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The Camel Trail [walking, cycling & horse riding]

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

This superb 18-mile multi-use (cycling, walking and horse-riding) trail follows the route of a disused railway line through spectacular Cornish countryside. Following the Camel River, the trail passes through woodland and across mudflats to the picturesque Camel Estuary that separates the towns of Padstow and Rock.

It’s mainly traffic-free all the way, easy to access, and packed with landscape and wildlife designations, and close to pretty villages for resting and refuelling.

While you’re there

The trail passes right by the Camel Valley Vineyard, arguably Britain’s best vineyard, that produces award-winning sparkling wines. Stop in for a vineyard tour and tasting, but be sure to book ahead.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 3.5 hours

Getting there & doing it

The easy-to-follow trail runs between Padstow and Poley’s Bridge at Wenfordbridge (near Blisland), following the Camel River all the way. If you take it easy, it’s about 3.5 hours cycling one way without stopping (Padstow to Wadebridge one hour, Wadebridge to Bodmin one hour, Bodmin to Wenfordbridge 1.5 hours). The route has also now been joined to the Camelford Way through to Camelford, adding an optional 8 further miles.

Most people hire bikes in Padstow or, for a short ride, from Wadebridge; overnight hire is also possible. Try Padstow Cycle Hire or Bike Smart in Wadebridge. If you only want to cycle one way, Go By Cycle offer a bike collection service (as long as you hire from them). They’ll deliver (and collect) hire bikes to you anywhere in Cornwall. For horse riders, Hallagena Riding offers 5- to 6-hour rides that also take in Bodmin Moor.

The Camel Trail Tea Gardens, halfway between Wadebridge and Bodmin, is a great stop for light lunches (using locally sourced produce where possible) and, of course, a traditional Cornish cream tea.

At the Wenfordbridge end, detour off to the Blisland Inn at Blisland, one mile off the trail. This popular homely and hearty pub serves good home-cooked pub food and several local ales on draught.

When to do it

The trail is accessible all year round. The experience is obviously weather dependent, though hardly souls go in all conditions.

May and September are best, with fine weather and fewer crowds. UK summer holidays in July & August (usually) have the best weather but also the most visitors – it’s hugely popular and gets unpleasantly crowded.