South Dartmoor CTC

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Thursday 16 August 1984
0945-2300
Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 1, Devon to Loch Lomond YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

The mention of Scotland usually conjures up happy memories in the minds of those experienced in cycle touring. The ancient hills of the Highlands and their remote communities wrapped in a shroud of legend possess a magic all of their own. One has only to visit once for the spell to begin to work, and it will then be just a short time before the call of that distant land draws you back into its glorious depths.

This is the story of one group of cyclists for whom that call proved irresistible.

The station official paced steadily along the narrow line that marked the edge of the platform. Naturally he had been warned. Eleven cyclists they’d said, for the nine forty-five. A glint of sunlight caught his eye and he gazed anxiously at the gleaming luggage-laden machines. He could only count nine, but no matter how he tried he still couldn’t envisage them all packed into a small DMU brake van!

There was no time to worry about that however. Unit number P465 had just appeared from behind the signal box and was approaching as quickly as its 112kW would allow. The cyclists, who had made themselves as comfortable as possible on the station furnishings, were not especially concerned about the logistics of packing nine cycles into a small van. They had done it many times before on previous tours, often with even more cycles. What did give them cause for anxiety was the unpredictable nature of the typical British Rail guard. How many times had they been confronted with an officious-looking gentleman in a funny hat, peering out of the window of an empty brake van and assuring them that there wasn’t enough room for that many bikes!

Michael was generally responsible for ensuring that the tour ran smoothly, and he was no preparing himself to do battle. As the train shuddered to a halt and the exact form of the enemy began to take shape the situation looked a little doubtful.

“It’s all very well for them to book space for bikes,” said the guard, clearly agitated by the fact that his universally-accepted right of refusal had been seemingly undermined by faceless pen-pushers at the travel office. “They don’t think about the other things that might be in the van.”

He had a good look at the large empty space in the van, but after numerous glances at the bikes he eventually gave permission for them to be loaded.

Exeter was the first changing point for the group, and was also the agreed meeting place for the other two members, Julie and Thomas. Julie, who lives in Exeter, had no trouble in finding the others despite the platform being crowded with people. And 15-year-old Tom would have had difficulty in missing them as he was on the train from Plymouth that they were about to catch.

This particular train is rather special. It possesses the usual property of dividing into two parts at Carstairs. This in itself does not seem too serious, but when coupled with the fact that the two parts then proceed to different destinations it can give cause for considerable alarm, particularly to those passengers who are generally confused by trains, railway timetables and the continuing advancement of time.

Some passengers have been known to spend the whole of their journey wondering whether their particular carriage will end up with the front or the read part. They ask other passengers, change their carriages two or three times and then realise that they don’t actually know whether it is the front or the rear portion which is going to Glasgow. At some point they discover that they can no longer get through to the buffet car. Panic grips them instantly and they dash to the nearest window, only to discover that the buffet car is no longer there and that they are speeding along an unknown piece of track. They invariably assume that they somehow managed to end up in the wrong train – and sometimes they are right!

The reader will immediately recognise the added problems involved for the cyclist who wishes to ensure that both he and his cycle end up at the same destination. It was therefore a little worrying when, having established the Glasgow section of the train to be at the rear (and not at the front as a station official had advised) the guard informed the group that the bikes would have to go in the front van due to lack of space!

Arguments were clearly going to make no difference to the situation, and so it was that eleven cyclists found themselves heading towards Glasgow with the sure knowledge that their bikes would end up at Edinburgh unless something drastic was done.

The problem was only resolved at Birmingham when a new and friendlier guard took residence in the brake van. He could see the difficulty quite quickly and allowed the bikes to be moved whilst the diesel loco was changed for an electric one.

Friday 17 August 1984
0800-2300
Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 2, Loch Lomondy to Loch Ossian YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Part of Loch Lomond (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The group at Arrochar station (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The train journey across Rannoch Moor (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Overhead cables near Inverarnan (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Lunch by the jetty near Loch Ossian YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Nearing Corrour (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Tom desperately tries to retrieve his water bottle from Loch Ossian (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Lunch on the jetty near Loch Ossian YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Andrew Billington admires the view of the hostel and the track to Corrour station (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Success! (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The eastern end of Loch Ossian (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The western end of Loch Ossian, showing the location of the youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Cotton grass on the mountain (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

John Stuart gazed upwards at the seemingly endless sea of steps that stretched out in front of him. He had heard rumours about the size of Loch Lomond hostel but he had never imagined it to be this big. It was huge! He seemed to have spent all the previous evening trying to find his way to and from the dorms, kitchens and washrooms. The carved hall, dining room and chandeliers were all very nice, but three flights of stairs? He paused a moment longer to consider how on earth he had managed to land the job of sweeping them, and then dutifully set about completing his thankless task.

A mix-up over the breakfast order the previous evening had meant that the group had missed one of only two chances in the two-week tour to get a hostel breakfast provided for them. This, coupled with the need to leave early, had meant that there had been some confusion in the hostel kitchens that morning. The confusion later spread to the hostel store as numerous individuals attempted to stock up with what few provisions were available in readiness for the day’s great adventure – a foray into the uncharted reaches of Rannoch Moor. Few knew what the hostel at Loch Ossian would hold in store for them, but most had made up their minds that whatever it was, it probably wouldn’t be very nice.

