South Dartmoor CTC

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Tuesday 1 April 1986Tour: North Devon Day 1 Home to HolfordSunny
22 present: Daniel Coles, Phiip Drew, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Simon Lewis, Warren Masters, Philip Mills, Graham Moates (16, Paignton), Mark Moxham, Ben Palmer (14, Torquay), Paul Palmer, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Paul Willard, Mark Williams (14, Paignton), Paul Williams, Jonothan Yelland (14, Dawlish)
Warren Masters - pool rider extraodinaire - watched by Jono
Riding the tracks on the Quantock Hills
Warren Masters - showing the full resolution of all our photos
“How many?”

“Twenty two. There shouldn’t be any problem – we had no difficulty with seventeen a few years ago!”

“I don’t know about that. I can’t see the guards agreeing to twenty two. Still, leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do.”

Thus went the conversation with the BR travel office. I suppose one could hardly blame them for being slightly taken aback. Even Michael was beginning to have doubts about the desirability of leading such a large group of youngsters on a five day tour. Ages of the twenty two ranged from ten to twenty six. Four of the boys were from Dawlish whilst three were coming down from Warwickshire (following their involvement in last year’s national tour to Snowdonia). There was certainly plenty of preparation work to be done.

The first day was eventful by any standards. The first problem was a familiar one: negotiating with the station manager. This time we needed his agreement to our attempting to get all the bikes on the 1124 train, space permitting, instead of splitting into two groups as previously arranged. Consent was finally given and the operation proceeded without difficulty when the train arrived.

The penalty was paid on disembarkation at Taunton – by Paul Palmer, whose new derailleur had been damaged beyond repair by careless loading. A visit to the local cycle shop was called for, but this highlighted another problem: it wasn’t physically possible for us to park all the bikes outside the shop without causing an obstruction! We were told off for stacking them in front of the cycle shop because it blocked the pavement, so we spread them out along two or three shops – and were told off by the chip shop proprietor for driving away his trade! He mellowed considerably, however, when a sizeable proportion of the group bought his chips as a way of passing the time it was taking to repair Paul’s bike.

Eventually everyone was ready to leave and the group did its best to get out of Taunton causing the least possible annoyance to local traffic.

Things were a lot quieter at Kingston; quieter in the sense of surroundings at least. One of Simon’s mudguard bolts had fallen out, but apart from that we had managed to get three miles out of Taunton with no loss of life.

A peaceful spot near Cothelstone was selected as being sufficiently spacious and remote for our lunch stop, after which we headed off to Crowcombe Park. We only stopped here because there was a hill – not an ordinary hill, but the kind that seems to go on for ever, getting steeper around every corner. Some stopped at the bottom and some stopped at the top, but everyone stopped somewhere.

When everyone had reached the top there was time for mad chases around the heath while Mark repaired his puncture. Then began the real adventure of the day – the track along the top of the Quantocks. We had only reached Hurley Beacon when Mark realised he had left Jonno’s pocket knife back at Crowcombe Park Gate. No-one really minded the delay as the views were panoramic in the clear afternoon sunshine.

The group was soon off again, making the most of the occasional muddy pools. Warren, who was keen to prove that he could cycle through all of them, came unstuck in a particularly deep one near Bicknoller Post, much to everyone’s amusement. He had wet, muddy feet but it didn’t seem to bother him.

The descent to Holford youth hostel was fraught with problems, not least of which was to choose the correct set of tracks; a wrong decision would result in an unnecessary climb to the hostel. We got it right, although I fear this was due more to good fortune than anything else, and arrived at the hostel with nothing more than a puncture to show for our ordeal.

The youngsters still had the energy for a walk after supper, down to the village and back, but on their return they were ready for bed. Only the sounds of sheep disturbed the silence of the Quantocks.

Tuesday 1 April 1986Evening ride: StavertonDry
3 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, John Iles
A slight chill in the air made for an invigorating ride as we set off along Colston road on the first evening outing of the year. Crossing the Dart at Staverton we returned by way of Bumpston Cross and Wash in the twilight, the evening stars twinkling as we descended to Pridhamsleigh.

