Timothy and Shane Spall continue their voyage by rounding the infamous Lizard Point before mooring in Newlyn and getting advice from the crew of the Penlee Lifeboat.
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In Cornwall, a strange craft is approaching Lizard Point,
one of the most dangerous peninsulas in Britain.
It's not a yacht
or a liner. It's a barge.
And no-one appears to be home.
Is it a ghost ship?
No, it's me, Timothy Spall testing out my brand new autopilot.
Worth five grand of anybody's money so you can get a packet of crisps.
With my wife Shane, I'm navigating my way around Britain in our barge.
We started planning this adventure when I was recovering from leukaemia.
Now I'm determined to explore Britain and all the beautiful places along the British coast.
We've reached the most challenging stage of our adventure so far.
The fierce rocks at Lizard Point and the famous Lands End.
Taking Matilda out into the Atlantic.
I'm nervous, I'm very nervous, actually. Quite scared.
If I don't like it, we're coming back.
Because it's supposed
to be fun. It's an adventure, but it's supposed to be fun.
# Somewhere at sea
# A liner is somewhere at sea
# Bringing to me
# A traveller who will fill
# My life anew... #
There's nothing better, I'm telling you, than discovering your own country, by sea.
It was here, Lizard Point in Cornwall,
where the Spanish Armada was first spied attempting to invade England.
If they'd come too close it wouldn't have been Francis Drake that defeated them,
but the Lizard.
These rocks are just a small part
of a dangerous reef that stretches miles out under the sea.
It's wrecked thousands of boats, giving it the comforting nickname "The Graveyard of Ships".
This isn't where most people would choose to take their holiday home.
But if I want to circumnavigate Britain, I've got no choice.
Zero, zero five, zero,
Decimal point three six four west.
Our route takes us from Helford River, around the Lizard
and across Mounts Bay into Newlyn.
I've been waiting to do this journey for three months.
That's three months of stewing over the Lizard.
As I say, it's the Bogey Man to me.
So, erm, I'm not taking me eye off the ball in any stretch of the imagination yet.
I sometimes have periods of thinking, "Oh, my God,
"what am I doing?", because I've never really been taught anything.
No-one has told me how to do calculations or what I'm doing is right.
It might turn out that it's a boiling tidal wave sea round there but...
-You doubt yourself too much, Timmy.
-You doubt yourself too much.
I started seeing the Lizard as some mythical creature that was tempting me to be foolish or to make
the wrong decision, something that had to be conquered, you know.
It's preposterous. Too much acting, you see.
But there it is, that's the bit of the Lizard you can see.
That's not the problem, it's the bit that's underneath it.
Its rocks run hidden under the seas up to four miles from land.
To avoid it, and as far from land as I dare, we are three miles out at Britain's most southerly point.
We're just going like that at it, we're giving it a little ooh.
Ooh, we don't like you, we're going over here,
and then we're gonna go round that way.
Er, so we're giving it a massive, erm...
er, what's the word?
We're avoiding it!
When you're getting shaken about, you know, your decision making is impaired.
There's something about a rough or a choppy sea that makes you go a bit doolally.
Oh, my God!
-Don't do that, Timmy.
-I didn't do it on purpose!
We've got another 6 hours of this.
You know, as I say, it's supposed to be fun.
The sea, it can be fierce,
but you do find yourself prone to taking a few risks.
Mothing ventured, nothing gained.
How many people have said that, the next thing
cut to a funeral cortege.
We're now right at the tip here of the Lizard, I can see
the headland of Mounts Bay on the other side,
and I'm really tempted to cut that corner,
but I'm actually doing it instinctively but
I don't think I should, for some reason.
But it looks absolutely fine.
We've chosen the right day.
I hope so.
Well, I think we have.
Yeah, well, we might have chosen the only day.
# When the shadows of the evening Creep across the sky
# When your mummy comes upstairs To sing a lullaby
# Tell her that the Bogeyman No longer frightens you
# Uncle Henry's very kindly Told you what to do... #
I'm not saying anything to tempt fate,
but we have come round the Lizard, our dear little Lizard,
scary little reptilian bastard.
And there it is! Look at it!
Benign thing that it is. It's only a piece of land.
I'm not going to get smug, I'm not going to insult you, Lizard,
I bow before you.
You know, you've got to be wary of it but don't let fear hold you back, I think the term is, isn't it?
Between Lizard Point and Newlyn is Mounts Bay, the largest bay in Cornwall.
It's thought its name comes from the island, St Michael's Mount.
A famous landmark which tells me we've reached our next destination.
