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South Dartmoor CTC

Sunday 14 January 2018
Day ride: Week Ford Blowing House (16 mi)Chilly but dry
6 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
The footpath from Saddle Bridge, following the O Brook (12:12)
Parking the bikes at Saddle Bridge ready for the quarter-mile walk to Week Ford (12:11)
Approaching Week Ford Blowing House from the river, with the wheel pit and furnace areas at the back (12:42)
Jude and Dillan enjoying the magnificent scenery by the O Brook (12:25)
One of the four Mortar Stones that we found, used for grinding the small rocks of tin ore (12:50)
The Mould Stone at Week Ford Blowing House, used for forming ingots of tin (12:46)
View to the rear of the Blowing House showing the Mould Stone, furnace and wheel pit (12:54)
View of the Blowing House from the upper end (12:52)
Dillan tries to find a novel way back to the river through the boggy marshes (12:59)
Close-up of another Mortar Stone (12:56)
Jude and Dillan negotiate the stepping stones at Week Ford (13:04)
The stepping stones over the East Dart River at Week Ford (13:02)
John, George and Will (off-camera) joined the group at Holne café and rode home with us, shown here at Ridgey Cross (15:15)
Dartmoor once supported many small industries, chief among them being tin mining. Today’s ride took us up through Holne and past Venford Reservoir on a chilly but dry morning to find the remains of one of the Blowing Houses from the 15th or 16th centuries.

We parked out bikes at Saddle Bridge, just beyond Combestone Tor, and walked down the path along the O Brook. Both Dillan and Jude managed to get wet feet in the boggy areas either side of the first stile, and there were plenty more boggy areas along the way, but the ancient woodlands lining the picturesque brook made the quarter-mile walk very interesting.

To get to Week Ford we had to cross the O Brook, and whilst the high water levels left no easy crossing we managed to get across safely after a few abortive attempts and then started searching for the Blowing House. It was not far from the river, but we had to cross a broken fence and negotiate some boggy marshes to reach it.

This Blowing House is a listed building as it represents the rare combination of stamping mill and blowing house in two adjacent buildings. Water was brought in from the nearby O Brook by leat to power waterwheels used to operate iron stamps for crushing tin ore in the stamping house and a pair of bellows to blow air into the furnace in the Blowing House so they could reach temperatures high enough to melt the tin (232 degrees C). We found four mortar stones in the Blowing House, used to finely crush the ore ready for the furnace, and a mould stone, used to form ingots of white tin typically 40-90kg which were then sold at the nearest Stannary town, probably Ashburton. Very little had changed here since our last visit in June 1981.

Dillan chose a poor route back through the marshes and ended up with drenched feet – not ideal when the weather is so cold. We carried out the obligatory traversal of the stepping stones before heading back to the bikes, by which time our plans for continuing to Dartmeet or Widecombe in search of an open café did not seem quite so appealing. Both lads had cold, wet feet so we headed back to Holne café and ordered hot drinks and food.

We hadn’t been there more than ten minutes when John, George and Will arrived: John had been out on his first test ride since his November kidney donation, accompanied by his two lads, and Holne café had seemed like a sensible first destination. We ended up spending an hour there before heading back to Buckfastleigh together via Ridgey Cross.

Friday 12 January 2018
Social: Badminton
8 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Ziggy Clark, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Mark Thomas
We reserved three courts for the first 13 weeks of 2018 with the option of taking the fourth on the day. Well today we needed the fourth court as usual but someone else had managed to book it! We managed with three courts by playing a few games of doubles, but from next week onwards we havd all four courts booked every week.

Sunday 7 January 2018
Day ride: Endsleigh Garden Centre (22 mi)Sunny but cold
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
George near Glazebrook (12:26)
Jude and Dillan exploring a side track near Glazebrook, South Brent (12:26)
George and Dillan at Endsleigh Garden Centre (13:58)
Lunch at Endsleigh Garden Centre (13:20)
Riding past the Erme near Ivybridge Leisure Centre (14:08)
The weather today was really quite cold at just three degrees but everyone was keen to go to Endsleigh for lunch so we set off briskly up Dean Hill, chatting briefly with Gavin near the top who was sawing up trees. By the time we reached South Brent George was regretting not finding his TOG24 gloves before the ride and suggested a visit to the warm Co-op. His fingers were extremely cold so a return home via Dartington seemed on the cards until Dillan told him to man up and loaned him his gloves.