Wednesday 2 April 1986Tour: North Devon Day 2 Holford to Exford
22 present: Daniel Coles, Phiip Drew, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Simon Lewis, Warren Masters, Philip Mills, Graham Moates (16, Paignton), Mark Moxham, Ben Palmer (14, Torquay), Paul Palmer, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Paul Willard, Mark Williams (14, Paignton), Paul Williams, Jonothan Yelland (14, Dawlish)
Philip Drew at Watchet
Philip Drew and Jonothan Yelland observing one another at Watchet harbour
David Parry tries his luck once too often at Allerford
Philip Mills leads the descent of the woodland track to Selworthy
More fun at Allerford
Wednesday morning’s route was to follow the coast road through Watchet and Dunster to Minehead. Occasional heavy showers made life somewhat difficult, particularly as they timed themselves perfectly to cause maximum inconvenience to us – just when David got a puncture for example, or when we were just close enough to the Watchet café to think we would arrive without getting wet. Nevertheless most of the ride was enjoyable and the only damage on arrival at Minehead was to Paul Palmer’s front changer, David’s gear lever and Philip’s pedal!

Having patiently waited outside Minehead’s only cycle shop until 14.20 we were eventually informed by a passer-by that Wednesday was the town’s half-day closing. Everyone found this amusing except Michael, who had to effect temporary repairs before the group could tackle the famous North Hill.

The combination of superb views and the need for sustenance provided sufficient excuse for many to pause during the climb, although the bright sunshine which now bathed the area may also have been influential. The thought of ice-creams however soon got them on their feet again, and it wasn’t long before a string of cyclists could be seen rolling down the bumpy wooded track to Selworthy.

The next port of call was Allerford. Now some readers may be aware that this is one of those pretty little places that often appear on calendars. It is pretty because there is a wide ford, complete with ducks, alongside a quaint little cobbled bridge. Most of the gang, being sensible, used the bridge, but David, being David, had to prove that the ford was rideable. Amazingly he succeeded despite Michael’s predictions of failure, but that was not enough. With head in the air he then proceeded to cycle back again, as if to prove that the first crossing had been no fluke. That is where he came unstuck, much to everyone else’s enjoyment – quite what the ducks thought about it all is difficult to say.

Unfortunately it must have been half-day closing in Allerford too as the café there was closed. There was nothing to be done but to set off up the hill through Luccombe a little hungrier than planned. Exmoor is, of course, delightful cycling country, and the ford at Cloutsham did provide some entertainment, but it was getting late and the younger lads needed pieces of chocolate to coax them up the final hill.

We finally arrived at Exford hostel at 7.45 for a 7pm supper – and were relieved to find that he warden had kept food for us. With the single exception of Mark Moxham’s spectacular plate-dropping incident the remainder of the evening was relatively peaceful.

Thursday 3 April 1986Tour: North Devon Day 3 Exford to Lynton
22 present: Daniel Coles, Phiip Drew, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Simon Lewis, Warren Masters, Philip Mills, Graham Moates (16, Paignton), Mark Moxham, Ben Palmer (14, Torquay), Paul Palmer, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Paul Willard, Mark Williams (14, Paignton), Paul Williams, Jonothan Yelland (14, Dawlish)
Andrew Simmons and David Parry lead on the road to Hunters' Inn
Warren Masters and Mark Williams on the road to Hunters' Inn
One of our members (Ben Palmer? Or John Stuart?) looking down to Heddons Mouth from the coastal path between Hunters' Inn and Woody Bay
Paul Williams near Hunters' Inn
Jonothan Yelland on the coast path
Daniel Coles on the coast path
Three crosses in the grounds of Lee Abbey near Lynton
Andrew Simmons and Graham Moates admiring the view from the coast path on the way towards Woody Bay
Thursday morning dawned bright and clear. After a superb breakfast the little lads were sent on up the hill towards Simonsbath whilst repairs were effected to Mark Moxham’s wheel, Steve Hughes’ brakes and Paul Palmer’s broken chain – Paul really seemed to be free of minor problems on this tour, preferring instead to get to grips with the big stuff!

The tiny village of Challacombe conveniently boasted a small store which provided food (and raw jelly) for lunches. Then there were ice-creams at the picturesque Hunters’ Inn while Michael stared long and hard at Ben’s broken Fixed Cup (a rather important part of the bottom bracket bearing, for the benefit of the lay-person). It didn’t take him long to decide that the damage was irreparable without the assistance of a good cycle shop, a facility that was notable by its absence in this sparsely populated area of North Devon. And so it was that, when itching powder battles had been completed, Ben was forced to push or freewheel his bike all the way along the coastal path from Highveer Point to Woody Bay. There was plenty to see, however, as the views were breath-taking.

Another fabulous stretch of coastal path from the Valley of the Rocks brought us eventually to Lynton where the warden had already been warned (by Exford hostel) of our tendency to late arrivals. An excellent meal and a telephone-call trip to the village concluded what must have been one of the most scenic days of the tour.