I feel like Marco Polo,
Francis Drake, Dame Ellen McArthur.
In 34 seconds, we will have arrived in Newlyn.
Newlyn is the fishing capital of southern England.
Fishing is its lifeblood.
You don't get many pleasure boats around here.
Shane, there's a free pontoon over there.
There seems to be one or two spaces, but they could be reserved.
I don't want to get into a fight with a fisherman.
Where we gonna moor?
Newlyn Harbour, Newlyn Harbour, this is the Princess Matilda, over?
There's no-one about.
Newlyn Harbour, Newlyn Harbour, this is the Princess Matilda, over.
Is he the man up there?
Ah, he looks like he might be the security guy.
I think he's telling me to pull up alongside that old tug.
-Well, that's handy.
-That's really handy.
This'll be fun,
this'll be fun.
It's not ideal. Especially if it ups and leaves tomorrow.
So we'll be all right, they're not want to go in the morning, are they?
-No, no, it will be here for a while.
-Oh, is it? Smashing.
It's just really,
just really strange. This is where we live. Look!
Look! I can't believe we got here.
Honestly, I can't.
All I've got to do is get off now.
We've conquered the Lizard, but the adventure isn't quite over.
-How are you going to get me up there?
Stand on that. Shane doesn't like heights particularly, and she's prone to getting problems with her hips.
Are you all right?
Are you sure?
I hope it's high tide when we get back.
The antithesis to Helford, innit?
Helford is an idyllic holiday paradise and this is a proper working boatyard.
And most of the boats are working guys who fish for a living, so.
We'll have some good fishing for tomorrow. Hope you catch some nice fish, or girls.
One of our traditions, no matter how tired we are, is that when we get to a new port, we go for a curry.
Do you feel a sense of satisfaction?
Oh yeah, Great satisfaction.
Honestly, I feel really intrepid.
But I'll feel even more intrepid when I've got some poppadoms down me.
There's no better feeling than mooring up in a new town,
getting a good meal and a peaceful night's sleep.
There was lots of crashing and crunching about in the night
as it's 24 hours fishing, innit, you know I mean, they go out, you know, anytime, any weather.
This is like being in a factory really, or a, like a sort of a warehouse, you know?
It's a fishing factory. Lots of fishing boats, lots of noise.
Our next journey is our biggest yet.
Going out into the Atlantic Ocean.
I'm going to take our barge around Longships,
the famous lighthouse at Lands End.
It's no coincidence it's called Lands End, you know.
3,000 miles away is the next piece of land. America.
It's a massive adventure.
And we're doing it while we're old enough, or young enough,
to do it, you know?
But I never venture out, without seriously finding out
as much as I possibly can.
-Right, I hand you the harbour master.
-Harbour master, for my sins.
Mr Munson, the harbour master, has worked on the docks here for 40 years.
So I expected some sound advice.
Don't do what the last ones did.
What were they doing, they were doing training for Atlantic rowing.
They didn't get the tides right, they didn't get the weather right,
we had three lifeboats out after them.
-Oh, my God. Are we too big for one of these pontoons?
-Yes, you are.
-You haven't even got a hammer head?
No, and the other thing is I have to give priority to the fishing boats,
because they were paid for with the EU fisheries grant.
Ah right, well, we don't want to argue with them.
-Well, we're all right here?
-You're fine, you've got no problems here at all.
All right? Any problems, you know where we are.
I certainly do. I appreciate your help greatly.
-Thanks, mate. Thanks very much. Cheers.
-OK, see you later, all the best. Cheers.
They all think we're mad, but they're not stopping us.
When we started this journey four years ago,
I knew we'd have to go around Lands End at some stage.
But it always felt a long way off.
With Mr Munson's words of warning and the lack of sleep,
I'm starting to lose confidence.
I need to get more advice, but as Shane won't use the ladder again,
we're paddling ashore.
Just be careful. Oooop! Ooop! Ooop!
Cor blimey, I'm gonna fall in that water.
What a bloody palaver!
There's a hand down there reaching for help, pleading with us not go round Lands End.
That's it, crawl out.
You just be careful, Superman.
-This is ridiculous.
-Yeah, well, why don't we just go up the bloody ladder?
-I don't know.
There you are on your hands and knees.
Begging like a dog.
There's no shortage of mariners in this town.
But we're going to see the best.
The Penlee Lifeboat crew.
There are 18 in this crew - most are volunteers.
They take on storms in the Atlantic to help people like me,
no matter what the danger.
In the mountainous seas still raging off the Cornish coast...
