Leg 2. Boswinger to Coverack 44.2 miles
Leg 3. Coverack to Lands End 47.3 miles
Leg 4. Lands end to Treyarnon Bay 61.4 miles
Leg 5. Treyarnon Bay to Saltash/Plymouth 62.9 miles
Participants: Dave Newman, Trevor Bradshaw, Graham Black, Andy Prideaux, Graham Reed, Neil Smith, Larry Clarke, Mike Willacy, John Durham, Neil Crowley, Richard Jenkins
It was proposed at section AGM to opt for an old fashioned moving on tour using youth hostels rather than relative comfort of a Premier Inn or Travel Lodge. Fixed point centres have their attractions-no luggage ect. but in my experience it is easy not to cycle for the whole duration . Also, there is a sense of achievement it completing 250+ miles in five days of challenging terrain. Of course the Cornish peninsula lends itself to such a coastal randonnée and many of the hostels are still open. We are extremely fortunate to be able to complete such a tour from our own town without the use of vehicles. The 4 hostels chosen were Boswinger, Coverack, Lands End & Treyarnon Bay the latter giving us an interesting ride back via the whole length of the Camel Trail and the scenic NC3 across the western edge of Bodmin Moor to Davidstow.
Eight of us alighted the 9.00am ferry at Torpoint (Mike had to work the morning so took the train to St Austell ) and set of around the creek with a close eye on the weather. After a long settled period the BBC were predicting a sudden change with the expectation of some rain during the day. We managed a trouble free ride to Looe for coffee and, despite it being noticeably cooler of late, spirits were high as we sipped our coffee overlooking the beach. The next stage through the lanes south of Pelynt was pleasant and we arrived at the Ferry Inn (Bodinnick) at 1220am.
After a pleasant and rather lengthy lunch over looking Fowey we crossed the ferry to meet an old friend, Richard Jenkins, who is now living in Tywardreath, to substitute for the injured Graham John. We were soon up and over and riding the China clay route from Par to Charlestown, rain began to fall. We managed to shelter by taking afternoon tea and avoiding a more persistent shower and arrived at Boswinger early. (Just short of 50 miles but, surprisingly, almost 1500metres of climbing- even more for team Trevor! Boswinger hasn’t changed much although with brand new beds and spotless facilities it seemed somewhat nicer than the B&Bs I`ve recently stayed in. It is in a quite remote hamlet with only a shop at the nearby acclaimed campsite to provide liquid refreshment of the alcoholic type. The meals were basic but ample and as I had only limited contact with the brusque German assistant I thought the staff to be the most pleasant of the tour.
After a hearty breakfast we set off in sunshine past Caerhays Castle we where strung out due to the steep Roseland hills. Passing Veryan, with its famous round houses, we encountered a foursome who had hired E.Bikes for the day and they didn’t half zoom past us up the steep hill towards Ruan High Lanes. (It certainly gives us old ones hope for the future) The progress from here to coffee via the King Harry Ferry was quite slow due to the many inclines but we eventually arrived at the Old Quay Inn , Devoran to rendezvous with my daughter. (My son-in law, Neil was part of our group). Some of us decided to partake in an early lunch whilst others enjoyed the more traditional facilities of this particularly pleasant hostelry.
Shortly after setting off again we said good bye to Neil C who was needed at home. We were rather envious as he trundled along the Mineral Trail in the direction of his train at Truro whereas we had to begin the long climb past Perranwell Station and Stithians. We were rewarded however with a fabulous decent to Gweek where we found an equally fabulous lunch stop in the boat yard. From here we set off towards our over night at Coverack via Trelowarren Park land and some pretty lanes. I could only marvel at Trevor’s navigational skills as I spent many a sleepless nights wondering how as I was going to negotiate the myriad of lanes without taking the group up unnecessary hills! We eventually arrived at the hostel at the stroke of 5.00pm.The Hostel was adequate but in a magnificent location overlooking Coverack Bay and further more it provided us with the opportunity of eating out.
On a sunny Saturday morning we retraced our steps through the lanes and headed south towards the Lizard where instead of dropping down to the pretty coastal village of Cadgwith we turned right through some delightful lanes towards Mullion (there is a limit on a tour to how many times one can drop down to sea level with the inevitable climb back up again). After another such climb we suddenly descended on a rough track across the golf course down to Church Cove. This was a necessary deviation to link up with the only lane in this part of the peninsula otherwise it would have meant the busy main road onto Helston. We took a chance that the lovely old cafe at Sithney was still trading because the last time I was here was back in the days of the “Lizard Loop” 14 years ago. This was a worthwhile stop as the proprietors were very welcoming and they even had a replica model railway lay out to Mike`s delight! and with a mug of tea and a huge piece of cake for £3! what more could one wish for? Onwards to Marazion through more pretty lanes with the Mount looking magnificent. The village as usual was over crowded but we soon picked up the Mounts bay cycle path taking us through Penzance, Newlyn to the popular village of Mousehole where we had more refreshments. Then it was up the mega climb towards Lamorna and across the corner of the Penwith peninsula to the hostel situated in the secluded Cott valley. Mike, Larry & John decided they wanted to visit Lands End as they had never been and joined us later at the hostel. The majority of us spent the evening in the nearby village of St Just.
The penultimate day was probably our most difficult but scenic one. The coastal scenery, with the added remnants of a bygone age of Cornish tin mining, was especially magnificent. After skirting St Ives we stopped for coffee in a garden centre just before Hayle where we were given a voucher for free plants! Progress was hard along the edge of the Towans round Godreathy lighthouse and Hellsmouth to Portreath where we had lunch. Off again parallel to the Miners trail but unfortunately had to start climbing again through Porthtowan , taking in St Agnes and Perrancoombe into the bustling resort of Perranporth. From here it was a combination of quiet lanes and busy main roads to negotiate Newquay and its environs on a busy Sunday in June. Now on the last 10miles to the hostel it began to rain and the terrain was at its most difficult as we plummeted and climbed through Porth, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth and Porthcothan before turning left just before the top of the last hill through the lanes to the hostel at Treyarnon Bay. Unfortunately with our relief and excitement at seeing the hostel sign we failed to wait at the junction as per normal-consequently Andy failed to see the sign and rode straight past. We were mortified to discover his non arrival. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that there was no mobile signal in the vicinity but to our immense relief he eventually arrived. The hostel was situated in a beautiful location overlooking the sea.
The final day back to Saltash/Plymouth afforded us the opportunity to take in a couple of classic Cornish cycle routes beginning with the entire length of the Camel Trail and National Cycle Router 3 along the western edge of Bodmin Moor. After Crowdy reservoir it was fairly routine cycling on familiar territory through Plusha, Callington, and onto Saltash. During the tour we had a sickness bug which started with Andy as early as Friday morning and followed by Graham Black on Saturday evening. The rest of us, with the exception of two, succumbed on the final day. Unfortunately this just took the edge off what had been a very successful and pleasant tour.