All Posts by

admin

Showing 3 Result(s)
Cycling

The Coast to Coast Trail is a great way to go from point A to point B.

 

We had a child-free day this week, so Stuart and I opted to ride our cyclocross bikes down the Coast to Coast Trail. We’d never done this trip before, and we’d never heard of it until Stu came across a booklet describing it. The majority of our cycling is done on the road.

Stu and I did a 100-kilometer bike trip with Donna in Cornwall a few years ago. Because Cornwall is so hilly, it took us much longer than we anticipated. We had to decide whether to start in Nancekuke or cycle the Coast to Coast route from Hayle. Because I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be, I proposed starting at Nancekuke, where we could do as many or as few laps as we wanted. I also knew that the road from Portreath to Hayle (through Tregea Hill) is extremely steep.

We were shocked by how crowded Elm Farm Cycles, Camp & Cafe in Nancekuke was when we arrived. A bike shop, a bike barn, and a cafe were all there, with riders loitering about.

A bike shop in a wood-clad barn structure. Outside, there is a giant pink flag.
What did we know about the Coast to Coast trek before we started it?
We stopped the car, got our bikes out, and took a quick rest before continuing. Before we left, we checked up the route online, but I had no idea what to anticipate.

Tamsyn standing with her bike in front of Restronguet Creek.

The Mineral Tramways Trails are a one-of-a-kind network of 37.5 miles of traffic-free trails that explore Cornwall’s historic mining sector. There are a variety of routes connecting the relics of the 19th century industrial infrastructure via the lovely Cornish countryside, centred on the Camborne and Redruth area. The trails, which are open to walking, cycling, and horseback riding, take in both coasts, the ruins of multiple engine houses, and some spectacular views along the route. In addition, the trails are rather level, allowing wheelchair users and buggies access to the countryside.

Cornwall Travel Guide
With 11 miles of trail, it’s unsurprising that this is the longest (17.5 km). It spans from Portreath on the North Coast to Devoran on the South Coast, passing through Cornwall’s mining heartland. While the Portreath tram road and the Redruth & Chacewater Railway are both utilised for pleasure now, they were also important transportation lines during the mining era. These routes were critical in getting the produce of the world’s richest copper mines to the ships that would transport it around the world.

Taking the wrong path
The mineral tramways track began on a cycling path, followed by a stretch of peaceful road before transitioning to a compacted gravel path. It was a gentle ride, but because I’m not used to riding my cyclocross bike, I opted to take it slowly. We had to go down a tiny hill and then back up the opposite hill at one point. There was a lot of loose gravel and huge pebbles, and it was pretty steep. I unclipped because I was afraid of falling and then dismounted since it felt quite unstable.

We took a narrow trail to the top of the hill. As it went smaller and narrower, I remarked that we could have gone in the wrong direction. After a few minutes, we came across a sign indicating that we had gone the wrong way and were now on a side trail.

Heather grows across a dusty trail. In the backdrop, a mine stack can be seen. In the foreground, Stuart is riding his bike.
By Poldice Mine, Stu is attempting to figure out where we should go.
It turned out that we had missed one of the granite markings at the bottom of the hill with the loose gravel (like the one in the image below).

Arsenic Refinery at Point Mills
The trail split a little further on. There was a comfortable downhill stretch and a little more difficult upward section. The downhill stretch appeared to be the better option, but we could see a family on bikes up ahead who had gone that way and were signalling their group members to turn around since they had gone the incorrect way. Their blunder protected us from making a blunder. “I wouldn’t fancy doing this on their motorcycles!” I joked as we overheard some of their conversations.

The Point Mills Arsenic Refinery was a short distance away. At this time, the trail was much smoother, and we were taking in the sight.

Panoramic view of the beach at Portreath. There is golden sand and many people have windbreaks up.

Near Bissoe, the Point Mills Arsenic Refinery’s chimney. It’s a tall brick structure.
On the Point Mills Arsenic Chimney, there is a sign. “Mineral Tramways,” it states. The only relics of the Point Mills Arsenic Refinery are these modest ruins. For a century, the British Arsenic Refinery, subsequently known as the Cornwall Arsenic Company, ran the worlds until World War II broke out. The arsenic purified was known across Europe and beyond for its great quality. Carrick DC completed reclamation work in February 1995.
I was taught about tin mining in Cornwall in school, and both of my siblings work in the industry, but I had no idea that arsenic was mined there. Arsenic was apparently a byproduct of the tin smelting process, but it also had a commercial value. These operations generated very high-quality arsenic, which was exported for use in cotton plantations as an insecticide to control the boll weevil.

