South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 21 July 1989Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): River Dart Country ParkDry
18 present: Nathan Arecco, Erica Brown, Andrew Caunter (10, Ashburton), Anthony Davis, Gary Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Mark Hedges, Paul Hedges, Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Shane Powell, Martin Rushworth, Alan Skinner, John Stuart
The Country Park, which had been busy all day, was now relatively quiet except for the security officer on the gate. He wanted to see confirmation of our right of free access, granted by special permission of the director.

When the Anaconda Run had been given a good polish by the rear ends of our members we continued on through the park to Holne Chase. Those wanting to visit Spitchwick were narrowly defeated on the vote, and so return was made via Holne, Shuttaford and the Hembury track - lighting conditions, moisture content and direction of travel were all perfect this evening.

Sunday 23 July 1989Weekend ride: Beer Youth Hostel Day 1Sweltering
19 present: Erica Brown, Hazel Brown, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Stephen Larkin, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, John Stuart, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
Martin Hills & John Stuart riding through Branscombe
Ken, Paul and Julie, with Hazel and Marcus behind
Mark Moxham keeping well out of the water at Beer beach
A short rest overlooking Branscombe church
Philip Humphreys (?), Shane Powell and Toby Hopper enjoying the sea at Beer beach
Peter Rushworth & Mark Hedges watching the swimmers at Beer beach
The view to Seaton
Our doggy friend, retrieving the fish tray
Exmouth served as the unofficial final rendezvous for this fabulous weekend, everyone having been carried across the Exe estuary on the ferry from Starcross for the sum of £1.30 per person and bike. Ken and Simon somehow managed to get punctures within 50 metres of the ferry. We had already eaten our respective lunches, so other forms of amusement had to be found, such as filling water bottles, while repairs were effected.

The ride continued through the village of Littleham to Budleigh Salterton. Here there was time for a short exploration of the stony beach before returning to the bikes for the delightful excursion through Otterton. Sadly, evidence of the drought abounded everywhere: the lanes here were as dry and arid as we had ever seen them, and the stream which usually runs through the village had completely dried up.

We were getting thirsty ourselves. Having enjoyed the views from the summit of Peak Hill we descended into Sidmouth and selected the Mocha cafe on the sea front from the many establishments that traded in the town. The three who ordered Knicker Bocker Glories were not at all sure that the selection had been a good one: they seemed to consist mainly of sauces, with only a scant taste of ice cream here and there. Toby's Rainbow looked better value, so Martin and Michael tried them as well!

The climb to Salcombe Regis was exhausting in the sweltering heat. But then there was the descent through delightful Branscombe, adorned as usual with a profusion of carefully-tended flowers.

One more climb and a track descent brought us to the hostel by 6.30, in good time for the adequate evening meal. Vegetarians were less pleased with their substitution of fruit juice in place of the chicken soup.

In the cool of the evening there was a grand expedition to Beer beach. Several went for a dip, although such activity was fraught with danger: the stones on the beach were almost too painful to walk on with bare feet, and the beach itself fell away sharply under the water, leaving the youngsters out of their depth within a few metres. Those preferring to watch from some of the many deck chairs were entertained by a dog who might have done well in a circus. The youngsters couldn't understand why he kept bringing a large plastic fish tray to them in his mouth, but all became clear when they threw it out to sea: he retrieved it in the same way that ordinary dogs retrieve small sticks!

Monday 24 July 1989Weekend ride: Beer Youth Hostel Day 2Sweltering
19 present: Erica Brown, Hazel Brown, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Stephen Larkin, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, John Stuart, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
Stephen Larkin, showing off his new cycling gear
Richard Hopper checks Ken's work as he adjusts Julie's bike outside Beer YH - John, Toby and Shane prefer to enjoy the sun!
The group on the lawns of Beer YH
A late breakfast contributed to the lazy atmosphere that surrounded us all next morning. There was even time for photographs on the hostel lawn before eventual departure at 10am. By popular request our first call was at Beer Quarry Caves, the result of many hundreds of years of underground hand quarrying. We hadn't bargained for the unhelpful lady who barred the entrance. She couldn't do discounts as we were three short, although she eventually agreed to let adults in for child prices. She couldn't do a quick tour - the standard length was 1 hour and the next one started at 10.30. And we couldn't even have a look in the entrance for half price: it was definitely all or nothing. We examined our watches and decided that it would have to be nothing - obviously her superiors have so much business that they can afford to turn down £20 windfalls without a thought!

The next stop was for refreshments at Sidford, which we reached by the main ridge road. After Newton Poppleford we took the lanes and tracks through Hawkerland to the wooded ruins of Woodbury Castle, which offered excellent shelter from the midday sun during lunch, delightful scenery and good opportunities for the mountain bikers amongst our group.

The last part of our ride turned out to be the toughest. A long descent brought us to Topsham, where the local garden centre offered a welcome tap. Even with this supply of water, the climb from Clapham to Haldon was exhausting. The whole hill was exposed to the full heat of the afternoon sun. Not surprisingly, the group voted overwhelmingly to return via Bovey Tracey, where a good hour was spent enjoying cool refreshments before people made their various ways homewards.