It was Christmas nearly 30 years ago that the Penlee Lifeboat
became a symbol of international heroism.
Eight of their members were lost trying to rescue men,
women and children aboard a coaster stranded in a fierce gale.
He's a hero,
and he always will be, and so will the rest of the crew.
'The Queen sent the crew's families messages of sympathy, but the people
'of the village have already asked for another lifeboat to continue
'their tradition of lifesaving.'
Many of the volunteers today knew or were related to that brave crew.
We steam past the old lifeboat house every time we go to sea, so you do realise that things can
go wrong, but I've got total faith in the boat and the crew.
It's an honour to meet Patch, who's been on the lifeboat for over 16 years and is now its coxswain.
In other words, the boss.
-And is this the largest class?
-The biggest one they do.
-The biggest one they do. Yeah, we've got the little model of it on our wheelhouse.
-Yeah, I've seen that.
Blimey, it's a home from home.
It's got fitted carpets.
This is a serious bit of kit, innit, blimey.
This boat cost £2 million,
all paid for by voluntary contributions.
-What's she made of, steel?
-No, it's fibre-reinforced composite.
-Hit it with a sledgehammer and it wouldn't go through it.
-Crikey, look at these...
-1250 horsepower, each engine.
Now when we're going at full speed, we're burning about 130 gallons an hour.
-You're dealing with serious people here, you know,
people who are on a day-to-day basis, prepared to risk their lives to save others.
What's the biggest sea you've been out in?
We've been out in 10s a few times, Force 10.
Oooh, do you get scared?
When you're actually out there, cause you all have jobs to do
and I suppose you're concentrating, you don't really think about it.
-To help me get over my fears of rounding Land's End, Patch has a special surprise.
He's taking us out to see the danger that awaits me and Shane.
Phwoar! Feel the power in that.
Crikey! Cor, look at her wash!
Good God! It'll take me half an hour to get here on the barge.
It's fantastic. Fantastic!
You know, given that Patch and his guys could at any one time end up
in a potential tragic situation,
they're deeply undramatic about their job.
They get on with it.
-See the rock there, look? Just covering?
-Oh, yeah, yeah, there?
That? What's that called?
That's called The Bucks.
Yeah, we have shouts for people losing their propellers up here.
They don't know why.
So you know these waters so well, you can go right up and right against them, yeah?
I say Patch, if you ever run into any trouble, we can always call out the barge.
You never know what's going to happen when you're out at sea.
Really? All right.
'And I certainly didn't expect to be getting a driving lesson.'
It just cuts straight through the waves, doesn't she?
I can really feel the immense power. It's about 28mph, innit?
I've never driven anything as fast as this.
Compared to Matilda, it's like driving a Ferrari.
It feels like I've got a massive beast underneath of me that I'm pretending I know how to control.
I took great encouragement just having someone like Patch saying,
"I think you'll be all right in that." No more, no less.
-Did you have a bit of a steer?
I have been helming. I've been helming, darling.
I thought, "This is a lifeboatman."
He's not going to say to an idiot like me that my boat is seaworthy unless he thinks it is.
Now, that was tremendous. Because I know what you do, you guys, and it's never lost, it's never lost on us.
Because we're idiots and we're taking a funny boat around, we know that you're always there.
People who don't even raise an eyebrow are the ones I listen to,
because they tend to be the ones that the sea flows through their veins as their blood does.
The wonderful thing about this country is that the sea is free and if you wanted to paddle a baguette
with a snooker cue from Dover to Calais, you'll be allowed,
as long as you've made a plan.
My plan is to take a barge around Britain's most famous coastal landmark in one piece.
So we're here and we've got to go all the way round here.
This is Lands End, that's only about seven miles away.
And then you've got to give it a wide berth around Longships, which is a big rock.
If you go too far out, there's big ships
coming that way and the first place you can pull into is St Ives.
So, caution is the watchword. All right, cheers.
And this is a totally new...
Patch and his crew come down to wave us off on our biggest adventure yet.
I think they've given us enough security, that I think Tim
-will manage completely fine, yeah.
-We've got some good weather, innit.
-We should really get some diesel, but I think we'll manage till we get to St Ives.
-And so we're gonna leave about an hour before low tide.
-See you later, cheers.
It's been a pleasure to meet them, it's been an honour, it's been a real honour.
So helpful, you know, and so delightful.
It makes you realise what an amazing job these ordinary guys do.
It's lovely. Did you see them? They all came out and waved to us. Patch and Peter and his wife.
