Broadly speaking, there are two types of holiday cyclists – those who fancy a gentle foray into the countryside without becoming scarlet-faced and drenched in sweat, and those who want to challenge themselves on the roughest paths possible with plenty of screamingly fast descents. Cornwall happily caters to both.
The first group, especially those with young children, will love the Camel Trail, which stretches in a blissfully flat, traffic-free fashion over 19 miles between Padstow on the coast and Poley’s Bridge on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Of course, you don’t need to ride the full length; pottering between Padstow and Wadebridge, a distance of around 8 miles, will make a great day out. Bike hire is available at both towns (child seats and trailers and wheelchair tandems are all available, so nobody need miss out) plus there are all kinds of places to eat, drink and shop at either end.
The trail hugs the Camel River, so the observant may well spot kingfishers and herons. At its furthest point inland, the river is straight out of a fairy tale – narrow, winding and covered in an arch of trees. As it flows closer to the sea, the views open out and the tell-tale sand bars of the coast emerge. Worthwhile distractions along the way include the Camel Valley Vineyard (what could be nicer than a glass of Cornish fizz sipped on the terrace overlooking the vines?), Lanhydrock House and the Lobster Hatchery in Padstow.
If that all sounds a little sedate for your tastes, there are plenty of places in Cornwall to get muddy and exhausted on two wheels. While the coast path is largely off limits for mountain bikers, there are some brand new trails (including technical single track) at Cardinham Woods just outside Bodmin. This is a lovely playground for bikers – the trails start and finish at the woodland café (you’ll be fully justified when you over-indulge on the home made cake), climbing up the valley sides to give some great downhill sections.
If you’re searching for somewhere more remote, then there are guides who will show you the hidden, off-road Cornwall that demands the knobbliest tyres and a sturdy pair of legs. There are more hills in this county than you ever imagined…
Padstow Cycle Hire
South Quay, Padstow, PL28 8BL, 01841 533533
Bridge Bike Hire
The Camel Trail, Wadebridge, PL27 7AL, 01208 813050
Arvor Mountain Biking Cornwall
37 Wodehouse Terrace, Falmouth, TR11 3EP, 07990 515 263
Mobius Bike Trails Cornwall
Based between Newquay and Perranporth, 08456 430 630