From Hastings to Lands End….. A long drive

For Battleaxe readers in America, Australia etc., a road trip of 332 miles would be nothing, but in the UK it is a bit different. To drive from Hastings to Sennen Cove near Lands End in Cornwall takes around seven hours….

    On the way down, we had an overnight break with our friend Karol in Lyme Regis.

     At this time of year, we prefer to stick to the coast road, despite the risk of traffic snarl-ups. We trundle along from Hastings past Brighton, and stop for coffee at a massive Sainsburys outside Worthing.  It sounds a bit of a grungy place to stop, but oddly enough there are hardly any coffee-time stop-offs on that stretch of road.  This Sainsburys caff is not as good as our Hastings Sainsburys, with only dish-water self-serve coffee, and no well-thumbed grubby tabloids to read. Still, at least you don’t have to wait twenty minutes while the arthritic ‘baristas’ hover impotently round the coffee machine… 

     The road through Worthing can be very congested, as can the next bit round Chichester. Improving the Chichester by-pass is currently hotly contested by the locals, as is usual with road improvements these days. Sitting in a traffic jam we wondered if the protesters think it better to pollute the environment with a zillion tons of exhaust fumes, or to have traffic running smoothly on a better road?   

     They seem to think if roads get bad enough we’ll all turn to public transport.  With our public transport? Not in my life-time.  Also, our experiences of observing massive, continuous, unmoving traffic jams in places like Kolkata in India makes it clear that people will put up with any amount of grief to keep their cars.

      Next traffic jam, Arundel.  Another contested and stalled by-pass project.  However you have plenty of time to admire the very French-looking view of castle and cathedral. The French look is not surprising – the Roman Catholic cathedral was built in the 1860s in the French Gothic style. Here it is – photo from the Internet. 

Arundel Cathedral

       After passing Portsmouth and Southampton we stopped to eat our picnic lunch in the New Forest.  It was damp and brown, but looking beautiful in the early spring sunshine. Ponies wandered past, taking no interest in us or our food.

New Forest ponies

       The drive down through Dorset is slow, but very attractive – last year we took a detour off the main road to visit Tolpuddle, of Martyrs fame.  Then round Dorchester, with a brief horrified glance at Prince Charles’ new-build village, Poundbury, which suddenly rises up from nowhere in the middle of fields looking somewhat like a Victorian mental hospital…..

        In Lyme Regis, Karol is lucky enough to have a house overlooking the sea and the cliffs surrounding Lyme Bay, right across to Golden Cap.  However, having been cooped up in the car we were glad of a walk along the sea front. Walked round a new section of sea wall walkway, massively reinforced to try and contain the notoriously unstable cliffs.  However, landslips and mudslides are still happening.

        The next day we set off via Axminster and Honiton, then onto the tranquil and virtually traffic-free ribbon of the A30, cruising through Devon and down the long spine of Cornwall… Bodmin Moor, daffodils, primroses on the verges.

         I love the place names as you get down into Cornwall… Polyphant, Plusha, Bolventor, Ventongimps, Indian Queens, Rosevidney, Crowlas, Varfel, Crows-An-Wra (means the Witches Cross)….

         We always stop for coffee at a very strange and fascinatingly horrible retail place called Kingsley Village, where they sell evil over-priced gift tat, highly expensive televisions and high-end outdoor clothing and walking gear….

         We arrived at the Hayle Estuary just after noon, and went to seek out St Uny’s Church in Lelant.  Philosopher wanted to find the grave of the painter Peter Lanyon, but the grave yard was much larger than we expected, and we could’nt find it. 

       Ate lunch in the Badger pub in Lelant – Battleaxe would recommend the doorstep sandwiches – ideal after a ten-mile cliff walk but a bit flattening after sitting in the car… Then Sainsburys (again) in Penzance to stock up on grub for the coming week. Met our friends Sue and Alex in there. They had just driven down from Birmingham. Then, the last ten miles to Sennen Cove, just by Lands End.
         It’s the A30 all the way to Lands End – I enjoy seeing the road shrink from a wide, four-lane highway to a two-way road, then finally, at its end, to a narrow lane where two cars can scarcely pass.

         Will write about our week when we have done it!

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