South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 20 May 1988Evening ride: SpitchwickSunny / cold
13 present: Graham Burge, Richard Burge, Jeremy Ford, Stan Ford, Xavier Gonzalez (10, Totnes), Simon Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, James Miller, Mark Morris, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons
At last! Andrew, Mark, Luke and Gary got their Spitchwick ride! But their request was granted on the understanding that there would be no more such rides for at least four weeks. The funniest thing about it was that none of the lads went in for a dip! The air had become distinctly chilly during the outward journey, and the river had somehow lost much of its appeal!

Return was via the long route, through Buckland and Ashburton.

Sunday 22 May 1988Day ride: Whooping RockSun / wind
8 present: Richard Burge, Luke Hatherly, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Mark Moxham
Whooping Rock? Well they couldn't really call it Rocking Rock, could they? Visions of a gigantic boulder balanced precariously on a moorland tor which could be rocked with the slightest pressure of a little finger encouraged us onwards through Bickington and Haytor.

Just after Manaton we found the dead-end road we were looking for, turned off onto the footpath and soon reached Easdon Tor, site of the aforesaid rock. Hunger seemed the first priority, but not before several people had discovered that it was particularly difficult to hold one's position on the triangulation post in view of the strong winds that blew across it.

A group search for the rock uncovered a letterbox (Dartmoor variety in a plastic box) hidden at the base of a large rock formation. True, the large lump on top appeared to be touching the lower one in only a couple of places, but even Budgie couldn't get it to budge! Still, there were good views to be had by anyone who could withstand the force of the wind long enough to admire them.

Returning to the road we decided to make for Widecombe, but the group was evenly split on whether to try the long track through Heathercombe and Hamel Down. Eventually there was a kind of mutiny, and the track supporters were defeated. And it was just as well as it turned out, for part way down the hill to Widecombe who should turn up but Luke Hatherly in a car. He had been at the Buckfastleigh start at the specified time and left at 10.05 when no-one was there, not knowing where the pick-up was. His parents had spent much of their lunch time searching the rocks for us, and had been fortunate enough to discover us at last.

At the Wayside, Budgie wanted lots of tea. He even returned his teapot and asked the waitress for more, as he often does. Sadly she interpreted this literally, delivering a fresh set of 'tea for two' within a few moments, along with the appropriate additional bill! It's not often one sees Richard get angry, but today was the exception. Fortunately the incident was cleared up amicably after Michael's intervention: the cafe agreed to refund half of the extra bill, and asked Richard to request more water in future to avoid confusion.

The hill from Ponsworthy brought us once again to Bel Tor Corner, from where we all took the fabulous track to Poundsgate. Descending Poundsgate hill we quickly got caught in a traffic queue, and discovered that the whole Spitchwick / New Bridge area was like an ant heap (ants as well as tourists)! Having fixed Philip's brake cable we decided to return home along our more peaceful lanes, agreeing to return to Spitchwick on evening rides only during the summer.

Tuesday 24 May 1988Evening ride: Crofters SocialRain
3 present: Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones
Young Toby came out to the start in the sure knowledge that he would be offered an evening of computer drawing at Crofters .. and he was not disappointed.

Sunday 29 May 1988Day ride: Mothecombe BeachSunny with occasional showers
6 present: Richard Burge, Craig Gillman, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Morris
A shower on the way to Erme Mill failed to dampen our spirits on this bright sunny day. Mothecombe beach offered plenty of entertainment during lunch: the huge expanse of sand was covered at such an amazing rate by the incoming tide that the lads had to go and measure it in centimetres (or was it metres) per second. Mind you, they also had to run over it, and through it, before they had finally exhausted themselves.

We made a hasty retreat before our last remaining patch of sand became submerged, returning largely by the same route to Erme Mill. When water bottles had been refilled we took the Ivybridge road to South Brent's Copper Kettle cafe, where Simon eventually caught up with us. (He had gone on a little too hastily back at Ivybridge, missing the turning, but knew where we were heading and found his own way there.)

Friday 3 June 1988Evening ride: Woolston GreenDamp
4 present: Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Alan Skinner (8, Totnes)
A number of muddy, overgrown tracks formed the basis of this evening's ride, much to the delight of young Alan. A few isolated complaints, arising mainly when one particular track ended up in some corn fields, were outweighed by the sheer fun of the evening, although some parents may not have been quite so amused about the mud.

Sunday 5 June 1988Afternoon ride: North HuishSunny
14 present: Michael Banks (14, Paignton), Richard Burge, Craig Gillman, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks
An unexpected turnout from Paignton members took attendance into double figures for our climb over the hill to South Brent's Copper Kettle tearooms, where four large scoops of delicious ice-cream could be had for just 70p!

