In my continuing effort to ride every road in Cornwall, the other day, I decided to ride to the Shops.
“Shops as well as roads?” I hear you all ask, “How many shops are there? There must be millions!”
“No, not shops, silly – Shops!”
In Cornwall we have Shops. These are places/hamlets/villages almost invariably at cross-roads and were originally real shops. In rural locations they would have been blacksmiths shops mending plough-shares and shoeing horses, and in the mining districts they would have sold provisions and tools. Some of these shops would take local currency or tokens – often called chips or scrip. These places would have flourished in the industrial days when folk never strayed from their own village.
I dug out a road atlas, I Googled and I Wiki’d, and produced a short list:
Then, I tried to work out a route to take them all in whilst finding new roads to cycle on. I turned out to be completely impossible to do in a day, so I had to divide it up, and on Tuesday I set out to the north.
First stop wasn’t far – only 4miles away – into Devon to Chipshop and it's unusual in that it’s in Devon and as far as I know, it’s the only Shop outside of Cornwall.
There’s nothing there but a small collection of houses, a farm, and a pub set on a cross-roads. This pub used to be called the Hare and Hounds, then the Chipshop Inn, and now the Copper Penny. The pub has in it’s possession a Tavistock Penny – local currency from the 19th century. To my knowledge, the pub has always been known as The Chip, despite it’s variable official name.
Off I went, heading through Launceston and up to Holsworthy, then westward and north again, and north and north and north. The weather changed. It got chilly and windy as I reached the Far North of Cornwall, it’s surprising how exposed the top corner of the SW peninsular is. I’m used to the sheltered southern valleys and open exposed countryside is another experience. My destination up there was Shop, a small village with school, a football field for Morwenstow FC, and a large collection of houses. I didn’t see a shop in Shop, but there may have been one!
Then, I turned south. I’d done just over 40miles to get to Shop and now turning south I would be heading home. On the way, I was going to take in a few new roads to add to my collection. I headed westerly at first, passing GCHQ Bude with the dozens of satellite tracking dishes arrays and barbed wire fences. You can see the massive dishes up on the headland for miles around, especially when they are lit up in sunshine, their white paintwork sticking up like a beacon. Past there, I turned south into the very steep Coombe Valley with a zig-zag hill down, across a little bridge, then up a zig-zag hill back out, then I headed for Bude. As I turned right at a cross-roads, I was almost shocked to find Inch’s Shop. It wasn’t on my list, and it isn’t on any maps that I’d looked at. Inch’s Shop is only the cross-roads, nothing else except the sign!
100yds further along, I entered the village of Poughill and headed for Bude. I got to wondering that even though I’d researched and missed the fact that Inch’s Shop existed, there may be more somewhere, hidden from Wiki and Google, and hidden from my sphere of knowledge. I must try harder.
Bude was full of tourists. Although chilly and very windy, it was sunny and bright, and the throngs of late-breaker holiday-makers sat in cafes, wandered from shop-to-shop and scoffed chips and candy floss. I whizzed through and continued south to the surfing beach resort of Widemouth Bay. Although we’ve been to Bude and Widemouth a few times, I’d never cycled through, so this bit of the route would be ticked off on my maps when I got home.
At the far southern end of Widemouth, I turned east away from the blustery coast and towards the A39 and Box’s Shop. Again, there was nothing there except a sign at a cross-roads.
Off again onto new roads to Week St Mary and 60miles done and I grabbed a pasty from the local shop. Yum!
Here on in, I’d be on “old roads” I’d been on before for the last 30odd miles of the day. I planned on getting the the Rising Sun Inn near home for well-earned beers where Hilary would meet me with something warm to wear and shoes I could walk home in, but before that, I had more Shops to visit. Or should I say, “re-visit” as they are all very familiar as they are on my regular cycling routes.
I cut across through the countryside vis the villages of Canworthy Water and Tresmeer, then crossed the busy Davidstow/Launceston A395 and down a steep valley over the river Inny and up again to Treween, Altarnun and Five Lanes. There, I took a break at the King’s Head next to the “Old Old” A30. I downed a pint and devoured a packet of peanuts whilst sitting outside on a bench in the sunshine.
The village of Fivelanes is unusual in that it’s been by-passed twice. The original A30 coaching road went though the village, then in the 1960s (?) the Old A30 was built to by-pass the dog-leg of the narrow road, then in the mid 1980’s the Old A30 was by-passed by the New A30 dual carriageway. This has left Fivelanes and the neighbouring hamlet of Trewint rather quiet backwaters.
Mind you, because of the A30 dual carriageway, it makes Fivelanes difficult to get to safely by bicycle unless you know the back lanes. Luckily I do. Had I not, I’d have had to us the dual carriageway to get homeward. Not too bad to cycle on really, but in order to turn south when heading east, you have to cross over onto the centre reservation and across the opposite carriageway to enter the B3257 for Congdon’s Shop – my next destination. Instead, when leaving Fivelanes, go under the dual carriageway, turn left and follow tiny narrow lanes through Trevague, and pop out onto the B3257. Simple when you know it!
A few miles later, I was in Congdon’s Shop. Another cross-roads here with the B3257 crossed by the Liskeard/Launceston B3254. Nowt there except a house, a bus stop, and a farm.
I headed south and through the village of Coad’s Green and thence to my penultimate Shop for the day, Bray Shop. This village is on a cross-roads but as well as the main road, there are no less than five minor roads off it.
If there was not much at some of these Shops today, Taylor Shop has probably the least, not even a sign to announce its presence, but at least its on the map – unlike Inch’s Shop, but at least that place had a sign! I suppose you can’t have it all. Taylor Shop is at major junction on the busy A388.
A few short miles later, I leant my bike up against the wall of the Rising Sun. Ride done. Going Shopping Part One complete. I was tired and worn out, but happy. The slow walk home, a hot shower and a bite to eat was really welcome!
92.66miles in just under 9hrs. Phew!
My next Shopping trip will be a bit problematical. I have to visit Budge’s Shop (only a dozen miles from here, so that’s easy), then Gummow’s Shop near Newquay, and Barkla Shop near St Agnes. These last two would give me a round trip of about 120miles – too far for me considering this is hilly Cornwall! I may have to employ a train ride or two ................