In case you didn’t get the memo, there’s a “staycation boom” going on in the UK right now.
That’s right, apparently more people than ever are holidaying in good old Blighty… and there’s a lot to be said for ditching the airport crowds and getting out to explore your home terrain this summer.
Idyllic coastline, historic castles, cream teas and some of the best surf spots in the UK… need I go on? It’s no wonder Cornwall is one of the most popular spots for holiday-makers in Britain.
I’ve been holidaying in Cornwall since I was a kid and the region has become a haven away from the busy city life for me – as soon as I spot that first glimmer of coast-line, I breathe a big old sigh of relief.
Last year, I spent a week in North Cornwall and took some time out from my rigorous pasty-eating schedule to do something I’d never done before and cycle one of the UK’s most scenic paths – The Camel Trail.
Where to stay?
Padstow marks the start of The Camel Trail and is the perfect little town to set up camp for a few days. Situated on the north Cornish coast, and located just minutes from picturesque beaches, it’s ideal for visitors looking for a mix of adventure and R&R.
The town itself is a working fishing port and home to the world-famous National Lobster Hatchery – it’s also the well-known stomping ground of Rick Stein, making it a true foodie paradise.
Cycling the Camel Trail
The Camel Trail is a flat, pedestrian and cycle-friendly path that runs along the Camel Estuary from Padstow all the way to Wenfordbridge. passing through the quaint towns of Bodmin and Wadebridge along the way.
The trail is split into three main sections – the 10-mile return stretch from Padstow to Wadebridge is the most popular route and ideal for families or those seeking a comfortable, scenic option.
But for a truly memorable experience, I would recommend travelling a few miles further to Camel Valley Vineyard in Bodmin. The ride should take a couple of hours, each way, but be sure to allow enough time for photo stops and a well-deserved glass of wine at the end, before making the return trip back to Padstow.
If you have your own bike, you can pick up The Camel Trail from Padstow harbour following the well-signposted paths. Or if you need to hire yourself some wheels, head to Padstow Cycle Hire at the harbour where you can rent a hybrid bike from £16 a day. Staff will provide you with a map and point you to the start of the trail.
As you set off, the trail skirts along the stunning Camel Estuary with sweeping views back to Padstow and the rugged Cornish coastline. If you’re lucky enough to get a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with views for miles.
As the trail continues, you’ll pass through wooded countryside, full of wildlife and beautiful natural scenery. There are lots of benches and view-points along the way so be sure to allow some time for photos and water stops!
Approximately 5 miles along the trail, you’ll arrive into the charming market town of Wadebridge where you can park up for a well-deserved cream tea overlooking the estuary, or browse some of the local boutique stores.
Or if you prefer Pinot Noir to Earl Grey, continue straight on to the picturesque Camel Valley Vineyard, located just 2 miles along from Wadebridge (with a few upward hills to tackle!) Nestled within the rolling Bodmin hills, this is the perfect stop to sit back, relax and appreciate the sheer beauty of your surroundings – with a chilled glass of wine in hand.
This relaxed, family-run vineyard has won multiple national and international awards for its selection of wines and runs a range of tours for guests from just £8.50. There’s also a shop on-site and a gorgeous sun terrace where you can sip on a glass of locally-produced wine with some the most dramatic views throughout the whole region.
On a sunny day, it’s easy to forget you’re in the UK!
Once you’re feeling rested and ready, head back towards The Camel Trail for your return ride to Padstow. Once you’re back at the harbour, why not top of your day in true Cornish style with a portion of Rick Stein’s fish and chips.
Have you cycled The Camel Trail? Where are your favourite cycle paths in the UK? I’d love to hear from you!