The ride continued through Avonwick to the peaceful hamlet of North Huish, where very little was happening (until we arrived). There was a Treasure Hunt disrupting the anticipated tranquility of Diptford, but our planned excursion through Stert Barton's picturesque lanes left no time to observe the goings on in any great detail.

When the younger members had amused themselves by throwing sticking plants at each other, the two groups separated near Blue Post, returning homewards via Totnes and Rattery respectively after one of our most tiring afternoon rides of the year.

Tuesday 7 June 1988Evening ride: StavertonSunny
6 present: Paul Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, James Miller, Joan Pearce (Adult, Devon), Nicholas Scott-Maddocks
This short ride took us along the riverside path at Staverton, offering us the chance to test our skills at stone-skimming on the Dart. Incredibly we managed to return along another 'new' lane, bringing us home via Abham and Caddaford.

Sunday 12 June 1988Day ride: Hamel DownSunny
8 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Craig Gillman, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Morris, Malcolm Sheldon
The climb to Haytor was performed relatively quickly today, leaving us time to include an unplanned detour along the granite tramway track. For those readers who might be unfamiliar with this scenic gem, the track wends its way behind Haytor's quarry and then drops steeply down the side of a rock-strewn valley. Lunch was enjoyed beside the stream at the bottom amidst water fights that got a little out of hand.

The ancient village at Graetor offered further magnificent views as we climbed to the road at Hound Tor. We then took the track past Jay's Grave before setting out along the final track of the day - Hamel Down itself. Hang gliders were making the most of the stiff wind that swept across the upper reaches of the ridge, but we preferred to enjoy a speedy descent to the more sheltered reaches of Widecombe's Wayside cafe and shops.

Spitchwick was the last stop of the day, where Craig demonstrated his swimming prowess on the tarzan rope, watched by many tourists who lazed around in the sunshine.

Friday 17 June 1988Evening ride: Chalk FordSunny
13 present: Mark Elliott, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Mark Morris, Joan Pearce, Luke Rake, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks, Andrew Simmons
A general consensus that we hadn't been up on the open moor for a while led us to undertake the long climb to Cross Furzes and Lud Gate, from where everyone enjoyed the rapid descent across bumpy moorland to the river at Chalk Ford.

The climb had not been without its mishaps, notably the 'puncture' in Joan's tyre which turned out (after lengthy inspection) to have more to do with Paul's inability to use a pump than with any leakage of air! Similarly, the return along the track to Scorriton was somewhat ill-fated: young Rohan's rear tyre exploded just when everyone with a matching pump had disappeared around the corner! Fortunately the cavalry were with us (in the form of Richard H) who set off in hot pursuit and eventually returned with the appropriate pump.

Return was via Horse & Cart (sorry Mark, Hawson Court).

Sunday 19 June 1988Afternoon ride: BroadhempstonSunny
30 present: Michael Banks, Leon Barber (12, Devon), Nick Buchanan, Richard Burge, Jamie Chapman (11, Devon), Michael Giles, Craig Gillman, Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Steven Hills, Margaret Hopper, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Geoffrey Jackson (Adult, Paignton), Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Nonie McKenzie, Chris Platt (10, Totnes), David Platt (11, Totnes), Hillary Richardson (Adult, Devon), Nicholas Scott-Maddocks, Andrew Simmons, Alan Skinner, Gary Taylor, Steven Taylor (15, Paignton), Sean Williamson (13, Torquay)
Our advertising campaign for this special National Bike Week Invitation Ride certainly produced results, with a little help from the weather of course. The groups from our four starts made their separate ways to Broadhempston, arriving at exactly 3.15pm as planned.

Looking back on it, someone should really have warned the village council about our impending onslaught. We filled the village square with a colourful array of bright clothing and shiny cycles. Never before has the village seen such a sight.

Even more amazing, however, was the surprise in store for Denbury. Many of the youngsters were desperate for water, so Nick opened up the primary school and filled a steady stream of water bottles from the kitchen tap! He is, of course, a teacher at the school, and just happened to have the school keys with him.

The visit to Denbury was prolonged somewhat by Steven's puncture and Rohan's hub brake problem, but eventually the various groups returned to their origins and left Denbury at peace once again. Poor Christopher learned the hard way that braking on gravel can be risky, getting some fine grazes on his knees. But we got him and everyone else home in the end after a thoroughly successful ride, finishing by exploring the Pridhamsleigh track in the best possible direction - downwards.

Tuesday 21 June 1988Evening ride: AvonwickSunny
9 present: Mark Elliott, Jeremy Ford, Paul Hamlyn-White, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks
This may have been the longest day, but we couldn't get back too late with school waiting next morning. Having tackled the hills to South Brent, some of the younger members requested two minutes in the park. And two minutes is exactly what they got - just time to have two goes on each item.

Richard H didn't find Avonwick's Cobbled Track very amusing at all, so we kept to the lanes for the rest of the ride, returning through Diptford and Rattery.

