Are you thinking of doing the Camel Trail in Cornwall with kids? This is becoming such a popular family activity in Cornwall and its something our family love to do almost every year! In this post we’ve broken down everything you need to know about cycling the Camel Trail with your kids. We share with you the best place to hire bikes, what to take with you, what you’ll see along the way, the best things to do in Padstow at the end of the trail and so much more!
The Camel Trail is hands down one of the best bike routes in Cornwall for families. Not only is it an easy ride for all ages, but its flat and dependant on where you start, it doesn’t take very long. Grown ups will love it because of the beautiful views and kids will love the freedom of a traffic free route, with the promise of a delicious ice cream at the end!
The Camel Trail With Kids
The Camel Trail is an old disused railway line. It’s suitable for younger riders, older riders and riders with disabilities. As I mentioned above, it’s the ideal route for a family bike ride. Not only does the route boast beautiful views, but it’s almost entirely free of traffic and it’s pretty flat for almost the entire length.
The Camel Trail is 18 miles long, but you can start the trail at three different stages. The majority of families opt for the shortest route which is 5.5 miles between Wadebridge and Padstow. This one is our particular favourite too and we can’t recommend it enough. However, if you fancy a longer ride here are your options.
- Wenford Bridge to Padstow (via Bodmin and Wadebrige) – 18 miles
- Bodmin to Padstow (via Wadebridge) – 12 miles
- Wadebridge to Padstow – 5.5 miles
There are places to park your car and also places to hire bikes at each ‘stop’ of the route so you really can start wherever you want to.
Where To Hire Bikes For The Camel Trail
If you don’t want to bring your own bikes, you really don’t need to! There are lots of bike hire shops to choose from and they’re spread out between Wadebridge, Bodmin and Wendford Bridge. If you have kids, we highly recommend, especially in busier seasons, that you ring up and book your bikes in advance from your chosen bike shop.
Prices are pretty consistent so it doesn’t really matter which bike hire place you choose. However, they do sell out of kids seats, kids trailers and kids bikes quickly, so booking them beforehand will help you to avoid disappointment.
There are three places to hire bikes in Wadebridge. I’m highlighting these, because Wadebridge to Padstow really is the best starting point for families.
The bike shops here are ‘Bridge Bike Hire‘, ‘Bike Smart‘ and ‘Camel Trail Cycle Hire‘. All of these are located just as you come into Wadebridge and they can be found right at the starting point of the Camel Trail that leads to Padstow. Only one of them has a car park, but there is a council car park just inside the main town. This is only a few minutes walk from all the bike hire shops.
How Long Does The Camel Trail Take?
This really depends on the riding abilities of your family and where you leave from. If you’re doing the short route from Wadebridge to Padstow (we definitely recommend this one for younger kids) then it’ll take you about 45 minutes to an hour.
If you’re going from Bodmin to Padstow it’ll take you about two to two and a half hours, depending on how often you stop. However, if you are going all the way from Wenford Bridge it’ll take you about three and a half hours.
As a family we’ve always just done the short route. We’ve usually timed it so we’ll arrive in Wadebridge in the morning around 10. This means we can grab our bikes and we’ll get into Padstow with enough time to look around some shops before stopping for lunch. All the bike hire shops shut at 5 so you want to time it so you’re back for then!
What To See Along The Camel Trail
The Camel Trail runs alongside the Camel Estuary. Along the way, you will be spoilt with views of the estuary and beautiful countryside. If you go beyond Wadebridge towards Bodmin and Wenford Bridge you’ll also see some pretty little towns, villages, woodlands and more!
It really is such a peaceful scenic route. There is plenty of wildlife to spot along the way too. If you fancy a rest or some lunch there are picnic benches along the route and also little stop offs that are perfect for picture taking.
Most famous of all though, is the little seaside town of Padstow right at the very end of the trail. This really is a lovely must see!
