27 July 2009

Getting the hump on the Camel

I was doing the Camel Trail over the weekend. The scenic Cornish railtrail follows the Camel Estuary and ends up majestically in Padstow, England's fish-restaurant capital. (As in, 'expensive, with a capital F'.) It's said to be England's most popular family-cycling route, with half a million users a year.

Saturday was sunny and warm all day and the trail was packed. It was good to see so many families showing their commitment to this green and sustainable form of leisure. In fact, some of the families were so keen to show their commitment they had driven hundreds of miles to get here for the day.

Also it was good to see so much safety-consciousness on this flat, wide, well-surfaced, completely traffic-free route. Clearly parents wanted to get the message across to their kids that cycling is a very, very dangerous activity which should only be partaken with outriders on separate cycleways in remote geography.

All the websites warn you to wear a helmet. I saw one little boy fall off his bike into a mossy bank at over 5mph, and he survived, even though the grass was completely crushed flat. Thank goodness he was wearing a helmet, or that could have been his head.

OK, enough sarcasm. It's a fabulous trail, and we had just the perfect easy-cycling day in the sun for a group of mixed saddle resistance. We had a posh fish dinner at a restaurant that specialises only in locally-sourced, sustainable TV chefs. We supped a few pints of Cornish beer (we're used to London prices, so it was reassuring to come here and find they were familiar). We took the ped-and-bike ferry across the estuary mouth to Rock and looked in vain for a stick of Rock Rock. We had a paddle on the beach.

And we stopped off at the winery (right) on the way back to Bodmin. I don't know if the people here are doing a double-take at the simple fact there's a winery, or the cost of two glasses of wine.

Vineyards, riviera beaches... this is an exotic part of Britain. Not quite as exotic as this hire company's name might suggest, though. If you do attempt the trail on a dromedary, remember to wear a helmet. It's dangerous out there.

1 comment:

  1. Round here (Southwest Scotland) the only people wearing helmets are the roadies, and the people using the segregated cycle path (who never seem to venture off it). In town, cycling is done mostly on the pavement, in normal clothes, on a bike three sizes too small, and while smoking a cigarette...