On a very rainy morning, we walked the short distance to Padddington Station, had breakfast and waited for our direct train to Bodmin Parkway. Because of the planned rail strike on October 1st, we left London a day earlier than planned. Probably because of the strike the next day, our train was very full. Even though we had reserved seats, because of the quirkiness of British Rail’s seat reservation system, we were seated close by, but not together. We are comfortable being left to our own devices, so we both used the time to read, check emails and study Spanish using the online language app, Duolingo. Keeping ourselves occupied, the 5 1/2 hours seemed to fly by.
Arriving at Bodmin Parkway station, on the edge a Bodmin Moor, we had assumed there would be taxis available to take us the five miles into Bodmin Town. That was not the case. Not seeing any taxis at the stand, I called the local taxi company and was told it would be over two hours before we could be picked up. Apparently there is a taxi driver shortage in Cornwall. We were just getting used to that thought when I saw a big red bus come to a stop at the station. I ran over and asked the driver if he was headed toward Bodmin. Luckily he was and we had three minutes before departure. Quickly we gathered our luggage, boarded the bus and in 15 minutes and 2 quid each, we were in Bodmin, only 500 meters from our hotel.
There is a reason I earlier mentioned Bodmin Moor. In 1950, in a small village in the moor, a litter a kittens was born. All of the kittens save one, seemed to be normal. But, as Wikipedia explains:
“The Cornish Rex is a genetic mutation that originated from a litter of kittens born in the 1950s on a farm in Cornwall, UK. One of the kittens, a cream-colored male named Kallibunker, had an extremely unusual, fine and curly coat; he was the first Cornish Rex. The owner then backcrossed Kallibunker to his mother to produce 2 other curly-coated kittens. The male, Poldhu, sired a female called Lamorna Cove who was later brought to America and crossed with a Siamese, giving the breed their long whippy tails and big ears.”
And several generations later we have our pride and joy, Mouse, a pure bred Cornish Rex.
Originally, we were to have only one night in Bodmin, but because we arrived a day early, we had an extra night. We used that extra day to check out the village. It is a small town, one of the oldest in Cornwall. Dating to the 6th century when a a Welsh priest formed a monastery where the current day St. Petroc’s parish church is located. The name, Bodmin, comes from the Cornish “Bod-meneghy,” which means place or sanctuary of the monks. The current St. Petroc’s is built on the ruins of the 6th century building and dates to the 15th century.
We took a quick walk around town. It is apparent they have an overabundance of hair salons, charity resale stores and fish and chip shops. We did check a couple of the resale stores, ordered take-away fish and chips and found an amazingly great quality men’s clothes store, where Bill bought me a cute shirt that you will not see until later in the trip.
That evening, we stopped by The Hole in the Wall, a typical Cornish pub. The name comes from the fact the building was an 18th century debtor’s prison and the hole was where food was passed to the inmates in the cells. While having a pint, a local women eyeing Bill, decided to make a play for the most handsome man in the bar. I was certainly amused, and I didn’t want to spoil her fun. I do think she finally caught on that it was not going to happen, but before then, she made sure we saw the lion, a white lion. White lions are extremely rare and have been, for a very long time, on the endangered species list. But Bill’s admirer, Sandy, was keen to shows us.
Classic Cornwall – Day 1 – Bodmin to Megavissey
Sunday morning we started the first day of our Cornwall bike tour. The weather looked good and later in the day was even better. If it rained, we had our rain gear and rain or shine we planned to make it to Megavissey, a seacoast village on the eastern coast of the Cornwall peninsula. The actual ride was only 25 miles, but we had a planned stop about 11 miles in. More about that in a bit. All of the Cornwall rides were to be on established national cycle routes. Some of these routes are totally separate bike paths and separate bike lanes. But predominantly they are on low traffic country lanes. After a little traffic getting out of Bodmin, we started out on a cycleway, but a after a few miles transitioned to a country lane. Along the way, near the village of Luxulyan, we encountered a well kept community cemetery. We stopped and took a couple of pictures. It seems it is very well kept. But one thing for certain, it is not very old. The earliest deaths I saw were from the mid 1970s. I am sure there is another nearby.
