Whether you’re running, cycling or walking, the Bissoe Trail is a safe place to visit, imbued with rich Cornish mining history.
I’m no stranger to the Bissoe Trail. It’s mentioned in my blog post on flat running trails in Cornwall. I’ve run it many times as it’s a decent, flat trail ideal for long runs. While it’s popular with us runners and dog walkers, the Bissoe Trail is a well known and popular coast to coast cycle trail, suitable for all ages and abilities.
The Bissoe Trail goes from Devoran all the way to Portreath and is about 22 miles long (there and back). It follows the old mineral tramway, that used to transport copper and tin to the old port at Devoran. It’s a well marked trail, end to end, and easy to follow.
Parking for the Bissoe Trail is easy; there are several options. There’s a small free car park just on edge of Devoran. Alternatively, there are several parking spots further along the trail. The most popular is by Bike Chain at Bissoe, about 2-3 miles in.
Starting the Bissoe Trail at Devoran
Whether I’m running or walking, I always start the Bissoe Trail at Devoran – old habits die hard! For this bike ride though, I parked at Bike Chain. I wanted to cycle to Portreath and was mindful that I only had the school hours to complete the ride and get home.
I’m familiar with the Devoran end of the Bissoe Trail though. If you start here, you can safely cycle under the underpass and onto the dusty trail. Much of the trail here to Bike Chain is tarmaced, making it an easier ride. You pass under the viaduct and through several gates and road crossings, and before you know it, you’ll be at Bissoe.
From Bissoe to Scorrier
This part of the Bissoe Trail offers a different terrain to the first section. Dusty slightly bumpy trails, surrounded by somewhat barren or desolate land, with bracken and wild greenery takes you to Scorrier. As the Bissoe Trail used to be the mineral tramway, it’s no surprise to see old buildings and engine houses, partially hidden, on higher ground.
Admittedly, this part of the Bissoe Trail isn’t necessarily the most photogenic but it’s largely traffic free and safe. There’s lots of friendly cyclists around too. On this outing, I was caught out with a flat tyre. The air was escaping as quickly as I was pumping it in. Thankfully, help was at hand. I’ve no idea what The Kind Cyclist did (and neither did he), but he managed to revive my tyre and set me on my way! 🙏🏻
Before arriving at Scorrier, I cycled through Twelveheads and then through Poldice Valley. While the Bissoe Trail is mostly traffic free, there are a few short road sections and crossings. The majority of them are quiet. I passed the odd, secluded house, including one called Careless Whisper – the home of a George Michael fan, maybe?
Scorrier and onto Portreath
On previous visits to the Bissoe Trail, the furthest I’d managed is from Devoran to the road section at Scorrier. This is a busy junction and while you can go straight over on the road here, I can’t say it’s something I’d like to do, especially with small children in tow.
I opted to cycle about 100 yards to my left and cut through the Fox and Hounds car park. It’s a short distance to another busy junction that takes you past the Roddas clotted cream factory (yum) before turning left and heading off road again.
This is a lovely, sheltered bit of trail, again with a few short road sections. At one point I was stuck on a narrow lane, waiting for a taxi to leave. Aside from that, it was pretty easy going. There’s a lovely, gradual downhill ride along Nance Wood, before the trail reaches Portreath. Yay!
The return journey on the Bissoe Trail
I stopped for a much needed milky coffee and an insanely sweet Rocky Road at Portreath, and took a moment to appreciate the coastal view. It was a gloriously sunny day and I was itching to get in the sea. I was aware of my tired little legs though. They aren’t used to cycling at all, let alone 18 miles in total. I thought it would take me a while to get back to the car.
How wrong I was!
Once I got going, I couldn’t believe how quickly I reached Scorrier, and then my car at Bike Chain. At times, I felt like I was flying. I was pleasantly surprised!
When I reached my car, I felt like I’d totally accomplished something by cycling so many miles on the Bissoe Trail. Even though I’ve discovered new running trails recently, I don’t feel like I’ve really exerted myself since the RNLI swim last year. I came away from my bike ride smiling, finally acquiescing that I might actually like cycling after all.