Updated: Jan 30
My journey (back) to the campsite in Cornwall, that I’d mistakenly been too already, threw a bit of a curve ball, as my Satnav sent me a different way than I had gone originally, where I needed to cross an estuary on a ferry! Luckily even though it was around 7pm by then, it was still running, but cost an unexpected £5, for the five-minute journey!
I arrived at the Penhale campsite, in Fowey (pronounced Foy by the locals!!) just off the Cornish coast. It was in a scenic location looking across the bay towards St Austell. The camping field, unless you paid extra for a levelled pitch, was on a slope, I spent around fifteen minutes selecting my tent location, settling on a combination of the most level area versus a good view, which turned out to be fine. Sleeping with my head at the top of the slope didn’t pose a problem at all.
There was only a few other people on the site when I arrived Thursday night but come Friday night when school was out more people turned up. One extended family deciding to set-up camp right behind me, which I was a bit pissed about, they had a whole empty field but decided to set-up next to me, with potentially noisy kids. As it turned out they were actually very respectful and quiet. So I needn't have kept swearing about them under my breath at all!!
The facilities were good, plenty of toilets, showers and washing up sinks. And plenty of drinking water taps. There is a little road noise, but not noisy enough to disturb me. And it only cost around £11 per night for a standard tent pitch, which is more like the price I want to pay.
I had a nice chilled evening on Thursday, the night sky was stunning, opening my tent late in the evening, I got the beautiful surprise of a crescent moon and what turned out to be Venus, directly in my tent opening view. Each night provided a pretty sunset in the same view as well.
I mooched around Friday morning, eventually taking a drive out to Polkerris beach, this is only a five-minute drive. There’s a car park just outside the village, it’s around £1 per hour between, I think, 8am to 6pm. And a short walk downhill to the beach.
The tide was out in the morning, leaving quite an expanse of rockpools to explore, which I did for an hour or so. The beach cove is small but not too small to feel busy. There’s a nice pub/restaurant with large terrace on the left, and a funky bistro, also with an alfresco eating area, on the right. There’s also a snack shack, toilets and shop, selling the usual seaside buckets and spades, plus serious surf gear and tourist trinkets. All quite tasteful though, not cheesy. All these are right on the beach along with a water sports experience facility. I was tempted to find out how much a Stand-up Paddle-board lesson would cost, as I’m keen to try it. But after feeling how cold the water was, I decided not to!
The ocean was only lapping on the beach, there were no waves to speak of, so I’m not sure that surfing would be possible there, but there was sailing, kayaking and SUP tuition available.
In the afternoon I checked the Woody’s bike park website, and booked my riding for Saturday. They only do uplifts, that cost £34 for the day.
Friday evening was beautifully sunny, I decided to walk from my campsite to Polkerris beach, across the fields. Around half of the walk is actually on the country lanes, the other half being on a footpath along the meadows. There was a lot of hay making going on, I guess this sunshine gave the farmers their slot, in what had been a rainy spring, to get the job done.
The walk is uphill along the meadow, then downhill on the road to the beach. Some may find the beach road quite steep, remember you need to get back up it!
The beach was busier in the evening, with people eating outside the pub and bistro. I think the snack shack and shop were shut. There’s a high sea wall to the left of the bay,(when looking out onto the ocean), local kids in their wetsuits were jumping from it into the ocean. The tide was in during the evening, where the rockpools had all disappeared.
I’d have loved to have eaten in the bistro, I took at look at the menu, but it was far too expensive for me. Not having a job, I need to be particularly frugal with my activities, I only eat what I bring with me, and the same with drinks. No £3 lattes at filling stations or cafes for me! But I did break my rule and spend £8.50 on a chickpea curry at the pub, I'm just crazy like that! It was very nice btw.
I had a chilled Saturday morning, driving to Woody’s Bike Park, the whole two minutes from the campsite! at around 10am. It was quite busy, I got some info on the easiest trails whilst signing-on, deciding I would ride the Blue Jump Line, named Cornish Coaster. It’s probably the best flow/jump line I’ve ridden. Steep enough to keep a heavy bike going without pedalling, but not so steep as to distract you.
I got four runs in before lunch, the uplift runs from 10am, and stops at 12:30 for lunch, I think for half an hour. It’s an excellent uplift service and the drivers are very helpful, I struggle to lift Desmond onto the trailers, so always got help when needed.
