Cycling UK Launches new Cycle Route in Cornwall

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Cycling UK has announced the launch of a new long-distance cycling route in Cornwall. The route, called West Kernow Way is a 150-mile loop of west Cornwall starting in Penzance. Launched in September to avoid the summer rush, the route has reclaimed many lost ways. A mostly off-road route it takes in quiet roads, coast and over 4200m of climbing.

The press release reads:

West Kernow Way

On Friday 3 September, two days before professional road cycling’s superstars leave Penzance to begin the Tour of Britain, cyclists looking for a different way to experience Cornwall can do so on England’s newest route, the West Kernow Way.

Developed Cycling UK, the West Kernow Way (West Kernow is Cornish for West Cornwall) is a largely off-road 150-mile route starting in Penzance. Winding its way west through the Cornish landscape to become a figure of eight. Using quiet roads, bridleways, byways and lost ways. Taking in rugged coastlines and old miners’ tracks. It also passes the World Heritage Site of the Tin Coast. Passing the Botallack tin mines, the Bronze Age monument Mên-an-Tol, Land’s End, St Michael’s Mount and Lizard Point. It is estimated to take three to four days to complete.

West Kernow Way Cycling UK
Stefan Amato (Pannier) and Sam Jones (Cycling UK) inspect a sign about improvements to the Coast Path as part of the EU-funded experience project to develop sustainable year-round tourism activities in Cornwall.

Exploring Cornwall

The West Kernow Way is an adventure cycling route. The route takes you to the famous familiar sites along unfamiliar but fantastic trails. Travelling through lost lanes and forgotten ways, you get to experience Cornwall’s rugged beauty, its history and culture. And of course, of great importance to any cyclists: the hearty Cornish cuisine!

Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK’s campaigns officer.
Vedangi Kulkarni (freelance) and Katherine Moore (Unpaved podcast) concentrate on the gravel descent down to Cape Cornwall during a recce ride.

Developing the Route

The charity has worked for over a year developing and consulting on the route. This includes site surveying and recceing the route to bring about the right balance between adventure and challenge.

The route’s development was difficult. Cycling UK delved into the archives to unearth old maps and lost ways to take cyclists away from busy roads.

Some of the lost ways the West Kernow Way reclaims are along the Tinners Way on the Penwith Peninsula. This ancient 18-mile trail running from St Ives to Cape Cornwall has its origins in the Bronze Age. At one time it was an important highway used by horse and cart to transport ore during Cornwall’s mining boom in the 18th and 19th century.

West Kernow Way cycling UK
Sophie Gordon (Cycling UK), Stefan Amato (Pannier), Rob Penn (freelance journalist) and Sam Jones (Cycling UK) check the map during a recce ride of Cycling UK’s West Kernow Way.

Rights of Way

Despite its historic use and suitability for riding along, parts of it are not currently recorded as bridleways. For this and several other sections along the West Kernow Way, Cycling UK has submitted applications to Cornwall Council for Definitive Map Modification Orders to correct these anomalies. This is from a time when rights of way maps were originally drawn up. It’s also to ensure routes are protected for future use by the public.

Collating the necessary evidence to upgrade omissions made back in the fifties has required sifting through old journals and maps decades if not centuries old. It’s definitely been an interesting insight into Cornwall’s past. It also shows how difficult and complex it is to upgrade rights of way in England. It’s no wonder under-resourced councils across the UK are only correctly recording historic rights at a rate of less than one route a year. This is a clear justification for why the Government needs to simplify this process.

Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK’s campaigns officer.
Cycling UK West Kernow
A group of cyclists begin climbing towards the village of Mullion during a recce ride of Cycling UK’s West Kernow Way, June 2021.

EU Funding

In a bid to limit the risk of infection, the charity has deliberately waited until after the summer holidays to launch. In doing so, Cycling UK aims to encourage tourism when it is quieter as part of its role in the European Regional Development Fund, funded EXPERIENCE pilot project.

Cycling UK is one of 14 partners involved in the project. The goal, to deliver sustainable new off-season tourism experiences in six pilot regions in England and France. This includes Cornwall, Norfolk and Kent. Cycle tourism spending from cyclists in the UK generates £520m per year. There are 1.23 million overnight trips each year, benefiting small businesses in particular, and these contribute £433m to the economy.

West Kernow Way
Stefan Amato (Pannier) and Katherine Moore (Unpaved podcast) reach the end of the National Cycle Network at Land’s End during a recce ride of Cycling UK’s West Kernow Way.

New Routes

Cycling UK intends to launch new routes in Norfolk and Kent in 2022. The charity is already working with the hospitality and accommodation sectors in these three counties to provide businesses with free equipment and advice as part of its Cycle Friendly Places accreditation.

These new routes sit within Cycling UK’s wider goal to see the creation of a network of long-distance off-road routes across the UK. The three new trails will complement England’s 15 national trails. Two of which are cyclable from end to end: the Pennine Bridleway and the South Downs Way.

The West Kernow Way is the fourth long-distance cycling route Cycling UK has launched since its riders’ route for the North Downs Way was unveiled in 2018.

See the route map here.

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Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)
  • Cycling UK Launches new Cycle Route in Cornwall
  • Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Interesting that Cycling UK is taking over the development of these Long Distance routes now that Sustrans has basically dropped the ball.

    Premier Icon Murray
    Full Member

    Looks good

    Premier Icon Thepurist
    Full Member

    Interesting that Cycling UK is taking over the development of these Long Distance routes now that Sustrans has basically dropped the ball.

    …meanwhile what is British Cycling doing for ‘us’?

    Premier Icon stretch…
    Free Member

    Interesting that Cycling UK is taking over the development of these Long Distance routes now that Sustrans has basically dropped the ball.

