At last, after all the months of planning, the trip is underway. And appropriately enough, the first bus journey of the whole End to End thing, indeed the first leg of the trip, was carried out in a bus operated by First (see picture). Well, who else!
I strongly suspect I tasted what will prove to be the two major aspects of rural bus travel in Britain today. One of them, the other less good.
The good bit was my enjoyment of the spectacular journey from Land's End to Penzance at the capable hands of Jason, our fearless driver. The scenery was superb – soft, lush and wind-blown - but it was made doubly so by the fact that it wasn't me who was driving so I was free to take in the view. And, just as importantly, I was on the top deck of a double decker which meant that unlike someone in the passenger seat of a car I could easily see over Cornwall's customary high hedges.
At the front of the top deck I was also in roughly the same airspace occupied by birds such as swallows and finches, so I sometimes felt that I was flying along not only with them but actually amongst them, which was rather nice. They seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was!
Equally splendid airy ride from Penzance to Helston, but then the downside of rural bus services became painfully apparent.
I was aiming to take a bus from Helston to The Lizard and had planned accordingly. Unfortunately, and unknown to me, the bus companies had in the past few weeks changed, which meant that the service I was looking for no longer ran. Fortunately, a competitor (Western Greyhound) had taken over the route but left later so I ended up with a longer wait at the bus stop than I bargained on. And when the bus came, of course, I couldn't use my previously purchased First day rover ticket and had to buy another.
But it was the journey back to Helston that proved to be the real nightmare. Despite bursting several blood vessels and tearing muscles and ligaments a-plenty ensuring I was back at the bus shelter in time for the return leg, I found myself waiting for an hour and a quarter anyway because the bus simply didn't turn up. All of which made me an hour and a bit late for my onward connection to Truro where I am presently staying.
Still, I find that the minor frustrations of the day can be effectively cured with curry, so proceeded to apply said remedy the help of a rather splendid Nepalese curry at one of Truro's numerous restaurants, the Kathmandu Palace.
So, what have I learnt? Well, it seems that buses cannot always be relied upon (which I suspected all along but didn't expect to fall victim of such so quickly!)
I have a feeling that I'm going to have to get used to this sort of thing...