So we pressed on to Bittaford and Ivybridge, arriving at Endsleigh just after 1pm. Now of course Dillan was beginning to understand why George had been in so much pain earlier, so we all bundled into the café for hot drinks and food.

After a quick look around the pet store we set off for home just after 2pm, aiming to get back as quickly as possible since Dillan had taken his gloves back now. Our return route took us around the Erme cycle route in Ivybridge and then home via Bittaford and South Brent. Gavin was still sawing wood as we descended Dean hill and headed for the much needed warmth of the Crofters clubroom for 3.45.

Friday 5 January 2018
Social: Badminton
8 present: Harry Back, Ziggy Clark, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers, Mark Thomas
After some indoor games at Crofters Gavin joined us for badminton at Ashmoor for our usual evening of challenging fun and action.

Sunday 31 December 2017
Day ride: Converted to SocialWindy with showers
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
When we were finally ready to leave at 10:50 the rain had returned so we agreed to do badminton at Ivybridge Leisure Centre. We then went on to Plymouth for lunch at Sainsburys before returning to Crofters for PC games and a music quiz to celebrate the final event of 2017.

Friday 29 December 2017
Social: Christmas Special
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Most of our members seemed to be busy with family tonight, but three of us enjoyed a grand game of Monopoly in which Michael ended up the ultimate victor - surprising since Jude owned both Mayfair and Park Lane from early in the game!

Sunday 24 December 2017
Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Jude was ill today and everyone else was, unsurprisingly, busy today on Christmas Eve, so the ride was cancelled and we all got on with Christmas preparations.

Friday 22 December 2017
Social: Badminton
4 present: Will Bastow, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Number were down to four on the Friday before Christmas, but we nevertheless had some excellent games of badminton at Ashmoor.

Sunday 17 December 2017
Day ride: Christmas Lunch RideOccasional showers
0 present:
Christmas Lunch at the Ilsington House Hotel (13:46)
Christmas Lunch at the Ilsington House Hotel (13:46)
The weather today was a bit chilly with occasional showers, but we had pretty much decided to cycle up to Ilsington anyway. As we were ready to leave a light shower came along and suddenly the majority view changed. We had hot drinks and a warm chat at Crofters, then Will drove us all up as part of his driving practice – and very well he drove too!

The food was excellent as always and we all felt we had good value for money. Will managed to drive us back just as safely, and we finished with a social at Crofters.

Friday 15 December 2017
Social: Decided on the Day
8 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Ziggy Clark, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Mark Thomas
Our usual evening of badminton at Ashmoor provided plenty of action-packed games.

Sunday 10 December 2017
Morning ride: Converted to socialVery windy
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
It had been very windy overnight - perhaps too windy for safe cycling according to some parents. Michael tried to leave the door open to a ride but when Jude turned up without a bike and then George turned up with only a badminton racket it seemed that the decision had already been made.

We did a badminton session at Ashmoor and finished with games of Destiny 2 at Crofters.

Friday 8 December 2017
Social: Decided on the Day
8 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Ziggy Clark, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Mark Thomas
Another full session of badminton meant that all four courts were in constant use throughout the evening.

Sunday 3 December 2017
Day ride: Fermoys Garden Centre, Ipplepen (19 mi)Dry with sunny spells
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Returning through the lanes from Staverton to Caddaford (14:22)
Jude and Dillan at Fermoy's Garden Centre, Ipplepen (13:29)
George was away collecting John from his recent surgery in Cambridge but the rest of us felt that Fermoy’s would be an excellent destination at this time of year. We rode out through Broadhempston for a change, arriving by 12:30 to find a café packed with Christmas gardeners. We had some reasonably tasty food, although prices seem to have jumped sky high without a proportionate improvement in quality. There was then time to look around the store: it seemed that the Furry Animals pet section has been removed now, but there were plenty of other things to browse.

For the return journey Michael wanted to take us along the lane past Newhouse Barton. This turned out to be muddier than the last time he rode it, which was frustrating for Jude as he was wearing his brand new Adidas trainers. We continued home via the usual route through Staverton and Caddaford.

