Posted by: Emily | September 30, 2010

My South West adventure (day five)

Day five: Land’s End -> Padstow (65 miles)

When I woke on the fifth and final morning of my holiday something was instantly different – the weather. With the exception of the first day, which was somewhat overcast and windy, the sun had been shining almost constantly on my trip, so much so that I’d almost considered buying sunscreen. There was definitely no need for the SPF now though.

My plan for the day was to follow the route for 35 miles to Redruth where I’d have lunch and then do the remaining 40 or so miles up to Padstow via Truro. Once in Padstow I was going to celebrate with fish and chips and would then somehow get to Bodmin Parkway in time to catch the last train, the 18:59, back to London. The sensible thing to ensure I didn’t miss the last train would be to forget about Padstow and go straight to Bodmin. I had, however, been day-dreaming about Rick Stein’s fish and chips for a very long time and under no circumstances was I prepared to forgo them.

By the time I’d finished breakfast and was on the road the rain had eased up somewhat and I wondered whether once I left Land’s End things might brighten up. The break in the rain was short-lived though and it wasn’t long before I was completely drenched. I lasted about 10 miles on the official route before I found myself on another B road. It was raining so hard at this point that my eyes were stinging so I decided to stop and have a cup of tea. Unfortunately, although I would occasionally pass through a village, there was nowhere to stop for tea. I could probably have found somewhere not directly on my route, but I didn’t really have the time for both a detour and a tea stop so continued on my way getting wetter and wetter.

It did finally stop raining and instead I was left cycling in a thick mist with visibility limited to only a few metres ahead of me. This probably isn’t everyone’s idea of good cycling conditions, but I actually quite liked the mist and certainly it was an improvement on the rain.

Cycling into the mist

As I made my way through the mist I thought about how great my new bike was. Despite this being my fifth full day of cycling I still felt fresh and other than the odd twinge in my back, I had very little in the way of aches and pains. Even with my two panniers my Yukon was a comfortable and, when I wasn’t going uphill, fast ride. Even on the hills the Yukon managed to get me and my two panniers up without too much trouble. Out of all five days, this was the one with the least hills, but still had over 4,000 ft of ascent and, as the elevation chart below shows, had a couple of reasonably sharp climbs. The Yukon made light work of all of them though.

Elevation

I reached Redruth in time for lunch and although I was soaking wet, the rain had stayed away and the mist had cleared. I didn’t spend long in Redruth as I knew I needed to be in Padstow by 4pm or I’d probably miss my train, so as soon as I’d had something to eat I was off again. The ride from Redruth to Truro was great. I was back on route 3 at this point and enjoying some of the off-road sections and the beautiful scenery.

It was beautiful

The thought of a cappuccino at the Starbucks in Truro was tempting, but the rain had started again and I decided to just get to Padstow as quickly as possible. If I didn’t make it back in time to catch the last train to London I would probably be spending another night in Bodmin which I wasn’t particularly keen to do. For the last few hours of my trip it rained constantly. It was quite warm though and given I was already soaked, it seemed pointless putting on a waterproof so I was cycling in my short-sleeved Rapha base layer. I must have looked quite a sight in the pouring rain.

When I eventually reached Padstow I was exhausted, hungry, dripping wet, but absolutely overjoyed to be there. Padstow itself is delightful and one of the nicest places I’d visited on my trip. Although I’d made it for fish and chips, I didn’t think I’d have time to cycle to Bodmin and to be honest, even if I had the time, I’m not sure I could have drummed up the enthusiasm for another hour or two in the rain. Instead, the Yukon and I got a cab to the station and I ate my fish and chips en route.

My South West adventure was quite possibly the best holiday I’ve ever had. Five days on a fantastic bike with great food, beautiful scenery and incredible weather (most of the time). What’s not to love?

They were delicious

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