How to escape the crowds in Cornwall? On a bike


Rob Penn

The 200km West Kernow Way is a new bikepacking route round the county’s famous peninsulas, offering varied terrain and quiet beauty even this busy summer

I had never hoisted my leg over an e-bike for a multiday tour before, but when someone offered to lend me one – an elegant lightweight gravel bike with an internal battery – to ride a new bikepacking route in deepest Cornwall, I didn’t hesitate. Many will relish riding the 200km West Kernow Way, which loops round the Penwith and Lizard peninsulas, with muscle power alone, but for me, now in my fifth decade of cycling, the electric assistance rendered pleasures that far outweighed the ragging from my children when I got home.

It is difficult to think of another part of Britain that packs such a variety of landscapes into such a small area. On the Penwith peninsula, we cycled past granite cliffs, the great beach at Whitesand Bay, high barren moors, rolling dairy farmland and steep-sided, narrow valleys lush with ferns. On the Lizard peninsula, there were thickly wooded creeks, plant-rich downlands and picturesque coves from the pages of a Daphne du Maurier novel. The penultimate section of the route, which starts and finishes in Penzance, follows abandoned mining tramways: formerly used to transport ore from the industrial spine of Cornwall around Redruth and Camborne to the coast, they have been repurposed as excellent gravel cycle paths.

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