A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘Railway’

Lovely Cornwall

Posted by Alan on May 10, 2011

For the Easter bank holiday weekend I upped sticks with the masses and headed west, to Cornwall. I knew the train would be busy on Friday but I wasn’t quite expecting how busy!

Busy train!

Inside the 10.06 to Penzance

Having bagged the last unreserved bike space on the train (5 of 6 were pre-reserved – by the time I got off there were far more than 6 bikes in the compartment…) there was no way I was getting off until Bodmin. So standing it was for the 275 or so miles to Bodmin Parkway. I actually didn’t mind standing too much –  with my earphones on, some fizzy drink, fresh air from the opening windows and something to read it was bearable. Changing to a steam train here meant I could grab a cup of tea and a break for a few minutes rather than going straight into tackling the Cornish hills. From Bodmin town I could pickup the Camel Trail, one of the major Sustrans routes stretching the 20 miles down the Camel valley to Wadebridge and Padstow – a former railway, so well engineered with nice easy gradients. For the final section of journey from Wadebridge to Polzeath on the north coast I took to the road. This was harder than I imagined, with 4 fairly major climbs (for a city dweller anyway) as well as a very steep decent into Polzeath itself with the road covered in sand from the beach. (Shortly after I learned the art of configuring v-brakes). Here I spotted an unusual use of an underground roundel.

On Saturday there was more cycling, as with my extended family who I was visiting we took to the Camel Trail – this time a section I hadn’t used the day before from Wadebridge to Padstow, from where I saw the crazy idea that is paddle surfing…

Paddle surfer!

Paddle surfer! - there were loads of them!

At the end of the trail is Rick Stein’s fish & chip shop, which was pretty fabulous.

Haddock & Chips

Haddock & Chips at Rick Stein's

Following a walk round the harbour and amble around the lovely surroundings of Padstow (well worth a look), it was time to hit the trail and head home. Later that night I wandered round the coast – Cornwall is so lovely, I am very gutted I couldn’t fit my D-SLR in the panniers! The Kodak tried it’s best to capture it’s loveliness…

A lovely day for speed boating!

A lovely day for speed boating! - Daymler bay

Padstow / Daymler bay is the Camel estuary and used by many speedboats. Too soon, Sunday came and it was time to head home. With a train reserved at half 2 from Bodmin (no way I was standing all the way home too!) I set of reasonably early so as not to rush too much. Instead of taking the mental road route back to Wadebridge, I opted for the gentle road down to Rock (home of Sharp’s brewery and many many posh people) to take the ferry to Padstow.

It's a lovely day for boating

It's a lovely day for bike-boating

This is great facility available for cyclists to use as the Camel Trail starts just on the other side of Padstow. Just £3 for a single trip across the river. It’s a tidal estuary, but on a lovely day it isn’t at all choppy.

A lovely day for boating

A lovely day for boating (yes enough boating already)

With plenty of other traffic to avoid, the ferry nips across the water as quickly as possible.  All too soon, I was back on dry land on the quay at Padstow and almost ready to pick up the trail again. This meant easy cycling for the 12 or so miles back to Bodmin town which was really appreciated. Particularly with full panniers weighing me down somewhat… From Bodmin town to the Parkway station was more challenging. A proper new Sustrans route, this meant sudden turns, hairpin bends and a general feeling of “am I going the right way?” The early (ish) start meant I had missed the trail traffic and landed myself in the Parkway café for a pasty and brew. The UK must be the only country in the world to use a teacup/saucer to indicate a buffet!

Cornish Pasty!

Cornish Pasty!

Sadly I did not get a cream tea before I left Cornwall. Woe is me. An excellent adventure for me and particularly one where I felt I had to use the bike – I was visiting relatives who were also on holiday. North Cornwall isn’t famous for it’s public transport and whilst I did see a few dinky buses plying the slopes of the coastal towns and villages, I can’t imagine they would be much quicker or convenient. After all, my bike is powered by pasties…

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Crap cycling in East Lancashire

Posted by Alan on May 3, 2011

Having tackled the climb and descent into the Calder Valley, in the nicer weather of Thursday I went over another hill into the Irwell Valley. I started by using part of Sustrans (regional) route 92, though Kingsway Business Park, complete with anti-cycling gates.

Anti-cycling gate

Anti-cycling gate at Kingsway Business Park

Not long and I was onto Route 66 again, this time following the Rochdale Canal to skirt around the edges of town before picking up the A680 main road towards Blackburn and tackling the climb to Owd Betts/Ashworth Moor. It’s a longer and shallower climb so I managed it without pushing (unlike Blackstone Edge) though I did have to stop a couple of times, not least because my chain has developed an annoying habit of jumping off when I gear down…

The Windmills of Ashworth Moor

The Windmills of Ashworth Moor

From up here it was down into the Irwell Valley into Rawtenstall where I stopped for a cup of tea before climbing the valley to Bacup and dropping back towards Rochdale. Just north of Whitworth I picked up route 92 again, but only stuck with it for about 1 mile before returning to the road. Too circuitous and far too many obstructions – I think there were 6 kissing gates in 1 mile! For me this is a footpath, not a cycle path – I certainly didn’t get on wheels to stop every few minutes to lift my bike over an obstacle!

The Whitworth cycle track - route 92

The Whitworth cycle track - route 92 at Shore

After another cup of tea and some advice, I went back to route 92. Thankfully on the other side of Whitworth the trail does improve following more closely the ex-railway line over the stunning Healey Dell viaduct and the much less stunning, glass lined, Syke Tunnel. The signs then disappeared for a while whilst I weaved my way through the one-way streets of Hamer back towards the business park.

Access Denied

Access Denied - route 92 is closed

Here I found my earlier route had been a connecting route, with the main route 92 actually blocked through the business park. Shame as from either end it looked like a reasonable (if a little windy) off road route.

Closed

Closed

Notching up a little over 30 miles in one day, including a reasonable hill I’m getting much closer to being confident enough to cycle the c2c in 4 days.  Next challenges are to push the distance out to 40 miles in a day and to start to cycle every day. This will be hard!

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