Cycling in Cornwall: From Bude to Land’s End

What is it like to cycle from Bude to Land’s End in the county of Cornwall in three days? In this blog we look at this beautiful route of 274 kilometers (about 169 miles) and give you a good idea of what you may encounter along the way.

Previously we wrote about our route from London via Bath and Bristol to Exmoor and Devon. On the Devon route you can join our Cornwall route in the village of Sheepwash. From here its 22 miles of cycling in hilly countryside to the Cornish coast. The seaside resort of Bude is at the most northern tip of Cornwall. Its beautiful beach and spectacular cliffs give a good impression on what Cornwall has to offer as a whole.

The route heads south to Widemouth Bay and its stunning beach, followed by a spectacular coastal road taking you up some very steep cliffs. A bit further you have the choice between two routes. The coastal route option is truly hard, with several long climbs with gradients up to 14%. This route takes you via the magical village of Tintagel where the legend of King Arthur is kept alive at the ruins of Tintagel Castle. The signposted route via the interior takes you via Bodmin Moor, where the climbing is more gradual, with less up and down then on the coastal route.

Both routes merge onto the Camel Trail, Cornwall’s most famous cycle path on the course of a dismantled railway. The first part to Wadebridge takes you in all peace and quiet via a beautiful forested valley. On the second part along the Camel estuary horizons are wider and the trail itself can be heaving with other cyclists, as every Cornwall tourist guide recommends an afternoon of cycling on the Camel Trail. Numerous bike rentals in Wadebridge endevour to cater for this mayhem.

Things only get busier in Padstow. Its old harbour became famous after TV-chef Rick Stein opened multiple fish restaurants here. The streets are normally packed with tourists. This is premium holidaying country as the stunning beaches of Harlyn Bay, Constantine Bay and Treyarnon Bay are just around the corner. To find an overnight stay in a B&B, hostel or campsite in this area, booking ahead is essential.

Your second day of cycling in Cornwall takes you well inland towards St Colomb Major. The lanes are empty, the views are wide and the climbs are gradual. Without too much effort, you will arrive in the hustle and bustle of Newquay. Its Fistral Beach is England’s most famous surfing beach. With its multiple beaches, plenty of surf shops and a great nightlife Newquay remains Cornwall’s number one seaside destination.

Only by bike you can feel the contrast with the peaceful surrounding landscape. The lanes via beautiful Trerice House and the Lappa Railway steam railway are empty once again. You will be heading for Truro now, Cornwall’s county capital. It features the Cornwall Museum with various displays about the Cornish history and culture.

Beyond Truro, you will arrive in Cornwall’s former mining area. You will be cycling in between overgrown slag heaps and you will pass the well-known Gwennap Pit, historic hilltop Carn Brea and the East Pool Mine museum. At Hayle, you will be on the Cornish north coast for the last time. With its fabulous Towans Beach, an overnight stay at the local campsite or in a B&B is highly recommended.

The next day, you will make the crossing from the north coast to the south coast, which is only six miles this far west. On the south coast, St Michaels Mount will remind you of Mont St Michel in France. Penzance, with its wide promenade can provide similar French associations, providing the sun is out. The fishing ports of Newlyn and Mousehole are just west if Penzance and extremely picturesque.

You have now arrived in most western tip of Cornwall and some very steep climbs make progress slow. Land’s End, England’s most western point, is not far away now. From Sennen Cove, your last mile west is on a gravel path on the top of the cliffs. The cape of Land’s End itself is beautiful, but the fairground feel with its eateries and gaming halls right behind it is not to everyone’s taste.

If you love the great outdoors, you can’t miss Cape Cornwall, just 6 miles north. Its equally spectacular cape has no modern developments in its vicinity. Until modern surveying began, this point was regarded as the most western point of England. In nearby St Just, a pleasant market square with several pubs give plenty of opportunity for reflection on both capes and your own cycling performance. In about an hour, you can then cycle back to Penzance and its railway station.

Practical notes:

The Cornwall route is a continuation of our route from London via Bath and Bristol and Exmoor and Devon. You can switch from the train to our route, but you will have to do so in either Barnstaple in Devon or at Bodmin Parkway station. A signposted route will take you onto the Camel Trail at Bodmin. This is on the Cornwall route beyond Tintagel.

The described route part starts in the village of Sheepwash on our Devon route and ends in Penzance. You can take your bike back on the train towards London or Harwich/Dover. This is also possible in Newquay, Truro and Hayle. In England, bicycles can be taken on the train for free, but not during peak times and depending on the capacity of the train. On some routes, such as Penzance-London, you need to make a reservation for bicycles.

We do not recommend the use of any bicycle trailers, cargo bikes, bike trailers, etc. This is due to various barriers on cycle paths with tight corners and narrow gaps. You may also encounter difficulties on narrow towpaths, steep slopes and when taking your equipment on the train. Note e-bikes can only be charged at booked accommodation on the way; public charging points are rare.

The route in this blog is largely signposted as ‘Route 3’. Extra route options, such as the routes via Tintagel, Fistral Beach in Newquay and Cape Cornwall, are not on the signposted routes. Furthermore, there are several times where we deviate from the signposted routes for practical reasons, such as in Newquay. There is also no signposted route from Land’s End back to Penzance. To cycle the route comfortably, we recommend using our ‘London-Land’s End Cycle Route’ guidebook. This guidebook contains route directions, maps, cycling-focused tourist information and facility listings with campsites, youth hostels, B&Bs, hotels and bicycle repair shops along the way. Order your copy now and you will receive the guide in your mailbox within a week! GPS tracks of the route will be sent to you by email.

The route of this blog is also available in a Route App for your mobile. The routes in this Dutch language Route App contain similar information as our guidebooks with GPS-tracks and can be combined as you please. The facility listings of the guidebooks are also available in the App, with full contact details. The App also features full contact details of all visitor attractions. Sights along the way as mentioned in the books, are incorporated in the Route App with markers. The Route App can be used independently, but for more context and information we always recommend using the guidebooks as well.

Do you fancy reading about other routes? See below for other available blog posts: