begin this group of travel writing: where England also starts.
Alongside its northern counterpart in John O’Groats, Land’s End is among the most famous landmarks Britain. Yet for years I’ve had no idea what it really is: there was always a mental image of a pier jousting out into the sea, at its extreme you would be the south-westernmost person in Britain. The above information is almost completely false.
Land’s End is neither the southernmost nor the westernmost point of mainland Britain. Rather, it has earned its fame as the starting point of the longest journey possible across Britain, all the way to John O’Groats. All 874 miles of it.
The plan was to visit Land’s End in the afternoon as the weather was supposed to have picked up by then. Yet some causal scrolls on the phone at lunchtime indicated that Land’s End was ‘closed’. How exactly could you close down a bit of rock, we had no idea. And so we thought we’d go anyway. And it did not disappoint.
Just like any other notable bits of the seaside in the country, Land’s End also, apparently, boasts a theme park/tourist trap complex that closed surprisingly early. I suppose I’m not totally wrong not the Pier-like mental image I had always had then. Anyway, it was just the better that these attractions are closed and visitors thinned.
The day was sunny and just about windy enough for the sweeping sound to be heard, and past the deserted theme park these were nothing much more than a handful of closed restaurants. At the corner, there was another house labelled ‘the First and Last house of England’, and beside that the land simply merged with the water. Coming from London; coming from Durham; heck coming from Hong Kong, we’ve travelled far, far to where England ends.
Your customary sign- 874 miles to John O’Groats; 3147 to New York. With another handful of tourists and a lighthouse miles in front (and technically the Isles of Scilly), there is nothing but the sea. I quite like this sign and for once I’m pretty disappointed that the gift shop was closed and I couldn’t bring a replica home.
Staring out into the ocean at Land’s End, I couldn’t help but think about the road I’ve travelled and the scary thought that is that you’ve tried your best gone as far as possible, and what is left in the vast brushes of blue in front of you. Yet just like Land’s End it was not only where England terminates; if you refocus our aim by simply turning around (not even by 180 degrees), this was also where England starts. Rather than travelled to a Land’s End; you might have actually just bettered the odds and landed.
Where Land Ends is also where Land starts.