Firstly, to clarify, I have not just visited Westward Ho! The only reason it’s the title for this entry is because I’ve been heading west – about as far west as you can go before it gets decidedly rocky and damp. I believe that Westward Ho! is the only place name in the UK to include an exclamation mark, but I stand ready to be corrected on that. I heard someone suggest once that Slough should include a question mark as part of its official name (ie ‘Slough?’) but I think that would be a tad harsh. Having never been to Slough? I can’t really vouch as to whether it’s worthy of its reputation or not.
Once I’d completed my trip down to Falmouth Docks I boarded a train headed for Penzance. The intention was to get off at Hayle to meet up with a friend for a catch-up before continuing west to where I’d be spending the night. I’d been to Hayle a couple of times before, as a stop-off point on the way to the Isles of Scilly, but hadn’t really done much there apart from walk to the beach and back. Wandering around Hayle for a while it became apparent that there wasn’t a huge amount there in terms of coffee shops or pubs. As I had a bit of time to kill I decided to walk to the next stop on the line to Penzance, St Erth – about two miles away – and see if there were better prospects there.
This turned out to be a bad idea for a number of reasons.
The weather was overcast, and not too dark, so I figured it was unlikely to rain in the half-hour it would take me to walk to St Erth. This was correct in the sense that it was completely wrong. It was as if Mother Nature, slightly miffed that I’d been hiding inside tin cans all week, waited until I was at the most exposed point of the walk and then ‘let me have it’. It bucketed it down. And not just from the clouds – a strong onshore wind ensured that it was a Dolby Surround 5.1 rain / spray combo mix. This only lasted for two or three minutes but, in all honesty, that was all that was required. The one saving grace was that once the rain ceased the wind continued, acting as quite an effective drying mechanism.
Upon arrival at St Erth it became clear that my hope that there might be more there in terms of places to eat or drink was wildly misplaced. There was nothing. Zilch. Even St Erth itself was a good mile away from the station that supposedly served it.
Luckily the person I was meeting up with drove to the station via the village centre and had noticed an appropriate pub, The Star Inn, there. This had the three main standard staples for any Cornish pub – cider, fire and a dog – and provided a good opportunity not only for a catch-up but for my bag, and me, to dry out.
The remainder of the journey to Penzance only took twelve minutes on the train and, around about 18:30, I found myself in another seaside resort, in December.