But it wasn’t to be the most eventful, as we were soon to discover.

Friday 4 April 1986Tour: North Devon Day 4 Lynton to Gidleigh
22 present: Daniel Coles, Phiip Drew, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Simon Lewis, Warren Masters, Philip Mills, Graham Moates (16, Paignton), Mark Moxham, Ben Palmer (14, Torquay), Paul Palmer, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Paul Willard, Mark Williams (14, Paignton), Paul Williams, Jonothan Yelland (14, Dawlish)
David Parry after (I think) the difficult repair to his bike
Paul Willams and David Parry make some new friends - not sure where this was, but probably near Lynton
The sun sets behind the hills near Hittisleigh
It is an irritating fact of CTC life that certain areas of England are rather poorly served by youth hostels. There is just such an area in North Devon which lies between the north coast and Dartmoor National Park, and this meant that after covering only twenty five miles per day, the thought of a fifty mile trip was understandably daunting for many of the younger members. It was so daunting that several of them agreed to set off earlier than the rest, led by the two Steves. They took their time climbing the long hill out of Lynton but still arrived at Blackmoor Gate a good thirty minutes before the others.

The warden, who had kindly agreed to take Ben to Barnstaple in his car, passed us near Arlington Court. A few seconds later Paul Willard discovered that his rear wheel spindle had broken, but the warden was now out of sight of course. And so it was that Paul, too, was forced to do his share of pushing as we covered the last few miles into Barnstaple.

Well, the cycle shops didn’t turn out to be quite the helpful places that everyone had imagined them to be. To cut a long story short, both Ben and Paul decided that, taking all things into account, they’d get there (home that is) quicker on the train. They waved farewell while the rest of us enjoyed lunch by the river, then we were off again, this time on the level A377 and heading towards Crediton.

We had plenty of time to get to Gidleigh hostel. Everything was running well within schedule despite the morning’s difficulties – until David did it again. Yes, this wonderful example of modern youth at its best chose this moment to break his rear derailleur and chain in spectacular fashion. The repairs involved complete removal of the offending part and on this particular occasion the shortened chain refused to sit properly on the selected sprocket!

The journey from Eggesford to Copplestone was painfully slow. As we climbed through the lanes at Hittisleigh the sun was setting behind the distant hill, and on arrival at Whiddon Down it was dark. Everyone was starving and David was still pushing up the hill. When he finally emerged from the darkness the best news he could muster was that his rear wheel was buckled. Torches and lamps were directed onto the poor machine as yet another operation was performed.

Eventually we hobbled off again, this time managing the mile to East Ash before Steve Hughes informed us of his puncture. The nightmare became more vivid was we tried to find our way through the maze of little lanes that would eventually lead us to the welcoming hostel. The task of counting the twenty members at every junction was no easy one in the dark.

It was 10.15. Somehow we had managed to get to Gidleigh. The warden had laid in a fabulous coal fire for us. She kindly allowed us extra time to eat our supper, drink a few of our nineteen pints of milk and chat around the fire before we finally settled into icy cold beds shortly after midnight.

Saturday 5 April 1986Tour: North Devon Day 5 Gidleigh to HomeMainly sunny
22 present: Daniel Coles, Phiip Drew, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Simon Lewis, Warren Masters, Philip Mills, Graham Moates (16, Paignton), Mark Moxham, Ben Palmer (14, Torquay), Paul Palmer, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Paul Willard, Mark Williams (14, Paignton), Paul Williams, Jonothan Yelland (14, Dawlish)
The group near Bonehill. Back: John, Mark Moxham, Paul Williams, Luke, Steve Hughes, Mark Williams. Middle: Warren, Philip Drew, Jono, Stephen Parry, Brett, Philip Mills, Andrew Simmons. Front: Daniel, Paul Palmer, Simon & Andrew Lawson
Warren Masters and Luke Rake at Gidleigh youth hostel, with Gidleigh church behind
No-one was in a great hurry to wake up on Saturday morning – except Luke, who had gone out at 7.30 in search of another Dartmoor letterbox. The first thing most people knew of the new day was when the warden’s beautiful young collie came into the dormitory and jumped excitedly on each bed in turn: it was as if to say “Come on, I’ve been up for ages and I haven’t had my walk yet!”

The two Steves, who had immediately fallen in love with the animal, wasted no time in getting dressed and setting about what must have been the most enjoyable hostel chore they had ever done.

