Marazion – Porthleven (10.6 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 287.5 miles / Distance to Poole– 344.5 miles
This morning I experienced the wonder of technology as I took part in a live-link-up with my church in Exeter. On what must be the only stretch of the West Cornwall section of the coast path, I had enough mobile phone reception to take part in a service some 110 miles away. This is particularly strange considering that at all other times my Vodafone coverage is weak and patchy at best – it turns out anyone moving to this area quickly changes to Orange for the best coverage….not that this is particularly reliable either – just the best in a bunch of poor reception.
The problem of poor mobile phone reception, in addition to the impossibility of finding an open internet café on a bank holiday weekend, seems somewhat at odds with the fact that this part of Cornwall was once synonymous with ground breaking communications technology. Two days ago I walked past a white pyramid which signified the terminus of one of many of the submarine communication cables. In fact Porthcurno was the hub of international cable communcations from 1870-1970. But it is black spot for mobile phone signal!
Tomorrow I am due to walk past the monument to Marconi’s first Trans-Atlantic wireless broadcast, which took place in 1901 at Poldhu. Again I am assured that there will be no mobile phone signal.
Finally the whole Lizard Peninsula is dominated by the massive earth station, complete with huge satellite dishes at Goonhilly. This was the spot that the first Trans-Atlantic TV broadcast was received from the USA. I am not holding my breath for any bars of signal on the phone there either.
I saw a woman today stretched out across the path trying to make a call on her mobile. She explained that it was the first time she had any reception so she was making the most of it while she could. I am a little depressed at how often I check my phone or desperately look at my email inbox, inevitably only to find service messages or an advert from Amazon – yet I am ever hopeful. I wonder if in the rush for better and faster communications, be it undersea telegraphs, wireless broadcasts or satellite transmissions, we have mislaid the art of real communication. I have been surprised at how many people along the path are ready to stop and chat – complete strangers who perhaps have not seen anyone else for a while, desperate for some kind of interaction with humanity. With no TV, radio, internet or mobile phone reception along the path, they reach out to other walkers. It is easy to spot them, it is easy to stop and chat (whilst often also catching my breath!) and it is nearly always a positive experience. In the hectic mayhem of ‘normal’ life I dread to think how many people who are also desperate for human contact and interaction, are overlooked and left in silence. Perhaps today is the day to stop obsessively checking your emails (the Amazon offers can wait!) and go and chat to someone real for a change.