South west’s finest
Set the sat nav to Land’s End and get going, I was on the way to find the B3306. 13 miles of coastal road linking the popular tourist destination of St Ives to the not so popular St Just. Late on a Saturday summer’s evening I rolled into a bustling St Ives and checked into my Faulty Towers-esque hotel, with a very un-Faulty Towers price tag and settled down for the night. Morning broke and I took no time in vacating my hospital-style room and headed down for breakfast. On my tod I sat and enjoyed my plate of fried dead animals in preparation for my morning’s drive. Brimming with protein and caffeine, I set off eagerly to see what all the fuss was about.
A quick climb up and out of St Ives and you’re on the exposed squirming road that sits on the edge of the Celtic sea. Now I’d heard this road was tight, and right from the start it is, but that works in its favour as it immediately demands your attention and you’re fully engaged from the off. Cruising along the road quickly becomes rather unpredictable and you round each bend with an air of anticipation of what lies ahead. It could be a diving turn, a quick straight, a sweeping climb or a massive cow, you just don’t know. On a quiet day this is a road you can zip along nicely and you’ll feel as free as a bird as you swoop about devouring hairpin after S bend. Find some traffic and it’s not all doom and gloom, the twists and turns will keep you amused at relatively slow speeds. Admittedly it will get tedious if you get stuck behind them for too long and with passing points scarce, you might want to pull over and take advantage of some of the beautiful scenery that is in abundance on this route.
On a road so bijou the local inhabitants are doomed, and sure enough plenty lined the side of the road but it wasn’t just our furry friends keen to bond with my machine. I found walkers around many corners wanting to be clipped by my wing mirror and spun into the path of the car behind me. Look out too for the death wish cyclists cruising along without a care in the world. I too was almost caught out by the surprising sight of an open top bus ploughing around the bend while its passengers, blissfully unaware of my impending doom, enjoyed the surroundings that are all the cliches you care to think of. But don’t bother looking for too long at the rugged, windswept and atmospheric vistas because, apart from the big red bus, there’ll be a corner to negotiate or an insurance claim to avoid up ahead.
As you pass Zennor, things change. Not only is the pace disrupted as the road tightens to navigate villages and farms, but so it would seem does time itself. For every mile further from St Ives you travel, further back in time you go. I was half expecting to see Dickensian scenes of children rolling wooden hoops down the street or legless sailors ravishing grubby looking women in alleys. But when you do arrive at St Just it’s very much a tale of two cities as it looks as if the plague is in town as it’s so dead. Sitting as the most westerly town in mainland England and Wales, it makes St Ives look like Rio de Janeiro during carnival season and you’ll soon feel drawn back along the B3306 to be reunited with the relative bustle of St Ives.