If you like hills, you’re going to love Cornwall. But for every lycra-clad fitness nut, there’s a biking family with a toddler on their first cycle or a mildly mental mud-plugger on an all-terrain bike. So luckily Cornwall has many miles of mild road cycling, traffic-free trails that are almost completely flat (most of these are decommissioned rail- and tram-ways) as well as the ridiculous verticals and tree-strewn forest trails for the adrenalin freaks. We’ve selected five different places to consider, depending what kind of cycling you are looking for. Follow the links in the text for more information and to plan your ride!
Camel Trail – the classic flat ride
The railway journey so beloved by Sir John Betjeman is no more, but with the tracks removed and a new surface it has become open to other modes of transport. The disused line to or from Padstow provides a wide, flat cycle path (equally suited to walking, and dog-friendly), all the way to Wadebridge then Bodmin and on to Wenfordbridge, which is at St. Breward, Bodmin Moor. The views and sights to see are without compare. 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 into thirds. Bike hire companies are popular at Wadebridge as well as in Padstow, too!
Cardinham – everything in one place
The beautiful, peaceful Cardinham Woods belong to and are managed by the Forestry Commission. They have waymarked trails throughout the forest on varying different surfaces, so there’s something for everyone. Much of it is relatively flat and very pretty. For the more energetic MTBer, 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 thirty minutes of adrenalin. “Dialled-In Dave” a great introduction to red grade single track, and “Hell’s Teeth” – a hard climb with some very steep sections, but you’ll be glad happy (maybe) at the top with the lovely flowing trail, lots of technical features followed by an extremely steep bermed descent. Cardinham is also a favourite with walkers and horse-riders, has wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths, and The Woodland Café, a converted woodsman’s cottage in the heart of the forest, serves hot and cold drinks as well as home-made food.
Woody’s – the hardcore one
Woody’s Bike Park, just outside Fowey, is family owned and run by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. They have built trails for MTBers that range from “flowy blues to the biggest senders in the country”. Seventeen seat 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 short, easy one, with more besides
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 that 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. It also contains several technical single track trails. All these trails can also be used by walkers, cyclists and horses, so do take care!As well as this 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 boot. There are other places to stop off for some cake and coffee nearby – in Hell’s Mouth Cafe or the Sandsifter.
And a (mainly) Road Route! The Cornish Way
The National Cycle Network is a set of signposted cycle routes across the UK, stretching nearly 15,000 miles (21,000km) in total. The plan was that 50% of these miles should be off-road (though not MTB) and all sections should be ‘suitable for an unsupervised twelve-year-old’. The Cornish Way falls someway short, with around 29 miles of traffic free sections, but the road routes are designed to be fairly traffic free.
National Route 3 runs from Bristol to Land’s End. The Cornish part of National Route 3 is known as The Cornish Way. It’s listed as being 180 miles (288km), but that is misleading because there are two alternative routes and they have been added together to publish this total.
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. Heading on north, the Way goes to Camelford and skirts the edge of Bodmin Moor on its way to Bude.
The paths the Cornish Way takes were intended to avoid major roads and link up as many of Cornwall’s wonders as possible. This involves passing through many historic towns as well as fishing villages, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, open moorland and the historic mining districts that form Kernow’s heartland. It also incorporates some off-road trails, such as the Camel Trail (see above) and the Engine House Trail – the latter is part of the Mineral Tramway Trails.
If you’d like to come and cycle around/in/through over Cornwall, then do check out our places to stay. We have lots of lovely cottages to rent at Cornish Traditional Cottages, any time of the year.
Click to see the current special offers and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the trails!