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Discover the well-kept secrets that are Cornwall’s beautiful off-road cycle trails…
Cornwall may be beautiful, but with the hills, rugged cliffs, and narrow winding roads, it’s not necessarily seen as an ideal county for cycling. In recent years, however, more and more cyclists have been discovering the well-kept network of off-road trails, where pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders can enjoy our countryside away from the dangers of traffic. An increasingly large network of trails which are ideal for anyone who wants to venture out on a bicycle in safety are being created around the county.
Here is our guide to some of the most popular cycle trails to enjoy while you are in Cornwall.
For keen mountain bikers
The Bodmin Beast cycle trail
This 12km cycle trail explores the slopes of the Cardinham Valley and as the name suggests, it calls for more than a little skill and courage. Setting the benchmark for singletrack trails in Cornwall the Bodmin Beast has keen mountain bikers and experienced off-roaders in its sights and those up to the challenge will face exhilarating climbs and descents, exciting technical tests and exposed snaking trails. But fear not, Cardinham Woods also offers plenty of less strenuous trails and there’s always the tempting Woods Café.
For nature lovers
A short circular ride or walk around the delightful Seaton Valley Countryside Park on the Cornish Coast at Seaton, near Looe. The route begins at the parking facilities and takes you on a tour of the park which includes a riverside stretch along the River Seaton, and a coastal stroll by Seaton beach. There is also a sensory garden and a nature reserve with otters, kingfishers, dormice and butterflies.
This fantastic new bike trail offers a variety of trails for all abilities. The most gentle ride takes you deep into little explored woodland on the estate. Suitable for families and beginners the trail is wide, well surfaced and has no challenging technical features. This trail is also suitable for trailers, tagalongs and disability bikes. If the kids have any energy left after their bike ride they can blow off even more steam in the new adventure playground which is located near the Park Café and the car park.
Families flock to the Camel Trail for its easy going, off-road credentials. Following a former railway line it means there are no inclines – the whole 18 miles is just lovely and flat, perfect for those that have recently mastered two wheels or for grown-ups carrying precious loads. And the best bit about this route is that it stretches from Wenfordbridge near Bodmin, to the foodie heaven of Padstow, so great for refuelling the family.
The Tamar Trails Centre is the starting point for exploring 25km of trails through the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. Explore the remains of old mines or jump off your bike and try your hand at one of the trail activities. Swap two wheels for a paddle and see the Tamar Valley from the water with a canoe session or channel your inner monkey by swinging from the tree tops with ‘Tree Surfers’.
Don’t want to bring your bikes with you? Hire them from here: http://www.cornishcyclehire.co.uk/ where they can be delivered directly to your front door at Longhedge.
Minions is a beautiful village, a stone’s throw from the tourist hotspots of the cornish coast. It has a village shop and a pub right opposite. The moor is immediately behind the house, as is the famous “Hurlers” standing stone circles, the Cheesewring rock formation and numerous mine buildings and historical sites. Further afield, the Stannery town of Liskeard is a short drive or cycle ride (downhill, obviously), the famous Trago Mills provides many more shopping opportunities.
The house is well placed for access to the Eden project (35 mins), the seaside towns of Fowey and Looe (20 mins) and many other local places of interest. The National Trust properties of Lanhydrock, Cothele and Anthony House are close by and the North Cornish coast is less than an hour away, where you will find places such as Padstow, Rock and Tintagel.
The Minions moorland, particularly its mining heritage, is a major film location and can be seen in series such as Poldark, Doc Martin and Jamaca Inn as well as Tim Burton’s latest film “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”.
Here is a taster of just a few of the arractions that can be easily accessed from Longhedge:
THE CHEESEWRING – Natural Stone Formation
Is a short walk (approx. 1½ km the north) across the moor. On a clear day its distinct shape can be seen from most parts of the Minions moor – standing on the edge of the Cheesewring Quarry. Its shape has been the subject of many debates; the result of weather erosion on the granite strata of the moor over many years. From the Cheesewring the views across the Cornish countryside and into Devon are nothing less than stunning on a clear day.
THE HURLERS STONE CIRCLES – a unique Bronze Age Monument (c.1500 BC)
Consisting of a set of 3 standing stone circles, the Hurlers are located on the west side of the village, a short distance away from the car park. Local legend has it that some of the local men were playing a Cornish game known as hurling on the Sabbath and were turned into stone as punishment. The Hurlers attract visitors from all over the world who come to “Dowse” the stone circles and feel the energy that is said to come from them.
