Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

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Vorpal
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by Vorpal »

I think that the route looks interesting & I might like to do it, but I do think that with limited resources CUK would do better to focus on routes that are accessible to everyone.

The UK already has quite a few routes for mountain bikers, hardy cyclists, and folks who don't mind Sustrans type routes. What there aren't so many of are long distance routes suitable for families, disabled cyclists, beginners, and every day cyclists trying touring for the first time.
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mjr
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by mjr »

Vorpal wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 3:14pm I think that the route looks interesting & I might like to do it, but I do think that with limited resources CUK would do better to focus on routes that are accessible to everyone.
And with limited resources, CUK would probably do better to partner with someone like cycle.travel instead of reinventing a (winged?) wheel badly. The current touring routes page on the CUK website is a disgrace mixed with a jumble sale, with a near-useless ordering by length, no indication when routes were last successfully used and no user feedback... and its search says there are no routes at all in Norfolk, which of course disappoints me.
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mattheus
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by mattheus »

mjr wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 4:00pm
Vorpal wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 3:14pm I think that the route looks interesting & I might like to do it, but I do think that with limited resources CUK would do better to focus on routes that are accessible to everyone.
And with limited resources, CUK would probably do better to partner with someone like cycle.travel instead of reinventing a (winged?) wheel badly. The current touring routes page on the CUK website is a disgrace mixed with a jumble sale, with a near-useless ordering by length, no indication when routes were last successfully used and no user feedback... and its search says there are no routes at all in Norfolk, which of course disappoints me.
Just for you:
https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle/cycling-norfolk
x

Norfolk, Kent and Cornwall are CTC's 3 "Experience" regions, so I happened to already know about them!

It IS a bit of a game finding stuff - there is more on the site than first appears. They are hardly the first organisation to reinvent this particular wheel, very few people do Route Lists very well. :(
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mjr
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by mjr »

mattheus wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 4:17pm Just for you:
https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle/cycling-norfolk
x

Norfolk, Kent and Cornwall are CTC's 3 "Experience" regions, so I happened to already know about them!
Which is more than whoever wrote that page seems to know about Norfolk!
· The suggested routes are poor and it doesn't mention five major cycleways or the city pedalways. I wonder if it was written by someone in the "off-road" department, with its excessive praise for the boggy Peddar's Way, the rough stones and deep sand of Marriott's Way and the part-grass Weavers Way. It then talks of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway and gives shout outs to loads of "en route" places mostly not on the route!
· The groups list is extremely misleading, with four entries for the Member Group including some private groups and excluding many open groups.
· Then the rest looks like boiler plate of the usual old wives' tales beloved of non-tourer roadies.
It IS a bit of a game finding stuff - there is more on the site than first appears. They are hardly the first organisation to reinvent this particular wheel, very few people do Route Lists very well. :(
Oh for sure. The website definitely needs a clean-up with incorrect and misleading stuff like that Norfolk page overhauled and probably more things moved off to specialist partners who do them better.
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by peetee »

One of the things that makes this route appealing is that the central Penwith section is east-west. With the exception of the Coastal fringes all the roads traverse north-south. When viewed on mapping there is a vast network of rights of way that have been categorised into the modern system of footpaths, bridleways etc, but in reality they vary hugely in their capacity to accommodate non-vehicular traffic in all its guises. In part this is down to the surface traversed and it’s width but just as significant is the seasonal vegetation. It’s very much a case of pot luck whether you can traverse many routes and unfortunately, in west Cornwall at least, knowing what it is marked as on a map doesn’t really help.What does help is regular use and the teams that help to keep them clear.
I look forward to trying this section out and familiarising myself with interconnecting routes.
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by Zulu Eleven »

peetee wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 8:05pm One of the things that makes this route appealing is that the central Penwith section is east-west. With the exception of the Coastal fringes all the roads traverse north-south. When viewed on mapping there is a vast network of rights of way that have been categorised into the modern system of footpaths, bridleways etc, but in reality they vary hugely in their capacity to accommodate non-vehicular traffic in all its guises. In part this is down to the surface traversed and it’s width but just as significant is the seasonal vegetation. It’s very much a case of pot luck whether you can traverse many routes and unfortunately, in west Cornwall at least, knowing what it is marked as on a map doesn’t really help.What does help is regular use and the teams that help to keep them clear.
I look forward to trying this section out and familiarising myself with interconnecting routes.
This is the bit commonly referred to as the Tinner’s Way, but there’s documentary evidence as late as the 1920s of it being referred to as the ‘Old St Ives road’ - with maps from 1699 showing it as a major route.

