Many of you will have seen my previous Trafalgar Way posts, but people have been asking for as much information in one post as possible, so here we are. A brief overview!
When I decided to cycle The Trafalgar Way, I was a little apprehensive, to say the least.
After taking part in the Trafalgar 200 anniversary celebrations as a young Sea Cadet in 2005, I had always planned to walk the route one day, but deciding to cycle it brought in a host of new, challenging factors...
- The furthest I had ever ridden on a bike was about 8 miles.
- I didn't like cycling.
- I didn't really have a suitable bike.
All somewhat problematic when you're planning to cycle from Falmouth to London...
What is The Trafalgar Way?
The Trafalgar Way is the route that was used to carry the dispatches with news of victory at the Battle of Trafalgar from Pendennis Point, Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. Lieutenant Lapenotière of HMS Pickle reached Falmouth on November the 4th and rode the 271 miles to London “express in a post chaise and four” taking 37 hours and costing £46.
He changed horses 21 times along the way and his account of expenses (saved in the Admiralty records) shows where he changed horse and how much it cost at each stop.
The route he took was the main Falmouth to London coach road and so each segment was between 10 and 15 miles.
In 2005, this journey was commemorated and plaques were posted along the route at key locations, giving details of the journey and of people in the area who fought with Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Conveniently, for my planning, Ordnance Survey actually created a commemorative map for the event, which I used to plan my route!
I decided to cycle the route in October last year, in order to finish on Trafalgar Day. I went out and bought a bike that was far superior to my brother's hand me down mountain bike, which I was riding at the time, and hopped on!
I did no training whatsoever, aside from cycling the 2 miles to and from work and so when the start came around, I felt a little unprepared... and it showed as I pedalled away from Pendennis Point to be faced with some wonderful liquid sunshine and those famous Cornish hills!
From Pendennis Point, we headed in to Falmouth, through the winding town streets until we reached the official start point of The Trafalgar Way.
Cycling out of Falmouth and in to Penryn, we found the next plaque on the side of the Town Hall with ease. From here we walked down a side alley, back to the coach road and headed up Truro Hill out towards the A39 and Truro.
We didn’t cycle the full A39 (which covers the old coach road) as the conditions were awful in the rain, and it's very busy, so we cut along next to it, using my trusty OS Maps app!
Eventually, after an unavoidable couple of miles on the A39 we cut off to Old Carnon Hill and along the old coach road in to Truro, to reach the plaque at Lemon Quay. From Truro, we took the B3275 out towards Ladock and on to Fraddon.
It’s a long straight run on a continual incline but there are markers all along this section of the road, from when it was used for coaching, and it was preferable to the A39.
Again, I tried to stick to the route as best I could, but sometimes using more suitable roads for cycling.
From Fraddon, we headed out along the old coach road through Indian Queens, past the Screech Owl Sanctuary and Gnome World (yes, that is a real thing) and basically cycled parallel to the A30 for the majority of the ride to Bodmin.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love hiking up hills but it when it comes to cycling up them?
Not a fan...
I was determined not to get off and push and so as slowly as I was cycling, I made it up the long, slow hill in to the town. At one point I think the bus behind me all but stopped... thankfully he waited patiently until he could get past me safely. We found the next plaque very easily next to the Shire Hall.
We continued out of Bodmin along the Camel Trail, partly because I hadn’t cycled any of it and it’s beautiful, but also because again it avoided a very nasty section of dual carriageway in terrible conditions! The fog was thick and heavy over Bodmin Moor.
Once into Launceston, you head in to the town centre and the plaque is on the front of the White Hart Hotel in the main square. From here you cycle out through Southgate Arch, the last remaining medieval gateway into Launceston, which dates from the time when Launceston was the only walled town in Cornwall.
From Launceston you head to Lifton. This is the shortest leg so far at around 2.5 miles and if you’re reaching Launceston in the middle of the day (or at any time really) there’s a brilliant farm shop en route. They sell some of the best pasties (despite being in Devon) and have a restaurant/shop etc… It’s a good spot to break up a ride if you need to! You then cycle down the same road for around 1 mile, in to the village to reach the next plaque on the side of the Arundel Arms.