It was around nine o’clock when the group finally set off for Arrochar. They should have left a little earlier, but the road proved flat and fast and the time was quickly made up. The sun shone brightly to welcome the new day. As the road twisted its way along the side of the Loch, some riders noticed a hostel on the other side which brought back happy memories of an earlier tour. The magic of Scotland was beginning to work on everyone.

The plan was to catch the 11.11 train from Arrochar to Corrour, but the group had made such good progress since leaving the hostel that there was time to visit the local shops. BY the time everyone had stocked up with their own food there was little room for the communal milk, bread, jam, marmalade and pickle that Michael had purchased. Matthew solved some of the problems by strapping a loaf across his pannier rack with an elastic strap, radically altering the shape of the load in the process of course.

It was only when they were part-way along the track to Corrour that Michael realised it was his 25th birthday. He reflected for a moment on why he hadn’t arranged for the tour to start a few days later, but as he gazed out of the carriage window at the little yellow engine gleaming in the sunshine and pulling its load along the most scenic rail route in Britain he decided that he really couldn’t have had a better birthday.

And the scenery really was spectacular. The train followed the main road through Crianlarich and on as far as Bridge of Orchy, but then veered sharply to the right as it began its lonely trek across the moor. There were countless viaducts bridging the wide scars in the landscape, and as more and more desolate hills rolled up in front of the engine, doubts about the nature of a hostel that could survive in such conditions began to mount.

The train pulled to a halt. Everyone piled out on the platform, bikes were unloaded with perfect efficiency and the train was gone. There was silence. This was Corrour.

Young Matthew eyed the footbridge. On the other side were a few chickens, a three-wheeled buggy that looked as though it was made for negotiating the lunar terrain, and a solitary farmhouse. Beyond them a rough track wound its way over the hill. It didn’t look very welcoming, but the sun was shining and it was nearly time for lunch, so there was no point in hanging around.

A short ride along the tack brought the group in sight of a large loch. A few trees adorned the near side, and nestling amongst them was a small grey building which everyone presumed immediately to be the hostel. Closer inspection revealed a rickety jetty protruding into the loch, onto which was nailed a large notice bearing the words “Members use this jetty at their own risk”. Along with a neighbouring grassy bank it proved a highly suitable spot for lunch.

It was during lunch that Tom’s water bottle, which he had carefully placed on the edge of the jetty, fell into the loch. There was a little wind and this served to make the rapid progress of the bottle alongside the jetty all the more enjoyable for the onlookers. Tom arrived at the edge just in time for the bottle to be out of reach as it pursued its stubborn course towards the centre of the loch.

Some less cautious people nearly fell into the loch themselves with laughing. When they had finally recovered sufficiently to wipe the tears from their eyes they were confronted with the sight of Tom appearing from behind the hostel wearing nothings but swimming trunks. There was a sudden splash, a short squeal, the sound of numerous cameras and then the sight of Tom swimming out towards his bottle, which by now had drifted a considerable distance into the loch. More fits of laughter obscured any further attempts to view the spectacle, but one things was abundantly clear: this hostel was shaping up to be one of the best in the whole tour.

There can be few pleasures in the universe more enjoyable than lying on a slatted wooden jetty on the edge of a remote Scottish loch on a warm summer afternoon watching fleecy white clouds going by and knowing that no-one can disturb you. It was just such a pleasure that Michael and Andrew were enjoying on the second day of their epic tour. The other members of the group had set themselves the task of climbing the nearby mountain, and this fact was not entirely unrelated to the degree of peace and solitude that now surrounded the hostel.

There was a loud splash. A variety of different-sized water droplets fell onto the two boys. They sat up, annoyed, and were greeted with the sight of 13-year-old Paul squatting by the water’s edge, grinning. Evidently the mountain had proved too steep for him.

‘There are some interesting creatures in the rushes on the other side of the hostel,” began Andrew. “I saw a frog there earlier and ..”

With the second sheet of water came the realisation that the pleasurable place to be was now on top of the mountain, so the two peace-lovers reluctantly vacated the jetty and began to dress for higher altitudes. As they were about to set off a flash of inspiration prompted Michael to try the hostel door which everyone had previously assumed to be locked. The result was that the boys had the first choice of beds and a chance to investigate some of the delights that the hostel had in store for them that evening.

The exact location of the lavatory evaded the boys at first, but eventually they found it – a small square shed outside the washroom and overlooking the loch. Inside was a chemical toilet and a message “Please pee on the grass”.

The washroom consisted of three empty bowls and nothing else. The kitchen was homely, with a single tap and a paraffin lamp. Closer investigation revealed that the tap was fed from a tank near the porch, out of which came a plastic pipe. Following the pipe led one down to the loch side, where there was a hand pump whose wooden handles were well worn. Clearly the evening was going to be entertaining!

There turned out to be a wealth of pleasurable things on top of the mountain, not least of which was a profusion of whortleberries growing amongst the heather. Some considerable time was spent filling Andrew’s woolly hat with these delicious fruits, though many proved just too delicious-looking to save until tea-time.