A beautiful day, a sense of confidence instilled in me
by Patch and his crew, and a deep, rumbling terror underneath the confidence,
knowing that we were
going to this iconic thing of going round Lands End. If you look at it,
there's quite a big swell, and because it's on the side,
it's making us roll.
-There's a helicopter up there, look. I think that's the coastguard.
Any confidence I had when I left Newlyn is completely gone,
along with the good weather.
Every time I go to sea, I'm absolutely in a state of high anxiety.
Once you get out there, it does what it wants, you know.
The elements are the elements and they're unpredictable.
It's a different kind of sea, it's all like wriggly, little scaly sea now. That's flat, this is all scaly.
'I wonder if Shane is as nervous as me.
'If she is, she wouldn't tell me.'
I came to Lands End when I was a little girl. I never thought I'd come round here this way.
How do you think Matilda's doing?
Oh, she's fine, she likes a bit of a ride.
She's doing absolutely fine, Matilda's fine.
She likes a bit of wave.
It's Tim that gets a bit anxious.
When you're there, in charge of a boat that is bobbing about,
you do not have a chance to think about anything else.
You cannot worry about the past, the future, your anxieties
are completely in the present.
Longships, Lands End.
I'm thinking "Bloody hell, I'm going round Lands End, I'm going round Lands End.
"I'm doing it. That's Longships. Keep going! Keep going!"
I think it's nice that we're skippering my own boat around such a famous,
you know, worldwide famous piece of land. There you go.
End of England that way,
Amerikee, 3,000 miles away.
It would be even better if it was calm.
There is nothing to explain that feeling of being in charge of your own vessel,
coming around Lands End.
It's like a fantastic, loony conquest.
-Longships, we've left it behind.
-Did we turn the corner of England?
Yeah. Yeah, we've walked round the corner.
'After four hours, we're on the home straight.'
You've done really well, my love.
It's an adventure, innit?
That simple delight of discovering your own country and places
you've always wanted to go, by sea, is a rare thing.
Welcome to St Ives!
The picturesque town of St Ives has won awards for its beauty.
Like many old Cornish fishing towns,
its main industry nowadays is tourism,
and it's visited by seafood lovers of all kinds.
It's a seal! Timmy, there's a seal!
I've never seen one before.
Shane was reading me the weather off this morning, I was looking
at me charts and last night, I thought, "Oh, we'll go round that way."
And then somebody said "Oh, no, take the inside route, you go round this route, you go that route.
"Don't do that, go round..."
I'm thinking "I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go lie down.
"I wanna go and watch Flog It!"
Go and watch Flog It! and Dickinson's Deals.
Because I never, never trust the fact that I know what I'm doing,
but this time I seemingly got it spot on and not only did I get it right, we were two hours early.
One of the local fishermen has brought us a treat to celebrate our success.
I've brought them some fresh mackerel caught this morning and filleted off,
and I've just got some crabs off a friend of mine and brought them here.
-For Tim's dinner this evening.
-There you go, he's got fish for tea.
-And crab for tea. He'll be happy.
First, Shane's got another mouth to feed.
Come on, baby.
-Is that my dinner?
-Come on, baby.
Ah ah ah!
I'm going to close my eyes. No, I'm scared, I'm scared! I'm scared!
Get right down below,
It's wonderful. It's wonderful, look.
I can't bear it, look, those eyes.
Cheers. Thank you for your help, mate.
Here's to St Ives.
A wonderful day. Wonderful and terrifying day.
'Finally, I'm starting to feel like a proper captain.'
Yeah, I know what I'm doing, love.
-I think we've run aground.
This is a technical term,
I'm giving it a whack.
You're going to get a few surprises,
but on the whole, you won't perish,
unless you're really unlucky.
A different story everyday.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Three-part documentary series featuring one of Britain's best loved actors, Timothy Spall, as he and his wife sail from to Cornwall to south Wales in a Dutch barge.
The voyage continues with Timothy and Shane having to cope with the highly dangerous waters around Lizard Point if he is to complete the journey by winter. Although in a state of some anxiety, Timothy manoeuvres the Princess Matilda around the infamous Lizard before mooring in Newlyn, a focus of the Cornish fishing industry. But tying up for the night is never straightforward.
The Spalls get advice from the eighteen-strong crew of the Penlee Lifeboat on how to tackle Land's End, another tough test lying in wait, and Timothy marvels at their seafaring skills and bravery in tackling the elements in order to save lives at sea.
His own voyage attracts plenty of interest. 'They all think we're mad, but they're not stopping us!' laughs Tim at one point.