Discover Cornwalls best trails. With over 250 miles of continuous coast path, areas of outstanding natural beauty, prehistoric burial sites and abandoned mine trails, Cornwall is a great place to go trail running, hiking or walking. Get out there and enjoy the experience!
Mine building at Poldice on the coast to coast mineral tramways trail (Cornwall).
Route: Coast to Coast Mineral Tramways Trail from Devoran to Portreath.
Terrain: Cycle trail, road
Farmland, mining heritage, ‘mining moonscape’
Max Height: 114m
Min Height: 4m
Total Asc: 198m
Total Desc: 191m
This trail’s distance of 11 miles makes for an out-and-back of 22 miles; perfect for marathon training.
Old chimney stack Bissoe trail.
For those used to Cornwall’s scenic coast, golden beaches and lush green farmland the mineral tramway offers a new landscape to explore. In parts more moonscape than landscape, where you are never far from a reminder of the areas fascinating industrial history.
Capped mine shaft on the mineral tramways trail (Cornwall).
It is hard to believe that only 150 years ago the whole area was one of the most industrialised areas in the world. Tramways and Railways traversed the route. Following the contours of the valleys which echoed to the sound of mining stamps and the toil of thousands of men below ground and women and children above ground. In the intervening 150 years, the smell of coal and laboring bodies has subsided and nature has slowly taken a hold. It is a testament to the power of nature and (perhaps given the current global environmental issues) reassuring to see that nature has the power to erase most of man’s past mistakes and mismanagement. Yet even the power of nature has been unable to heal all of the scars inflicted on this land in the name of profit and the pursuit of mineral riches.
Spotlight on Bodmin Moor: Following the Liskeard Caradon Railway across the open moors.
Image showing the distinctive stone block sleepers lining the old moorland railway route. Stowe’s Hill and the Cheesewring are ahead and Sharptor is on the far right horizon.
The thought of running an abandoned rail line across the wild moors of Cornwall seems too good an opportunity to miss. This is why the remains of the Liskeard Caradon Railway are a must for any trail runner visiting the area. The railway was built to service the local metal mines and granite quarries in the 19th century during the height of the industrial revolution. The mines are now long gone and the wild moor has once again reclaimed the wilderness. However if you look closely you can still trace the scar of the old railway across the moor. Stone sleepers once holding the rails in place now line the route like headstones.
Some wooded and cross county tracks, followed by miles of flat off road trails following Restronguet Creek, Mylor Creek and the Penryn River estuary with outstanding views across Carrick Roads and Falmouth Bay, Cornwall.
As we get out of the car the air is fresh, with a very light breeze coming off the sea. The early morning sun covers the cliffs in a weak golden glow. The sea is calm, a deep sapphire blue with little wavelets sparkling like glitter in the morning sun. The early start at Kynance Cove car park saw us arriving before the car parking attendant. Lucky there are no gates on the car park. We apply sun cream and check the straps on our packs. Then we walk across the car park to join the coast path. We take about 50 steps at a light jog before being stopped by a herd of highland cattle with calves on the path (these cattle are used by the National Trust to manage the vegetation). Their dark brown hair matted and damp in the morning dew. We walk past keeping away from the young. The cattle chew on regardless giving us little attention and we are soon breaking into a light jog. The trail is muddy and rutted, but today baked dry by the summer sun. We make good progress and are soon into a nice rhythm.
Cornwall is home to some great trail and ultra running races due to its dramatic scenery, changeable weather and abundant trails.
With so many great running spots we couldn’t cover them all in a ‘top 5’. So if your favourite spot doesn’t get a mention, please leave a comment below and we can review it for a future blog post.
Here is our top 5 list of the best trails in Cornwall to run.
Runner up – The Bissoe Trail
Being an old mine tramway this trail is mostly flat and wide enough to cycle 4 abreast. It also barely passes the trail running test of “if you can push a pushchair along it, it’s not a trail”. That said you do get a 22 mile round trip, off road, from coast to coast. Ideal.