We were staying in Cornwall near Truro and we found a local bike hire place in Bissoe which just happened to be only down the road. It is not often we do trips as a family but holiday time is always different! I’ve heard of the various routes and tracks that cross Cornwall following a lot of the time old mine railways.
Bissoe is placed on the Coast to Coast route which follows the old horse led tram route which serviced copper mines in the area, built in 1812. Mines of course have since long gone but the mainly off road path will get you from the south coast of Cornwall up to the north coast, it’s not too many miles either.
We visited the bike centre the day before in order to pay and sort out times which meant the next day all we had to do was arrive. The centre hosts a large carpark (and horse park, the route seems popular with horse riders too, the bike centre being a good place to stop off). As part of this the centre included a cafe and a small shop, looking at their website they seem to do servicing and repairs too. A good place for bike clubs to meet and I’m sure many do.
For us we had opted for mountain bikes as we intended to be mostly off road. I forget the make and model of mine but it must had been one of the lightest bikes I have ridden, I wondered how it kept so strong and yet so light at the same time. Off we went with our shop supplied map and a rucksack full of essentials such as pump, spare tubes and such like. Fortunately we did not have to use any of that.
The ride was bumpy with gravel but the scenery was good. The path was well signposted and also included information boards along the way with photos and information telling you the story of Cornwall’s copper mines. Evidence of mines was immediate with capped holes in the ground, piles of soil now very much the landscape, and crumbling walls of long lost mine buildings. It was hard to believe that standing in the same place hundreds of years ago and you would be in the middle of an industrial landscape.
The route was mainly off road but did include one or two short sections of busy road. After a stop for pasties (there just happened to be a pasty factory on the route) we started to head back along a slightly different route. This time leaving the stone tracks for woodland trail taking us up and down some pretty large hills. Mine activity did not leave us however, with warning signs and mineshafts seemingly all over the place, we even came across an old pumping station which had long lost its machinery. We tested one mineshaft by dropping a large stone down and listening for it to reach the bottom, but it never came… the warning signs were certainly telling the truth.
We got back to the cafe after a full day’s cycling, slow but fulfilling and children loving it all. “I wish we had something like this at home”, I was told… I did remind them that we lived on the edge of the South Downs Way….
Number of miles: 11.2
Number of mineshafts: millions
Number of children falling of bike: 1
Number of happy children after cake at the end: 2