Cornwall is very much a holiday county with beaches, famous cornish pasties, pirates, shipwrecks and the roaring sea. This bike tour is so much more, it is a journey through a varying landscape of inland heaths and downs, rolling hills and tumbling coastlines. There are sheltered coves and beautiful rivers, castles and gardens to visit, some flat trails away from the traffic and then some hilly minor road routes. Cyclists for this ride need to be fairly fit. The daily rides are not that great, the longest day is only approx 30 miles (50km) however it can be windy. This allows plenty of time to see Cornwall the way that you want to!
Generally a Moderate tour, with some more challenging hills on occasion. The terrain in Cornwall is quite hilly, especially in and out of the coastal towns and villages. Other sections such as the Camel Trail are almost flat. Reasonable fitness in required.
Make your own way to Padstow. The town is named after St. Petroc who came here circa A.D 500. The church of St Petroc is one of a group of three said to have been founded by the Saint. It is quite large and mostly of 13th and 14th century date. The old harbour usually has a nice ensemble of boats including the old pilot vessels. Nice pub fayre and a Rick Stein café/restaurant, not forgetting Rick's Fish and Chip shop and ‘National Lobster hatchery.’
Accommodation: Our normal inn dates back to the 14th Century and is the oldest existing pub in the town.
If you are hiring bikes, the bike hire shop opens from 9.00 am, so after breakfast, make your way there to collect and check out your steed before pedalling off southwards on roads close to the coast. From Padstow, cycle along the coast past Mawgan Porth and Watergate Bay.
Passing by the surfing beaches and town of Newquay and follow coastal lanes to the village of Crantock with its pretty church and round garden, before arriving at Perranporth. It is believed that Saint Piran founded a church at Perranzabuloe near Perranporth in the seventh century. Buried under sand for many centuries, it was unearthed early in the twentieth century, but again left to the mercy of the sands in the 1970s. Otherwise this is a pretty small resort with a very long 3 mile beach, sea stacks and shrieking gulls.
The ride between Padstow and Newquay can be very busy in summer, and instead you can do an inland route which goes through St Columb Major. Adding 12 km/7.5 miles to the day’s total, but it is faster and flatter.
Accommodation: The 4* country house offers all rooms ensuite. The country house is situated in its own grounds overlooking Perranporth and is only minutes from the
coastal footpaths. It is a steep ride out of Perranporth to the accommodation, and if you want to have a meal.
The ride today passes many old tin mine workings riding to the village of St.Agnes, there are then a couple of steep descents and ascents into the bays at Porthtreath and Porthtowan, before rolling along the coast road towards Hayle with a possible stop at Godvrey Head. Skirting the Hayle Estuary, which is noted for its seabirds and waders, you then roll past beautiful Carbis Bay to reach the town of St Ives. This dates back to AD460, when the missionary St. Ia, daughter of an Irish chieftain, landed here and gave her name to the settlement. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall, but like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared. However as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed and the town became famous for its vibrant artists’ colony. This perhaps reached its peak during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Bernard Leach Gallery.
Accommodation: We use several guesthouses in the busy town of St Ives, one is a 4 star and the other a boutique B&B. If this is full you may be booked into Carbis Bay 10 minutes ride away.
Cycling steeply out of St. Ives, the roads take you along a classic Cornish scenery of small farms with ancient drystone walls, mine engine houses and chimneys. You could stop for a coffee in the attractive village of Zennor, famous for its mermaid legend. You could take the road out to Cape Cornwall then check out the landscape, visit the tin mining museum at Geevor or continue on perhaps having a snack at the old village of St. Just before visiting Land’s End. Have an ice cream at ‘The First and The Last ‘ store. This is England’s most westerly point, it is possible to see the Isles of Scilly on a clear day. Finally you reach Porthcurno which is home to the Minack Theatre, dramatically situated and built by Rowena Cade - a unique place where the auditorium and stage are carved into the cliff above the sea. Summer performances are held here. The village of Porthcurno, has a wonderful bay in a magnificent location.
