The Cornish Alps Pathfinder

Eleven Wheelers turned up, including two on sparkies, at Gnomeworld for the start of the October Pathfinder, organised by Phil Conroy. I thought there would have been a bigger turnout but it had been a bad week for Wheelers coming off their bikes so we were down by at least two of the usual suspects. Maybe the prospect of the Clay Country on a dull day may have deterred the less adventurous but they missed a really interesting route on a magnificent Indian summer’s day. It was glorious.

Phil’s route took us up to Treviscoe, where the last pit closed in the late 70’s, and on to Nanpean. It is surprising how rolling the terrain is and these were new roads for most of us. There were nice, rewarding long descents, all on quiet roads with views over the conical “sand barrows” and lagoons to the distant sea. Close up some of these Cornish alps have a weird, barren beauty. They have deeply eroded gullies from their conical or ridged tops where nature is slowly making its green comeback. Many have been planted with tree saplings. One high, steep cone near Carluddon is topped with the Kernow flag. Tempting to dub this cone Mt. Kernow I am reliably informed that this is West Carclaze Sand Tip. It was built using a skip on tram lines pulled by wire ropes and powered with an electric winch.

After Greensplat and Carthew we descended to the Wheal Martyn Museum café for the lunch stop, and very tasty it was too, as we sat in the sun. An old orange painted “plunger pump” on display outside made a surreal contrast to the hay bales in the green fields across the valley. The white statues of a group of clay workers outside the museum is striking.

At Scredda we briefly used the Clay trails neatly avoiding contact with the A road on our way past the wine producing Knightor Winery. Someone at the museum told me they even tried growing potatoes on one of the old sand barrows “a long time ago”. Passing the Eden Project we turned up to Bugle and Roche where there were climbers scaling Roche Rock. Phil’s planned route was thwarted as we tried to leave Roche passing a Road Closed sign, and then a second one on another lane. A friendly local pointed our error out in very clear terms! The way was well and truly barred. So a short deviation took us to Victoria and then under the Iron Bridge and over the Goss Moor Trail back to Indian Queens.

Thanks to Phil for a well thought out route and for all who turned up and enjoyed a hidden part of deepest Cornwall.


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