Wednesday 26 July 1989Evening ride (Paignton): MansandsSunny
9 present: Ben Hobday (5, Paignton), Dave Humphreys, Philip Humphreys, Matthew Jago, Stephen Larkin, Philip Roberts, Martin Shipp, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
Demands for a beach ride were satisfied by taking the back lanes through Blagdon and Hillhead to Mansands. The last part of the route involved an interesting track descent which only three rode all the way - and two of those were Ken and Ben with the trailer!

When some had enjoyed a swim and others had equally enjoyed poking around the rocks, this excellent evening was rounded off with a return via STC.

Friday 28 July 1989Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): PrishamsleighSunny
17 present: Nathan Arecco, Andrew Caunter, Gary Duquemin, Julian Duquemin, Chris Giles, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Steven Hills, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Kevin Presland, Martin Rushworth
In a successful attempt to avoid radial roads we took a sequence of three tracks from Pridhamsleigh to Thornecroft, being delightfully surprised to discover a small stream running down the last. Some of us hadn't seen water under wheel for many months. Encouraged by the earlier tracks we continued down Simon's favourite footpath to Lower Combe, behind Highñer Beara, and then to Staverton via Wash Farm and Abham. The Colston Road return concluded yet another delightful evening.

Sunday 30 July 1989Day ride: Elender CoveSunny
13 present: Nick Buchanan, Richard Burge, Paul Hamlyn-White, Martin Hills, Steven Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Craig Nichols, Darren Nichols, Philip Roberts, John Stuart, Gary Taylor
Philip Roberts enjoying the magnificent Elender Cove
Lunch overlooking Elender Cove
Elender Cove - can't decide who these two are!
The sun shone brightly for our most enjoyable beach ride of the year. As we rolled beyond East Prawle the deep blue sea opened out in front of us, just beckoning us along the dusty little track that would lead us eventually to our secluded destination. A few moments later Nick and Ian were in, watched from high above by those who preferred to eat first.

The waves came crashing down on the beach with such force that Martin, Paul and John spent more than an hour revelling amongst them. Others explored nearby rocky coves, but everyone had a fabulous afternoon. When the time came to say goodbye to the clear, fresh waters, no-one wanted to leave. But maybe the sun will shine for us again in 1990.

Wednesday 2 August 1989Evening ride (Paignton): BabbacombeSunny
6 present: Matthew Jago, Michael Jones, Craig Nichols, Darren Nichols, Shane Powell, Philip Roberts
Babbacombe Downs was tranquil compared with the bustle of Torquay's harbour area. Matthew led us homewards through Daccombe and Edginswell, bringing us out at the bottom of Shiphay to everyone's annoyance! They couldn't complain though, as no-one else knew the correct route through the estates either.

Friday 4 August 1989Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): TotnesSunny
12 present: Erica Brown, Hazel Brown, Andrew Caunter, Julian Duquemin, Mark Hedges, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, Luke Kudliskis, Craig Nichols, Darren Nichols, Chris Platt, Shane Powell
Taking the road past Rattery to Dartington, Mark was relieved to get through without falling off on this occasion. Michael delayed everyone at Brutus Bridge by getting a puncture in his puncture-proof tyre, but it was later that the real problems began.

Setting out along the riverside path to Dartington a group of teenagers advised us not to proceed as the path was flooded further along. They were hanging around under the bridge and looked as though they were out for a laugh. No-one thought that there could possible be floods after all the dry weather, so we ignored their warning.

Of course we had forgotten that this stretch of river was tidal. Today there was a neap tide, and about halfway along the path our way was blocked by water which came up beyond the hubs. The leading riders braved the waters, getting rather wet in the process, but then came across water that would have come up to their necks, with no alternative route forwards.

There was nothing to be done but retrace our steps, fortunately only as far as the industrial estate where we were able to rejoin the road. We were now hopelessly late, but by careful choice of route we managed to get home by 10pm, with several wet feet to back up our stories.

Sunday 6 August 1989Afternoon ride: PulsfordSunny
15 present: Richard Burge, Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Martin Hills, Steven Hills, Ben Hobday, Michael Jones, Warren Masters, Simon Paull (Junior, Ashburton), Martin Rushworth, John Stuart, Gary Taylor, David Thomas, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
The Buckfastleigh starters made their way to the Pulsford pick-up via Green Lane, Beaston and the Knowle track. The others were waiting, and had to wait a little longer while John tried rolling in the pile of straw that lay by the roadside.

Taking the lanes through Denbury to Ipplepen made everyone thirsty, so Pick 'n' Park was again selected to provide our refreshments. Martin and John took great pleasure in annoying Michael by eating enormous iced desserts. Shane, however, was more concerned about escaping from the wasp that buzzed around his apple juice.

Marldon riders had an easier return than the Buckfastleigh riders, who rode past the remains of the Rising Sun Inn which was partially destroyed by fire a few weeks earlier.