What To Take On The Camel Trail
No matter which route you are taking along the Camel Trail, we highly recommend you take a few things with you. Especially the following:
- Water or a drink
- Suncream and sunglasses on warmer days
- Jumper or light jacket (no matter the weather)
We have done the Camel Trail lots of times before and from experience, especially with younger kids, you might find yourself stopping for the occasional break. The smallest trail might only be 5 miles, but you’d be amazing how the cries of ‘I’m hungry’ suddenly start coming from every child in a small radius of you. You also don’t want to be rushing when you get to Padstow, to find somewhere to eat. Plus, in the Summer months you might find yourself waiting for a table. So, snacks and water are a must!
We also really recommend taking a jumper or light jacket, even on a really warm day. In the photos I’ve shared, it was actually 23 degrees in Wadebridge and baking hot. I regretted wearing jeans and couldn’t believe I forgot suncream! Yet when we arrived in Padstow, it was shrouded by sea mist – as you can see by our approaching pictures – and it was 16 degrees! Quite a difference in temperature. We forgot Evie’s jumper and it got very chilly!
Take note from a local, Cornwall is very weird weather wise. Always pack for all weathers. It is very normal to find that one town is experiencing beautiful sunshine, while the next town over is chilly and rainy.
What to do in Padstow
For some reason I don’t actually have any photos to share of Padstow, other than family snaps of us. We’re so local that I never think to take my camera and actually capture the town. Next time I will and I’ll definitely upload them to this post when I do!
Padstow in Cornwall is a really small and beautiful, seaside fishing town. You probably won’t want to spend more than half a day here, unless you do some of the towns activities. But, you will absolutely adore the architecture and the vibe of the town.
When you arrive with your bikes, there are plenty of spots to hook them up with your locks. You will see 100’s of 1000’s of bikes all chained up along the way (I’m not joking) so anywhere you see a spot, put your bikes. The summer months are the busiest, so be prepared for crowds. Our favourite times to visit is May, June and September. This is when its still really warm, but quiet enough to avoid the crowds.
Here are some of the things you can do in Padstow:
- Look around the beautiful shops
- Go on a Sea Safari
- Fish for crabs off the Harbour wall
- Visit the National Lobster Hatchery
- Shop in the craft fair in the Memorial Hall
- Eat an ice cream
- Sip (and buy some) delicious wine at Bin Two
- Play crazy golf on the green
There are some really beautiful shops in Padstow. From homeware shops, to clothing shops, souvenir shops and so much more. One of the reasons I always hire a bike with a basket is because I always come away laden with goods! There are also loads of delicious places to eat in Padstow and it has fast become a town for foodies.
Where To Eat In Padstow
We highly recommend stopping for lunch in Padstow. Lucky for you, you’re spoilt for choice with eateries. There are Michelin starred restaurants, family restaurants, seafood cafes, fish and chip takeaways and pubs a plenty. Or if you fancy a takeaway bite to eat, you could always tuck into a Cornish pasty. There are literally three amazing pasty shops in a row in Padstow!
If you are a big foodie however, you will love:
- Paul Ainsworth at No.6 (you really do need to book this one in advance)
- Prawn On The Lawn (a new incredible seafood place)
- Greens Cafe (which also has mini golf outside)
- Appleton’s At The Vineyard (slightly out of Padstow. You also need to book in advance)
If you’re a fan of Rick Stein you also have plenty of options. He has his own deli, fish and chip place, seafood restaurant and patisserie! Personally I think his fish and chips are very overpriced, but I love his Deli which you’ll walk past just after you park your bike in Padstow. There is some amazing food and drink in that deli!
One of our favourite casual family places to eat is Rojanos In The Square. It has a really good range of gluten free options, including gluten free pizza which is pictured above. It does get really busy though, so either turn up right on lunch time or ring to book a table.
More Things To Do In Cornwall With Kids
Those were our top tips about doing the Camel Trail in Cornwall with kids. If you’re looking for more tips and Cornish inspiration for your holiday, definitely check out the ‘Cornwall‘ section Life Unexpected. We share reviews of the best family days out in Cornwall, the best family places to stay in Cornwall, as well as inspiration about where to eat and where to shop! Here are some of our favourite posts to get you started:
- 50 Things To Do In Cornwall With Kids
- 10 Of The Best Family Days Out In Cornwall
- 15 Things To Do On A Rainy Day In Cornwall