If you’re a cyclist, you’re either a fan of hills or a hater of them. But either way, you’re going to love Cornwall. Because for every every racer on a skinny bike there’s a family with baskets and bells and a toddler on their first pedal cycle, or a dedicated mud-plugger on a mountain bike. So it’s lucky that Cornwall has so many miles of mild road cycling, traffic-free trails that are almost completely flat (most of them being decommissioned rail- and tram-ways) as well as the granite steeps and tree strewn forest trails for the all-terrain riders. There really is something for everyone!
Well, you could ride there! But for most of us there are more practical options, including an excellent road network from the M5 West, mainline trains from London and Birmingham, and flights to Newquay airport. All modes of transport will accommodate your bike!
Once you’re here you can enjoy the unusual mild to sub-tropical climate of the Cornish peninsula, depending on the time of year. It does rain quite often, but off-road bikers no doubt regard this as a blessing. Skinny-tyred road racers not so much! But that’s only an excuse to sample the many fine pubs, cafés and restaurants that line Cornwall’s roads and and countryside!
Here are some examples of the fantastic variety of cycling to be had in Cornwall:
The Clay Trails are a fantastic network of family-friendly cycling (and walking/horse-riding) routes through the china clay country of South Cornwall, inland from St Austell Bay. These include Bodelva Circular Route, Pentewan Valley, Trail, Eden Project to Wheal Martyn, Wheal Martyn to Sky Spur, Par Beach to Eden Project, Carclaze Loop, St Austell Circular, Wheal Martyn to St Austell and Eden Project to Bugle. There’s also a Clay Trails app (for Android) to help you explore! http://www.claytrails.co.uk/
Mineral Tramways Mining Trails
Made from the tramways and rail routes once used to move ore and china clay to the ports. There are six trails, mostly offroad but suitable for all cyclists but also walkers and riders – a few sections are steep and more suited to MTBers.
Portreath Branchline Trail
Great Flat Lode Trail
Coast to Coast Trail
Redruth and Chacewater Railway Trail
There is a lot to see and do as you explore Goss Moor using this multi-use trail.
The 7 mile (12 km) loop is fairly flat and relatively gentle. Much of it isoff road, providing cyclists easy and safe access to the moors. This trail is surfaced to be suitable for walking, cycling, horse-riding and for wheelchair or mobility scooter users and buggies. There are also additional routes linking to paths onto nearby Tregoss Moor. View trail map >
Camel Trail – the classic flat ride
The railway journey that was so loved by Sir John Betjeman is no longer, but with the tracks removed and a fine new surface it has been opened to other modes of transport. The disused line to and from Padstow is a wide, flat cycle path (equally suited to walking, and dog-friendly), running 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 astonishing and varied. The overall distance is about 30km (18.5 miles), but the Wadebridge to Padstow third is by far the most popular.. Bike hire companies are handily located at Wadebridge as well as in Padstow!
Cardinham – everything in one place
The lovely and peaceful Cardinham Woods are owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. There are waymarked trails throughout the forests on various surfaces, so tthat here’s something for everyone. Much of it is flat and it’s all rather pretty. For the more energetic mountain biker, there are steeper routes, which include the seven and a half mile (12km) “Bodmin Beast”. In spite of its ferocious name, The Beast is a moderate blue trail, but there are two red runs attached to it for advanced riders, which add about thirty minutes of more hair-raising descent. “Dialled-In Dave” is a good introduction to red single tracks, and “Hell’s Teeth” – a tough climb with some very steep sections – ends in a super, flowing trail with a lot of technical features, followed by an extremely steep banked descent. Cardinham is also popular with walkers and horse-riders. It has wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths, and The Woodland Café, which is a converted woodsman’s cottage.
The Track is a five acre fun filled dirt bike facility in Portreath, Cornwall. It’s suitable for all – mountain bikes, BMX’s and balance bikes. There is a selection of dirt tracks, jumps and obstacles including a foam pit that will suit every level of ability, ranging from beginners to very technical and complex. For everyone aged two years upwards there really is something for everyone.
Woody’s – for hardcore MtBers
Woody’s Bike Park, just outside Fowey, is family owned and run by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. They have built tracks and obstacles for MTBers that range from “flowy blues to the biggest senders in the country”. Seventeen seat minibuses whisk you up to the top in style. The park aims to provide 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 trails ranges from blue (moderate) to double-black (pro level).