Friday 1 December 2017
Social: Badminton
8 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Ziggy Clark (Junior, Ashburton), Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Mark Thomas
Will is ready for Harry's serve (21:35)
Harry (blue) plays Will (red) (21:35)
Mark (grey) challenges Jude (blue) (21:36)
Ziggy (white) plays Dillan (blue) (21:36)
Yet another new member - Ziggy - joined us this evening: with a record eight players we ended up booking the entire Sports Hall. Everyone loves badminton and everyone managed to play a full game with everyone else, so we had a fabulous evening.

Sunday 26 November 2017
Morning ride: CancelledMainly dry
0 present:
Eevryone was away or otherwise occupied today so the ride was cancelled.

Friday 24 November 2017
Social: Badminton
7 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Mark Thomas (Junior, Ilsington)
We were joined this evening by another new member, Mark, from Ilsington. With so many keen badminton players our Fridays are becoming increasingly energetic, with everyone playing games with everyone else in the group.

Sunday 19 November 2017
Day ride: Hennock Reservoirs (30 mi)Dry with early sunny spells
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
View to Bovey Tracey from Furzeleigh Lane (13:16)
Jude, George and Dillan at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen café in Bovey Tracey (12:20)
Autumn colours on Furzeleigh Lane, Bovey Tracey (13:20)
George at the entrance to Bearacleave Wood, Furzeleigh Lane, Bovey Tracey (13:17)
Dillan leads the way along the path around Tottiford Reservoir (13:53)
Furzeleigh Lane, Bovey Tracey (13:21)
Water levels still low at Tottiford Reservoir after the draining a few years ago that uncovered prehistoric standing stones (13:54)
The path around Tottiford Reservoir (13:53)
Reaching the end of the reservoir (13:59)
George continues along the path (13:58)
George was up for a longer ride today so we headed out through Ashburton and took the Bickington road to Blackpool and Bovey Tracey. Here we called into the café at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, which offered excellent refreshments at reasonable prices.

We haven’t been up to the Hennock reservoirs for many years, so today seemed the perfect opportunity. Riding up through the town we took the steep Furzeleigh Lane up past the hospital which offered superb views from Bearacleave Wood and fabulous autumnal colours. Eventually we reached Tottiford Reservoir, one of three built here in the 1860s to supply water to Torbay. The water was drained several years ago to reveal prehistoric standing stones that were the subject of a Time Team investigation at the time, but even today the reservoir was barely half full.

We followed the track all around the reservoir, stopping once or twice to walk down to the water’s edge. We look forward to the day when the reservoir is full again, returning the area to its usual beauty, but we still had a lot of fun negotiating the tree roots lining the rough track.

It was getting late so we rode down Slade Hill, took the shortcut through Bovey Park and then returned the way we had come, through Blackpool and Bickington.

Today's ride included a total climb of 611m.

Friday 17 November 2017
Social: Decided on the Day
5 present: Harry Back, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers
Jude and Will were unable to make it this evening, but Gavin came along to make up the numbers and demonstrated that he hasn't lost his skill despite many months of abstinence.

Sunday 12 November 2017
Morning ride: South Brent (10 mi)Breezy with sunny spells & occasional showers
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Jude and Dillan at Gidley Bridge (12:34)
A squally shower catches us out on the hill between Bloody Pool and Gidley Bridge (12:27)
The lanes at Deancombe (12:49)
The River Harbourne at Gidley Bridge (12:37)
The Dean Burn river near Upper Dean (12:53)
The lanes at Deancombe (12:51)
With showers in the air and mocks to revise for tomorrow we decided on a morning ride to South Brent, riding out via Zempson Bridge. The Co-op provided shelter from a shower as well as some Danish Pastries and, for Jude, a luxury full-size caramel cake reduced to just 75p.

Conditions were pleasant again on the climb through Lutton, but Michael's plan to stop to admire the view at the top of the hill past Bloody Pool did not turn out to be such a good idea when a squally shower came out of nowhere, driving raindrops into our faces like bullets. We pulled ourselves together and got down the hill to Gidley Bridge where conditions were altogether different.

After examining the peculiar stone structure that divided the river Harbourne after going under the bridge and failing to establish its purpose we proceeded down the hill to Deancombe and along the attractive autumnal lanes back to Buckfastleigh.

Today's ride included a total climb of 333m.

Friday 10 November 2017
Social: Badminton
6 present: Harry Back, Will Bastow, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Will and Harry didn't have transport this evening so Michael collected them from Bovey and Jude's Mum took them back afterwards on her way home. Everyone managed to play everyone else at some point during the evening, giving us all a wide variety of gameplay.