Today's ride has a most unassuming name, "The Link Pathway", but don't let that fool you. It is historic and relates to the 1860s bridle path and, I presume, due to it linking Picton and Havelock, Queen Charlotte & Pelorus Sounds, and (in part) passing through Linkwater.
Construction of the trail began in 2005, after residents wanted to see paths link local communities, and the rediscovery of four sections of historic 1860s bridle path between Picton and Havelock.
The old bridle trail sections now form around 20% of the Link Pathway, which also incorporates an old stock route near Picton that once led to the town’s former freezing works. Travelling through lush native bush interspersed with beautiful sea views, the pathway takes in a remnant podocarp forest, a unique salt marsh, mature beech forest, and an historic WWII lookout and signal station site.
From The Link Pathway | Marlborough (marlboroughnz.com)
The weather looked a bit dubious when I awoke and had breakfast, but was forecast to improve.
It was about 10am by the time I had En-Trance (my Giant Trance MTB) and myself ready to ride.
Follow the signs for Queen Charlotte Drive
I've driven and cycled Queen Charlotte Drive, from Picton to Havelock, several times. It is a stunning road winding around bluffs with superb views of Picton, Queen Charlotte Sound and (nearer Havelock) the upper reaches of Pelorus Sound. Cycling the road offers all of that but is often busy with tourists, lots of campervans, taking the scenic route to Nelson and beyond.
That was unlikely due to the COVID border closures but wouldn't be a factor anyway. I expected The Link Pathway would follow the road more than it did, but only the long straight Linkwater section is roadside with from a short road ride link between two trail sections that have not yet been joined.
To find the trail, from anywhere in Picton, just follow the 'Queen Charlotte Drive' signs.
The trail starts as a roadside path, good as this climb is twisty with no real verge. I wouldn't use it downhill as the road descent is awesome!
Queen Charlotte Drive view over Picton and the Ferry wharf.
Looking back to Picton from Queen Charlotte Drive.
The Link Pathway Signs mark the trail. The warning about storm damage relates to slips but didn't hinder my ride.
With construction driven by local community members, and thousands of volunteer hours overseen by the charitable Link Pathway Trust, the trail progressed in stages over 15 years.
Below: Link Pathway proper and sticks for export...
After the port viewpoint the trail descends to a coastal boardwalk on port land.
From here onwards you alternate between climbing high up on the bluffs and dropping down to the bays with only occasional road crossings.
Queen Charlotte Sound looking moody. Hopefully the clouds would stay out there.
Link Pathway, last view of Picton
From high on the former bridle path you look down on the road.
This section uses the beach itself, at low tide anyway!
From up high back down to the coast. Love the variety of riding, including fun climbs and descents, already on this trail.
These boatsheds are iconic, seen in NZ media of all kinds.
The Boatsheds, a bit less weathered, back in 2011
Slip sliding away, the impressive track (re)builders
This area was hammered in recent storms. The road still has several sections of temporary one-way while repairs are being done. High in the hills massive landslides that I would soon get a closer look at.
The trail climbs through several slips, amazing trail re-building traversing them.
Walk The Pod'ding
I stopped here and recorded a short Walk The Pod podcast voice note. Rachel welcomes walk reports from listeners and doesn't mind that I'm mostly rolling. It was in this episode:
Walk the Pod | WtP S26E2 | Trust vs belief
A voicenote from one if the Lunchtime Legends, my lovely sister Helen, today and a walking report from Kiwi Rob about to travel from the South to the North Island on his cycle tour.
Try to describe all this in 60 seconds...
Looking back towards Picton, high above the road.
Havelock, Pelorus Sound
Over the ridge Havelock and inner Pelorus Sound appear.
Although tidal the marina channel keeps it always accessible. Havelock is the base for Green Lip Mussel Farming in the sounds around here.
Havelock Museum with Mussels...
Havelock lunch stop, Blue Kaff Café
I had lunch at the Blue Kaff Café, great food and, after, a fresh berry ice cream for 'hill power'
They even have Cop Mussels in Havelock
Heading back, on Link Pathway
There's only one way back and I don't mind repeating that ride. One thing I've found from this summer's travels is riding a trail both ways is like riding two trails.
In 2021, the final link to Havelock, the Motuweka Havelock Boardwalk, was completed with arched bridges and views across the scenic Kaituna Estuary. It still looks shiny new.
The road, particularly around Linkwater, has always featured some awesome letterboxes (below) and found another today. Suspect I know where a Porsche fan lives.
A couple take on my 2012 ride, all are still there.
This is the longest roadside section. There was so little traffic I mostly rode on the tarmac (faster) and just swapped to the trail if traffic appeared. From memory was all of two cars.
Back at Picton, Link Pathway done, and it was so good. It was about 5pm when I rode into the motel, time for a shower and well-earned dinner. Tomorrow I might ride to see a name related place on the map. Hope the pleasant weather sticks around.
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