At last it was possible to get a real idea of just how remote the hostel was. Barren, bleak moorland met the skyline for as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by the distant station, the hostel and the loch. If there is a pleasure more enjoyable than lying on the slatted wooden jetty previously described it can only be gazing at the said jetty from the desolate, heather-strewn top of a nearby mountain, gorging oneself with freshly-picked whortleberries and musing over such things as the vastness of the loch, the length of the path that followed its circumference and the sheer lunacy of the three specks who were apparently attempting to run around it.

The warden arrived on his lunar motor-trike. People were gathered around his stop-watch which was hanging from the door. When he’d taken on the wardenship of the hostel he hadn’t bargained for the additional duties involved with being timekeeper of the “Run around the Loch Ossian in an Hour” event. There were many signatures on the role of honour, and he should have guessed that the CTC would be keen to add their names to the list.

Matthew Burrows was the first to appear, which was quite an achievement at the age of eleven. He had covered the eight-mile round trip comfortably within the hour, but his father was apparently having problems along with John Stuart. Simon Haly and Richard Wiseman, aged fourteen and seventeen respectively, also managed to complete the course in the allotted time. The story of Tom Woodman, however, who got blisters after attempting the course wearing someone else’s trainers, is pitiful indeed.

It was about five o’clock and the group felt that the hostel had provided enough surprises for one day. There was still one further delight in store for them however – midges.

There were millions of them – nasty, biting ones that found their way through the smallest cracks. Everyone rushed into the hostel, closed the doors and windows and smeared midge repellent over everything. Breathing a sigh of relief the contingent settled down to play board games and prepare some food.

It was whilst Duncan and Michael were hazing out through the misty window at the swarming enemy and watching their numerous attempts at gaining access to the terrified prisoners that the warden entered the dormitory and announced that the water had run out. Someone had to go outside to work the pump! The task only took on a more acceptable light when viewed alongside the possible alternative of cleaning out the chemical toilet next day, and so the chore was dutifully, if hastily, completed.

Saturday 18 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 3 Loch Ossian to Glen Nevis YHWet
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Loch Ossian YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Preparing to leave Loch Ossian YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Loch Treig on Rannoch Moor, from the train (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Boarding the train at Corrour station (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

Saturday was a distinctly wet day. To make things worse, a number of people had woken up feeling about as flexible as a wooden plank. Taking all things into account the train seemed a more attractive proposition than the track route originally planned, and so only four members cycled across the moor. The train group disembarked at Tulloch station, and both groups then made their separate ways via Spean Bridge and Fort William to Glen Nevis hostel, where they settled down to enjoy their meal in the crowded but tastefully-decorated kitchens.

The warden discovered a dirty pan lying by itself on the draining board. This must have been contravening one of his most basic commandments for he suddenly turned into an evil, foul-smelling ogre. Blue smoke came out of his ears as he roared at the poor hostellers. Eventually a shaking figure came forward from the crowd to clean up the offending pan.

Sunday 19 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 4 Glen Nevis to Garramore YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
View of Loch Shiel from the top of Glenfinnan Monument (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The group at Glenfinnan Monument (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Richard, John, Simon and Julie by Loch Shiel with the Glenfinnan House Hotel behind (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

Everyone was ready to leave. The milk had been stashed away in various saddle bags, chores had been done and the thought of doing some real cycling at last was cheering everyone up. But where was Duncan?

Duncan had managed to do what every self-respecting cyclist always tries to avoid: he had locked his bike and lost the key. Ransacking the dormitory had failed to locate the offending item and he had now gone searching for a hack-saw. He finally appeared from behind the hostel looking rather embarrassed. It was at this point that he discovered just how easy it is to break through a cheap cycle lock – the whole sawing process took little longer than thirty seconds!

Andrew led the group along the Road to the Isles to the Glenfinnan Monument, where lunch was taken in style beside the loch. A few brave souls ventured to climb the monument. Emerging through a one-metre square hatch at the top one finds oneself standing on a small parapet, surrounded only by a knee-high barrier – not recommended for acrophobics! The sound of a piper across the loch sent everyone into a dreamy mood, but eventually the group made a move.

Only a short bathing stop at Loch Eilt, which proved to be infested with aquatic triffids, and the purchase of an “elephant egg” interrupted the afternoon’s cycling. Garramore hostel is quite modern and is set in beautiful surroundings near white sand beaches. Unfortunately the group’s milk had been affected by the warm weather and was unsuitable for consumption, but the hostel had some supplies to ease the situation.

Monday 20 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 5 Garramore to Raasay YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
The Skye ferry at Mallaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Preparing to leave Garramore YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Preparing to leave Mallaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Side-loading vehicles onto the ferry (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Disembarking the ferry at Armadale, Isle of Skye (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The ferry leaves Mallaig harbour (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View from the Raasay ferry (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
First view of Raasay in the distance from near Luib on Skye, with Scalpay on the right and the coast road to Sconser on the left (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The last ferry of the day leaves us on Raasay (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Approaching the isle of Raasay (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

The ticket-collector glared uncompromisingly at Phil Burrows. “I’m sorry sir, but the 10.15 ferry is fully booked,” she repeated. “Unless you have a reservation ticket you’ll have to wait for the afternoon service.”