Just a few miles later, suddenly high above the path was what appeared to be a viaduct. After a little research, I found out that the Treffrey Viaduct was dual purpose, both a tramway and aqueduct. The tram was used to transfer quarried materials to the coast and supplies back to the quarries. Built by Joseph Treffrey in the mid-17th century and fully operational in 1844, viaduct was an engineering marvel, because it used the cascading waters leaving the aqueduct to power a paddle wheel used to pull the mostly empty trams back up from the coast.
Back on the bikes and in a few miles we arrived at our planned stop, The Eden Project. Completed in 2000, The Eden Project was built in a sterile former china clay mining pit crater, transforming it into a global garden. Nestled in this huge crater, the covered Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity, Mediterranean landscapes, crop displays, art installations and exhibitions, all combining to tell a magical story.
After spending a couple of hours at The Eden Project, we were off again on our bikes for, what we assumed, would be a quick 12 mile ride. But, that was not to be. We were almost to Megavissey, about a mile and a half out, when John’s front tire went flat. We tried pumping, but the tube wouldn’t hold air. At this point, we could have stopped and fixed the flat, since we had all the tools to do that. But, we decided we would rather walk to bike the last bit and fix it at the hotel. What we didn’t know was how steep that last would be.
So, when you see the map, know the last part was on foot, pushing the Bike up a steep incline as we reached our hotel with gorgeous sea views from up on the bluff.
Mevegissey is exactly as I imagined a small Cornish seacoast village to be, not very big, quaint with a picturesque waterfront. After fixing the flat and taking a little nap, we headed into the village. It was a short rather steep walk down to the waterfront. It didn’t take much time to walk the shopping and entertainment area. We spent most if our time along the harbor.
Our hotel in Megavissey was the Tremarne Hotel. Owned by a young couple, Wes and Tam. The place was immaculate. The care that the they show in keeping the property beautiful, showing a sincere interest in the Guest experience and providing a perfect experience contributed to our brief stay. Dinner at the hotel was fantastic. I told Tam to tell chef how we enjoyed it. She said, ” you can tell him yourselves, Wes is the chef.” As I mentioned earlier, the hotel was at top of that steep hill, with panoramic view of the neighboring hills and sea. The next morning, we took a second walk into the village and walked along embankment to the lighthouse.
Classic Cornwall- Day 2 – Megavissey to Truro
After our morning walk we were on the bikes again, headed toward Truro. Like the day before, our route was on the National Bike Route 3. The day’s route was only 23 miles so another easy day. Of course, with the hope of no more flat tires! As you can see from the map, we touched the coast a couple times on this trip.
What the map didn’t show was that when we were on the coast, we were at or near sea level, but when we were away, we were up on bluffs and hills. The next graph is our elevation change over the course of the ride.
Even though our max elevation was only 350 feet, the combined elevation gain was 2,508 feet. That number is not a net, it only counts the elevation increase. Needles to say, we were up and down the entire ride. Which brings me to another important point. After seeing the elevation profile, Bill insisted we rent ped-assist ebikes. Although reluctant, I eventually agreed. In the UK, for a ebike to assist you, you have the pedaling. So after all those ups and downs we were feeling it even with the ebike.
To give you an idea of our riding conditions, here are three pictures represent the majority our rides.
It was nice to have a few level or descending miles after the climbs. It rested the legs and the hearts. And on this ride descending usually meant “beachward.” I know it is not a word, but it does work here. This beach is part of the of the Caerhays Estate. It has a good sized parking lot, so I assume it is very popular on Summer days. Directly across from the beach is the gate the the Caerhays Estate grounds.
This blog entry is getting long, so I’m not going to give a history of the castle, but here is the Wikipedia link:
After leaving the castle and coastline, we headed up and inland a bit before dropping back down to sea level, where we encountered another beautiful beach. This one called Pendower Beach. Even though it was mid-week in off season, the Shallikabooky Beach Hut was open. We took the opportunity for coffee and a hot chocolate.
Back on the bikes, we headed to one of my favorite things, a ferry ride. A short 5 miles brought us to the King Harry Ferry across the River Fal. The ferry, is a vehicular submerged chain ferry that pulls itself across the river. Originally built in 1888 to replace an old pole pushed barge that had been there since Henty VIII. The ferry used steam until conversation to diesel in 1957. The current ferry boat is the 7th since 1888, so I guess you could say it is the King Harry VII Ferry. It did make me think, the current Harry is unlikely to ever be King.
After making quick work of the last few miles we arrived in Truro. I am going to stop here. The next blog will cover Truro city, the ride to Newquay and our time there. Thanks for reading.