Accommodation: Our Edwardian Cottage B&B offers afternoon cream teas, a private
garden and is only 400 yards from the beach.
Ride along the coast road passing some ancient remains, and through the semi tropical valley at Lamorna. The route runs down the coast to Mousehole (pron’Mowzl’), another picture postcard village, with a history of pilchard fishing and now has a small artists community. You then pedal through Newlyn and Penzance which are quite built up being ports as well has important vacation destinations in their own right. Although Newlyn has some nice galleries, Penzance, has more attractions including some Georgian and Regency housing, the exuberant Egyptian House, Maritime Museum and National Lighthouse Museum. From Penzance there is a flattish but dramatic ride around Mounts Bay with views over to St. Michael’s Mount. With its tidal causeway. You maybe able to fit a visit in with the tide times. The road then goes inland before you reach Porthleven, another charming fishing village, whose harbour is closed by wooden baulks during storms with good restaurants and a couple of nice pubs. You can enjoy fine seafood at the inn or venture along the quay to a famous seafood restaurant.
Accommodation: We stay in a 4 star Inn by the quayside with old stone flags on the floor and oak beams and wood paneling in profusion. The bar retains the ambience of an old fisherman’s pub, and offers friendly service in traditional surroundings. If you are there on a Saturday there will often be entertainment as well.
Pedal out inland to cross Lizard Point avoiding the steepest coastal hills you pass the heath of Goonhilly Down to St Keverne to view its pleasant village square and remarkable churchyard where over 400 shipwreck victims of the nearby Manacle Reef are buried. Continue to Helford and round the pretty villages that surround the Helford River. Frenchmans Creek here was made famous by the writer Daphne Du Maurier. Here you need to take a ferry across the Helford River. On the other side you could drop into the famous Trebah Gardens, before continuing through to the pretty cove at Swanpool for a coffee or an icecream. Finally you roll into Falmouth, home to the world’s third largest natural harbour and the National Maritime Museum.
Accommodation: We use a number of guesthouse/B&B's in this busy town.
You start with a ferry ride from Falmouth to St. Mawes, a remote pleasant little yachting harbour at the end of the Roseland Peninsula, which boasts a clover leaf castle built by Henry VIII in 1542. Today is hilly as you visit various attractive coves on the route, you are cycling across the pretty Roseland Peninsular passing through Veryan (with its round houses) Portloe and Portholland before rolling past Caerhays Castle and beaches. Then along country lanes with some steep hills to the old fishing and smuggling village of Mevagissey. The hilly route continues to your overnight stop in Charlestown. This attractive old port was used as a location for filming Poldark and Jane Austin’s Persuasion. Usually there is at least one square ridded vessel being worked on in the old dock, which gives the place an old fashion air. There is also a shipwreck museum. Today or tomorrow you could visit the Eden Project, a biosphere reserve with tropical gardens.
Accommodation: Our Georgian guest house lies at the head of the historic port, Charlestown is a Conservation Area of special local importance. There are seven tastefully decorated letting rooms all en-suite with views overlooking the harbour.
Heading towards the Eden Project, in the old China Clay pits, you avoid the busiest roads, to ascend the quiet lane through Tregrehan Mills to join a rough track that goes to the project. At a junction if you want you can do an excursion off along the Clay Trails, a landscape well known for its clay tips and pits, created by the 250 year old clay mining industry. This striking and dramatic scenery, visible from distances of many miles. You can ride them, passing the Eden Project and then into the beautiful UNESCO ‘World Heritage Site’ valley before the pretty village of Luxulyan. Then onto Bodmin which has an 18th century gaol where you could break for lunch passing the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, where steam locomotives are still chugging away. Leaving Bodmin, your tour ends with a gentle cycle along the Camel Trail. Following the river towards Padstow and you have now completed the loop.
Accommodation: As per night one.
Depart Padstow after breakfast
Per Person, Twin Share