Walking and Cycling The Camel Trail in Cornwall

The Camel Trail is a popular scenic walking, horse and cycling route in Cornwall. It stretches approximately 18 miles (around 29 km) along a disused railway line. This multi-use trail follows the course of the River Camel and connects the towns of Padstow, Wadebridge, Bodmin, and Wenfordbridge. 

The trail is mainly flat and traffic-free, making it accessible for walkers and cyclists of all ages and abilities.

The Camel Trail offers stunning views of the Cornish countryside, making it a favourite for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The route runs through both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), including estuaries and woodlands, providing opportunities to observe a wide range of wildlife. 

The trail’s gentle gradient and well-maintained surface make it ideal for families with children, individuals with mobility issues, and those looking for a leisurely outdoor activity. Various access points along the route allow for shorter trips if desired, with the route having three main sections:

  • Padstow to Wadebridge – 5.5 Miles (8.8 Km)
  • Wadebridge to Bodmin – 5.75 Miles (9.25 Km)
  • Bodmin to Wenfordbridge – 6.25 Miles (10.1 Km)

Key Camel Points of Interest

The Camel Trail shows Cornwall’s rich history, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. Each point of interest along the trail tells a part of the larger Cornwall story, making the journey as enriching as the destinations along the way.

  • Padstow: A charming fishing port known for its culinary scene, Padstow marks one end of the Camel Trail. Visitors can enjoy local seafood, explore the harbour, and visit the nearby estuary beaches.
  • The Camel Estuary: The area is recognized for its ecological importance and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is the perfect spot for the birdwatchers.
  • Wadebridge: Approximately halfway along the trail, Wadebridge is a bustling market town with shops, cafes, and amenities. It serves as a convenient starting or resting point for trail users.
  • Bodmin: Further inland, Bodmin offers historical attractions such as the Bodmin Jail and Bodmin Moor. The town is also a gateway to exploring Cornwall’s inland landscapes, and several alternative routes diverge and converge here, making it a bustling hub for trail users.
  • Wenfordbridge: Serving as the trail’s inland terminus, Wenfordbridge is close to Bodmin Moor and offers a more secluded starting or ending point for trail users looking to explore the Moor’s rugged beauty.
  • Railway History: Much of the Camel Trail follows the route of a former railway line, part of the North Cornwall Railway (NCR), which closed in the 1960s. The transformation from railway to trail is a testament to the adaptive reuse of historical infrastructure for public enjoyment. On your walk or cycle ride, see what you can still spot: the abandoned stations, signs and old bridges.

Walking and Hiking on the Camel Trail

  • For All Levels: The trail’s flat and even surface makes it ideal for leisurely walks, family outings, and more ambitious hikes. The lack of steep inclines ensures that it’s accessible for people of varying fitness levels, including those with pushchairs or wheelchairs.
  • Scenic Beauty: The trail offers a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Cornwall, from the picturesque estuary at Padstow to the wooded valleys closer to Bodmin and Wenfordbridge. Each section of the trail has its unique charm, and there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, especially birds.
  • Points of Interest: Along the way, walkers can explore historical and cultural sites in the surrounding towns and villages. From Padstow’s maritime heritage to Bodmin’s historical significance, there’s plenty to discover off the trail.

Cycling on the Camel Trail

  • Ideal for Bicycles: The trail’s smooth surface and gentle gradients are perfect for cyclists. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for a relaxing ride or a family seeking a safe environment for children to cycle, the Camel Trail caters to all.
  • Bike Hire: Several businesses along the route offer bike hire, including options for children’s bikes, tandems, and trailers. This makes it easy for visitors who do not have their own bicycles to enjoy a day out on the trail.
  • Circular Routes: While the Camel Trail offers a linear route, cyclists can create circular routes incorporating country lanes and bridleways for a varied and more challenging ride.
  • Walkers have the right of way: Remember that walkers always have the right of way.

The Camel Trail is open year-round and free to use. Visitors to Cornwall can easily incorporate a trip to the trail into their itinerary, whether they’re looking for a full day’s adventure or just a few hours of scenic exploration.

When to visit? We believe May/June and September are the best, on either side of the UK Summer holidays; you get good weather and fewer crowds. The UK summer holidays in July and August have the most visitors.

As with any outdoor activity, the principle of leaving no trace should be followed. Ensure that any waste is removed from the trail and disposed of properly to maintain the trail’s cleanliness and enjoyment for all users.

Cornwall Council and The Camel Trail Partnership manage the Camel Trail; see their website for details. For more information on Cornwall and the areas covered in this article, see our Cornwall Visitors Guide.