The Cornish Way is a cycle route from Lands End to Bude (the useful Sustrans map for this is here) and covers around 130 miles, mostly on back lanes. 2 route options allow you to choose north coast or south coast, with the northern route using the rather nice Camel trail.
Starting in Lands End, the route follows back lanes to Penzance. This is where I picked it up when I cycled the route as it passes right in front of the train station. From Penzance the route follow an off road track to Marazion. This is not suitable for road bikes!
After views of St. Michaels Mount you dive across Cornwall for the shortest coast to coast ride you’ll ever probably do to Hayle. Some reasonably odd meandering through Hayle (at least you get to go past the Philips Pasties shop) you get spat out onto very undulating country lanes. Get used to the undulations, it’s a “feature” of this route. It’s country lanes all the way to Camborne, then you thread through the town. Mind the tuning onto an off road section leaving the town, I missed it and ended up cycling into a cul-de-sac.
It’s mainly off road then til Redruth, with fantastic views of Carn Brea Castle as you go along on your right, where you drop right down into the valley then have a frankly evil climb out the other side. Once done though you’re back on top of the hills and into country lanes. After Bissoepool the route goes off road again and through a bizarre and interesting landscape created from mining waste. One of the highlights of the south section of the route, just watch where you are going as the path has some pretty nasty boulders on it that are partially hidden.
At the end of this section is Bissoe Bike Hire (and cafe!) and it’s here’s where the route splits. I’ve only cycled the northern route so cant comment on the southern one, but it looks rather nice, and looks to go past more touristy places. I chose the north route because 1. it was shorter, 2. it went on the Camel trail which I wanted to cycle, and 3. it went through Padstow so I could get cake at Rick Stein’s. Yes that was the main consideration.
Back to the route, you get sent through lanes to the edge of Truro. I’m sure there’s a more efficient way than the signposted route but it’s not hard. You then drop down into Truro centre and past the brilliant cathedral (and the Warrens bakery, right outside the front door!), then after a bit of a section through the shopping centre and over the main ring road, you’re back on country lanes again. The next section was to me was just a bit dull (it didn’t help that it started raining rather heavily), there’s nothing til you hit St. Newlyn East which at least has a shop and a pub. Here I diverted from the signposted route and struck off through White Cross to pick the route back up in St. Columb Major. Having been to Newquay in the past I’m not sure what benefit you would get by including it in your ride if you do this…
Anyway, its lanes til Padstow where you pick up the Camel trail. This is a rail trail that runs for 18 miles with only a small (at quite hairy) section of on road cycling through the centre of Wadebridge. The first half of this route (the east – west bit) is wide gravel track, seems well used, and very nice. The second half (the north – south bit) seems less well used, and was narrowed to almost single file when I cycled it because of overgrown vegetation. Nicer for it though, if that makes sense.
The Camel trail ends at a car park and new cafe in Wenford Bridge (there’s also a more easterly loop here, but I didn’t do it as it involved more climbing!). Its a long steady climb from there through St. Breward and onto the edges of Bodmin Moor and past Davidstow Airfield. More hills, then another route choice. By the sea, very pretty, 1 in 3 hills. In land, still pretty, less hilly, slightly shorter. I went inland.
The inland route is easy, there’s a new cut under the A39 at Helebridge, there’s a few long sweeping hills, and some nice country lanes. And that’s it. A little bit of off road path takes you right into the centre of Bude and the route meets back up with the coastal fork and the end of the route.
Things to See and Places to Eat
Lots of places to see and do on this route. One of the highlights of the route is how close to and the sheer number of places to see, stop, and to eat at. With that in mind I’m not going to try to recreate a list here. But seriously, you could stop every 5 miles and have something to do, something to eat, something to see.
Small loop on the route before Camborne can be completely ignored by just following the road you’re already on into the town centre.
I’d think seriously as well about skipping Newquay. It doesn’t add anything but distance to this route.
Who can ride it?
This is a reasonably demanding route as there is quite a lot of climbing and the climbing you do is short and sharp hills. I’d also say it’s not child friendly. It’s mostly lanes with not much off road. A fit person could comfortably do this in 2 days (a not so fit person can uncomfortably do it in 2 days, which was what I did). If you want to stop and seem some sights, of which there are tons, I’d suggest 3 days.