Liz is a photographer based in London. We met at Eroica Britannia last Summer, where she let us know about her upcoming unsupported ‘let’s see what happens’ cycle tour in the south of France. As Liz explains, that trip didn’t quite happen, but she headed off for a week nonetheless, retracing her childhood roots on a touring bike in south-west Cornwall instead. As well as taking these atmospheric shots on her grandma’s old Olympus AF-1, they took one of our MSR Hubba Hubba NX s and some of our cookware for a good ol’ road test…
We were going to France. We’d stay in an Airbnb somewhere near Arles and do daily rides to market towns and ruins, with bags filled with cheese and fresh fruit. Yeah, it was going to be hot, but that’s OK when there are plenty of beautiful clear rivers to jump into along the way. We’d take the Eurotunnel over the English Channel and then the TGV from there. Maybe even the Eurostar if the tickets weren’t too pricey. Then June came with a drought, no work; one of the perils of being a freelance photographer that I’ve learnt to weather. So, with a stripped back budget, we had to rethink our plans.
Cornwall has always been special to me. Growing up in Gloucestershire, it was an easy place for us to travel to that felt entirely different from home. An escape. Mum and Dad would bundle my little sister and I into the back of the car – sometimes with a wall of pillows/coats between us to stop us from scrapping – and we’d drive the four hours to north Cornwall. Those trips left me with fond memories of saffron buns from the little bakery in St Mawes, visits to see the seals in the sanctuary in Gweek, and chasing around the gardens in Heligan.
Cycle touring in France went out the window and we set our sights on Cornwall…
"For this trip we stayed at each campsite for two nights ... We took our time to explore, walk and kayak when we fancied"
Leading up to our departure I felt nervous – we aren’t seasoned tourers. And, whenever I mentioned cycling in Cornwall to any of my cycling friends, they did that thing where you suck air through your front teeth and look pained. “There are some serious hills down that way” or “the weather can be biblical” they would say, before recalling tales of unholy wind resistance.
Upon arriving in Penzance, legs stiff from the five-ish hours on the train from London, we clambered onto our bikes aiming for Land’s End along Cycle Route 3. Out of Penzance we rode and on through Mousehole where we met our first utterly ridiculous climb as we rounded the corner out of the village; off our bikes we got and pushed, grumbling and feeling a little deflated just a few kilometers after setting off.
Last September we had cycled to Copenhagen, and whilst we
enjoyed it, we were on a strict time limit to catch our flight back home. Each day we were cycling from 8am until early evening, not really allowing ourselves time to stop and relax. For this trip we stayed at each campsite for two nights – two in Sennen, two in St Ives, and two in Porthleven. We took our time to explore, walk and kayak when we fancied.
As the week went on, there were more climbs which – for the most part – got easier, some high winds overnight and one puncture, thanks to some Dad being an idiot on his child’s penny board. We got a trip to the Seal Sanctuary, took part in one pub quiz and ate way too much ice cream. Who needs France when you’ve got beautiful scenery in the UK and a pannier-load of nostalgia? To add to my nostalgia, these are all photos I took along the way on my Grandma’s old Olympus AF-1, which – thinking about it – was probably the camera she used the last time we all visited Cornwall together.