Saturday 25 June 1988Weekend ride: Golant Youth Hostel Day 1Sunny
17 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Craig Gillman, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Nonie McKenzie, Mark Morris, Mark Moxham, Mark Williams
Portwrinkle
Portwrinkle: LtoR Nonie McKenzie, Mark Williams, Steven Hills, Mike Giles and Mark Moxham
Paul Lakeman (?) heading along the coast path into Looe
Taking the track from the Monkey Sanctuary towards Looe
Bodinnick ferry to FoweyL LtoR Mark Morris, Warren Masters, Steven Hills, Craig Gillman (front), Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Mark Moxham, Mark Lakeman, Toby Hopper, Mike Giles
This weekend got off to a good start despite BR's inability to arrange transport to Plymouth. Twelve cycled from the three starting points, met at the Avonwick pick-up and then continued to Plympton along the fast A38. There was then time to explore the section of the Plym Valley cycle path that leads into Plymouth's Laira Bridge - it certainly turned out to be the quietest, safest and most scenic route into Plymouth as far as the cyclist is concerned! The remaining five members arranged car transé port to Plymouth and met us at the station at midday, exactly as planned.

In bright sunshine we took the ferry to Torpoint, climbed the hill to Antony and pushed onwards to Portwrinkle before stopping for lunch. At last we had reached the south Cornish coast, today looking at its magnificent best.

The steep climb out of Portwrinkle was the price we had to pay for lunch by the sea, but the next descent into delightful Downderry more than made up for it. There were just a few minutes to spare at Seaton to buy ice-creams and watch the children paddling their canoes along the river before we had to tackle the next major climb - which got rather hot and humid towards the top.

Descending again along the track beyond the monkey sanctuary we arrived eventually at Millendreath to find a particularly inviting sandy beach. There may have been lots of tourists their, but that wasn't going to stop Nonie, Craig, Mark and Warren from going for a swim. The weather was simply too hot to miss this opportunity for physical refreshment.

The steps to Looe caused some amusement (if that is the right word), but eventually we found our way through the narrow streets to one of West Looe's cafes. It was here that a number of people sampled the strawberry flan: it must be said that the quality and flavour of this delicacy was unrivalled, even by the Primrose cafe!

It was now past 5pm, and we still had a fair distance to ride. First came the next steep hill out of Looe, and then came Philip's spectacular blowout, just when we didn't need it. A speedy repair brought us to the Bodinnick ferry by 6.45 and eventually to the hostel by 7.30, where supper was waiting on the table for those who had ordered it.

Golant is a huge hostel set in quiet and magnificent grounds, with views over the river Fowey. It afforded plenty of opportunity for football and frisbee throwing, and even boasted its own woodland for those who fancied a walk. Those who chose the latter option ended up scrambling down a 4-metre bank to the railway line by the river in their efforts to make a circular route back to the hostel!

Sadly the peace in one of our dormitories was shattered at 11.15 by a group of thoughtless louts from London who called themselves students. The noise continued well past the 11.30 'lights out' time despite many appeals to consider our younger members who needed the sleep. I registered my complaints to the warden next morning, but it seems that YHA's policy of dropping restrictions will mean that this is likely to happen more and more at the larger hostels in peak season.

Sunday 26 June 1988Weekend ride: Golant Youth Hostel Day 2Wet
17 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Craig Gillman, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Nonie McKenzie, Mark Morris, Mark Moxham, Mark Williams
A light drizzle, which started after breakfast next morning, quickly turned into a downpour as we arrived at Lostwithiel. To make matters worse, there was no sign of a proper cafe. Eventually Nonie found one who agreed to give us coffee if we sat outside (he didn't want his lunch tables made dirty). And so it was that we found ourselves settled underneath large sunshades, drinking hot chocolate and coffee while the rain lashed down all around us. The annoying thing was that the sunshades were just too small to afford complete protection from the rain!

And so it was that our return journey became more of an ordeal than a pleasure. The rain didn't stop, and we began to consider alternatives to cycling home. Our problems seemed to be solved when we found a train from Lostwithiel to Plymouth in the early afternoon, but there was a snag of course. The train was a Sprinter, carrying just two bikes at a charge of £3 each! Telephone arguments with a BR official at Penzance had absolutely no effect on the situation, and so there was nothing to do but cycle. Well, Toby and his father took the train, so at least they were dry and warm.

To make matters worse, we had numerous punctures along the way, all from Mark or Paul Lakeman as it happened. One of these gave us ample opportunity to view a commercial sprinkler, watering its field of crops for all it was worth while the rain poured down around it!

We didn't quite make the 4.15 train from Plymouth, but had plenty of time to catch the 5.35. A fleet of cars collected people from Totnes shortly after our arrival, and it was only then that the rain stopped.

