Oliver's Cornwall
The Camel Trail
On the former railway from
Padstow to Wenford Bridge
Padstow harbour, at the start of the trail
Girder Bridge over Little Petherick Creek
Wenford Dries, near the end of the trail

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ON THIS PAGE
The Camel Trail
INTRODUCTION
Padstow to Wadebridge
Wadebridge to Dunmere
Dunmere to Wenford Bridge
CROWDED WADEBRIDGE

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The Camel Trail
Until the 1970s a branch railway in the Camel Valley linked Padstow and Wadebridge with the main line at Bodmin.  Now it is an 18-mile hiking, horse riding and cycling trail, extended to Wenford Bridge on a former quarry tramway, again alongside the river.  For the walker only it then effectively continues as the Camelford Way as far as the town of Camelford, making a total trail of some 26 miles.  If you are visiting Bodmin, a short extension to the trail follows what was once a packhorse route as far as Bodmin Jail.  Refreshments in Padstow and Wadebridge, at a tea garden near Dunmere, at the excellent Borough Arms at Dunmere and at a tea room off the trail at Keybridge Farm near Poley's Bridge - and since February 2014 at Snail's Pace Café at Wenford Bridge.  Hikers, beware summer vacation time when there can often be far too many cyclists for comfort, particularly between Padstow and Wadebridge.  Horses and walkers are supposed to take precedence over cyclists but not many cyclists choose to behave as if they know that.  Bikes can be hired in Padstow, Wadebridge, Bodmin.and Wenford Bridge.  For walkers the level firm terrain could not be easier - but can be extremely boring compared with the Coast Path or Bodmin Moor.  Most interesting section to walk is Wadebridge to Padstow, following the delightful estuary of the River Camel.
Padstow Harbour, start of the Camel Trail
 See Destination Cornwall for info and the late Ernie Biddle's maps
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Padstow to Wadebridge - 5.25 miles
For the first three miles views of the Camel estuary are superb, looking back to Daymer Bay and Pentire Point and across to Rock.  Views are then restricted for a couple of miles but then open out for sightings of wading birds on tidal mud flats and salt marshes.  It's rather urban for a while through Wadebridge town (cyclists, please use the road, not the footpath) but you are soon back on the trail again.
The famous 'girder bridge' near Padstow
Wadebridge station - now the Betjeman Centre
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Wadebridge to Dunmere - 5.25 miles
This is my least preferred section.  At first views are open, over what was meadow grazed by cattle but in 2006 was returned to salt marsh as far as Sladesbridge.  But then you are in fairly uninteresting woodland for the rest of the way to Dunmere, relieved only by a handsome bridge at Polbrock and by remains of the occasional station.  For interest along the way  you could visit Camel Valley Vineyard or perhaps encounter a steam train at Boscarne Junction, the western terminus of the restored Bodmin and Wenford Railway, which runs not to Wenford but to Bodmin Parkway, where it links with the main line. 
River Camel at Polbrock
Dunmere's former station
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Dunmere to Wenford Bridge - 7 miles
This is my preferred section of the Camel Trail.  Quieter than Padstow to Dunmere, it climbs and winds gently through beech woodland following the line of a former quarry railroad that carried granite and china clay from Bodmin Moor. Although heavily wooded, the feeling is surprisingly open and there are often good views down to the river below.  There is quite a lot of interest along the way.  At Helland Bridge look out for the handsome medieval bridge and consider visiting the Old Mill Herbary Garden or Paul Jackson's studio pottery.  The once renowned pottery of Michael Cardew at Wenford Bridge no longer operates and the adjacent Potters Barn tea room closed;  however, there is a seasonal tea room off the trail at Tresarrett and Snail's Pace at Wenford Bridge (see the box below).  In the last mile from Poley's Bridge to Wenford Bridge a number of metal sculptures include a massive silver salmon and you will pass Wenford China Clay Dries.
Snail's Pace Café: Early 2014 saw the opening of the new dog-friendly Snail's Pace Café in the Wenford Bridge car park, complete with cycle hire and public loo.  We have tried it a couple of times, both when dog walking on the top end of the Camel Trail.  We have had good cakes and sandwiches.  We hope it will be open all year, not just seasonally. 
Medieval Helland Bridge
Wenford china clay dries
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Wadebridge in Summer
When we came to Wadebridge in 2002 the Camel Trail, then 17 miles from Padstow to Poley's Bridge, was relatively quiet, suffieiently so that I would walk it in summer, except perhaps at the weekend.  Since then it has got steadily busier - to the point where my feeling is that it is best walked only on a wet, winter Wednesday.  Cycle hire businesses have flourished - two in Padstow, three in Wadebridge, one in Bodmin and one at Wenford Bridge.  Wadebridge itself, where the trail passes through the town on busy streets, has become almost over-run by bikes.  It would'n't be too bad if they would stick to the marked cycle lanes;  unfortunately too many of them simply use the pavement.  And the car parks can get solid with cars with bike racks on roof or boot, to the extent that the Piggy Lane car park behind Lidl was clogged on a recent Sunday.  During the summer school holidays the bikes almost bring Wadebridge to a standstill.  Undoubtedly thay bring income into the town.  I question whether the disruption to a charming and much admired little country town is worth it.


CORNWALL REVIEWS INDEX and SITE CONTENTS
Introductory Guide
What's New?
Oliver's Cornwall Walking Pages
Homes
Gardens
Museums & Galleries
Countryside
Holy Sites & Churches
Antiquities
Castles
Towns & Villages
Miscellanea
Home Page
Contact Me
© Copyright Oliver Howes 2016
Page updated  03 October 2016

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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