2017 started off with a big achievement – handing in my dissertation! Phew! After my geophysics exam, I spent a week relaxing, trying to remember what I did with my life before dissertation took over! I decided I could not sit around for a second week, so decided to complete the last section of my Girlguiding Queen’s Guide Award. After enticing a small group of friends and packing a rucksack (and completing all the paperwork!) we boarded a train to Penzance, Cornwall…
We arrived into Penzance in cloudy and windy weather. With a few hours until our check-in time, we made the typical student move and headed for the nearest Wetherspoons. Over a burger and a pint we chatted away making our plans for the week. That was until we were interrupted by a staff member. He first told us that we had come at the wrong time of year and would be disappointed. We replied by explaining that we were just on a relaxing break and planned to do some exploring and walking. He left us with the advice not to go near the cliffs, or we would blow off in the wind and our bodies would never be found. Welcome to Cornwall!
The walk to the youth hostel was made in part silence, all of us still stuck on the morbid warning. This combined with the winding country road made our trip seem like the start of a horror story! Luckily the YHA Penzance staff were much more upbeat and assured us that our bodies would only be lost if all four of us fell! They then gave us the bus times and smiled reassuringly. The hostel was friendly, cosy and our room was awesome!
The next morning, we got up early and ventured on the bus to Land’s End. Most of the attractions were closed, but we had a wander in the gift shop and took photos at the famous sign post. The views were beautiful in the sunny but windy winter weather. After another ‘don’t die on the cliffs’ warning from the lady in the gift shop we joined the coastal path and began our walk to Porthcurno. Our ‘geology-free zone’ pact also came to an end with spectacular granite cliffs containing huge feldspar crystals, and beautiful quartz and mineral veins. We explore the entrances to old mine shafts, sea caves, coves and tiny villages.
We spent the afternoon on Porthcurno Beach, flying kites, taking photos and I even dipped my feat in the sea (yes, it was incredibly cold!). We tried to get a drink in the pub while waiting for the return bus, but it was closed. So was everything else in the village! We tried the next village, but it was the same story. We managed to find a remote bus stop and jumped on the first bus that came, riding the entire route back to Penzance!
We spent the rest of the trip exploring the Penzance area. We found an awesome independent bookshop and ate pasties and fish and chips! We also completed our A-Z challenge as part of my Queen’s Guide exploration aims. An impulsive decision to embrace the stormy Cornish weather lead to us getting soaked by waves on a walk along the seafront! We spent an evening with a 1980’s OS map one of our group had picked up in a charity shop. Covered in markings and shadings, we spent several hours on the floor of the hostel pouring over the map, trying to solve its mysteries. We finally concluded that it was a map of mine workings in west Cornwall. The exciting X marked with the label ‘diamond’ turned out to be a name of a mine, named after clear quartz, which is also known as Cornish diamond.
We left Penance at the end of the week feeling relaxed and energized! I have promised myself I will spend more time exploring the South West during the rest of my time at university.
The end of the month marks the start of Semester 2 and the beginning of my optional modules. I am excited to get started with igneous and volcanic processes and GIS!