Paul Ainsworth’s Cycling Guide to Cornwall

Paul Ainsworth’s Cycling Guide to Cornwall

The Michelin-starred chef (turned avid cyclist) has given us the low-down on where to eat, stay and play along the Cornish coastline. Whether you’re a saddle-sore pro or a basket-bike type who pootles along sandy paths, hop on two wheels and get pedalling.

banana bread baking, 2021’s hobby of choice is
. We’re keen to set the wheels in motion and feel the
wind in our hair as we whizz past blurry landscapes. In a bid to
discover Cornwall‘s
lesser-trodden trails, from pit-stops to surf-sports, we’ve called
upon avid cyclist chef Paul Ainsworth.

Here, the Michelin-starred chef shares his favourite picnic
spots, Cornwall‘s
best cyclist friendly routes and most importantly, where to stop
for fuel (read: snacks). You’ll be dusting off your wheels quicker
than Bradley Wiggins can cycle the Zig Zag.

Crowd-free beaches, cycling trails and pint pit-stops: a chef’s
guide to cycling Cornwall

When’s the best time to visit Cornwall?

Cornwall is beautiful all year round and the way it changes with
the seasons is fantastic. If I had to choose, I’d probably come
down in autumn. I love the roughness, the way the sea swells, and
the empty beaches. In spring when the weather starts to warm up,
both the colour of the trees and the sea changes, and the flowers
bloom. It looks like a completely different place.

You’re an avid cyclist, share with us some of your favourite
cycling routes in Cornwall?

I started cycling during the first lockdown, and I’m very much
into it now. I’ve recently discovered a great route from Wadebridge
to Padstow, out to Trevose Head, through the back lanes of Padstow,
and then back home on the Camel Trail. It’s about 30-miles
round-trip – an ideal route for a sunny day. The great thing about
cycling is discovering new places even if you’ve lived somewhere
for 15 years. When I first found myself on the top of Trevose Head,
it was just gorgeous.

Where should we go to hire our bikes from?

I highly recommend Padstow Cycle Hire in Padstow for a cycle
through the Camel Trail and a detour to Camel Valley, a beautiful
vineyard. If you hire your bikes from Wadebridge, I’d suggest
Bike Hire

Any must-try pit stop destinations?

I might be a bit biased, but The Mariners in Rock is a must-try. I love The Kew Inn in St
Kew, as well. It’s in a gorgeous location, right in the middle of
the countryside and it’s a great place to cycle to. The chef,
Andrew Tuck, does a lot of delicious wood-fired food.

What about somewhere to stop for a pint?

Golden Lion
is a proper Padstownian pub and the owners are
lovely, otherwise try The Oyster Catcher in Polzeath. There are
plenty of wonderful places around here to stop for a drink.

And a refuel?

When we get to Padstow, one of our favourite places is Cherry Tree Coffee House. I know the owners quite well
and can always rely on them for the most amazing homemade cakes.
They do a vegan flapjack, and even though I’m not vegan, I always
go for that as a treat. The
Beach Box Cafe
in Polzeath is great too. It’s right on the
beach and serves excellent coffees and paninis.

Where should we stop for a picnic?

Halfway on the Camel Trail between Padstow and Wadebridge. You
walk down the slate quarry and there’s a perfect rock to sit on
right next to the water. My wife, daughter and I had a picnic there
recently. The water was turquoise blue and there was a white
sailing boat in front of us. With the sun and the view, it felt
like we were in Greece.

Where should we wake up in Cornwall?

I’m a massive fan of The
Watergate Bay Hotel
and The Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth. Watergate is
very family-friendly, while Scarlet is adults only. We used to go
to Scarlet a lot before we had our daughter; the views are
incredible, and it’s a fantastic place to relax.

What about somewhere for breakfast?

For breakfast, I love the St Kew Farm Shop. There’s a café with lots of
outside seating space, and whenever we go there, I always get a
sourdough bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee. It’s perfect to cycle

And for a long, lazy lunch?

Living Space
at Watergate Bay Hotel is a great place to relax.
I love eating on their terrace overlooking the ocean.

What about for dinner?

I’d highly recommend checking out Nancarrow
and what Jack Bristow is cooking for dinner. His feast
nights are unreal, I went there for my 40th birthday. The location
and food is very special.

Any underrated spots in Cornwall worth exploring…

Recently I went to a place called Golitha Falls which I’ve never
heard of before. We walked down through the woods and found this
amazing hidden spot. It was utterly different from what we are used
to seeing in Cornwall and it blew me away.

One place only locals know about…

Definitely Mother Ivey’s Bay, just outside of Padstow. John
Walton, our group executive chef, is Padstownian born and bred, and
he always used to tell me about a hidden spot where he used to go
surfing. Luckily, not many people know this bay, as the road to get
there is quite steep. If you go at sunset, you can enjoy the most
incredible view of the sun plunging into the water.

Finally, where are the best crowd-free beaches?

There is a beach in New Polzeath called Baby Bay. It doesn’t get
crowded as there’s not a lot of parking space. Last year at the end
of August, I went there with my wife and my daughter. We got there
around 5 o’clock, had some food, went for a swim in the sea, and
just enjoyed the calm of the beach. It’s one of the most
unbelievable places!

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