The Camel Trail
The Camel Trail passes through some of Cornwall's most beautiful countryside. It is a completely free resource, which is available throughout the year, and covers a total distance of seventeen miles. Cornwall County Council converted eleven miles of disused railway track from the town of Padstow, on the North Cornish coast, as far as Bodmin. The track from the latter town turns north onto Bodmin Moor, where the river runs through an enclosed wooded area. This extension to the main track follows the river towards Camelford.
Vehicles, other than cycles are banned from the track, which is also used by walkers, joggers and birdwatchers. In fact there is a purpose-built bird hide half way between Padstow and Wadebridge. The surface is smooth, although not tarmac, making it suitable for wheelchairs and prams. As it runs along a disused railway track, it is virtually level for the whole distance. It is a much easier walk than many of the woodland and coastal tracks in the area and stays close to the river from the estuary to Bodmin Moor.
Several pubs en route provide refreshments for the walker or the cyclist. At the northern end of the trail, just below Poley's Bridge, the more energetic can negotiate the long, steep climb to the village of Blisland, an extraordinarily pretty moorland village with a large green. From here the rugged scenery of Bodmin Moor may be explored.
Throughout the length of the trail, the River Camel is always nearby and there are many lovely spots in which to linger. Many parts of the trail are very quiet, particularly out of the summer season. There are great contrasts in scenery, from the peaceful beauty of the Camel Estuary to the wildness of the moorland at the northern end of the trail. On some occasions, it is not easy to recognise old railway cuttings which have become so overgrown over the years.
For those who have not brought their cycles on holiday, there are several bike hire shops in Padstow Wadebridge and Bodmin. Everything is available from mountain bikes to tandems and bikes for all ages. The Camel Trail is particularly popular during the annual school holidays. The trail is jointly owned by North Cornwall District Council and Cornwall County Council. It is well maintained and used by approximately 350,000 people each year.
In addition to the lovely moorland scenery, pretty villages and idyllic woodlands, are the towns. There is the picturesque market town of Camelford, the popular fishing port of Padstow and the old stone town of Bodmin. The hub of the trail is at Wadebridge, another attractive Cornish town. There are stunning views over the Camel estuary, at one end of the trail, and glimpses of small inland coves and beaches. Among the birdlife to be spotted along various parts of the trail are curlews, terns, herons and egrets.