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A guide to cycling in Cornwall

Cycling in Cornwall is a must as there are limitless opportunities to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery. This scenery varies from world-class beaches and undulating coastal roads to rolling hills and high moors.

If you are looking at staying in one of the holiday parks in Cornwall and want to experience cycling in the county, then there is something for everyone regardless of what bike you ride or your level of fitness. There are short, flat cycle rides in Cornwall, whilst other routes are more challenging yet rewardingly picturesque.

The county is set to become even more popular in the cycling world as the Tour of Britain will be coming to Cornwall for the very first time this year. The first stage of the tour will start at Penzance and finish in Bodmin, covering a staggering distance of 180.8km with full details of the route for stage one being found here.

Speaking to us about coming to Cornwall, the Tour of Britain said: “We are delighted to be starting the Tour of Britain in Cornwall for the first time. It’s a beautiful route that showcases many of Cornwall’s most famous landmarks, from running alongside the spectacular Penwith coast and mining heritage to rounding Pendennis Point at Falmouth. We also pass close to the likes of Truro Cathedral and the Eden Project and through the heart of countless towns, villages and communities across Cornwall. We look forward to seeing spectators enjoying the race in Cornwall but also showing off these amazing locations to viewers across the UK on ITV4 and around the world.”

Read on to find out more about why cycling in Cornwall is something you should do during your holiday in the Duchy.

Best cycle rides in Cornwall

  • Camel Trail
  • Clay Trails
  • The Coast to Coast Route
  • Lanhydrock Bike Trail
  • The Cornish Way

Camel Trail

Cycling in Cornwall on the Camel Trail

If you are looking for family cycling routes in Cornwall, then the Camel Trail is perfect. The trail is 18 miles long in total as it follows the Camel Estuary from Padstow to Wadebridge before joining the route through the deep and beautifully wooded Camel Valley to Bodmin. You can then join another line that winds its way inland to the edge of Bodmin Moor where it comes to an end below Blisland.

What makes this route so family-friendly is the fact it is largely traffic-free, surfaced and virtually level the whole way. You can also opt to do a section of the route rather than the full 18 miles as the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wadebridge or vice versa is the most popular section of the route.

There are also lots of Camel Trail bike hire outlets along the route such as Bridge Bike Hire so you don’t have to worry about bringing your bikes with you and can just enjoy the contrasts in scenery.

Frankie, who is the writer behind the Meet Me By The Sea lifestyle blog, told us that the Camel Trail is a route she’d highly recommend to visitors.

“I would definitely recommend the Camel Trail. It’s probably the most popular cycling route in Cornwall but for good reason. The Camel Trail is a tranquil 18-mile, flat level trail which allows access to some of North Cornwall’s most beautiful scenery. The trail connects Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow together by a disused train line that was once used by the London and South West Railway. Personally, I love stopping off at Padstow for a bite to eat!”

Frankie also highly recommends cycling in Cornwall no matter which part of the county you are staying in. She adds: “It’s exciting to learn that the Tour of Britain will start in Cornwall. We have so much incredible scenery to enjoy and cycling is definitely one of the best ways to see it! Cycling allows you to get up close and personal and really experience the scenery Cornwall has to offer from a different perspective.”

Clay Trails

The Eden Project

If you are a nature lover, then you will really enjoy the Clay Trails, which consist of five different routes exploring the post-industrial landscape around St Austell.

For over 300-years the area was the centre of the China Clay industry but after the trails were opened in March 2005, the area has been transformed. Now locals and visitors can walk, cycle and go horse riding along the trails and through careful environmental management the area has become a haven for wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for grazing deer and flocks of birds living in the area.

Some of the routes in the Clay Trails are:

  • Pentewan Trail (around 2.5 miles long) – following a former railway line from close to Mevagissey to St Austell, it is a flat route and you can hire bikes at Pentewan.
  • The Green Corridor (around 2 miles long) – this trail joins St Austell with Wheal Martyn, which was at the centre of the China Clay industry. The route is very scenic as it travels through the countryside, past the Tremena Gardens and finishes at the China Clay Country Park.
  • Wheal Martyn Trail (around 5 miles long) – This trail runs from Wheal Martyn to the Eden Project. The route has some spectacular views over the countryside and the old China Claypits.
  • Bugle to Eden Trail (around 4 miles long) – The trail between the village of Bugle and the Eden Project is an easy one that you can do with your family. Expect to see some great views of the countryside.
  • St Blazey Trail (around 3 miles long) – This cycling route in Cornwall might be short but it is certainly varied. You start in St Blazey village, ride through industrial landscapes and end in a nature reserve that is by Par beach.

The Coast to Coast Route

Aerial photo of Portreath

Starting in Portreath on the North Cornish coast and finishing in the picturesque village of Devoran, the Coast to Coast trail is another cycle route in Cornwall that you need to add to your bucket list.

It’s around 14-miles long and the route is virtually traffic-free as it follows a former mineral railway track that was originally built to transport goods in and out of the county.

There are some hills along the route but they are certainly worth the effort as the scenery is amazing and you can enjoy a well-deserved rest and some excellent food and real ales at the Old Quay Inn when you get to Devoran.

Lanhydrock Bike Trail

Lanhydrock Estate

The Lanhydrock Bike Trail consists of a variety of routes that suit all abilities. From the easier flat routes to more challenging hillier trails, there is something for everyone.

The easier green-grade trail is perfect for families with younger children or those of you who aren’t very confident on a bike as it is a well-surfaced route that takes you into the woodland on the estate.

If you don’t have a bike, there is a cycle hire open from 9.30am-5pm, 7 days a week at the estate. The Lanhydrock Estate has lots of other attractions you can enjoy after your bike ride, including exploring the Victorian country house and gardens, grabbing a bite to eat at the tea room or visiting the shop, bookshop and plant centre.

The Cornish Way

Land's End

If you are an experienced cyclist and want to test yourself, then there is a long cycle ride in Cornwall that you can try.

The Cornish Way is around 195 miles long and it runs from Land’s End to Bude. The route splits at Truro and there are a couple of routes that you can choose from.

One option will see you cycle Route 3, which is the coastal option that takes in Mevagissey, St Austell and the Eden Project before re-joining at Bodmin. Option 2 follows Route 32 north from Truro and along minor roads inland to Newquay and then onto the old market town of St. Columb Major and the beautiful coastal village of Padstow where you can ride along the Camel Trail to Bodmin.

At Bodmin the route travels to Blisland and St Breward, onto Camelford and as you approach Warbstow you can take the coastal route via Widemouth Bay before you arrive at Bude.

The route will take several days to complete and you will need to plan where you want to stop along the route. There are lots of cheap caravans in Cornwall that could be an option for you to stay overnight before you continue the ride.

This cycle ride is tough, but it is something you will not forget as you will be treated with all the classic Cornish sights that are iconic with the county, including beaches, wildlife and charming seaside towns and villages.

Other cycle routes in Cornwall

  • Tamar Trails – You can explore 25km of trails through the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.
  • The Great Flat Lode – This 7.5-mile trail forms part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and the landscape here is littered with relics from Cornwall’s heyday.
  • Penrose Estate – The estate is great for cyclists as it boasts smooth, tarmacked surfaces, a great café en-route and the chance to further your ride and keep going all the way to Porthleven.

This article features just some of the amazing cycle routes you can enjoy in Cornwall and the attractions that you can see along them during your holiday in the county. If you want to read more articles like this, then take a look at our blog section.

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