The Camel Trail – Family Bike Ride
The Camel Trail in North Cornwall is an 18 mile cycle track that is a perfect place for a family bike ride. The trail is formed from a disused railway making it smooth, and mostly level and flat, ideal for cycling with little ones. During our Easter holidays to Coombe Mill Farm, we were lucky to be only a short drive away from The Camel Trail. Mr Mack had signed up to the Birmingham Velo, a 100 mile bike challenge, so we thought it would be a good idea to help him get some training in during our holiday. We’d also eaten quite a few Easter eggs on holiday so the opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air in was welcomed.
Although the trail which is 18 miles in total, it is split into three sections. As well as being great for cyclists, The Camel Trail is also suitable for walkers, horse rides and even wheelchair users.
- Padstow to Wadebridge – 5.5 Miles (8.8Km) This is the part of the trail that we completed.
- Wadebridge to Bodmin (Boscarne) – 5.75 Miles (9.25Km)
- Bodmin to Wenfordbridge – 6.25 Miles (10.1 Km)
Initially we thought that Baby Mack would be too smile for us to ride as a family. We initially looked at bike rental from The Snails Pace Café. The lady who worked there was really helpful and let us sit him in one of the baby seats that are attached to the back of a bike. We all agreed that he was a bit too small for the seat and he wouldn’t get the correct head support. She kindly redirected us to Bridge Bike Hire in Wadebridge, who had a trailer that we could clip his normal car seat into, which seemed the perfect solution for us.
On the day of our ride we drove to Wadebridge, which was around 15 minutes drive from Coombe Mill Farm. Wadebridge is a very popular point to join The Camel Trail as it starts the 5mile section into Padstow, making it a top pick for families. There are plenty of bike hire options in Wadebridge however, Bridge Bike Hire is the nearest to the start of the trail meaning you can start as soon as you leave the shop. We hadn’t pre-booked the bikes, although this is advisable during busy periods.
Mini has been practising her bike riding with Mr Mack at home. We are heading to Holland in the Summer and would to take advantage of the flat landscape for family bike rides when we are there. As she has only been used to riding very short distances so far on her own, we decided to get her a bike that clips onto the adult bike for this trip. We were hoping that this would give her the chance to ride a greater distance and get used to peddling, rather than worrying so much about the balance and steering.
Cycling from Wadebridge to Padstow
With Baby Mack secured in place we set off. I must admit he looked so cosy in his chair and it wasn’t long before he had fallen asleep during the ride. Apart from short rides around Center Parcs, it had been quite some time since I’d done any real bike riding. I found the bike easy to get used to, although I had underestimated how heavy Baby Mack and the trailer were. On the way to Padstow I cycled with the trailer and Mr Mack rode with mini attached to his bike. On the way back we swapped over and he agreed the weight of the trailer did make quite a difference. However it was worth it to enjoy the ride together as a family. Having children with a 6 year age gap can sometimes make it tricky for us to do activities all together. I’m really pleased we managed to find a solution for us all to ride together.
The weather at the start of our ride was quite dull and it had even been raining on our drive to Wadebridge. However, our sun dance must have worked because as we rode the skies became brighter. By the time we arrived in Padstow there was a beautiful blue sky.
The views cycling along The Camel Trail were stunning. We passed through beautiful countryside and kept getting sneaky glimpses of the River Camel. As we got further into our ride we saw our destination of Padstow before us, which spurted us on to get there. Our ride into Padstow took us around an hour, with one stop along the way. When we arrived we locked the bikes up at the cycle park, and made our way into the town, which was around a 10 minute walk. Our bike hire had included helmets, bike locks and puncture repair kits.
Arriving into Padstow
We had taken the sling for Baby Mack, who had woken up by the time we arrived into Padstow. We’d worked up quite an appetite so decided to go in search of some lunch and some treats for energy for the return journey. We opted for a take out portion of chips from Rick Stein’s to share, which were delicious. Next we walked around the harbour in search of Cornish pasties. Padstow Harbour is a beautiful setting, with cobbled streets winding off from the main square full of shops, cafes and galleries. We decided to head to the Chough Bakery for pasties, Mini had a sausage roll. We also picked up a cream tea to take away for later that we popped in the bike trailer for the return journey.
We sat on a bench in Padstow Harbour eating lunch in the sunshine, soaking in the atmosphere. However we did have to keep an eye on the hungry seagulls checking out our lunch. We didn’t have much time to explore the town and shops, which I’d like to do on our next visit. The ice cream was calling to us so we decided to indulge in one before walking back to pick up our bikes. I was impressed at the facilities available in Padstow, there was a lovely clean baby changing facility in the main car park that we used before our ride back.
Cycling back to Wadebridge
With full bellies and rested legs we set back off on the bikes. We’d swapped over with the children and I was secretly grateful to have Mini with me, she was a great help up the inclines with peddling. We had set ourselves a challenge of cycling back in a quicker time than we’d arrived. I think the journey back was slightly downhill which helped, or maybe it was the gentle competition that had begun between the girls and boys team! Along our journey we stopped as Mini had spotted a shipwreck down on the beach. She and Mr Mack went off to explore whilst I fed Baby Mack, taking in the beautiful surroundings.
We managed our return journey in around 50 minutes, including the stop. As we cycled towards the end of the trail, I got a massive sense of achievement. Personally, I was proud that I’d managed to cycle the 10 miles, something I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to do. I was also incredibly proud that we’d achieved it as a family and had lots of fun along the way. I’ve always been quite passionate about championing the fact that having children doesn’t have the be the end to exploring and adventures. I’m really pleased that we managed to find a way for all four of us to cycle together.
Mini was really enthused at our ride and is more determined than ever to be able to cycle on her own by the time our summer holiday arrives. She was desperate for us to turn around and to the trail again, however Mr Mack and I were definitely ready for a rest.
I would highly recommend a trip along The Camel Trail for any level of cyclists, those with experience and beginners too. We had a great family adventure and I’m looking forward to researching more family friendly cycling trails for our next ride.