It’s been a few years since I have donned the lycra (well polyester), oiled a chain and pumped some tyres, but since the doctor categorically banned me from running last month, I’ve had to find alternatives to stay fit. And cycling in Cornwall is a no-brainer.
Well, that is until you realise the only way out of your town is a steep uphill for two miles and that Cornish drivers don’t necessarily acknowledge the existence of anything smaller than a combine harvester. But with a bit of day-glo and a helmet, I was ready to take on the cycling heathens and besides, I was headed to the new cycling mecca: Lanhydrock - where there would be no cars, only trees, the rumour of cake and other lycra-clad illuminous beings.
Lanhydrock Cycle Hub is a £3 million development of cycling trails that opened March 2014. It initially aroused environmental concern on the basis of ruining the ‘peace of the estate’ but in the grand scheme of things, a National Trust development avec cafe is no biggie, in fact, the quality of the building work is, as to be expected from The Trust, discerning and subtle.
Cycling in from Lostwithiel on the B3268 wasn’t ideal but less terrifying than I had imagined, just be wary of speeding locals, more habituated to tearing up fields in a 4x4. Once at the site, you are greeted by ample car parking, behind which are 10km of trails, a skills area, the new Park Cafe, cycle hire and an excellent children’s play area.
With a bit of advice, I headed out to a moderate track first of all: the blue (moderate) Bazley’s Trail which is 3km (2 miles) and expected to take 15 to 30 minutes. After an initial hairy drop onto the track itself, it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride that challenged with optional sections of humps, sharp bends and some uphill, but never intimidated for a comparative mountain bike beginner like myself.
At just under half an hour, I felt like I could have gone on some more and the best way to get more out of your ride would be to join all the blue rides together, making a round trip of just under 5 miles. The wider, easier green track – the Lodge Trail – is a gentle ride that takes cyclists into the more unexplored area of the estate and is suitable for families, beginners, trailers and disability bikes.
For the experts, start off in the skills area to warm up (there was a lot of ‘jumping’ from teenagers when I cycled past) and head on to The Saw Pit where two cyclists can ride side-by-side. This track is short but technically challenging, favouring skill over speed and a great place to develop trail riding skills.
The cafe was National Trust loveliness (although expect to pay accordingly), serving hot and cold food, kiddies’ meals, a cream tea or ice cream (the development is sponsored by Callestick), although seems to be equally popular with non-cyclists! With no hidden charges (unless you indulge at the cafe), The Hub is a fantastic and very reasonable way to enjoy the big outdoors with little ones or big ones alike.