“But I’m sure Michael’s booked us in,” replied Phil. “He’ll be here any minute with the rest of the group.”

“Look sir, you can see there’s a queue of people waiting to be served. I can’t give you a ticket, so if you’ll just stand aside and let me get on …”

It was just at this moment that Michael arrived with the necessary reservation tickets. The lady made a feeble attempt to prove that the papers were invalid, but quickly realised that there was nothing to be done but to issue the tickets.

The ferry from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye has front loading capability, but for some reason the quay is not designed with this in mind. All cars have to be loaded from the side in batches of about six and then lowered down to the car deck by means of a huge hydraulic lift. The whole process takes about three quarters of an hour at each end, which seems rather ridiculous when one thinks that the crossing takes only twenty minutes.

Having been hydraulically ejected from the boat, the group began their journey around Skye towards Broadford. There was time for fruit juice at a country post office along the route before lunch was taken in the shelter of some trees near Duisdalemore.

The scenery was perhaps a little harsher than that of the mainland, but otherwise it seemed much the same. The afternoon sun was certainly beating down on the happy crew of cyclists, and several items of clothing were removed as they continued on their way.

Broadford was the last hope of obtaining provisions for the next hostel. Fortunately there were two shops open, both selling milk and bread in addition to the other requirements. All that remained for the day was the ride to Sconser for the ferry to the Isle of Raasay, so there was even time to stop for afternoon tea at Luib.

As with all tea stops, it is easy to stay too long. In this instance there was quite a rush around the coast road to reach the ferry by 6.15 and the leaders almost lost their cool when they saw the last ferry leaving just as they approached the jetty.

Perhaps this was to be split-second timing that went wrong for Torbay Section?

“Don’t worry,” said the ferryman with a wry grin. “We’ve had to put on an extra ferry today. He’ll be back again in half an hour.”

Simon and Matthew watched the boat as it navigated through the deeper waters of Sconser’s natural harbour. However would they occupy themselves for a full thirty minutes? Their eyes turned to the end of the jetty and instantly they were struck with the same inspiration: this would make a perfect diving platform!

Freefall water antics kept everyone thoroughly amused until the ferry returned for its last journey of the day. Raasay looked strangely barren and uninhabited as the sun set over its highest peak, Dun Caan, and threw up a dazzling reflection from the sea.

Raasay hostel is situated at the top of a long climb, with superb views across to Skye. It is a simple-grade hostel consisting of a kitchen/common room and a few small dormitories. There is a wooden hut above and behind the main hostel which accommodates male hostellers.

“There aren’t enough beds!” announced one of the boys, returning from the hut.

“Don’t be silly,” replied Michael, reassuringly. “We’ve been booked in for months. If anyone’s in our beds they’ll just have to vacate them!”

Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as that. The annexe was inhabited chiefly by a bunch of geologists who had, it seemed, been in residence for several months. One glance at the litter-strewn floor, unmade beds and the general scattering of dirty clothes was sufficient confirmation of this fact. Most of the remaining beds had been occupied by another group who had turned up on the off-chance and who had no intention whatsoever of vacating them. The warden, apparently, had not yet arrived so there was nothing to be done but wait.

It was ten minutes later when the warden rolled along and decreed that he wasn’t going to turn anyone out of their beds. Instead he put half the CTC in a girl’s dorm in the main building, leaving the other half to battle through the smelly socks of the annexe to the few beds that weren’t actually being slept in! A swarm of flies, presumably attracted by the array of partially-cleaned washing strung on the line, added to the delights of the accommodation.

Still, the scenery of the area was delightful. Plans were made for an excursion to Dun Caan next morning before catching the 12.15 ferry back to Skye, and with these happy thoughts the group got down to the job of preparing meals in the cramped but homely kitchen.

It was later that evening that four weak and exhausted individuals staggered into the hostel. Everyone gathered around to hear their story. They seemed to have difficulty in talking, but managed to say the words “Don’t go to Glenbrittle” as they pointed to the countless thousands of midge-bites covering their bodies.

Tuesday 21 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 6 Raasay to Glenbrittle YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Raasay YH from behind, showing view across to Skye (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Raasay YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Simon, John and Tom accompany Michael on the climb to Dun Caan (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The annexe behind Raasay YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Looking back to Loch na Meilich (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Tom on the banks of Loch na Meilich on the path up to Dun Caan (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View back to Skye from the slopes of Dun Caan (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The volcano-like summit of Dun Caan (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The road to Carbost from Merkadale, Isle of Skye (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View along Loch Harport from Merkadale, Isle of Skye (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The Cuillin Hills (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View of the Cuillin Hills on the road to Glenbrittle (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The River Brittle near Glenbrittle (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

“Hurry up Mike,” shouted Tom frantically. “We’re going to miss the ferry!”

“OK, OK, I know,” was the calm reply. “You shouldn’t let these things worry you.”

“But there isn’t another ferry until this evening!” retorted Tom.

The three mountaineers came within sight of their target. There, on board the little ferry, were the rest of the group who had chosen not to attempt Dun Caan. It was 12.15 as the three sped along the little road to the ramp. They could hear the shouts of the others now, willing them on.

Four pairs of wheels rolled onto the hydraulic ramp. At the same instant the ferryman pressed the button that lifted the ramp and the ferry was off. Talk about split-second timing!

The day’s journey involved a fairly short trek across Skye to Glenbrittle hostel. There were those for whom the thought of being eaten alive by midges held no great charm, but others considered it a challenge and had stocked up with midge-repellents in anticipation of the forthcoming battle.

The ride to Carbost was leisurely, even allowing time for waterfall bathing along the way to alleviate the effects of the hot sun. The majestic Cuillen Mountains towered above the glen as the apprehensive band descended down towards the hostel. And when they arrived they were greeted with the sight of the hostel’s own personal waterfall – one of the best they had seen!

The rest of the afternoon was spent bathing, but shortly after five the midges descended as promised. There was nothing to be done but to retreat to the dormitory. The warden said he had never known the midges to be so bad – even sealing off all the air vents with cardboard and insulating tape didn’t keep them out! One wonders how Scottish people survive the summer months.

Wednesday 22 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 7 Glenbrittle to Kyle YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
The private waterfall near Glenbrittle YH that provided so much fun yesterday afternoon (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The group outside Glenbrittle YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The ferry from Kyleaking to Kyle of Lochalsh (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

Wednesday was a fairly uneventful day. Phil Burrows led the group back along the previous day’s route to Sconser and then on to Kyleakin for the ferry back to the mainland. The hostel at Kyle of Lochalsh was not especially interesting and would not have been on the itinerary if there had been some way of avoiding it. However the warden was a health-food fanatic so everyone was able to enjoy a good evening meal.

Thursday 23 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 8 Kyle to Applecross B&B
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Kyle YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Kyle YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Richard admires the view approaching Plockton (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The group at Diuranais, on the way to Plockton (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Plockton Post Office (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Richard and Julie on the approach to Plockton (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Plockton harbour looking towards Locharron (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Plockton village (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The foothills (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The challenging sign at Tornapress, the start of the biggest climb of the tour (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
One of the early hairpin bends, opening up views towards the top (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View from the Russel Burn (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Andy within sight of the upper hairpins (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The main climb comes into view (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View back down the main climb (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The final hairpin bends to the top (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Andy celebrates reaching the top (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View back from the final hairpin bends (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Heading down towards Applecross (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Congratulations all round at the Pass of the Cattle (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The final descent to the village (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Glorious sunset over Applecross Bay (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by Michael.]

Thursday was the day everyone had been waiting for. Accommodation that evening was to be a bed and breakfast at Applecross, and the route promised a great deal of spectacular scenery.

The first stop was Plockton, a delightful little National Trust village set on the sheltered edge of the almost Mediterranean Loch Carron just north of Kyle. It was complete with its own primary and secondary schools, railway station, bus terminus and post office, and yet was quiet and unspoilt. It should be mentioned that the post office only just qualified as such, being no more than a small garden shed with a table and chair inside. It was only given away by the postbus parked outside!

The lazy atmosphere coaxed everyone into a lochside café for refreshments – and water pistols. There was still time for a few photographs of the boats bobbing up and down near the island in the loch before the ever-rising sun reminded the group of the journey that lay ahead. Reluctantly they continued on their way, following the beautiful wooded lanes that ran towards Stratcarron.

“ROAD TO APPLECROSS (Bealach Na Ba): This road rises to a height of 2053 ft with gradients of 1 in 5 and hairpin bends. NOT ADVISED FOR LEARNER DRIVERS, VERY LARGE VEHICLES OR CARAVANS AFTER FIRST MILE.”

So read the massive sign that now towered above the hesitant group of cyclists, marking the beginning of another great adventure into the unknown. Julie, who had been unable to work up any real excitement about the road from the outset, felt even less enthusiastic now that she was at the bottom of it.

“Don’t bother waiting for me at the top,” she said, convinced that she was bound to arrive at least two hours after everyone else. “I’ll meet you at Applecross.”

Richard, Phil and Matthew, who had definite inclinations towards competitive cycling, set off in the sweltering heat at a fair pace with the intention of reaching the top within forty-five minutes. The others, who had no such ambitions, began the climb at varying speeds and soon divided into small groups of two or three.

Hairpin bends skirted dangerously around the steep and rugged slopes of Sgurr a Ghaorachain as the little road made its tortuous way up to the dizzy heights of the Pass of the Cattle. Every new bend revealed a new and longer stretch of the climb. Fluid supplies soon ran out as sweat flowed off the poor cyclists, but mountain streams provided lusciously cool and refreshing refills.

The final hairpins climbed to the head of a huge amphitheatre, enclosed on three sides by the steep mountains. Michael and Andrew gazed back to the bottom where they could just make out a small, yellow dot that must have been Duncan and a small, dark dot that must have been Paul.

“Hel-lo,” rang out Michael’s voice, momentarily disturbing the surrounding solitude. The echoes died away and there was silence once again. The dots stopped moving. There was a pause, and then came the reply. In this way it was possible to hold a conversation, although the inherent delay involved in the transmission did cause a few problems with the flow.

Julie didn’t take as long as she had feared, Richard did make it in forty-five minutes and everyone was thoroughly relieved to be resting against the plaque that marked the highest road in mainland Britain. However the road to Applecross could only be downwards, and no-one was about to delay the undoubtable pleasures involved in the descent.

Rounding the first corner a myriad little discs came into view. They were lochs, nestling in the tops of mountains far below. The road twisted and turned all the way down to Applecross Bay. The four miles must have taken only a few minutes, for it seemed no time at all before the experience was over. It seemed impossible to believe that until the mid-seventies that road formed the only approach to Applecross, giving it the reputation of being the most inaccessible community in mainland Britain. The new coastal road would be used the following day, but it didn’t take much imagination to forget that it existed.

This village, stretching along the desolate coastline, boasts a primary school, but secondary-age children have to board at Plockton. Most men of working age work at the Kishorn oil site over the mountain. Many of the inhabitants have lived there all their lives, having gone to school I the now ruined communities of Lonbain before the track was replaced with the road.

It seemed that life was standing still. There was no rushing here: there was time for everything. Three local families at nearby Camustiel gave the group the best night they had spent on the whole tour, and as they settled down to sleep they looked forward with anticipation to the second half of the tour.

Friday 24 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 9 Applecross to Torridon YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Mrs McRae (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Mrs McRae at her house in Camustiel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Duncan rides through the remote coastal village of Camustiel, near Applecross (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Mrs McRae's friendly dog (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The abandoned village of Lonbain near the "new" coastal road (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View across Loch a Mhuilinn towards Milltown and Applecross (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
One of the few intact houses at Lonbain (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Derelict Crofters houses at Lonbain (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Cuaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The desolate coastal scenery near Kainakill (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View across Loch Shieldaig from the descent to Ardheslaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View across Loch Torridon from near Kenmore (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
View to Shieldaig from the coast road (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

The VIP treatment we received at our Applecross Bed and Breakfast accommodation made a very pleasant change from the rough and ready Youth Hostels, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do a permanent swap. The restraints imposed by the fact that we were in somebody else’s house, and the consequent necessity of behaving in a gentile and polite fashion, would soon have worn me down.

Nonetheless it was a good opportunity to get some of our used clothes (which by this stage had begun to wriggle about in the farthest recesses of our panniers) washed. Half of our hideous pile of contaminated clothing, which technically would probably have been illegal under the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, was dealt with here, while we made for the local campsite in order to deal with the other half. This was a fairly lengthy operation and it was 2.15 by the time we finished, at which point we retired to a nearby beach for lunch. The local midges also appeared to favour this beach as a lunch spot and on this occasion cyclists were a popular choice on the menu.

All in all it was a record-breaking retarded four o’clock by the time we actually started covering the miles, and there were twenty seven of them to be covered. The coastal road on which we were to cover them could well have been the inspiration behind the invention of the roller coaster and the hurricane force winds that blew along it did not make progress any easier. After miles and miles of this we finally hit the main road near Shieldaig.

It was now seven o’clock so we went into town in search of a quick snack to keep us going. Finding a fairly reasonable café we decided to stop and make a meal of it. At nine o’clock we finally arrived at Torridon hostel.

Having been purpose built quite recently it boasted all mod-cons as well as being exceptionally roomy and having loads of mysterious corridors and rooms to explore, had we had time to do so adequately. As it was, the small amount of free time we had left was spent by most of us on the mammoth task of trying to use up the fourteen pints of milk we had ordered, while Tom demonstrated his powers as a chef by making a batch of oat-cakes. Very excellent they were too.

Saturday 25 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 10 Torridon to Carn Dearg YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
View to Gairloch from the "beach" at Loch Kerry (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Torridon YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Tea and cakes provided by a very kind lady Mrs McKenzie at Croft 14, Port Henderson (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Cycling along the lane to Port Henderson (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Heading back towards Badachro along Loch Bad na-Achlaise (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Tea and cakes at Croft 14, Port Henderson, with Croft 18 behind (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
A Highland Cow greets us as we approach Badachro (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

Saturday dawned bright but breezy. No sooner had we begun to propel ourselves in the appropriate direction when Paul’s rear changer collided with his spokes, bringing him to an abrupt halt. Fortunately Richard was on hand to put his expertise as a cycle mechanic to good effect and we were soon underway again.

Ten windy miles later at Kinlochewe an ice cream stop was in order, and we stopped for lunch soon afterwards at the loch-side Beinn Eighe nature reserve visitor centre. Continuing along Loch Maree the picturesque mountainous scenery helped the miles to fly by, and by four o’clock we were at Kerrysdale, within six miles of Carn Dearg hostel – pronounced, as we were assured by a local, Karn Jerrig.

At this stage Mike convinced seven of us that we were within range of a beach that was well worth a visit, so we duly followed him along the delightful lane through Badachro in search of it. The others were not convinced by his smooth talking and went into Gairloch for a cup of tea.

This turned out to be a sensible move, for although we cycled a few miles we never found that beach! However, a nice lady at Port Henderson took pity on us and insisted on bringing us out tea and cakes, refusing any payment.

Back in Gairloch we spent time in an information centre ordering posters before heading for the hostel, where we received a warm welcome from the midges.

Sunday 26 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 11 Carn Dearg to Ullapool YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
The coast at Little Gruinard (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Carn Dearg YH near Gairloch (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Fabulous cycling along the private road at Strath Beag near Dundonnell (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Gruinard Island and the government warning sign (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The start of the descent to the Altnaharrie Inn (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The start of the track at the top of the hill, passing Loch na h-Airbhe (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Continuing the descent (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The descent gets steeper as Ullpool comes into view on the other side of Loch Broom (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The Altnaharrie Inn, from where a private ferry will take us across Loch Broom (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Ullapool now in full view (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

An early start was necessary on Sunday morning for most of us because we had a ferry to catch by 4.30 and for Phil, Matthew, Richard, Julie and Simon because they were taking the long way round and had many miles to cover.

Before long we passed within sight of Gruinard Island, which looks like any other but is in fact infected with Anthrax after germ warfare tests during World War Two, all attempts at decontamination having failed.

Continuing along scenic mountain roads we made good time and stopped at a viewing point for a lunch of odds and ends. During the afternoon’s riding we turned off the main road at Dundonnell on to a side road lined with trees and green fields, which was strangely reminiscent of Devon after days of heather and windswept rocks.

From here we climbed a steep hill and then came to a rocky track, often un-ridable, which took us steeply down to the ferry that would take us to Ullapool. At the bottom of the track was a hotel, the Altnaharrie Inn, and while we waited for the ferry we refreshed ourselves with smallish glasses of lemonade at an extortionate 30p a time. The ferry was an hour and a half late, but at last we loaded up and were taken across, arriving at the hostel five minutes before the active ones.

Monday 27 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 12 Ullapool to Achininver YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
The quay and harbour on Loch Broom, just opposite the youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Ullapool YH (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
South-western view from Stac Pollaidh looking to the Summer Isles over Loch Bad a Ghaill (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Stac Pollaidh (612m) - today's challenge (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Eastern view from Stac Pollaidh looking towards Cul Mor (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Northern view from Stac Pollaidh looking to mount Suilven over Loch Sionasgaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Andy Billington washing his clothes in the stream (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Andy Billington washing his clothes in the stream beside Achiniver youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Achiniver youth hostel, with the outside toilet hut just visible behind the wall (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Achiniver youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

Finding ourselves in a reasonably sized town for a change we spent Monday morning investigating it. Andy for one took advantage of the opportunity and bought himself a real haute cuisine evening meal of melon, pizza and fruit pie by way of variation from the more usual fare of baked beans on toast. It was midday by the time we set off, and consequently we hadn’t gone very far before the hunger pangs hit us and we stopped for lunch.

It has become traditional on these summer tours to include the conquering of a fairly hefty mountain in the programme of events, and a few miles further on we came across the sprawling heap of rock that had been earmarked for this year’s assault. Going by the name of Stac Pollaidh it proved just as difficult to climb as it was to pronounce. The track that led up to it made no concessions to protesting muscles, such as meandering from side to side or going round and round. No, it took the direct route, straight up the 45 degree slope.

The mountain itself consisted of many peaks, or rather piles, for it wasn’t one massive outcrop but lots of boulders of varying sizes stuck together, or so it seemed. Some fairly amazing rock formations had been created in this way. By the time we returned to ground level the faint-hearted ones who had had no mountaineering inclinations had gone on, as it was late in the afternoon.

The rest of us joined them at 6.45 at Achininver hostel, an establishment that boasted no such modern sophistications as electricity or running water. No, I tell a lie, there was a stream running alongside in which one could have an icy wash. Dinner was heated in a coal burning oven and eaten by candlelight, which for many of us was a vast improvement on electricity, and at bedtime Mike entertained us all with ghost stories.

In the middle of the night the entire dormitory was woken up by a frantic hammering on the door. In his semi-conscious state Andy had absolutely no intention of leaving his warm, comfortable bed to investigate, preferring to ignore it and hope it would go away. Fortunately Mike was noble enough to assume the mantle of responsibility and stagger bleary-eyed downstairs to see what was going on. This was particularly fortunate for John, because it was he who was doing the hammering. Having gone out to use the toilet he had allowed the door to shut behind him, and when he returned found to his horror that he couldn’t open it from the outside. This sorry episode was brought to an appropriate conclusion by his attempt, on being readmitted to the hostel, to climb into Mike’s bed! I suspect that the memory of Mike’s cry of dismay when he tried to return to bed himself and found it already occupied will be treasured by all who heard it.