The arsenic works are currently located near to Bissoe Valley Nature Reserve on the Bissoe / Devoran route. We noticed a lot of dragonflies and the scenery was really appealing.

Getting to Devoran
It didn’t take us long to get to Devoran. Before rolling our bikes to the point, we halted to take in the scenery.

Restronguet Creek has a tiny boat harbour.
At Restronguet Creek, a panoramic picture of a small boat harbour.

These are now boat shelters and gear shops, but they were formerly ore hutches when tin was shipped out by train from Devoran. Tide’s Reach, Cornwall

We snapped …

Motorcycles

Cycling the Camel Trail

We were hoping to go on some family bike trips (as well as cycling commuting to nursery/school) when we acquired Morgelyn’s bike and FollowMe tandem. The fact that the person from whom we purchased the bike and tandem had taken his children on the Camel Trail seemed to be a lucky coincidence.

Despite the fact that I’d never cycled the Camel Trail before, I’d heard it’s a fantastic route for novices because it’s wide and flat, with pleasant roads. It also had the benefit of being close to my aunt’s house. Another advantage is that bikes can be rented, so we knew my mother would be able to join us.

My mother owns a bike, but it isn’t very comfortable for her to ride, and she has been wanting to test an e-bike, so we thought this would be the perfect occasion. This summer, the Camel Trail’s hire bikes are in such high demand that we had to book over a week in advance. This turned out to be fortunate, as the weather improved dramatically during the second week of our vacation.

Padstow to Wadebridge

We drove up to Wadebridge at 9:15 a.m., ready to begin. While we parked our car, my mother proceeded to the bike rental shop. I went to Lidl to pick up some chewy snacks. M accompanied me and persuaded me to get cinnamon swirls.

The first section of the ride was quite straightforward. The path was tarmac that was wide and flat. There were a lot of inexperienced bikers on the path, since they were weaving all over it. Next year, M might be one of them. Several people were also out cycling with their dogs on long leashes. With bikes approaching us, passing them was really difficult.

The views from the bike trail were breathtaking. For the most part, we could see the Camel River. We came to a halt on a seat in Padstow, where M persuaded us that it was time for each of us to have half a cinnamon swirl. She also stated that her hands hurt and that she required my riding mitts, which I gladly provided.

The Camel River is full of small boats.

Returning to WadebridgeA sign giving information about cycle trails and other tourist attractions around Bodmin.

It was late morning when we returned to Wadebridge. We stopped at Behind the Bike Sheds for some dinner because M stated she was hungry.

M is a happy person. She’s wearing an over-sized pair of mitts and a riding helmet.
M and Mum ordered bacon rolls. M ate all of hers despite the fact that they were large. I had grilled smoked halloumi with roasted garlic aioli, pepperonata, gem lettuce, avocado, and cress, while Stu had a bike shed hotdog. It was just fantastic.

M is standing next to a wacky bike with two extra wheels on the front and back. The extra wheels do not make contact with the ground.
Outside Behind the Bike Sheds, M poses with the bike sculpture.
Bodmin to Wadebridge

We planned to travel east to Bodmin after lunch. This section of the trail differed significantly from the western portion. It was a lot more shady. The path runs beside the Bodmin Wenford railway for the majority of its length. M enjoyed keeping an eye out for the stations. Near Boscarne Junction, there is also a popular cafe called the Camel Trail Tea Garden. Despite the fact that the track had been relatively calm, there were hundreds of bicycles outside of it.

We stopped for a drink once we arrived in Bodmin. Stu examined my bicycle, which appeared to have a gradual puncture.

Four bicycles are parked against a swing structure with no swings. Stuart is repairing a punctured tyre.
I looked over the information signs before taking M to the nearby tiny playground.

A sign directing visitors to cycle routes and other tourism attractions in the Bodmin area.
The Bodmin sign with the steam train on it was very appealing to M. She’s pretending to be a train in the shot!

‘Welcome to Historic Bodmin,’ with a picture of a steam locomotive, is painted on a fence. M is standing near the fence, making a train-like gesture.

Returning to Wadebridge

A cup of coffee with a picture of a bike on it. There is a homemade amaretti biscotti balanced on the lid.

