The West Kernow Way
Updated: Feb 20
Apologies if you've come here looking for a wonderfully descriptive, inspiring read all about Cycling UK's new route, The West Kernow Way. If you check back in late May 2022 after I've ridden all 150 miles, then you'll probably find exactly that, but for the time being I thought I share a few thoughts on the route and my preparation.
"The West Kernow Way takes in many of the highlights of the western half of the Cornish peninsula, including the Botallack tin mines, the Bronze Age monument Mên-an-Tol, Land’s End, St Michael’s Mount and Lizard Point. Expect spectacular coastal scenery, hedgerows bursting with wildflowers and ancient tracks across isolated moorland.
There’s no denying it will be a challenge, with over 4,200m of climbing – but all that exertion provides a worthy excuse to sample the excellent Cornish cuisine. Designed to be ridden over three to four days, the route links together bridleways, byways, lost ways and quiet lanes to escape the tourist hotspots and discover hidden treasures which reveal the history and culture of the region."
As ever, the route is meticulously planned and brilliantly described in a full colour guide book, available as a download or traditional book. The guide not only details the route, but the history, culture and hint & tips for creating an epic trip!
I'm planning to ride with my brother again and we've chosen to complete the route over three days of approximately 50 miles each. We start at Penzance train station and spend two nights out on route before returning to Penzance, via St. Michael's Mount at the end of the third day.
Rather than camp this year we've elected for a B&B and a hotel allowing us to keep the kit to a minimum and the weight of the bikes low.
Day 1 - Penzance to St. Erth - 45 miles (72km), 950m ascent. 6 x cat. 5 climbs
Day 2 - St. Erth to Gweek (Helston) - 48 miles (77km), 1150m ascent. 5 x cat 5 climbs
Day 3 - Helston to St. Michaels Mount (Penzance) - 56 miles (90km), 1200m ascent. 1 x cat 3 & 1 x cat 5 ascent
There's stacks of camping sites all around the route, so we'd be spoiled if we were taking a tent. Unfortunately none of Cornwall's amazing YHA's coincide for a three day split and B&B's and hotels are a little more thin on the ground than you'd expect for a popular holiday destination. Perhaps a four day split would work out better?
We're staying in the Star Inn in St. Erth on the first night and a solidly reliable Premier Inn in Helston (a 3 mile detour off route) on the second night.
Finding a simple, accurate, GPS route always seams to elude me. That's why, in the main, I tend to make my own from scratch. I also find that many GPX files don't work on my GPS (a Garmin Oregon 600) and the versions on Cycling UK are always a bit hit and miss.
I've created the route here on Map My Ride, by painstakingly cross referencing the version on Cycling UK, with Ordnance Survey Maps, Google Maps and Google Street View, so hopefully it should be a pretty accurate representation.
Map my Ride link:
Or you can down load the GPX file here:
The West Kernow Way
Download GPX • 369KB
Or view the route on Google Earth via the .kml file here:
The West Kernow Way
Download KML • 179KB
If however you still want to just go with the official GPX file, here's a couple of links. The first to Cycling UK's website and the second to Ride with GPS.
Ride with GPS:
I rode my full suspension bike for last years King Alfred's Way adventure and it was a perfect choice. Although our trip was in early August, it was wet, muddy, slippery and in parts quite rough. The bike carried the load whilst floating over the rough stuff providing armchair comfort for all 230 miles.
Looking at the terrain for The West Kernow Way, there appears to be a greater quantity of road and rough trail and hopefully less slop. I'm planning to take the Adventure bike this time, its first long distance journey since its complete rebuild at the back end of 2021.
The Mk2 "Adventure bike"
I always try and select a suitable tyre to match the terrain, and for this trip the choice is easy enough. It'll be the (hugely underrated, imo) Schwalbe Land Cruiser 700c x 45. It's a cracking tyre both on an off-road and just enough robustness to repel trail damage without being too heavy.
As we're not carrying camping gear this time, I won't need a huge amount of kit. Most of the equipment will be stowed in my home made rear 2 x 8ltr dry-bag system and my home made frame bag (3 ltr). Camera gear and day-to-day bits and pieces will then go in my Topeak 5 ltr bar bag, which I first used on my 5 day ride along NCN #2. Tools will go in a small under seat pouch and snacks in a top tube bag.
Home made rear rack and dry-bag system (2 x 8ltr), tools in the Specialized underseat bag
Home made frame bag (3ltr)
Topeak bar bag (5ltr) - for camera and day-to-day bits
Specialized CrossTrail Elite Custom "Adventure bike" c/w drop bars, mullet 1 x11 40T 11-46t gearing and Schwalbe Land Cruiser 700c x 45 tyres
Bikepacking bags: Self-made rear rack and bag system (2 x 8ltr), Topeak bar bag (5ltr), Self made frame bag (3ltr), Specialized seat pack (0.5ltr), Topeak top tube bag (0.5ltr), Evoc Hip Pack Pro (3ltr)
Cycling clothes: Helmet, gloves, glasses, cycling shoes, padded cycling shorts, shorts, wool t-shirt, gilet, arm warmers, neck buff, windproof smock.
Spare clothes: Wool t-shirt, light weight fleece, leggings, socks, underwear, waterproof jacket and spare shoes.
Wash kit, towel and first aid items
Leatherman multitool, bike tools, innertube, pump, lights
Mobile phone, GPS, GoPro, Drone, battery(s), charger, cables
Check back here in June of this year to see how we got on. And if you're interested in how to go about planning a trip like this or want to read any of my other adventures, then click the links in the toolbar.
Cycling UK's - West Kernow Way