Land’s End is an obvious start or end point for any visitor to Cornwall and Devon and it should be no different for cyclists. The 25-mile First and Last Trail meanders along quiet lanes, over ancient landscapes, alongside a fabulous coastline and takes in the popular tourist attraction St Michael’s Mount before concluding in Hayle.
Those seeking a more strenuous ride can try the 28-mile Marazion, Porthleven and Helston circular. It offers wonderful views over Mount’s Bay, winding back lanes with colourful flora, sites of special scientific interest and many species of wildfowl.
The 13-mile Coast-to-Coast Trail links Devoran, by Restronguet Creek, to Portreath, an historic mining harbour on the Atlantic coast. Much of the route follows the original track bed of the Redruth and Chacewater railway and the Portreath Tramroad.
Historic Mine Buildings
If you do not mind sharing a trail with horse riders and walkers, the eight-mile Great Flat Lode is a worthwhile way to spend an hour. The route explores the world’s greatest number of historic mine buildings as it makes a circuit around the base of Carn Brea. A wealth of flora and wildlife can be seen around the inhospitable area’s mine sites.
A 15-mile circular route from Hayle to St Ives is best undertaken in the spring or autumn. Hayle estuary attracts many species of wading birds and migratory wildfowl in spring and autumn, drawn by the sub-tropical climate and three miles of golden sands of St Ives Bay. Hayle itself was once the centre of the copper mining and smelting industry, while St Ives is a traditional fishing village with a harbour and cobbled streets lined with fishermen’s cottages.
In Devon, the 5.5-mile Exmouth to Budleigh Circuit is a relaxing route taking in the superb coast and following the path of a former railway through the rural hinterland between the seaside towns of Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton. Or try the 11-mile Granite Way, a new and mostly traffic-free route through rural Devon offering breathtaking views of Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside.
Former Railway Path
Plym Valley Trail takes riders along the scenic former railway path that leads from Plymouth to the wild expanses of Dartmoor. The path has been extensively resurfaced for significant stretches and so offers a pleasurable, leisurely, 16-mile ride in either direction.
For families, there are few better routes than the 4.5-mile Grand Western Canal trail. Built at the end of the 19th century, the canal was made as flat as possible so it was speedier and more commercially viable. As a result it is ideal cycling territory. When the railways took over commercial transport, the canal was closed as a commercial waterway in 1925. It was restored as a country park in 1971 and it is now enjoyed by anglers, walkers, cyclists and passengers on boats and a horse-drawn barge.
It is a peaceful route, flat, easy, mainly off-road route and ideal for families with children. It often runs along the towpath beside this quiet stretch of waterway between Tiverton and the Somerset border and offers views of superb landscape on the way.