Tuesday 28 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 13 Achininver to Achmelvich YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
View back to Enard Bay from the "Mad Little Road to Wester Ross" near Inverkirkaig (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The attic dormitory at Achininver youth hostel, scene of John Stuart's midnight mishaps (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Lochinver primary school, just up the hill from the village (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

Those of you who have stayed in Youth Hostels will know that an essential part of the experience is the chore that you are required to do, which usually consists of washing dishes, sweeping the dorm or some other equally mundane task. This Tuesday morning however we had something rather more interesting in store for us, namely repairing the track that led to the hostel. Apparently the stream had burst its banks during heavy rains a while back and washed the path away in several places. We had to transport stones to the affected area in a wheelbarrow and tip them out to build up the ground again. Quite fun really.

As was becoming our habit we made a lazy start, and after the usual visit to the local store to stock up on food it was soon time for lunch which we ate near Badnagyle. We then continued on down a twisty little road into Inverpolly Nature Reserve, which was quite scenic and involved a fair bit of cycling up and down hills and round and round the lochs.

We stopped at Enard Bay, admiring the sun on the water, and a mile further on stopped again for a walk to the Falls of Kirkaig. We weren’t quite sure how far we’d have to walk, but after going further than we’d wanted to we met some people coming back who said that it was at least as far again and the Falls were somewhat unimpressive anyway, so we turned back.

After spending some time in a nearby bookshop we went on our way, into Lochinver and then along a winding and undulating lane that took us to Achmelvich hostel.

Wednesday 29 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 14 Achmelvich to Carbisdale Castle YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Achmelvich youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

After posing to allow the warden to take a group photo of us, we cycled the few miles back into Lochinver to buy lunch. The weather looked somewhat threatening, and once we were underway along the A837 heading east it started to rain quite heavily, although at least there was a tailwind to give us some assistance. After a while it warmed up a bit, and at this point Andy proved that it is possible to remove your trousers while cycling, given a lengthy and not too steep downwards incline. Perhaps he should add that he was wearing cycling shorts underneath at the time.

Further precipitation soon necessitated the donning of waterproofs, and at about one o’clock we took the opportunity afforded by an old barn at Altnacealgach to have lunch in the dry. The weather cleared up during the afternoon and waterproofs were consequently removed. We left the main road and followed an undulating lane for miles. Spotting a huge castle on the hillside in the distance we realised that this must be the hostel we were heading for – Carbisdale Castle.

When we eventually arrived it proved just as massive as it had appeared from a distance. It was full of statues, paintings and elaborate decorations, to say nothing of Youth Hostellers. There was also an evening meal provided which was extremely acceptable, although we could have done with a map and compass to help us locate the dining room.

Most of us spent the evening in the games room but Andy had to cycle six miles back the way we had come to retrieve a pair of trousers that he discovered had gone AWOL from his pannier. Simon’s rear wheel, which had been shedding spokes at an alarming rate over the past couple of days, finally collapsed, as did John’s bed when he leapt onto it unsuspectingly after the board had been removed.

Thursday 30 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 15 Carbisdale Castle to Perth YH
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Gallery of statues at Carbisdale Castle youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
The group at Carbisdale Castle youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Carbisdale Castle youth hostel from the courtyard entrance (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

As Simon’s bike was now totally unrideable, he and Mike took the train all the way to Perth. The rest of us were cycling to Inverness and taking the train from there. Phil and Andy were in charge of proceedings, but Andy left matters in Phil’s capable hands. Forty-four miles lay ahead of us and the weather was wet and windy. We stopped at a windswept moorland pub for coffee at about eleven and carried on suitably refreshed an hour later. Lunch was taken on the Black Isle, which was reached via a long windswept bridge.

After being buffeted by side winds on the final bridge crossing we soon found ourselves in Inverness, which was unpleasantly large and industrialized and not at all enjoyable to cycle through. At this point we found that Duncan and Tom had disappeared. Andrew assumed, bearing in mind the mental deficiencies of these two, that they had taken the wrong turning at the last roundabout and duly headed off after them, leaving the others to continue to the railway station. Having failed to locate the errant pair, and running out of time, Andy turned back and rode to the station, reaching the train with just seconds to spare. Duncan and Tom were sitting on the train looking pleased with themselves, having found a short cut!

From Perth station to the hostel was only a five minute ride but nonetheless there was still time for Paul to be dismounted – by a wet manhole cover – and to send Andy sprawling with him, writing off his front wheel. Fortunately this was the last cycling day of the tour, so this wasn’t as disastrous as it might have been.

Friday 31 August 1984Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 16 Perth to Devon
11 present: Andrew Billington, Matthew Burrows, Phil Burrows, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Duncan Scott, Julie Strong, John Stuart, Paul Williams, Richard Wiseman, Tom Woodman
Disembarking at Glasgow Queen Street station (raw slide scan, to be cleaned) (9:59)
Perth youth hostel (raw slide scan, to be cleaned)
Departing Glasgow Central station for the long journey home (raw slide scan, to be cleaned) (10:45)
[This tour was organised by Michael within Torbay CTC, as South Dartmoor CTC was not created until 1985. This report was written by co-leader Andrew Billington.]

Friday consisted almost entirely of an extremely long train journey. Readers may remember the lengths British Rail went to last year in an attempt to keep us from getting home: this year they confined their hostile activities to leaving the air conditioning switched off in our carriage, causing us to sweat all the way to Newton Abbot, which we reached by early evening. We then returned to our respective homes and lived happily every after.

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