The jump line is jump jump, berm berm bern, jump jump, all the way to the bottom. There’s nothing scary on it, you can get as much or as little air as you can handle. But to ride it well you need to be really precise, getting one berm wrong impacts on the next berm, where you end up not quick enough for the next jump etc.
It was a really friendly place, with lots of chat between groups having lunch on the grass in the car parking area. I got lots of comments from having my camping stove fired-up and making Marmite sandwiches! Most people had driven the ten minutes to the local filling station for some food. There's a cafe and toilet block being built, currently there's only a chemical loo.
It was hot, sunny and dusty, perfect conditions for chilling and for riding. It would be quite exposed if windy and rainy I imagine.
I got four more runs in on the jump trail in the afternoon, and I finished with one run on the other blue trail, it's got some super-fast berms, but is slightly tighter than the other blue. I didn’t really get to grips with it on that one run, that can keep for another time. I’ll definitely be back. My riding certainly improved throughout the day, clearing the jumps now and again, but I'm still too slow, which resulted in casing the jumps quite often. Never mind, I was pleased with my progress.
I stopped riding at 3pm, the uplift continues until 4pm, but I was tired by then and had started to lose concentration, so decided to jack it in before I had a big shunt. Returning to the campsite for a shower and some food.
I had a sudden burst of energy that evening, it was still bright and sunny, so I got Bay out and rode across the meadows back to Polkerris beach, this time not succumbing to the delicious food! It was tough pedalling back up the steep road from the beach, but great riding down the hill on the meadow. I’m sure you’re probably not meant to ride bikes on the footpath, but I don’t see what harm it could do, there’s no blind corners. Anyway too late!
I was due to leave for home on the Sunday, but didn’t want to go as the weather forecast was for sun sun sun! I put a poll on face book, with nearly fifty votes, 86% saying I should stay camping! It would be rude not to, so I decided to stay at least one more day.
I had a casual pack-up Sunday morning, after a beautifully starry night-sky again. I decided to drive to Lands End, I’d never been there and it was only an hour or so away, so seemed the ideal opportunity. There’s some pretty views on the journey, and the roads weren’t too busy either. I kept forgetting it was a Sunday, having totally lost track of the days and dates.
It costs £6 to park at Lands End, it’s all very commercialised, with shops, cafes and activities available. It’s not too cheesy though, quite fitting for the area. The famous sign-post is cordoned off and you have to pay £10 for a photo, so I took one myself at a distance. You can have a personal message set-up on the sign when you have your photo taken.
The wind was blowing and it was quite chilly up there, I had to put my down jacket on, often with the hood up. I mooched around the cliffs for about half an hour. There seems to be plenty of hikes up on the moorland, but I wasn't really in the mood for hiking so I left, driving on the country lanes, as near to the coast as I could, just to get some views.
There wasn't many sea views along the lanes, but there was a few cream tea gardens and art studios, if that's your thing.
I was really torn between wanting to stay another day and heading home. On the recommendation of a friend, there was a good place to ride near Exeter, Haldon Forest, so I headed generally in that direction, thinking I could go there for an evening ride, spend the night, then get home. Or just head home.
On my Eastward journey, and lost as usual, I stopped at Carbis beach, where it costs £3 to park, taking my camping stove down there, having a late afternoon kwiknic and a cup of tea on the beach. It’s a fab beach, deep and wide. Whilst there I texted my friend Nicki, who lives in Truro, to see if I could pop in on my way to home.
On arriving at Nicki’s, she offered for me to stay the night, which I gladly accepted as I was quite tired by then. We had a fab evening chatting and a lovely dinner, with her two teenage girls Lowenna and Issi. I last saw Nicki on Christmas day 2016, so we had lots to catch up on. She’s an amazing mother, and just gets on with single-motherdom with gusto and gumpf! I used to work with her at Arrows Grand Prix, where she was the Race Team Coordinator.
Early Monday morning Nicki was testing Lowenna, in preparation for an A level exam later that day, I'm sure she'll pass as she knew all the answers! Good luck to her and Issi, who also had a test later that day too. Nicki runs her own company Right-Hand Woman, carrying out event planning and administrative work.
Now back to Devon or home, I’m unsure as I leave Nicki’s. Continued in my Camping & Mountain Biking in Devon #2 blog
Penhale Campsite link £11.50 for a basic tent pitch
Woody's Bike Park link £34 for a day's uplift, that needs booking online