It was all downhill on the way back to Wadebridge. It was wonderful and comfortable. M reported her small legs were really fatigued, so she stopped pedalling for the last couple of miles. She’d ridden for 22 miles by that moment, so I thought she’d done exceptionally well.

We went back to Behind the Bike Sheds for beverages and M’s ice cream.

A cup of coffee with a bike illustration on it. On top of the lid sits a handcrafted amaretti biscotti.

Would I return to the Camel Trail?

This was a fantastic day out. The Camel Trail is a lovely, flat path with only minor inclines. If I were to take the journey again, I suppose I’d go into Padstow for a look around. I’d be tempted to visit some of the other cafés as well. We have relatives who reside just a few miles from the Camel Route Tea Garden, so I believe we would cycle from their house to the trail, stopping for lunch in Padstow before returning.

This trail is a lot less difficult than the Coast to Coast trail. M should be able to ride solo next summer if she has improved her steering and braking skills (without the FollowMe tandem).

We were hoping to go on some family bike trips (as well as cycling commuting to nursery/school) when we acquired Morgelyn’s bike and FollowMe tandem. The fact that the person from whom we purchased the bike and tandem had taken his children on the Camel Trail seemed to be a lucky coincidence.

Despite the fact that I’d never cycled the Camel Trail before, I’d heard it’s a fantastic route for novices because it’s wide and flat, with pleasant roads. It also had the benefit of being close to my aunt’s house. Another advantage is that bikes can be rented, …

Running

It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a 5km buggy run.

 

In more ways than one, this week has been up and down. My cycle commute is clearly ‘up-and-down,’ work feels unrelenting because it’s the start of the academic year, and my running is still in decline. I was happy, though, to accomplish my first 5-kilometer buggy run in over a year.

I’m still not back at work full-time, but I expect to be there at least two days a week very soon. It will be refreshing to have a change of environment and the opportunity to speak with more people in person. Right now, it feels like I’m spending my entire day in online meetings. I enjoy my career, but I miss the chance encounters that occur on a bustling campus.

This week, I was honoured to be named one of Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Running Blogs. This was such a lovely surprise after I had lost my blogging mojo for a few months.

The cycle ride to and from school
I ride my bike to school with M most days. Although there are a handful of short steep uphills where I need M’s pedal force, it’s mostly an easy ride because the vast bulk of the 2.5 miles is downhill. Although one stretch of the trip is on a busy narrow road, the remainder of it is on a shared cycling path/pavement. This gives me more confidence in cycling with a four-year-old.

However, once I’ve dropped M off, I need to get back on the road as soon as possible. My Giant City Escape W is one of my favourite bikes, although it’s about ten years old and not the lightest. The FollowMe tandem and M’s 20-inch bike have also been added, making the back end of my bike a little cumbersome. Embarrassingly, my Garmin often informs me that by the time I get home, I’ll require 19 hours of rest!

I ran my first 5-kilometer buggy run in nearly a year today. I did the majority of The Old Showfield parkrun with M in her running buggy, but Stu picked her up after 2.5 loops because he’d already completed.

We arrived much ahead of schedule. I consented to push M in the buggy because she didn’t want to run. We agreed, however, that she may walk to the start and then return to the car. On the way, we came upon an interesting fungus on a tree that resembled a face.

On a tree, a big orange fungal growth.

A large orange fungal growth on a tree.

Today’s weather forecast was dreadful. M insisted that I put her rain cover on after we’d visited with some friends. Jill and Caro joined me on the first climb. Caro was wonderful for taking the buggy while I removed my running jacket because it was considerably hotter than I’d anticipated!

Because I’m so out of shape these days, I took a couple of walking breaks each time I went up the hill. It was great to be back in Southampton and see so many familiar faces.

What was my score?

I was pleasantly thrilled to discover that I was 3 seconds faster than in The Old Showfield parkrun today! It takes a lot of effort to push 30 kilogrammes!

Tamsyn’s outcome email from parkrun #409 in Southampton. In 35:26, I completed the race.
Tamsyn after her run, up close.
At Southampton parkrun, I’m six runs away from completing my ‘double tonne.’ I’m also eight parkruns away from completing my 350th. I had the third-highest number of runs among females (although 10th overall).

Have you done a parkrun today? Were you at home or on the road? In the near future, I’m planning to do some more parkrun tourism, so stay tuned!

 …