With many miles of cycle routes and trails across Cornwall, what better way to take in our wonderful landscape than on two wheels?
It’s all too easy to jump in the car these days – we’re all guilty of it, and why not when it gets us from a to b in the quickest time – but next time you’re looking to explore why not consider a day out on a bicycle? One of my most vivid childhood memories is when the stabilisers came off my bike. I was so proud of my sparkly purple steed, rescued from a skip and re-sprayed by my ever-resourceful dad. On taking those first, rather wobbly, unaided pedal strokes down the garden path I felt like I could take over the world! It was the start of a lifetime love affair with bikes and cycling and living in Cornwall has meant that I have had the most beautiful backdrop for my passion.
As we go to print we are in the grip of Olympic cycling fever. Rio 2016 saw no less than 12 cycling medals, six of them gold. Chris Froome stood on the top step of the podium in Paris for the third time and Mark Cavendish took his tally of stage wins in this iconic race to an impressive 30. These sportsmen and women are the elite in the sport, but cycling is by no means elitist. The beauty of a bike is that we can all benefit from it in its simplest form. From the very young to the very old, and everywhere in between, getting out on two wheels doesn’t have to involve lycra and carbon fibre. A simple ride through stunning countryside or along a coastal track is not only good for your health it’s good for the soul.
Here in Cornwall we are lucky to have many quiet B-roads and back lanes that make road cycling a pleasure all year round. In springtime, our wooded lanes are awash with vibrant bluebells and nodding yellow daffodils. Summer brings the smell of sea on the breeze, while the smell of hearty roast dinners and open fires fills the air on Sunday autumn rides. If cycling on the road doesn’t appeal then Cornwall has a wide range of traffic-free cycling trails for all abilities. Many have bike hire available and most have a café along the way where you can stop and refuel. This is our guide to our favourite trails around the county – happy cycling!
Lanhydrock Bike Trail
Ten kilometers of fantastic trails have recently been created at the National Trust owned Lanhydrock Estate after £3million worth of investment. The trails are graded Green (easy) and Blue (moderate) offering something for all skill levels. The Green trail is a gentle 1.5-mile ride that wends its way through the estate’s woodland, suitable for trailers and tag-a-longs. The Blue trails offer some exciting single track for the more advanced rider and The Saw Pit has been created especially for those wanting to hone their technical skills. A great place to take the family with the bonus of an
adventure playground should anyone have any energy left!
• Park Café
• Lanhydrock Cycle Hub @LanydrockCycleHub.
T: 01208 26597
The Camel Trail
Beginning at Wenfordbridge near Bodmin, the Camel Trail stretches for 18 miles culminating at the foodie haven of Padstow. The trail follows a former railway line so is wonderfully flat and ideal for youngsters just starting out. It runs through both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) affording its users some of the most beautiful views of the Camel Estuary and wooded scenery through the Camel Valley.
• Padstow – Stein’s Patisserie •
• Wenfordbridge – Snails Pace Café
• Padstow – www.padstowcyclehire.com
• Wadebridge – www.cameltrailcyclehire.co.uk
The National Trust woods surrounding Loe Bar and stretching out to the cliff tops at Porthleven are the ideal place for a day out by bike. Starting in Helston, a wide, gentle tarmac trail takes you around one edge of the lake finishing at The Stables café where you can enjoy some delicious cake and coffee. For those wanting to go a little further there are some challenging wooded sections around Degibna and the National Trust have invested heavily in new trails that take you to Loe Bar Road from where you can cycle into Porthleven for a well-deserved ice-cream.
The Bissoe Trail
This trail forms part of the Mineral Tramway Trail that takes you from the Atlantic coast at Portreath, across west Cornwall to the pretty waterside village of Devoran. Some sections are more difficult than others with varied surfaces, so expect to encounter a few hills and some rugged terrain along the way. The area has some of the county’s best conserved mine buildings and takes riders on an interesting tour through some of Cornwall’s mining heritage. The full trail includes the more demanding Unity Woods and Poldice Valley, while the stretch from Devoran to Bissoe is quite gentle and makes a good ‘out and return’ ride for little ones with a welcome café stop at Bike Chain Bissoe – the flapjack is legendary!
For those cyclists who are up for a bit more excitement then the 12km Bodmin Beast, on the slopes of the Cardinham Valley, is a great challenge. As its name suggest this trail isn’t for the faint hearted and is one of Cornwall’s best singletrack trails. Keen mountain bikers will love the tough climbs and gnarly descents and there are a couple of difficult graded sections, Dialled-in-Dave and Hell’s Teeth, for those proficient mountain bikers who want to take it to the next level. If you’re after a gentler pace then Cardinham has some lovely waymarked walking trails and the Woods Café is a great place for refreshments.