And all this rain came just two days after a SW Water official had told us to restrict our use of hose pipes as there was no prospect of rain in sight. Some people didn't even bother to bring raingear after hearing that! Our members certainly deserve a medal for the brave way they coped with the situation - we hope that things are better for our next weekend.

Friday 1 July 1988Evening ride: Avon DamShowery
8 present: Chris Bailey (10, Totnes), Gareth Barker (9, Totnes), Stuart Barker (Adult, Totnes), Simon Barnes, Paul Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons
This was one of those perfect, crystal-clear evenings (between the showers) when the countryside looked at its very best. The riverside track at Staverton offered a little mud, but not enough for some - we had to take the Beaston track diversion after Broadhempston. The net result of this was that Michael's already weak rear tyre-wall gave up the ghost with a loud explosion. The damage was such that four-wheeled transport had to be summoned, but the rest of the group relished the deep mud and eventually made it home through the twisty lanes.

Sunday 3 July 1988Afternoon ride: HaytorShowers
6 present: Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Richard Hopper, Michael Jones, Andrew Simmons, Alan Skinner
The July afternoon ride started brightly despite a forecast of showers. We had only reached Ashburton, however, when the showers "merged together to form more continuous periods of rain" - and the trees we were huddled under did little to stop the torrent. After 25 minutes we gave up and went home, whereupon the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly again.

Tuesday 5 July 1988Evening ride: Avon DamDryish
10 present: Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Luke Rake, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks, Andrew Simmons
A pleasant ride to Shipley was dominated by wild strawberry picking, sparked as usual by Rohan, whose hawkish eyes never miss the chance of food. Return was across the open moor from the dam - exhilarating as usual.

Sunday 10 July 1988Day ride: Plym Valley CyclepathMonsoon
4 present: Michael Banks, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones
Torrential rain, forecast to continue throughout the day, made the prospect of the Plym Valley a little less attractive, although certain crazy individuals went as far as the Avonwick pick-up.

Friday 15 July 1988Evening ride: HaytorDry / cool
12 present: Graham Burge, Richard Burge, Paul Hamlyn-White, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Paul Ledingham (10, Totnes), James Miller, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks, Andrew Simmons, Alan Skinner
It was on the way down to the start that Paul intercepted me and asked for a puncture repair kit - Jamie had a puncture and the two were about to try to fix it. Well of course, it took them more than half an hour, by which time we were long gone. We left a message with Faye Skinner, but they didn't quite catch us.

The rest of us undertook an ambitious ride through Ashburton, Birchanger and eventually Haytor rock itself, the youngsters putting on an impressive display of fitness. The dying sunset left a sky that looked as though it was a painting on canvas in a vast range of greys and blues. It is sights like this that make the hills worth climbing.

Sunday 17 July 1988Day ride: Treasure HuntCloudy
15 present: Richard Burge, Anton Burnett (13, Chudleigh Knighton), David Burnett (Adult, Chudleigh Knighton), Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, John Iles, Michael Jones, Rohan Kilty, Paul Ledingham, James Miller, Trevor Piper (13, Totnes), Andrew Simmons, Martyn Williams (13, Dartington)
We were a little disappointed by the absence of many of our more regular faces and by the rather threatening skies, but the ride turned out very well despite it all.

We returned to Buckfastleigh from the Bickington pick-up via Sigford and a few steep hills, lunching in the Orchard whilst awaiting the arrival of the Gamesmaster, Mr Iles himself.

There were three teams, each with a local rider. The route was somewhat shorter than in previous years, taking us through Buckfast, Burchetts Wood, Holne and Hembury Woods before returning us to the Orchard. Some clues were fairly straightforward, such as the times of Sunday services at the Abbey and the weight limits on certain roads. Others, though, were cryptic: "What is the date on the bridge?" kept everyone searching desperately for a date, even UNDER the bridge (well done Paul). Most gave up, but Richard's team eventually realised that the date on the bridge was the same as the date everywhere else in the UK.

There were, of course, the inevitable muddy tracks, although fewer than in previous years. No-one found a "Telegram from the Queen", but horseshoes proved easier than expected when a travelling blacksmith was discovered beside one of the other clues, furnace roaring and a box full of old shoes in his van.

A tremendous day - thanks John, especially for the delightful rosettes for the winning team. Marks were so close that everyone got tea and chocolate biscuits at Crofters.

Tuesday 19 July 1988Evening ride: RatteryDryish
6 present: Matthew Bartlett (11, Devon), Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Andrew Simmons
Some people are put off even by the thought of rain, aren't they? Matthew did very well on the steep climb to Bigadon, although he needn't have rushed because everyone had to wait at the top while Andrew and Michael devoured a hedgefull of wild strawberries on the way up. A short return via Colston brought us home by 9pm for a change - just in time for some chips from the chip shop.

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