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/c1 ... 9face73249

We have submitted claims to have this whole section (partially unrecorded, other sections currently recorded as footpath or Bridleway) added to the definitive map as restricted byway
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by Zulu Eleven »

horizon wrote: 30 Sep 2021, 2:59pm
ZuluEleven: re-reading Stu's post I think takes us nearest to the truth, in both regards. I've done numerous trips around Cornwall and have taken both family groups (and their young friends) and paying-tourists on overnight tours, in hotels, B and B, cycle camping and youth hostels all over this county. I wouldn't have chosen this route for any of those occasions and possibly not for my own tours either. But I would use it for a group that I knew were up for a physical challenge, had the right bikes and gear and knew what they were letting themselves in for.

Most people contemplating cycle tours are extraordinarily faint-hearted but for the hardy ones, this route actually looks great. It's off-road bikepacking and defines that term. Unfortunately this route might well attract the faint-hearted because of their fear of road traffic and lead them to a far worse fate (in their view! :D).
Da
My responses on this thread are predicated on a genuine misunderstanding of what this route was about, probably as a result of the bandying about of the term "bikepacking" in the media. But you've clarified it and the only difference between us now I think is whether CUK needs to add some more clarification in its introductory blurb.
So thanks again for your replies.
Im really glad that I’ve been able to explain some of the logic and target market. I suppose I could have/ought to have made reference to National Trails in this. Part of the effort to do this (particularly with the GNT) was to pick up where national trails have, unfortunately, left off - the original ethos of national trails was walking and riding routes that went through and between our national parks - however only two of our fifteen national trails are fully rideable. Realistically there are other challenges such as the difficulty with transportation (bikes on trains etc) that also fed into this, confirming to us that for viability such routes needed to be circular rather than linear, whilst also connecting to vital services like train stations and villages with accommodation, and where possible actually where people live - so it’s a bit of a balancing act, but I believe the success of King Alfreds Way has shown huge potential for how such projects can encourage people to ride their bikes, along with supporting sustainable car-free tourism and boost the rural tourism economy.
Due to the nature of the terrain, WKW is more challenging than KAW, and we are looking at some other similar length routes in Norfolk and Kent that are likely to be somewhat more chilled - but at the same time I don’t recall anyone complaining that the Pennine Way was somehow flawed or unsuitable because it was rugged and challenging, and I think these Routes do need to be seen as following that vision and ethos rather than something like the NCN
1610E81D-91C1-44DD-AB94-8368D905EA47.jpeg
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by kirby.james »

We rode the West Kernow Way from 13-16 October. We used hard tail mountain bikes and really enjoyed the route. This late in the season we met only a handful of others who were doing the trail.

We stayed near Praa Sands and divided the route into four sections. The Mines (north), the Lizard (south), West Penwith (west) and the middle. This allowed us to isolate in an Air BnB and not have to carry all our stuff.
We found a few issues with the route.

From Kennack Sands the route goes uphill to Trevenwith. The guide says ‘push up footpath from beach to join byway at Trevenwith’. The OS 1:25,000 map shows the path in a field to the right of a fence. However the footpath has been blocked and hand painted signs direct you to the left of the fence. The ‘path’ then passes through a gorse thicket. A narrow trail of sort has been hacked through the gorse but stubs of gorse have been left which makes progress slow.

