Cornwall is one of my favourite parts of the UK – it’s just such a pity it’s so far from where we live in Cumbria! Last time we were able to make the pilgrimage, we decided to try out cycling the Cornwall Coast to Coast with our two boys, from Portreath on the Atlantic Ocean in the north, to Devoran on the English Channel in the south.
This is a special route for us, as we did it a few years back when the boys were aged three and six. That time we had hired bikes and ridden just over half of the route – about 11 miles from Elm Tree Farm to Bissoe and back again. As the boys were now older and fitter (aged 8 and 10) we decided to do the entire Cornish Coast to Coast route which equates to a round trip of 22 miles.
We parked up at Portreath, a small Cornish fishing village with a beautiful beach on the north coast.
The first few metres of the route from the car park may have to be ridden on the pavement for younger riders, but almost immediately you turn off onto what is a virtually traffic free route all the way across the county.
The Cornish Coast to Coast trail follows the route of the old tin mining trails and encompasses all sorts of terrain – we rode along very quiet country lanes, on cycle paths alongside major roads, forest tracks, wide open moorland paths, and ancient bridleways. In parts the going is quite rough, so I probably wouldn’t want to do it on a road bike, but a hybrid bike, general kids bike or mountain bike are all fine. The route is plenty wide enough for a bike trailer and we saw several people using these.There are a number of gates along the way, all of which are easy to operate. The only areas to watch out for are at Scorrier where there is a very short (200m section) ‘on road’ section and several busy roads to cross.
The great thing about the Cornwall Coast to Coast cycle ride is that there really is something for all ages and abilities. The last time we did part of it, we had a 6 year old on a 20” wheel mountain bike and a 3 year old in a rear bike seat. That ride took us longer to complete than the entire route there and back this time! However, we had plenty of fun due to some exciting features along the route that kept the boys happy.
Due to the nature of the path there were endless puddles for them to enjoy riding through. The long straights turned into the opportunity for races, and every so often we’d come across a gem of a natural mountain biking skills section that they would have stayed on all day if they could have.
Around Twelveheads there is a whole hillside of tracks and trails that we’ll have to return to another time – as it was October half term we had the shorter days of autumn to remember, so we had to disappoint the boys and say they couldn’t explore far from the path on this occasion. Just to the north and the south of Bike Chain Bissoe are two skills sections (the north one is easy to miss – look behind the 200m to the shop sign!) These two areas provided much fun for us all and a happy hour or so could easily be spent by mountain bike crazy kids at these points on the ride. They were testing out the Islabikes Creig’s for a review and taking their responsibilities very seriously indeed!
In all it took us about two and a half hours cycle one way of the Cornwall Coast to Coast, from Portreath on the north coast to Devoran in the south. We then decided to cycle a further mile along a quiet country lane to Devoran Point, where the tranquil estuary view seemed a million miles from the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean we were about to head back to.
A warning at this point – it is slightly harder riding the Cornwall coast to coast going on the south to north route, as there’s a steepish rocky climb so it’s best to allow slightly longer when riding in that direction. This is especially important if you’re on the return leg, as little legs will get tired. Last time we did the route we underestimated the return journey and almost missed getting our hire bikes back in time!!! This time we were chasing the fading autumn light but thankfully the boys are fit and confident riders so the return journey actually only took us just over two hours. We didn’t stop for the mountain biking features and the boys really picked up the speed over the last 5 miles to the point I couldn’t keep up (an increasingly common and worrying trait on our family bike rides!)
Throughout our cycle ride we passed families and friends riding the coast to coast route. Some were serious adult cyclists who quickly passed us with a cheery wave. Others were families on rental bikes enjoying getting out into the beautiful Cornish countryside, whilst some were local families out enjoying a half-term cycle ride. Riders aged in range from young babies and toddlers in trailers and bike seats, to kids of all ages and to their parents and grandparents. Some people we spoke to were doing the entire ‘there and back’ 22 mile route whilst others were doing just a short stretch.
That’s the great thing about the Cornwall Coast to Coast – you can pick it up at many points along the way and ride as much or as little of it as you want. Plus there is something to keep all ages and abilities happy. I just hope it’s not another 4 years until we get to ride it again!
The Cornwall Coast to Coast cycle ride runs from Portreath on the north Cornwall coast to Devoran on the south coast. It is 11 miles in each direction. Bike hire is available at The Hub in Portreath, Elm Farm (midway between Portreath and Porthtowan on the main coast road) and Bike Chain Bissoe. Refreshments and toilets are available at various coffee shops, pubs and cafes en-route.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please explore the Cycle Sprog website and read some of our other articles. Here’s a few for starters:
- Traffic free cycle routes suitable for families
- Review of the Islabikes Creig 24 and Creig 26
- A family day out at the Track Bike Park, Redruth, Cornwall
- Family cycle routes in Devon
- How we became a mountain biking family in just one year
Further information for rides in Cornwall is available via the Sustrans website, with some paper mapping for Cornish rides available from Amazon.