Looking for a beautiful cycle trail and bike hire in Cornwall?
Look no further; I think we’ve found Cornwall’s most scenic cycle route, and best of all – there’s an awesome cycle hire shop right at the start of it! Lakeside Cycles are a new bike hire and servicing / repair shop based on the edge of the Coronation Park Boating Lake in Helston, and they kindly asked Alex and I to borrow some bikes for the day to experience this gorgeous trail for ourselves.
We parked in the free car park at the edge of Penrose Estate in Helston and walked around the boating lake to Lakeside Cycles’ shop, where owner – Shawn – talked us through the trail maps and fitted us with the perfect bikes. The shop has only been open for around 6 – 7 weeks, so all the bikes are pretty much brand new, and include great quality brands like Cannondale and Raleigh- plus of course, you know they’re maintained to the best spec when Shawn is also a professional bike mechanic, offering servicing and repairs from within the shop too.
You can of course also borrow helmets and bike locks too, which we did – even though the route we chose only goes on the road for a total of 5 seconds! Always better to be safe 😇
There are a few different recommended routes you can take directly from the shop on Helston boating lake depending on how long you want to cycle for and your experience level. I’m personally pretty awful and cycling, I must admit! I was a very safety-conscious kid so never really pushed myself to cycle anywhere other than a flat local park… hence I now try and avoid hills and roads on a bike at all costs.
Luckily, from the boating lake you can cycle straight into the National Trust Penrose Estate trail, which is purely for walkers and cyclists – and there are barely any slopes, so super easy and great for beginners!
You can also cycle to Porthleven (loads of amazing restaurants, pubs and cafes for lunch here!), which is around 5 miles each way and also relatively flat, or if you want something a little more challenging, you could try going all the way onto Loe Bar beach (this is where we stopped for a picnic before turning back), go across the beach and either loop around some country roads to get back to Helston.
Our plan was to cycle through Penrose Estate and across to Loe Bar to eat a picnic, and go back again. Overall it took us a couple of hours, including lots of photo stops, a long stop for lunch, and me just being a very slow, leisurely cyclist! It was the perfect afternoon.
If you haven’t been before, Penrose Estate is a beautiful path (mostly flat and tarmacked – making it perfect for cycling!) through wild woodlands, alongside Loe Pool (Cornwall’s largest natural lake) and beside the gardens and grounds of Penrose House. It’s owned by the National Trust, and there’s even a little cafe and toilets part-way through the walk as well.
You can follow this path, as we did, along the side of the lake and all the way to Loe Bar – a stunning beach which is literally a bar of sand between the ocean and Loe Pool. It’s an iconic sight!
I’d never been further than the cafe on this trail, and so cycling up to this area was a new experience for me and Alex (who had never been to Penrose before and didn’t even know this whole place existed!). We made plenty of stops to admire the view over the lake and sand – it really looked like something from Fuerteventura or somewhere abroad; certainly not England.
I’ve been to Loe Bar beach before via a country lane on the Lizard side of the beach (rather than the Helston/Porthleven side of the beach that we were coming from this time) and marvelled at how beautiful it was, but I’d never seen it in summer sunshine before.
Considering this was late June, the beach was pretty much empty! Because it’s only accessible by this trail, or footpath (or a long walk along the beach at low tide from Gunwalloe or Porthleven), it means you won’t find it rammed with holiday makers in summer or at any time really. The only thing to note is that this beach has no lifeguards, and although the water looks beautiful, it’s not recommended to swim here as there’s a steep bank/shelf just off the shallows and it’s very remote (with no lifeguards). It is, however, dog friendly all year round!
We found the perfect spot for a picnic overlooking the crystal clear water and white sand below, propped up the bikes and settled down, before hopping back on and cycling back to Helston to Lakeside Cycles.
It was the best afternoon we could have wished for in the sun, and we’ll definitely be back to go on this cycle route again soon this summer!
For more info on bike hire and prices from Lakeside Cycles, check out their website.
* We were given complimentary hire in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own; the bikes are fantastic and we fell in love with this trail!