To the south-west of Predannack Airfield the trail forks left alongside the edge of the airfield. After passing along the left edge of the first field the trail becomes completely overgrown. We had to retreat to the fork and travel along the right fork footpath. Strava shows that people in the past have travelled along the indicated route, but more recent trails show people, including ourselves, meandering around the field looking for the way out.

On the Tinner’s Way the route passes over several sections of peat. As the weather deteriorates over the winter these will become wetter – indeed we met a local mountain biker who thought that mid October was the latest that you could ride this section.

With any new route there are likely to be issues that need to be worked around. I wouldn’t want to let a few issues put others off, but potential users do need to be aware that riders do need to be self sufficient and able to solve route finding issues!
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by mattheus »

Zulu Eleven wrote: 1 Oct 2021, 5:52pm Due to the nature of the terrain, WKW is more challenging than KAW, and we are looking at some other similar length routes in Norfolk and Kent that are likely to be somewhat more chilled - but at the same time I don’t recall anyone complaining that the Pennine Way was somehow flawed or unsuitable because it was rugged and challenging, and I think these Routes do need to be seen as following that vision and ethos rather than something like the NCN
I think there's an important difference - the Pennine Way was designed for walking.

Of course if the WKW intention is a walking route that you can carry your bikes around ...
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by Woodsmith »

I did the WKW a few days after the route was published and IMHO it is crap. Its inaccessablr for regular touring cyclists and far too tarmac heavy to satisfy off road riders. For a route which really requires a mtb or at least a gravel bike with 2" tyres , having 70%+ of the route on tarmac is stupid. West Cornwall is pretty short on bridlepaths compared to other parts of England and Wales and therefor just isn't really suitable for trying to create a long distance off-road route.
There are a few sections of very busy main road and lots of the other lanes, especially down on the Lizard are so narrow as to be extremely dangerous for cycling on, i.e. there is barely enough space for a car and certainley not enough for a car and cycle to pass. High Cornish hedges obscure the view for mile after mile and turn every corner into a blind death trap. There were several errors on the GPX track which hopefully will get sorted out soon, including one which directed you down a stream whereupon you had to lift the bike over a barbed wire topped wall to access the lane on the other side. I rode after a decent dry spell in fine sunny weather yet there were 3 or 4 sections which were quagmires, one actually the path of a stream seemingly. Thats fine, I like a bit of mud and don't care about wet feet but if the route becomes popular these sections will be all but impassable. The moorland section after Men-an-tol is already so eroded as to be dangerous ( a couple I met seriously considered quiting the route after this section. They had also been shouted at for cycling along a road which the residant, probably incorrectley said was private). To direct the route over this section is frankly irresponsible from both a safety and a conservation point of view.
I love a bit of industrial heritage as much, if not more than, the next person, but how many Cornish engine houses does anyone need to see? The ones along the cliffs are iconic, picture postcard images of Cornwall but the section around Camborne-redruth just feels like padding out the mileage.
I'm glad to see that CUK are tackling the problem of historicly misdesignated ROW but putting riders into direct conflict with walkers is not going to win us any friends. Until a dispute is settled and the OS maps updated walkers will quite rightly view us as riding somewhere where we shouldn't be.
I'm an experienced off road tourer/bikepacker on a well equiped mountain bike. There were a few short sections of enjoyable, challenging riding, but so much of the rest of it was dull. Its not for nothing that Cornwall is described as an ordinary picture in a beautiful frame. If you want to see the best of it, leave the bike at home and hike the Southwest Coastal path.
By contrast, I loved the KAW. So much so I did the Ridgeway section a second time later in the summer.
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horizon
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Re: Bikepacking in Cornwall - West Kernow Way

Post by horizon »

Interesting. I still think the route suffers from the same problem that has plagued the NCN for years: how do you create a cycle route off-road that is still cyclable? A walking route just doesn't have the same dichotomy - you can walk over just about anything. By calling an unsuitable route a bike packing route you can get round the problem of the surface and obstructions.

However I did say upthread that I was impressed with the work that has gone into it and I reckon we might get some other (re)views next year if the summer is good.
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