10 Excellent Cycle Trails here in Cornwall

Published September 10th, 2021 10 Excellent Cycle Trails here in Cornwall Published in: Nature

If you are seeking a break from the beach or want to get away from busy areas but still want to enjoy our incredible countryside we would suggest getting on your bike, literally!

With no shortage of countryside and open places, there are lots of opportunities to get on a bike and explore the great outdoors. Whether you are looking to retrace heritage trails, whizz through ancient woodland, cruise along the coast or tour the entire length of Cornwall you are catered to. A great opportunity to discover parts of Cornwall you never knew existed.

There are an incredible number of cycle trails that weave and cross their way across the county. With trails suitable for all abilities from stabilisers through to experienced cyclists.

Whatever route you follow, you can look forward to an unforgettable adventure whilst, keeping fit and active, and spending time with friends or family.

Don’t worry if you haven’t brought a bike there are lots of places where you can hire one.

Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin

Considered one of the best cycle trails in the county with incredible scenery and a huge network of routes throughout the diverse woodlands that cater to all abilities, with varying levels of difficulty. A major draw for keen cyclists and a fantastic opportunity for off-road cycling on the slopes of the Cardinham Valley.

There are several family-friendly trails scaling up to the Bodmin Beast offering an exhilarating ride through the forest. Or challenge yourself with Hell’s Teeth and Dialled-in-Dave, adrenaline filled trails with tough climbs, steep and narrow descents, suitable for experienced and proficient mountain bikers only.

After your excursion you can make your way to the excellent Woods Café for some well-deserved refreshments, homemade options made using fresh and local ingredients. Their hot chocolate is especially good!

It is a haven of natural beauty.

There is plenty of parking here, and there is a charge for the car park.


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Goss Moor Cycle Trail, Saint Austell

This one is geared towards nature lovers. A moorland trail offering a moderate cycle amongst tranquil rural countryside. The Goss Moor Cycle Trail is 7 miles (12km) and consists of a relatively flat and easy terrain, with a few slight hills. Chiefly the route is off-road, and is well sign posted.

Set amongst a stunning 480-hectare National Nature Reserve, you can observe the various rare plants and animals that thrive here amongst the heathland, marshes and waterways.

It is a pleasant short trail in delightful countryside and there is certainly lots to see as you cycle around.

If you wish to extend your route, you can tag on to the Tregoss Moor route, bringing it up to 10 or 11 miles.

There is nowhere to obtain refreshments along the trail, but you can get facilities in the surrounding villages.

There are several free car parks along the multi-use trail.


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The Great Flat Lode

This route takes place in historic Camborne – Redruth mining district, therefore delivers a substantial piece of Cornish heritage.

It is a 7.5 mile (12 km) undulating circuitous route and forms part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The trail is mostly off-road, there are some minor roads, and takes you through a mixture of farmland and moorland.

The landscape here is dotted with relics harking back to its mining heyday and you will discover some of the finest remains of engine houses. There are information boards at the mining sites providing information on the history and working of the mines.

Make a stop at Carn Brea the site of a Neolithic settlement, for incredible panoramic views that take in the surrounding countryside and the Atlantic coast.

The route can be accessed at many points; King Edward Mine is a good place to jump on, as there is plenty of parking and refreshments available. Camborne or Redruth train stations are alternative options.


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Seaton Valley Countryside Park, near Looe

Seaton Valley Countryside Park is found at the bottom of a steep sided valley. It holds a prestigious Green Flag Award, recognising the best green spaces in the country.

It offers a short 2-mile circular bike ride around the picturesque park. It is ideal if you have young children in tow.

The route commences at the parking facilities with the route incorporating a tour of the park taking in a riverside stretch along the River Seaton, as well as a coastal stretch by Seaton beach. In addition, there is a sensory garden and a nature reserve home to otters, kingfishers, dormice, and butterflies. Take along some refreshments and stop for a picnic at one of the park’s picnic areas.

There are toilet facilities and carparking.


Tamar Trails

The Tamar Valley straddles the Devon and Cornwall border and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage site and a remarkably fascinating and unique region to explore by bike.

Embark on your adventure at the Tamar Trails Centre and take the opportunity to discover the 25km of multi-grade off-road mountain biking trails, that take you past old mines, ancient woodland and tumbling streams where you can enjoy the stunning landscapes. There is a map, and the trails are brilliantly signposted.

There are a few trails to choose depending on biking ability and length and challenges. The gentle Mineral Railway Trail is the best option for families with young children; it is a short trail that is mostly on the level. The more accomplished biker will enjoy the adventurous Wheal Maria Trail. It is also a hub for outdoor activities. If being on the saddle gets too much you can swap your bicycle or a canoe and see the Tamar Valley from the water.

Or take to the treetops for an adventure with ‘Tree Surfers’ on the high rope course. Tremendous fun is sure to be had by all.

The trails and car park are open daily.

