Cycling in Cornwall


If you like hills, you’re going to love Cornwall. But for every lycra-clad fitness junkie, there’s a biking family with a toddler on their first cycle or an adrenaline seeking mud-plugger on an all-terrain bike. So luckily Cornwall has many miles of mild road cycling, traffic-free flat trails as well as the ridiculous verticals and tree-strewn forest trails for the speed freaks. We’ve selected five different places to consider, depending what kind of cycling you are looking for.

Camel Trail – the classic flat ride

The railway journey so beloved by Sir John Betjeman is no more, but with the tracks removed, the disused line provides a wide, flat cycle path (equally suited to walking, and dog-friendly), all the way from Padstow to Wadebridge, then Bodmin and onto Wenfordbridge. The overall distance is about 30km (18.5 miles), but the various towns on the trail route make it easy to break up the adventure. Bike hire companies can be found in both Wadebridge and Padstow.

The Camel Trail, Cycling in Cornwall. Photo: Matt Jessop
The Camel Trail. Photo: Matt Jessop

Cardinham – everything in one place

The beautiful, peaceful Cardinham Woods is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. They have way-marked trails throughout the forest on varying different surfaces, so there’s something for everyone. Much of it is relatively flat and very pretty, perfect for families. For the more energetic mountain biker, there are also steeper routes, including the seven and a half mile (12km) “Bodmin Beast”. Despite its name though, The Beast is a blue rated trail; there are also two red runs attached to it for advanced riders, which add about 30 minutes of adrenalin. “Dialled-In Dave” is a great introduction to red grade single tracks whereas “Hell’s Teeth” is a hard climb with some very steep sections, lots of technical features followed by an extremely steep descent. Cardinham is also a favourite with walkers and horse-riders, and has wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths. 

The Woodland Café, a converted woodsman’s cottage in the heart of the forest which serves delicious home-made refreshments.

A flat ride at Cardinham Cardinham Woods forest trail

Woody's – the hardcore routes

Woody’s Bike Park is located near Fowey and is family owned and run by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. They have built trails that range from “flowy blues to the biggest senders in the country”. Minibuses whisk you back to the top in style. The park provides as much airtime as possible, with deep berms, perfect tabletops and big doubles. Local granite has been used to build some of the most technical rock gardens around. The difficulty of the routes ranges from blue (moderate) to double-black (pro level).

Woody’s say they are “bringing West coast Canada to West coast England” and if you’re serious about all-terrain biking, this park in Cornwall is a must-visit.

Tehidy Country Park – the best for a short, easy ride

Tehidy Country Park is the largest public area of woodland in Cornwall. When you turn off the road into Tehidy Woods you have over 250 acres of woodland to explore. Tehidy Woodsand has a cycle trail through it which is suitable for all the family. The path is two and a half miles (4km) long and is made from cinder – it’s mostly flat but has a few small hills. There are also several technical single track trails. All trails can be used by walkers, cyclists and horses, so do take care and pass horses with caution. Additionally, there are over nine miles (14km) of walking paths and acres of peaceful woods and lakes to wander, with a café and a picnic area to refuel your energy.

The Cornish Way - a (mainly) road route

The National Cycle Network is a set of signposted cycle routes across the UK, stretching nearly 15,000 miles (21,000km) in total. National Route 3 runs from Bristol to Land’s End. The Cornish part of National Route 3 is known as The Cornish Way.

Cornish pro rider Rich Pearson rock-hopping at Land’s End - photo © Rich Pearson - Heatsink Bikes - Dewerstone Cornish pro rider Rich Pearson rock-hopping at Land’s End - photo © Rich Pearson - Heatsink Bikes - Dewerstone

The route starts (or finishes) at Land’s End, and passes through Penzance, Hayle, Camborne and Redruth.

Near Truro, the Cornish Way splits, and National Route 3 forms the southern fork, crossing the River Fal using the King Harry Ferry, and then taking in Mevagissey, St Austell, The Eden Project and Bodmin. The northern route goes from Truro to Bodmin via Newquay. At Bodmin the two route options recombine to head north to Camelford and skirting the edge of Bodmin Moor on its way to Bude.

The path of the Cornish Way was intended to avoid major roads and link up as many of Cornwall’s wonders as possible, passing through many historic towns, fishing villages, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, open moorland and the historic mining districts that form Kernow’s heartland.