It feels like a long time since I’ve written or thought about writing and now I’ve got something to write about I don’t know where to start. Last year I rode the King Alfreds way (bikepacking….taking a tent) with a couple of friends. Having caught the bug we decided to go again, and what better than another planned route we could absorb. Dragging one more merry soul seemed logical, so here we are Day 1 of 4, bikepacking the West Kernow Way.
Having learnt last year that pushing hard didn’t always mean we had a great time we extended the time we gave ourselves. Adding an extra night, cutting down the daily mileage but increasing the amount of stuff carried….felt like a sensible idea.
We arrived at lunchtime on the Friday and had planned a short day to get things moving. It worked out pretty well with the exception of two detours which I’ll come to.
After thanking Martin’s aunt for her hospitality (letting us park and plying us with tea) we loaded up the bikes and were away with very little complaint, even from me. We then turned around realising that Rix had been busy chatting and hadn’t actually loaded his bike, or put his shoes on, or indeed drunk his tea. That aside we cracked on and the sun warmed us as the km’s ticked by. After the first hill we all agreed Cornwall is actually quite lumpy, that wouldn’t be the last time it was mentioned.
To get onto the official route I’d plotted a quick hop across a well marked trail that turned out to be a cow path, then a badger trail, then at best a mouse’s assault course. Prizes available if you can identify where that detour was in the gallery later, but suffice to say, 10 minutes into the ride there was lots of brave faces and chirpy acceptance, but deep down a mild panic on my side that I’d messed up the route planning. We retraced and re-planned to get back on course and were soon whistling down country lanes and peeing in bushes.
St Michaels Mounts an offensive to decency
Detour number 2 came as we hit the south coast, we hadn’t realised we came quite so close to St Michaels Mount.. St Michaels Mount is a poundshop Mont St Michel, which is something I wouldn’t say if it wasn’t for their access policy. In reality it’s amazing and the timing couldn’t have been better with the tide retreating as we got there. We took our chances and started to ride the causeway. I apologise to anyone that was walking it, but it was amazing to ride across the slippery cobbles, ankle deep in sea water in places. I rapidly realised that as second in line I could ring my bell with impunity as everyone turned to see first in the peloton, Jules, barrelling toward them like an angry giant. This tactic of making the man at the front look like an impatient road warrior served me well for the entire weekend.
Once we reached the gate at the far side of the causeway we were immediately asked for tickets and declined entry…..£14 to sit on a field inside the main wall felt like a rip off. It’s also felt an absolute joke that they don’t mention it before you cross the causeway. Whilst I enjoyed the precarious cycling, so swearing public, the risk of damage and the exhiliration of the ride I couldn’t help imagine dragging kids across only to be stung for money at the entrance. Like a trap for desperate parents to have pay once they realise they’ve have to walk back with a pissed off child. Poor form.
Back on the bikes after a quick ice cream and game of ‘avoid the rats in the rocks’, we blasted along the cyclepaths through Penzance and up to Mousehole. I’m reliably informed it’s pronounced Mouzel for those that follow in our bike tracks. A quick sundown beer and up to the Mousehole Campsite to set up. A fantastic location where proceeds go toward the local football team. The welcome was awesome and I’d highly recommend it. We dropped into the local pub for food (book ahead people!) and then a quick trip to the campsite bar which is run by a cross between Father Ted and Stephen Fry and then retired pretty early for a good nights sleep.
Good nights sleep….nope. Someone in the next tent had a crack at snoring for the entire night. And achieved it. Deep guttural belly snoring. At one point I thought a car ferry was coming into dock behind my tent. I know tent life is about compromise but when you have other members on the campsite shouting obscenities at 3am, throwing things at tents at 4am and this repellent bog snorkeler slept through it all, you know I’m not exaggerating. This guy needs adenoid surgery and a kick in the balls. Watching him pack up his tent at 7am whilst I mumbled passive aggressive insults under my breath was a dark point.
3 hours sleep, check. Longest day ahead, check. Remember that as we get into Day 2.