Woody’s boast that they are “bringing West coast Canada to West coast England” and if you’re serious about mountain bike riding, this park in Cornwall is a definite must!
Wheal Peevor Mine Site has a network of on site tracks and off site trails, giving access to the main features of interest within the Wheal Peevor Site, and allowing Wheal Peevor to be linked with the Coast to Coast Trail, Wheal Rose and Redruth. It’s not just for bikes but cycling is welcome there – some trails are suitable for general purpose bikes, some only for MTB. Granite and timber waymarks mark the off site trail routes, and a set of interpretation panels placed at particular features guide the visitor around the site itself. A few sections are steep but others can be used by anyone, including wheelchairs and buggies. See amazing mining landscapes, beauticul views, peaceful countryside, interesting wildlife and carefully preserved mine sites of international importance.
This is a good country roads route, away from main roads and via pleasant villages with pubs and little shops. The main loop goes through St Cleer, Minions, Upton Cross, Pensilva, St Ive, Quethiock and Pengover.
At Minions there are a number of paths onto the moor used by serious mountain bikers.
Siblyback Lake Country Park
Not far from Minions and St Cleer on Bodmin Moor, Siblyback Lake has a flat cycle path that follows the edge of the lake. These are lovely surroundings with excellent views of the moors. It’s an easy cycle route, which is also very popular with walkers.
The Hustyns, Bishops and Grogley woods that lie between Wadebridge and Bodmin are excellent for mountain bike trails with Grogley Woods in particular having lots of exciting downhill runs through the trees.
Tehidy Country Park – the best short, easy one, with more besides
Tehidy Country Park is the largest public woodland in Cornwall. When you leave the road and enter Tehidy Woods you have over 250 acres of woodland at your disposal. Tehidy Woodland 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 of cinder – it’s fairly flat but has a few small rises. It also has several technical single track trails. All these trails can be used by walkers, cyclists and horses too, so please take care!As well as cycle trails there are over nine miles (14km) of walking paths and acres of peaceful woods and lakes to enjoy, with a café and a picnic area. There are other places to stop off for some cake and coffee too – in Hell’s Mouth Cafe or the Sandsifter nearby.
Cornish Way Trails
The Cornish Way Trails are not trails in the MTB sense but sections of a road route known as The Cornish Way (see below). The six individual “trails” are:
The First and Last – Land’s End to Hayle
The Engine House Trail – Hayle to Truro (links to Mineral Tramways Trails)
The Coast and Clay Trail – Truro to Bodmin via St Austell
The St Piran Trail – Truro to Bodmin via Newquay
The North Cornwall Trail – Bodmin to Devon Border near Bude.
The Camel Trail – Bodmin to Padstow
It’s Mostly a Road Route!
National Route 3 runs from Bristol to Land’s End. The Cornish part of National Route 3 is known as The Cornish Way. The National Cycle Network – signposted cycle routes across the UK, stretching nearly 15,000 miles (21,000km) in all. The idea was that 50% of these miles should be off road (though not terrain) and all should be ‘suitable for an unsupervised 12 year old’. The Cornish Way falls a bit short of this, with around 29 miles of non-road sections, but the road routes are intended to be fairly traffic free.
The Cornish Way is advertised as being 180 miles (288km), but that is confusing because there are two different routes and they have been added together to arrive at this total.
The Way trails start (or finish) at Land’s End, and pass through Penzance, Hayle, Camborne and Redruth. Near Truro, the Cornish Way forks, and National Route 3 forms the southern part, across the River Fal on the King Harry Ferry and then on to Mevagissey, St Austell, The Eden Project and Bodmin. Here it rejoins the northern fork, which runs from Truro via Newquay instead. Heading north, the route then goes to Camelford and around the edge of Bodmin Moor on its way to Bude.
The paths the Cornish Way takes were designed to avoid major roads and link up as many of Kernow’s sights as possible. This involves passing through historic towns and fishing villages, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, open moorland and the historic mining districts that are Cornwall’s heartland. It also incorporates some off road trails, such as the Camel Trail and the Engine House Trail – the latter is part of the Mineral Tramway Trails.
If you’d like to come cycle around/in/through/over Cornwall, then do check out our many places to stay. We have lots of lovely cottages to rent at Cornish Traditional Cottages, any time of the year.
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Self-catering holidays in Cornwall have never been as good as they are now. Check out our online Cornwall Guide to discover more about what’s on, places to eat, places to visit and things to do in the town and in the rest of North Cornwall, all from your Cornish Traditional Cottage.