DANIEL GUMB’S CAVE
One of the great oddities of Bodmin Moor is the cave on the southern slope of Stowe’s Hill, known as Daniel Gumb’s Cave. The remains of his home seen today are only a small part, it was originally sited on the south facing slope of Stowes Hill, what is now Cheesewring Quarry. The large slab roof was originaly 30ft by 10 ft. Sitting on the roof of his house Gumb studied the stars by night and solved mathematical problems by day. The carving of Euclids theorum on the roof can also be found on other slabs of granite east of the old railway line into the quarry.
SIBLYBACK LAKE COUNTRY PARK
Siblyback Lake offers a wide range of activities both on and off the water. There is plenty to do at this scenic lake including miles of walks, cycle trails, children’s play area, high ropes course and a cafe overlooking the water.
The Outdoor and Active Centre offers a variety of watersports including sailing, windsurfing and canoeing.
You can hire a craft, launch your own, take part in taster sessions or gain RYA qualifications. The possibilities are endless!
STERTS OPEN AIR AMPHITHEATRE
Sterts is a registered charity and thanks to the untiring efforts of a band of volunteers offers a wide range of theatre and arts each year in Upton Cross, between Liskeard and Launceston. The unique covered amphitheatre is an outdoor experience so do wear your layers, bring a cushion for the wooden seats and perhaps a blanket. With free parking and tickets prices around £12 for an adult, it makes for an enjoyable and affordable experience.
Explore three underground caves surrounded by 6.5 acres of lovely, wooded hillside. Make your way down a steep flight of steps on a self-guided tour and marvel at your surroundings – the inner caverns have cathedral like proportions and are just as beautiful, especially when you reach the famous underground lake with its crystal blue water.
The journey will teach you all about this former slate mine where the workers’ skills were essential to survival this far below ground. After making like a mole beneath the earth, follow the Woodland Walk or wander through the Terrace Garden and up to the Enchanted Dell – where faeries have supposedly been spotted!
Adrenalin Quarry offers a really exciting way to have some fun with the kids, with a thrilling zip wire, a (slightly scary) giant swing, and quarry coasteering on offer!
The Zip gives you the chance to jump off a 50m (164ft) cliff at 40mph, on a 490m (over 1607ft), zip wire that crosses the depths of an old quarry with sheer cliffs on either side! There’s no age limit, anyone between 25kg (3st 13lbs) and 115kg (18st 1lb) can jump, and you can even go in pairs if you are a bit nervous. The youngest jumper so far was only 19 months old and the oldest was 94!
Another exhilarating (and maybe a bit scary!) ride is the Giant Swing, which has a swing height of over 18m (60ft)! Be warned however, when the swing takes you over the cliff, you will be up to 51m (170ft) over water! Anyone aged between 5 and 96 (if they are brave enough!) can have a go, and the swing can take 3 people at a time (maximum weight or 360kg or 56st 9lbs).
For kids aged 10 and older (and adults of course), coasteering is also available…but with a difference, it includes the Blob! One person sits on the end of a 12x3m (approx. 39x9ft) inflatable tube, while the other climbs up a floating tower and then jumps on the tube, causing the person sitting on the tube to fly up into the air in happy fashion! And then you swap! You will need to be in general good health and be able to comfortably swim 100m (approx 328ft).
DAPHNE DU MAURIERS SMUGGLERS MUSEUM
Probably the finest collection of smuggling artefacts in the country, featuring ‘The History Of Jamaica Inn’ an educational and historical theatre show that recounts many of the myths and legends associated with Jamaica Inn and Cornwall including tales of wreckers and smugglers over the past 300 years.
Enter into the evil yet romantic era of smuggling in Cornwall and see what is probably the finest collection of smuggling artefacts in the country. Smuggling evolved when customs dues were first introduced in the thirteenth century but there was no form of law and order until the fifteenth century and even then it was negligible. Goods such as silks, tea, tobacco and brandy were more frequently smuggled into Cornwall than anywhere else in England.
The museum is a wonderful way to spend a day, delving into the past and immersing yourself in the fantastic atmosphere.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Liskeard – 15 minutes
A good selection of independent shops and a couple of larger chain stores. Also has a leasure centre with a swimming pool and flume.
Launceston – 20 minutes
A good selection of shops mainly independent traders.
Plymouth – 45 minutes
Large city centre with shops galore, Cinema, Theatre, Ice Skating, Aquarium, Coach and Railway Station.