    Anybody know what’s happening with Sustrans? I understood that they were trying to get away from their responsibilities for some of the old railway lines but I know that they are still fundraising as I was approached by one of their guys in York a couple of weeks ago

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Anybody know what’s happening with Sustrans?

    They have been recruiting in Scotland this last year.

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Sustrans are really only interested in urban transport replacement these days. They’ve been actively de-signing some of the traditional NCN routes if they’re not 100% traffic free, so what we’re left with is a patchwork of non-contiguous sections.

    The previous approach was to encourage use of low-traffic roads where necessary to join up dedicated cycle path provision on the basis that increased numbers of cyclists would persuade the authorities to build more cyclepath (we see this on the likes on NCN78 between Oban and Corran). A “new broom” swept that idea away.

    Premier Icon Andy
    Free Member

    Being local, this looks like a good route for locals and visitors to ride. Lots of it form parts of my local rides on the MTB or gravel bike. A few sections will need at least of month of dry weather in the spring before being rideable. Great to see the work gone into researching and using long lost roads/tracks too…that’s a big positive IMHO.

    Premier Icon Steve
    Full Member

    …meanwhile what is British Cycling doing for ‘us’?

    Producing a ridiculous number of Olympic and Paralympic riders, which gets media coverage that gets more people on bikes who then find that Cycling UK do all the hard graft for those of us who don’t race.

    (Slightly tongue in cheek)

    Premier Icon pz_steve
    Full Member

    Interesting. Like Andy, above, this is very local to me and I’m very familiar with (at least the western half of) this route. I’ve been following developments since I became aware of the project last winter.

    A lot of this is on small roads, but not quiet roads, which isn’t always a good mix. Be prepared to dodge touring coaches and distracted drivers, on roads which aren’t big enough in the tourist season.

    There are only a handful of miles on the western loop which are off road, and whilst they are excellent stretches, there are not may times of the year when the whole route is easily rideable. Late October to mid April there’ll be soul-destroying bog, and late may to mid September bits will pretty overgrown.

    I’m not sure what bike you’d choose if you wanted to do it in one multi-day trip. A fairly hardcore gravel bike, I guess, as there’s too much road for a MTB, but you might have to walk sections off road (I would, anyway).

    Having said that there are some gorgeous quiet lanes thrown in, too, so it’s a real mixed bag for me. I’m just glad they haven’t gone down the route of sanitising the off-road bits.

    I hope it’s successful. It would be good to get more people cycling in Cornwall. I’m definitely going to use it to explore the sections I don’t know so well.

    Premier Icon christian newsome
    Full Member

    Well the video makes it look great but the local knowledge puts me off. Was thinking I could do that with my kids as a multi day trip.

    Will keep an eye on it and see how it develops.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Yes, this image really sells it as a suitable family route… 🙄

    Premier Icon Ross Burton
    Full Member

    From a glance, the eastern side of it should be fairly weather-proof. I’ve not examined the route in enough detail to be sure, but all of the bits I’m familiar with are ridable all year.

    Premier Icon mark morgan
    Full Member

    Well that didn’t take long. Good mate of mine who lives down there just did the whole thing in a day. Something for you long-distance freaks to aim for 🙂

    https://www.strava.com/activities/5906178109

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Looks, err, great.

    Premier Icon Munro Biker
    Free Member

    Yeah, that does look shite. For your moaning above about Cycling UK taking over from Sustrans, having just done a chunk of the Great North Trail put together by Cycling UK I think they don’t put enough thought into the routes they create. There’s a lot of unsuitable trail (I spent an hour carrying my bike down a bog walking through a stream about 8 times) while Sustrans has done the opposite and removed all (or at least most of) the unsuitable sections from their routes. Which would seem a better thing to do than just chuck stuff together based on a map and have people riding up waterlogged paths of cuddling the nettles like in the photos above.

    Premier Icon Andy
    Free Member

    welshfarmer

    Full Member

    Well that didn’t take long. Good mate of mine who lives down there just did the whole thing in a day. Something for you long-distance freaks to aim for

    And promptly got told off on the official Facebook group by one of the route’s creators for encouraging ‘in a day’ racing and anti-social riding, even though he did no such thing and was just providing some helpful info for anyone interested in doing it.

    Premier Icon Murray
    Full Member

    I’ve had a quick look but can’t find anything about Sustrans pulling back from NCN. Is this something that’s happening under the radar or is it an announced change of policy?

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I’ve had a quick look but can’t find anything about Sustrans pulling back from NCN. Is this something that’s happening under the radar or is it an announced change of policy?

    https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/hundreds-of-miles-of-roads-removed-from-national-cycle-network-because-theyre-just-not-safe-enough-460180

    Sustrans spent a lot of time and effort lobbying councils for safe cycling routes and when the council finally capitulated and painted some random white lines, Sustrans would claim it as a great success on the rather flawed grounds that “anything was better than nothing”. Which it usually isn’t – shit cycle lanes aren’t used which prompts complaints from drivers about cyclists never using the lanes provided “at great expense”. Same with off road routes involving gravel tracks that turn into a quagmire for 4 months of the year.

    What Cycling UK are doing now, in the absence of anything tangible, is to string a bunch of existing BWs, tracks etc together and call it a “route”. Even though it’s not signposted and usually of distinctly variable quality. You cannot market that Kernow Way as suitable for families and then have a section of bogtrotting.

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    A nice article on it by my neighbour

    Please give him a slap from me for use of the word ‘steed’.

    Premier Icon mark morgan
    Full Member

    He can’t help it. He comes from the Isle of Man 🙂

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)

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