There’s an Unexpected New Addition to The Camel Trail
Cyclists and dog walkers alike have been surprised to stumble across a newcomer on The Camel Trail between Padstow and Wadebridge…
The picturesque 18-mile Camel Trail cycle path follows a disused railway line which once connected Cornwall with London via the London and South West Railway. Freight finally ceased in 1983 when the last goods train ran on the line (the last passenger train was in 1967), so why is a beautifully-converted vintage train carriage making itself at home on the Camel Trail in 2019?
The new addition to Penquean Quarry is the brainchild of Kelly Littlejohns and Dougal Holley who first conceptualised their vision of a train carriage buffet car cafe in 2015, but finally found the perfect old carriage to realise their dream in 2018. The couple were so inspired by the heritage of The Camel Trail that they wanted to celebrate the area’s rich history whilst serving up delicious homemade treats from this picturesque stopping spot midway between Padstow and Wadebridge. They took three months sympathetically converting the vintage train carriage into a custom-made beautiful open air cafe, ACE (‘Atlantic Coastal Express’), which they have named in honour of the train which once puffed its way from Waterloo to Padstow between 1926 and 1967.
Serving up a bevy of homemade delicacies such as cakes, crepes, coffees, ice creams and so much more, Kelly and Dougal are no strangers to running a business like this. Dougal ran “Treats on Trikes” from the same spot for the past 9 years, whilst Kelly ran the ever-popular “Cornish Crepe Company” in Padstow harbour for the past 8 years. Combining their businesses to create ACE has been a labour of love and they are incredibly excited about their new venture. Kelly explains, “We are hoping for ACE to become a real unique foodie destination. People can arrive by bike, by foot, on horseback or even pull up by boat to enjoy the homemade foodie delights on offer and there’s really nothing quite like it. We are also planning a series of ‘Supper Nights’ which will provide a magical experience and celebrate the local delicacies to be found along this stretch of the coast. One of the chefs to curate these nights used to head up the kitchen at the Savoy in London and he’s in good company with other top chefs showing off their culinary skills! So we can’t wait for ACE to play host to such a unique and intimate rustic dining experience”
Kelly and Dougal have always boasted green and socially-conscious business credentials from the very outset, and protecting this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) whilst celebrating its heritage is of paramount importance to them. Using compostable packaging, organising regular litter picks up and down the trail, and donating proceeds to the local food bank at the end of the summer season each year has become second nature to them.
The last ACE left Padstow in Cornwall on 5 September 1964 and it’s a true delight to see a tribute to this slice of history over 50 years later.
ACE opens for the season from this weekend for Easter and will be open 7 days a week from 10am-5:30 pm.