Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cornwall: The Camel Trail 1

I left Bolton on the Thursday before Easter, and joined the motorway (so many caravans!) heading for the south west. To my relief the worst of the traffic had died away by the time I got into Cornwall, and I found my B&B without difficulty. This was a bit of a pig in a poke, since I had booked so late that little was available over the Easter holiday. But it turned out well. Spring Gardens is a 17th century merchant’s house near the quayside in the little grey town of Wadebridge, once a port far up the estuary of the River Camel, but now silted up. I had a nice room with a shower, and the toilet across the landing, and ate in the old kitchen with slate flagstones on the floor and the hooks for hams, strings of onions etc still in the ceiling.

The Bridge on Wool at Wadebridge
Used to be a major bottleneck, but now the traffic bypasses the town.

Spring Gardens B&B

Wadebridge is a good centre since it sits in the middle of the “Camel Trail”, a walking and cycling path set on the bed of an old railway line. In one direction it runs to Padstow, near the mouth of the estuary, and in the other to Bodmin and further inland, following the riverside both ways. The gradients are gentle and so like everyone else I hired a bike and spent a couple of days exploring.

On yer bike
The start of the Camel Trail heading seaward along the estuary.

On the Camel Trail
Not difficult to recognise that it was once a railway.

A cutting on the Trail
Is that a ghostly whistle I hear?

My first excursion was up the river to Padstow, once a quaint little town (it was over >50< years ago that I first went there), but now rather overrun by tourists, and home to Rick Stein's various fish cafes and restaurants. I moored my bike there and walked around Stepper Point to Trevone and back to Padstow along the lanes. It was a glorious day and the coastal scenery was wonderful.

The Camel Estuary
Looking past Rock to the open sea.

The Camel estuary
Looking inland.

Footpath to Padstow
Rights of way just go straight across the fields.

Coming back along the Trail in the afternoon was a bit busier than in the early morning! There were hundreds of cyclists, on all sorts of bikes. Many tandems and adult bikes with little ones welded onto the back so that small fry could get the impression of taking part.

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