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Two ferries and a cable – Looe to Carnon Downs (69/21,135ks, 1,060m)

(written by Dave)

We both slept pretty well in the camping pod.  It was very quiet and much warmer than our tent.  Plus, this morning we didn’t have to worry about drying the tent so we were able to start a little earlier.  Our route today took us over many back roads – even the guidebook noted that navigation would require extra care so as not to miss certain turns.  Sometimes these guide books are enough to drive you mental, “turn right, follow the path for 60 feet, look for the white house and turn left, travel another 100 feet and look for the brown cow, turn right”.  Ok, ok, I made the cow part up but there are times when the instructions are that silly.  What happens if the owner of the white house paints it red?  We all get lost.  We knew that we had to two ferries today and eventually we gave up on following the guide notes and simply followed the road signs for the ferries.  By the first ferry we know we ended up adding a few extra ks but it was better than trying to read a book and look out for brown cows and white houses.

We passed through Looe almost as soon as we left the caravan park.  It looked like a great little fishing village.  We should have ridden in there last night and gotten a B&B.  Oh well, another place to put on the return trip list.  The next destination was the Fowey Ferry.  Along the way, we had some really steep Cornwall hills to climb.  At one point Nancy’s bike started changing gears without her doing anything.  It became so bad that we had to stop and have a look.  It turns out that her rear derailleur cable was just about broken, frayed through, and we need to pull over and perform yet another roadside repair.  I’m not a big fan of changing this particular cable because it is hard to get the shifting just right.  It didn’t take long to swap the cables and on the first try I got the shifting right – I’ve never done that before, certainly not while the bike is sitting in the middle of a field with rear panniers still in place, must have been my day.  Nancy shifted very carefully the rest of the day but over time she’s gaining confidence that the repair will hold.  My fingers are crossed as well.

We eventually made it to the Fowey Ferry and continued to the bigger town of St Austell where we found a great bakery for an early lunch.  It was only 11:30 and with the cable and the multiple map checks we were behind the day’s planned schedule.  Still, it was a good stop as the bakery served the best egg and bacon rolls that we’ve had in the UK.  Plus we bought some treats for later in the day – it’s hard to leave a bakery without something extra in the handlebar bag for later.

From St Austell we had to make our way to the King Harry Ferry.  This was about 20 miles and involved more navigational challenges.  I should mention that we’ve not had a 3G signal for most of the last two days.  This means no maps and no email.  We can still make calls but we can’t get data.  It would seem that rural Cornwall is not very wired, at least for 3G.  The route to the ferry was not overly complicated once we started following the signs and ignoring the book again.  And we had no bike issues for this leg, thank goodness.

The ferry itself is one of a few “chain” pulled ferries left in the UK.  The chain ferry was installed in 1888 and they claim that some form of ferry has been in operations here for over 500 years.  They also bill this as “green” transport as there is no boat motor.  Don’t be confused however, there are no horses pulling the chain so even though there is no motor on the ferry, there is still a motor somewhere that pulls the chain.  The ferry is free for pedestrians and bikes.  Well, it was actually cash positive for us – I found a 10 pound note on the ground as we rode up to the waiting area.  Nice little bonus for the day.

We only rode 4 miles beyond the ferry to reach our campsite but they were some tough miles.  There were a number of steep pitches before we reached Come to Good Road where there was a final, longish section that hit 16%.  We’d already hit 15% earlier in the day and had over 1,000 metres of climbing so far, we really didn’t need 16% thrown in at the end.

We are camping at a swish campsite in Carnon Downs.  They have nice grass, very large pitches and even picnic tables.  We set up our tent and got stuck into showers and chores.  I took the second shower and ran our shorts through the dryer while Nancy got things sorted for dinner.  While I was away, the folks in the mondo tent next to us came back.  We had put some stuff on the table between our sites.  Well, the man in the tent did not take kindly to this.  He was so pissed off that he backed his car into the table and started to give Nancy a real serve.  He didn’t like us using his table and said that we’d set our tent up over some invisible line that divided our sites.  Well, as can probably guess, Nancy was apologetic but firm.  The man was very upset and stormed into his tent, only to come back out shortly thereafter and move the table over to our site and tell us, “we had to use it”.  It seems that he was having a bad day and from the noise coming from the tent his wife told him to stop being such a twit.  Nancy was quite animated when she came over the amenities block and told me the whole story.  Everything is quiet now and the wife has come over to apologise a number of times for her partner’s behavior.  The man continues to stomp about and huff.  They’ve been on a camping holiday for 2 weeks.  Perhaps they should have called time on the camping a few days ago.  For all that we’ve camped on this trip to have this happen now in “polite” England is pretty funny.  At least the people on our side of the pitch dividing line are laughing.

Tomorrow we ride our last day of JOGLE.  We have 35 miles to go to reach Land’s End.  Then we have to ride back another 10 miles to Newlyn where we’ve booked a house for a week.  We will post this from the house as no 3G means no posting as well.  We are quite excited about reaching the end of JOGLE.  It has been a lot harder than we thought it would be.  The roads here are steeper than anywhere else than we’ve ridden on this trip.  The weather has not been fantastic and we’ve had quite a few bike issues.  All up, it’s been hard, but I think we’ll feel pretty satisfied when we pull it off.

PS: the house for sale can be found here.

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4 responses to “Two ferries and a cable – Looe to Carnon Downs (69/21,135ks, 1,060m)

  1. More beautiful photos. I like the picture of Nancy “riding the backroads of Cornwall” – that is some hedge row – not a lot of visibility to the sides on that road! Interesting to hear about the steep climbs you have encounered. I think of England as relatively flat, but of course when biking it is the small scale that matters. Your week in a house is well deserved. Hope you find some nice English bitters to sample.

    • The grades all come down to road design.  Old roads, which they have here mostly, tend to go in straight lines, regardless of the grade.  You see this on the east coast of the US as well.  Out west mostly roads follow grades, for the most part.  

      Off looking for a bitter tonight – celebratory diner at a local pub.  

  2. Like the house!

    • First time on the market in 45ish years.  Lots of updating needed but it would be a fun project.  Once you finish your kitchen in London, you’ll be all practiced up and ready to put in a offer perhaps!

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