Tavistock – 40 minutes
An ancient Stannary town. There are many independent shops. The Pannier Market is open every day except Sunday and Monday, the main market days are Tuesday and Friday. Follow the signs to Meadowlands car park. A short flat walk along the river leads to the town.
Looe – 30 minutes
Seaside town with good selection of shops, amusements and eateries.
Polperro – 40 minutes
Famous Cornish village with cobbled streets and old fishing harbour.
Charlestown – 40 minutes
Fishing harbour used for filming many TV shows and films including, Poldark and Dr.Who.
Padstow – 60 minutes
Fishing village well known for its seafood restaurant run by TV chef Rick Stein.
Bodmin – 30 minutes
Historic market town. A family attraction is the Jail which has the only working execution pit in the UK.
Fowey – 40 minutes
Picturesque town at the mouth of the River Fowey. Well worth a visit.
Mevagissey – 55 minutes
Famous fishing port on the south Cornwall coast. Port Issac – 55 minutes Picturesque coastal village with cliff top walks. Filming location of Doc Martin.
Boscastle – 50 minutes
Village on the North Cornwall coast with inland harbour, much of which is owned by the National Trust.
Truro – 60 minutes
Cathedral city with a wide selection of shops and attractions.
Trago Mills Liskeard – 20 minutes
Huge discount shopping centre that sells almost everything. Onsite cafes and riverside walks..
Cornish Market World, St Austell – 35 minutes
Largest indoor market in the South West.
Many of the best beaches in the country are within easy reach of Longhedge. Check out www.cornwall-beaches.co.uk for details of all Cornwall’s beaches. Listed below is a selection:
Portwrinkle – 30 minutes
Whitsand – 30 minutes
Seaton – 30 minutes
Looe – 30 minutes
Talland – 30 minutes
Crackington Haven – 50 minutes
Bude – 60 minutes
Widemouth Bay – 50 minutes
Hawkers Cove – 60 minutes
Mawgan Porth – 50 minutes
The moorland behind Longhedge is said to be one of the richest and best preserved prehistoric landscapes in the country.
STOWES HILL and POUND
Stowe’s Hill is 1,250ft high (381 metres) and located on the eastern side of Bodmin Moor near Minions.
This granite ridge is dominated by the pre-Iron Age and possibly Neolithic Hilltop Enclosure of Stowe’s Pound.
Two huge and impressive enclosures encircle the summit of Stowe’s Hill, the smaller enclosure is situated around the upper summit to the south and the larger to the north, surrounding the lower summit.
The southern, upper tor enclosure is surrounded with a ruinous flat-topped wall which rises to a height of 4.5 metres in places, the wall is said to be the oldest in Britain. The enclosure contains a number of flat, turf covered areas but little sign of occupation. The wall itself links together a number of tor rock formations that surround the edges of the summit, including the famous Cheesewring. The southern edge of the enclosure has been destroyed by quarrying.
The lower larger enclosure has smaller ramparts, which rise up to around 1.5 metres in parts. The ramparts may have up to 14 entrances. There are around 110 identified hut circles within this lower area, as well as 19 platforms cut into the ground, these cluster around the two entranceways and the southern parts of the enclosure. There are also two flat topped cairns with stone kerbs, one of these it is claimed incorporated a cist which contained a Trevisker pottery urn with 100 flint spearheads, arrowheads and a dagger.
At 150 years old Longhedge was originally a mine worker’s cottage situated on the west of the tramway to South Phoenix mine. Today the mine workers and the tramway have gone, but the location remains the same: backing onto moorland, in the centre of Minions, a haven for walkers and the perfect place for a relaxing break enjoying the beauty and seclusion of the moor or as a base for exploring the wonderful county of Cornwall.
Longhedge was built at some point between 1863 and 1881 when almost the entire village was constructed as a result of the increase in activity at Phoenix United Mine and the increase in employment at Cheesewring Quarry. All the cottages of the time had substantial plots of land adjacent suggesting the inhabitants were growing their own food and keeping animals. There is some thought that Longhedge was originally a shop and a cottage, hence the large windows and central door in the sitting room.
The cottage came into the Barber family in 1940 and has remained largely unchanged other than the instillation of interior plumbing and electricity and a small extension on the back. The current owners (Sue and Mary) grew up here and have many happy memories of family time spent in the property and surrounding area. Both sisters moved away as young adults to follow careers in nursing and music but it was Sue who decided to return when it was time to raise her own family and now lives next door.
We are delighted to be able to share the charm of Longhedge with all our guests.
We hope you thoroughly enjoy your stay at Longhedge and make the most of the cottage and garden in addition to all Cornwall has to offer.