It really was a lovely, lazy morning. Everyone helped to tidy up after a late breakfast and then there were numerous repairs to perform after the previous night’s escapade. A sudden change in the weather brought a temporary snow shower as we left the hostel (in April?) so we treated ourselves to lunch in one of the Chagford restaurants before setting off once more for the final trek across the now sun-soaked moor. David still managed one final breakdown when his freewheel block fell off near Bonehill, but somehow he got back to Buckfastleigh.

It was sad to see this memorable tour come to an end but there will be more tours, each with its own unique blend of participants. Here’s to Scotland ’86!

Sunday 6 April 1986Afternoon ride (With Torbay CTC): MarldonDry
8 present: Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Michael Jones, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Kevin Presland, Andrew Simmons, Paul Williams
Warwickshire lads David, Stephen and Paul were just about the only Easter tour participants with the energy to join today's ride to Marldon, with the exception of Andrew and Michael of course. David, who had caused major damage to his own bike on the tour, had (perhaps foolishly) been loaned Michael's Dawes in Luke's absence. There was a certain degree of consternation therefore when the levers slipped on the down tube for the first time in several years. Tracks were made for home with all possible haste before he managed to do any more damage.

Friday 11 April 1986Evening ride: DiptfordSunny
9 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Graham Burge (Adult, Ashburton), Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons, Paul Willard, Peter Willard
The ride to Diptford via South Brent and Ham Halt is always enjoyable, especially on sunny spring evenings. The most interesting event however was Vicky’s puncture which left her looking rather deflated near Rattery. Paul Palmer very kindly lent her his pump, but her only response was to break it (albeit accidentally) and ask for another! There were few offers, so she hobbled back to Totnes on one cylinder.

Sunday 13 April 1986Day ride (With Torbay CTC): Hansel MillMainly sunny, rain later
12 present: Andrew Billington, Richard Burge, Steve Hughes, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Kevin Presland, Luke Rake, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Simon Whale, Mark Williams
Puncture problems at Buckfastleigh caused a little confusion at the Totnes pick-up, but eventually twenty-five cyclists were heading towards Tuckenhay and Forces Cross. It was amusing to note how many of our merry gang asked to be introduced to the ‘Gretel’ who was listed in the Highwayman as the run’s leader.

Most people were tormented at lunchtime by a particularly bloodthirsty breed of fly that inhabited the destination. Vicky seemed to escape the worst of the bites but several small, male, human-shaped tormentors more than made up for the deficiency.

Some faster Torbay members took the long route to Blackpool via Stokenham so we had time to amuse ourselves on Slapton Sands for a while before setting off for the café. Return was via the Dartmouth ferry, arriving at Totnes just in time to catch the band of rain which had originally been forecast for earlier in the afternoon.

Tuesday 15 April 1986Social: Slide Show
10 present: Richard Burge, Steve Hughes, Mark Hunt, John Iles, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons, Roger Simmons, Peter Willard
Michael’s slide show brought back some of the excitement experienced by members on the recent Easter tour and offered a taste of future delights to be enjoyed on the summer trip to Scotland. Perhaps the next slide show will include slides taken by other Section members?

Sunday 20 April 1986Day ride: Exeter Ship CanalSunny
7 present: Richard Burge, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Martin Olney (Junior, Paignton), Derek Unknown (Adult, Devon), Mark Williams
Our hard-grade rides are hardly strenuous, but today’s was more like an easy-grade due to the accompanying tail wind. Steven Hills and Jonno joined us briefly at Starcross before we took to the riverside path from Powderham.

The canal path from Turf Lock to Exeter proved to be a real obstacle course, lined as it was with literally hundreds of fishermen. They were neatly spaces with one man every few metres and of course a number of them had rods lying across the path, thinking only of pedestrians. It may have been difficult for us to make our way up the canal, but we couldn’t help but feel sorry for any poor fish that happened that way. Still, perhaps they’ve found a way of choosing the tastiest and least firmly secured bait without being caught – there were certainly no signs of catches while we were there!

Return was via Alphington, Shillingford St George and the delightful lamb-filled meadows of Dunchideock and Ashton. Richard Burge somehow managed to break his derailleur (that boy really is an accident black spot) but he hobbled home with a little help from his friends. And we still got home by 17.45!

Friday 25 April 1986Evening ride: SpitchwickSunny
9 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Richard Palmer (13, Buckfastleigh), Luke Rake, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons, Michael Unknown (Adult, Devon)
Spitchwick Common was at its tranquil best on this beautiful evening. Ours were the only human voices that broke the silence as we investigated our various abilities to hit moving targets with a tennis ball.

Since Holne Chase had been used for the outward journey, return was made via Holne and the dreaded Langaford track, after which Di Simmons kindly arranged refreshments at Summerlands.

