Plymouth to Fowey: Hills indeed! - Southwest England in April - CycleBlaze

April 8, 2014

Plymouth to Fowey: Hills indeed!

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919 metres (3015 feet) up, steepest grade 17%


After the stormy weather yesterday, we were relieved to see sunshine when we woke up after a good night's sleep. We both opted for the full English breakfast this morning which provided plenty of fuel for our first full day of cycling. We left the Barbican Reach about 9:30, cycling along the Hoe and past waterfront apartment buildings to the tiny Cremyll passenger ferry which took us across Plymouth Sound to Edgcumb. As we landed, the driver welcomed us to Cornwall and told us there were lots of hills. That turned out to be an understatement!

Clear, sunny skies outside our B&B
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Blossoms across the road from the B&B
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Photo of the Plymouth waterfront and Hoe taken on an earlier visit ten years previously. This is what it looked like before the 2014 storm damage to seaside restaurants. Our cycling route out of the city went along this road, past the apartment buildings beyond, by passenger ferry across the harbour, and into the hills of Cornwall to the west.
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Leaving the Plymouth side of the harbour by ferry
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On the Cremyll ferry from Plymouth
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The hills of Cornwall beckon beyond the harbour
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The ferry landing at Cremyll
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The ride today was largely along the coast with very varied scenery-—beautiful ocean vistas, very green fields, lots of sheep, river valleys, seaside towns, some busy A roads and some very quiet lanes (which tended to have the steepest grades).

We rode up past Edgcumb Manor, then down and along the seafront, then up, up, up to a very scenic road along the bluffs with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Holiday caravan parks and cottages were situated along this narrow road and there was some holiday traffic, but it wasn't too bad. We had wondered if it would be difficult to get used to cycling on the left side of the road, but Al had moved our rear-view mirrors to the right side of our handlebars, which made it much easier to accommodate the change.

We had planned to stop for lunch in Looe, more than halfway to Fowey, but we were nowhere near there past noon, so we altered course and had a lovely downhill run into the seacoast village of Downderry. The place looked quite prosperous with holiday condominiums, but no open cafe, so we rode along the shore a few more kilometres to Seaton at 23 kilometres. The Waves restaurant appeared just at the edge of the settlement where the Seaton river met the sea. We found a table by the window where we could see our bikes and waited in line to order sandwiches and drinks. It was quite crowded and apparently the only eating place around, but eventually we were served a very satisfying lunch—hot chocolate to start, then baguettes filled with prawns in rose-marie sauce and salad, along with good strong coffee.

After Seaton the road curved gently upward through a shady river valley and then rejoined the A road just in time for a really long steep hill. After the road levelled out we encountered warning signs that our planned route (the shortest) down into Looe was closed because of storm damage. That meant we had to take an alternate route--an extra 5 kilometres--so we were very glad we hadn't waited to eat lunch in Looe (at 37 km). The town, with its scenic harbour and lots of boats, was crowded with people and heavy traffic, and we had to push our bikes up another steep curvy A road on the way out of town. We pushed our bikes a lot that afternoon, the last time just before the final downhill run to the Bodinnick ferry which crossed the river Fowey to the town of Fowey on the other side.

Our halfway point (in distance) for the day at the harbour in Looe
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We finally arrived, tired and hungry, at the Well House B&B about 6 pm. The Well House is also a tearoom located in an old merchant house, possibly dating back to 1430. Tim and Paula, the pleasant young owners, are tastefully renovating the building, and our comfortable room overlooked a public garden and hillside walking path. It felt wonderful to shower and then go to dinner across the street at the Bistro, where we enjoyed very good roast lamb with white beans and curly kale. After dinner we strolled around the quiet streets of the picturesque town centre before returning to our room for an early night.

Today's ride: 55 km (34 miles)
Total: 61 km (38 miles)

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