Hayle – Zennor (12.6 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 239.5 miles / Distance to Poole– 392.8 miles
Today didn’t have the nicest start to be honest. In as much as there seemed to be a lot of walking on the main road out of Hayle. And Hayle isn’t the nicest place in the world either. We were not overly sure where to go as the sign posts seemed to disappear and the directions didn’t match the landmarks we could see! So we marched along the roads and eventually came to a recognisable path at Lelant.
After a short walk along the cliffs and stopping for a cookie break at Carbis Bay, we arrived in St Ives. If I am really being honest, I am not a fan of St Ives and I think there are much nicer places that Cornwall has to offer, but year after year thousands of tourists disagree with me! As soon as we reached the bustling centre the signs all disappeared and the directions made no sense. Ruth and I found ourselves picking random streets which seemed to head in the right direction, rather than knowing which route we should officially be taking.
A quick loo break at the Tate and we were once again on our way. Today saw a real change in the terrain of the coast path. I have now reached the moorland stretch of West Penwith, which is dominated by a mass of granite outcrops. As we reached the first headland of this stretch to Zennor we found that once again there was a severe lack of signs. Ahead, zigzagging between the rocks and the gorse, were several worn tracks with no clear indication, or no indication at all in fact, as to which we should take! After a quick game of rock, paper, scissors we went for the middle path, and lo and behold we got over the headland and back to the official path. This seemed to be happening a lot today and especially on this part of the path – perhaps because it is explored by so many visitors who only want to travel a short way along the coast rather than completing the coast path, perhaps some of the tracks are made by the moorland cattle, perhaps people make new paths as they try to find an easier way across the protruding rock formations. Whatever the reason we were often confronted with a choice of paths, unsure of which was the ‘right’ one.
There have been times in my life when I have come to a choice of paths I can take and it is clear which path I should take – when I joined The Leprosy Mission and moved back to the SW for example. But more frequently I stumble along and find myself at a junction with no idea which path is the ‘right’ one. Should I go in this direction or that direction? Where does God want me to go? Do I follow the most worn path or make a new one? Sometimes I can get so hung up on which is the ‘right’ path that I forget that I have the freedom to choose. I get so consumed with wanting to not go the ‘wrong’ route that I forget that whichever path I take, old or new, broad or narrow, straight or twisty, God will be with me. He doesn’t watch from a distance and then abandon me when I make a wrong turning. He walks beside me. Sometimes I do take the wrong path (more out of bloody mindedness than an honest mistake if I am truthful!) and I have to retrace my steps. But just like the mixture of paths we encountered today, be it along the roads of Hayle, the centre of St Ives or the moorland of West Penwith, more often than not it doesn’t matter which route we choose to get there – they usually bring you to the main path sooner or later. It is the fact that our loving God has given us the freedom to choose for ourselves and walks beside us whichever diversion we take, just as long as we make a choice and keep walking.