Sunday 27 April 1986Day ride (With Torbay CTC): Petre's CrossCloudy
9 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Luke Rake, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons, Michael Unknown
The usual mayhem and chaos accompanied our annual romp across Dartmoor. No fewer than five Torbay members turned for home during the morning as visions of the proposed route gradually formed in their minds. (Actually some were ill and others had to attend the St George’s Day parade, but that sounds less dramatic.)

The Two Moors Way track brought at least two people to the ground, but this was nothing compared to the muddy tracks, streams, bogs and hillocks that dotted the rest of the route. Matthew broke his pannier rack, Luke lost his pannier screws and Michael nearly lost his saddle bag. But no-one lost their cool and I’m sure everyone will be out again for our next visit to the open moor, hopefully on a brighter day.

Tuesday 29 April 1986Evening ride: BucklandSunny
8 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Richard Palmer, Andrew Simmons, Jane Simmons, Suzie Simmons
Demands for more ball games on Spitchwick Common called for quick thinking to avoid duplicating Friday’s route. Hembury Woods eventually formed part of the outward journey despite complaints from Andrew. The scenic beauty of Spitchwick touched us all in the absence of the holiday makers, but the sound of Buckland’s church clock reminded us that parents would soon be getting anxious.

Sunday 4 May 1986Afternoon ride: MichelcombeRain / showers
3 present: Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Martin Mudge (11, Devon)
Those who attended this half-day ride were able to enjoy the moorland scenery despite occasional periods of rain. The Old Forge café at Holne may have contributed in some small way towards the overall enjoyment.

Friday 9 May 1986Evening ride: BroadhempstonDamp
5 present: Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Richard Palmer, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons
Michael, who had felt reasonably confident whilst walking to the start on this damp and dreary evening, was quickly sent home for his bike by the four-strong reception committee that greeted him there. A circular route took the group through Colston, Broadhempston, Green Lane and Redmount.

Sunday 11 May 1986Day ride (With Torbay CTC): Rough Stuff EventSunny
8 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, Steve Hughes, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons
The fast outward route via Chudleigh Knighton, Teign Valley, Zeal farm and Tedburn St Mary also, unusually, formed the return route. This apparent disregard for one of our fundamental principles was brought about by the Met Office’s prediction of rain by mid-afternoon. On this occasion the forecast proved inaccurate, the rain not arriving until shortly after 7pm.

Of those who attended the ride, some took part in the competition and completed the course successfully (Andrew), some took part and got lost (Steve, Brett and Philip) and the rest did not take part at all, preferring to lie in the sun (Gabrielle and Vicky) or sit in prickly bushes as marshals (Michael and Richard).

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves however, and when the lost had been found there was tea and buns all round thanks to the efforts of the organisers.

Tuesday 13 May 1986Social: Video evening
7 present: Richard Burge, Steve Hughes, John Iles, Michael Jones, Luke Rake, Jane Simmons, Suzie Simmons
A video by the Children's Film Unit kept the youngsters entertained for most of the evening.

Sunday 18 May 1986Day ride (With Torbay CTC): HolbetonSunny
6 present: Gabrielle Bourn, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Andrew Lawson, Vicky Sanders, Andrew Simmons
Use of the fast B3210 from Avonwick to Ermington allowed us plenty of time to explore the delightful lanes around Holbeton, an area which we don’t often visit. Mothecombe beach, bathed as it was in warm sunshine, made an ideal spot for lunch, with entertainment provided by numerous wind surfers on the bay.

California Cross provided a welcome watering hole on the return journey, which took us homeward via South Brent.

Friday 23 May 1986Evening ride: HaytorMainly dry
10 present: Steph Crutchley-Iles, Jeremy Ford, Mark Hunt, John Iles, Michael Jones, Paul Palmer, Brian Robinson (Adult, Devon), Andrew Simmons, Roger Simmons, Suzie Simmons
Passing through Ashburton we followed the valley of the river Ashburn before climbing past Rushdale to Halshanger Cross and continuing through Ilsington and Haytor Vale before joining the Bovey Tracey to Widecombe road near the Moorland Hotel. The climb past Haytor is never as bad as it looks from the bottom and was soon negotiated, a sudden shower near the top leading to the donning of waterproofs by the better-prepared members.

The return from Hemsworthy Gate across Buckland Comman was made all the more delightful by the sight of a number of young foals with their mothers. New member Brian suffered a puncture on a rough track near Ashburton, but help was at hand as John sprinted off home to return with car and roofrack.

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