Toilets are located at the Beech Café which is open at the weekends and daily during the peak summer season. It is the perfect stop if you have built up a hunger, with lots of homemade treats. As you tuck in you can enjoy the stunning views across the valley. There is both indoor and outdoor seating.


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The Clay Trails, St Austell

Mid Cornwall is known as China Clay Country with relics of this period of history still evident. There are nine quiet and excellent multi-use trails to enjoy the incredible rural scenery and fascinating landscape of the region. The trails are primarily off-road and are nice and peaceful.

These trails are not exceptionally long and were first opened in March 2005 and are mainly easily accessible. However, they do not offer many facilities and mostly cut through remote areas. Some trails are more challenging than others and each offers something different to see along the route.

What is particularly nice about these trails is that they rarely get busy, are largely traffic free and cross through rolling farmland, wooded valleys and picturesque villages, giving you a real glimpse of the beautiful Cornish countryside.

Whilst cycling around you can take in this region’s dramatic scenery, along with lakes with unbelievable turquoise waters coloured by mica particles, famous spoil heaps often referred to as the ‘Cornish Alps’, beautiful local wildlife and intriguing history.

You will see some of Cornwall’s most stunning scenery when you explore these trails.


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The Camel Trail

This is probably the county’s best known and most utilised cycle trail. It is enjoyed by both locals and holidaymakers and is one of the most popular recreational routes in the country.

This mainly traffic free, off-road trail follows a disused railway between Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow. It is an ideal trail to develop your confidence on a bike.

It is a flat and gentle route with no inclines, for its entire length. It extends for almost 18 miles (30km), so is ideal for most people, from novice to seasoned cyclists. In addition, you are rewarded with some of the most stunning views of the coast along the way. As well as passing through some incredible woodland and having access to some of North Cornwall’s most beautiful scenery and wildlife.

You can choose to complete the entire route or sections of the route. It can be divided into three sections: Padstow to Wadebridge (5.5 miles), Wadebridge to Bodmin (6 miles) and Bodmin to Wenford Bridge (6 miles).

What is nice about this trail is there are plenty of opportunities along the way to stop for refuelling or a rest stop.


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The Coast-to-Coast Route

This is an impressive route; it commences in the little coastal village of Portreath on the north coast of Cornwall and concludes in the picturesque Creekside village of Devoran, on the south coast.

This route is not especially long at 12 miles (18km), it principally consists of traffic-free cycling along a former mineral railway track, purpose-built cycle tracks and quiet country lanes, making for a stress-free ride.

The route is not especially difficult. There are some hills along the way, but the breath-taking scenery and variety of wildlife is a pleasant and constant distraction.

The trails offer a unique insight into the area’s mining heritage as you pass by historic mining sites that have been transformed by nature.

Again, you can pick up the trail at many points so can ride as little or as much as you like. You will pass through the most incredible scenery including, Scorrier Woods, the Poldice Valley and alongside the Restronguet Creek.

Around Twelveheads there is an entire hillside of tracks and trails to have fun on.

Along the route there are many places to stop to use the toilet and for refreshments.

At the end you can reward yourself with a well-deserved cold drink in the traditional and welcoming The Old Quay Inn.


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The Cornish Way

This is a mammoth trail it takes you all the way from Land’s End at the western tip right up to Bude, on the Devon border, along the National Cycle Route No 3 (also known as the Cornish Way).

There is not too much climbing on this ride, there are one or two hills along the way.

It is an incredible journey of 180 miles (228km). The inter-linking trails splits at Truro and you can choose from two routes: one going through Padstow on the North Cornish coast, the other through St Austell on the South coast. They both join again at Bodmin.

You can look to tackle the route in stages or cycle the sections that appeal to you most. In total there are six individual trails that make up the continuous route.

  • The First and last Trail – From Lands End to Hayle (25 miles/39.6km)
  • The Engine House Trail – Part of the Mineral Tramway Trails from Hayle to Truro (24 miles/38.7km)
  • The Coast and Clay Trail – Truro to Bodmin via St Austell (45 miles/71.5km)
  • The North Cornwall Trail– Bodmin to Devon Border near Bude (40.5 miles/64.6km)
  • The St Piran Trail – Truro to Bodmin via Newquay (34.5 miles/55km)
  • The Camel Trail – Padstow to Bodmin (17 miles/27.4km)

Only 29 miles of the route is traffic free, however it does avoid major roads using quiet rural roads and takes in all the classic Cornish sights; historic towns, pretty fishing villages and coastal areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, woodlands, open moor, nature reserves, famous landmarks and the county’s historic mining heartland.

It also incorporates some other routes namely, The Camel Trail and the Engine House Trail which is part of the Mineral Tramway Trails.

It is an incredible challenge and a great way to explore Cornwall’s fantastic countryside as well as reaping many rewards.


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As you can see, there are no shortage of trails to get out any explore the wonderful Cornish countryside. So, get on your bike and get exploring you will be enthralled by all you see along the way, and the people you meet.