May Bimbles

A month of local bimbles by bike and sea kayak in lieu of grander adventures deferred...

“But the Duchess starts bimbling And wambling and wimbling And threatens to wallop his ducal behind;”

– Leslie Charteris in The First Saint Omnibus: An Anthology of Saintly Adventures


May began with bold plans, none of which came to fruition, and instead became a month of bimbling around locally. I had hoped to be able to share tales of a grand sea kayak adventure off the west coast of Scotland with a couple of mates; a 3-week window of opportunity existed during which the plan was to be prepared, watch for a weather window and make the long trek north for a 10-day to two week journey afloat. A period of reasonable wind and swell conditions was needed but as our window opened the long range forecast steadily deteriorated as each day passed, and with it being a 1700 mile round trip drive from here, the decision was made to defer.. perhaps June will oblige.

90 miles of tracks, trails, and unclassified “grass up the middle” lanes, three ferries, and one large serving of fish and chips later I was back on the network of old mining trails of the west

Still keen to make the most of post-pandemic opportunity I thought perhaps I would instead hop on a train north and ride the route of the Highland Trail 550 – something I’ve wanted to do for a while.. until I looked for tickets. Cornwall can be a devil at the best of times as far as escaping north is concerned, and I do wonder if I’m perhaps out of touch, but return ticket prices of between £480 and  £576 did seem somewhat excessive, and with a journey time of 18-21hrs and 4-6 changes each way (each leg of which I have to book a bike onto) it felt like a bit of an expensive ballache;  it’s cheaper and easier to go to Spain, and happily I already have a ferry ticket south for later in the summer. The plan, such as it is, being to be bimble my way around on as many interesting trails as I can find, catch up with a few friends, and get back to enjoying some street photography in interesting places. But back to the train ticket, for that kind of money one can go all the way across the Atlantic; is it any wonder that it’s hard to get people to choose less environmentally damaging means of travel.

As for that opening quote, I’d gone looking for the origins of the word bimble, and stumbled across that rather wonderful sentence instead, which I liked (read into that what you will), so without further ado, the bimbles of May…

Keen to salvage something I bought a one way ticket to Plymouth with my bike, figuring I’d ride up onto Dartmoor for a few days before riding home.. until a friend in the area reminded me it was Ten Tors weekend.. gah! With the cost of changing the ticket being more than the original ticket price I went to Plymouth anyway but instead used it as an opportunity for a poke around the quiet byways of the far east of Cornwall… beginning with a ride on the Cremyll ferry across the Tamar. It’s a lovely trip across, disembarking onto a very green and scenic corner of Cornwall.
The far east of Cornwall feels like a forgotten corner after the tourism-heavy west. Quiet villages and green lanes appear largely ignored by visitors heading to the honeypots deeper into the county. This is Cawsand, one half of the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand on the Rame Peninsula.
Terrific views looking west over Whitsand Bay
The countryside has a completely different feel to that I’m used to… more ‘gentle’… and, like much of England, something of an ecological desert in spots.
I think this was Seaton, I wasn’t really paying attention…. It’s a coast I’ve paddled on a number of occasions but not much explored by bike east of Looe.
Trails are in short supply in the east but I did manage to link up a few good sections, in all their spring glory, with some hike-a-bike in spots.
Vicious…. indeed! Also Looe.
Waiting for the ferry in Polruan. I like Polruan, it feels ‘reassuringly normal’ unlike it’s twin, Fowey, across the river..
Approaching home turf, looking out towards Nare Head and The Roseland, and in the far distance, the eastern side of the Lizard Peninsula.
Some cheeky stretches of coastal singletrack…
Restronguet creek at Devoran. During the heyday of Cornish Mining ores were brought to the port here by rail from the heartland of Cornish mining country. The old railway line is now a gravel cycle path….
.. like this in fact. 90 miles of tracks, trails, and unclassified “grass up the middle” lanes, three ferries, and one large serving of fish and chips later I was back on the network of old mining trails of the west. It was good ride.
Last bit – the bluebells in Tehidy woods really were magnificent. Tehidy Country Park is the largest area of woodland in the west of Cornwall, and given the depleted state of British woodlands in general I feel lucky to have this on my doorstep.
The sea thrift was similarly magnificent this spring too… this is a different ride.
The month was still a good one for sea kayaking…
This was one of those really special days that felt just perfect. Warm spring sunshine, light winds, and a solid swell running… large enough to keep the adrenalin flowing and skills sharp, but not so large as to make intimate coastal exploration and play impossible. The light was dramatic with the black cliffs of The Lizard in shadow and the super reflective whitewater around the rocks and gullies.
I gave up trying to photograph after a while.. challenging lighting conditions aside, conditions were mostly too bouncy to be able to handle a camera effectively while also keeping things safely under control. I like the layers in this pic.
The colour of that ocean…
Returning to Mullion harbour, sheltered from the swell by the island just offshore.
It doesn’t need to be a big adventure to make a difference to the day to day. I’d been wanting to revisit a favourite spot for a while.. it’s so easy to find reasons not to, but throwing a few things at a bicycle after work, riding out for a few hours and a night out has so much value. Sadly I had to pick up litter left by others before settling in for the night, but aside from that and some inexcusable fire damage it was just as lovely as I remembered.
People spend tens of thousands of ££ on kitchens, but really a flat rock will do just fine…. and anyway, aren’t stone worktops in vogue these days..?
Making the most of what’s left of the quieter times before the season really kicks off.
As an aside Puffin Burrows continue to trickle out, which suits me just fine. I finally found the time to sling up a quick and simple page for it, It’ll do for now, I’m not trying to build a bag empire.
It’s proving to be uncommonly useful, and durable too. This is the prototype 9l packed for a night out. Because it’s the rough prototype I’ve been doing my best not to look after it so that I have an excuse to make myself a production standard one in a colour perhaps more suited to that bike.. but despite my best efforts over the last few years it refuses to die, or even look slightly poorly :-)


4 thoughts on “May Bimbles

  • Nice story and photos as usual. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, do they? I had a summer of riding and kayaking planned until I had a misadventure on my bicycle and broke my shoulder. Now looking at 4 to 6 months of rehab post surgery. When you put so much mental investment into being outdoors, a disruption in your physical health or even the impact that weather can have on your plan, can really throw a wrench into things. Lucky that you have a good stomping grounds so close to home

    • Hi Bob, I’m sorry to hear about your shoulder, that’s really unfortunate.. I wish you a speedy recovery. You’re spot on with the mental impact, I felt same over the winter when my ankles were still injured from being hit by a car, being limited in terms of what I wanted to do outdoors, and the absence of clarity over how long it was going to take to recover, or even if they would fully, was really hard to deal with.

  • It’s nice to have a pictorial reminder of Cornwall, I haven’t been for a long time. Maybe you should rebrand your blogs as “Environmentally friendly breaks in Cornwall” :-).

    • haha, cheers, it’s a thought… anything that might encourage people to leave the car at home – it was bad this past holiday weekend…!

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