Wednesday 9 August 1989Evening ride (Paignton): IpplepenDamp
5 present: Dave Humphreys, Matthew Jago, Michael Jones, Stephen Larkin, David Thomas
Would the ride take place or wouldn't it? Indecision gripped us as the drizzle fell, but eventually we went, keeping close to home as ever. The Combe Fishacre road brought is quickly to Ipplepen. From here we rode past Denbury to Two Mile Oak. Young David wanted to explore a side track: it turned out to be a dead end, but everyone enjoyed the ride - except Matthew, who moaned "like a girl's blouse" according to Dave Senior! The ride finished by exploring a new link from Stoneycombe to North Wilborough and the nurseries near Shiphay. A proposed track turned out to be barred to unauthorised vehicles, but we were ultimately grateful for the quicker ring road as the rain began in earnest.

Friday 11 August 1989Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Venford ReservoirSunny
13 present: Anthony Davis, Gary Duquemin, Julian Duquemin, Chris Giles, Paul Hamlyn-White, Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Luke Kudliskis, Chris Platt, Shane Powell, Andrew Simmons
The ride to Holne, punctuated by Paul's puncture, was followed by a steep climb to the reservoir. Water levels here were lower than anyone could remember (about 30%). There was time for a short walk before returning through Hembury Woods in the semi-darkness.

Sunday 13 August 1989Day ride: 100km Reliability RideVariable
10 present: Michael Giles, Richard Hopper, Matthew Jago, Michael Jones, Shane Powell, Andrew Simmons, Mark Sloman, John Stuart, Gary Taylor, Jeremy Weston
This year's 100km ride was similar to last year's event, except that we made better progress in the morning and had some wet weather on occasions during the afternoon. Temperatures were also much cooler, which made the whole ride seem easier.

The route took us through Holne, Hexworthy, Two Bridges, Walkhampton, Yelverton, Ivybridge, Ermington and Totnes. There was some sad news at Ermington when we were told that the Erme Mill cafe would be closing within the week, along with all the other businesses in the estate. Management had apparently decided to convert the property to flats.

Congratulations to the successful participants: Shane Powell, Matthew Jago, Gary Taylor, Jeremy Weston, Michael Jones, Mike Giles and Richard Hopper.

Wednesday 16 August 1989Tour: Norway Day 1 Devon to NewcastleVariable
7 present: Mark Burnard, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Peter Rushworth, Mark Sloman
Embarkation at the Tynemouth ferry terminal
Cycle route from Newcastle to Tyne Commission Quay
Setting out on the 24-hour crossing to Norway
The overnight train was taken from Newton Abbot on the Tuesday evening, depositing everyone on a cold Carlisle station at about 5am. Three hours later a DMU took us across to Newcastle, where we spent the morning buying breakfasts and browsing through the shops for phrase books and cycle parts. The ferry for Norway left in the early evening from the Tyne Commission Quay at Tynemouth, about ten miles from Newcastle. We managed to avoid the built‑up areas by taking the Tyne Cycleway along the South of the river Tyne, and then crossing by way of the Tyne Tunnel, a pedestrian and cycle tunnel which offered great fun at either end on the escalators.
The ship was enormous. There were numerous restaurants, all offering excellent value. We tried to grab sleep in the reclining chairs, but none of us slept too well.

Wednesday 16 August 1989Evening ride (Paignton): HaccombeDry
4 present: Dave Humphreys, Matthew Jago, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
Ken and Julie were forced to drop out when Julie's back began to cause problems. However Matthew and Dave went on to the destination and were thoroughly impressed with the scenic delights of the quiet rural estate. Dave had puncture problems on the way home through Coffinswell, but a "very nice lady" invited the two into her thatched cottage while repairs were effected. The result was another late return - 10.30pm to be precise.

Thursday 17 August 1989Tour: Norway Day 2 Newcastle to BergenVariable
7 present: Mark Burnard, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Peter Rushworth, Mark Sloman
An oil platform en routeto Bergen
Stavanger, Norway
Bomlo bridge, near Bergen
The crossing to Norway took about 25 hours, calling at Stavanger in mid afternoon and dropping us at Bergen at 2130 Norwegian time (one hour ahead of BST). Along the way it passed between the many islands that dominate Norway's western coast. We made our way to the Montana hostel in Bergen and enjoyed our first good night's sleep for three days.

Friday 18 August 1989Tour: Norway Day 3 Bergen to VossVariable
7 present: Mark Burnard, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Peter Rushworth, Mark Sloman
Our train arrives at Voss station
Montana youth hostel, Bergen
View from cafe on Mount Hangur
View of Voss youth hostel from the cable car to Mount Hangur
Next morning, after a little shopping, we took the train to Voss, the location of our next hostel. We had planned to go only as far as Dale and cycle the rest of the way, but plans changed as the rain fell! Norwegian trains are certainly good fun. They are electric, of course, and seem to travel at a respectable speed. Bikes are paid for in advance and loaded on for you by the staff, rather like Red Star parcels in Britain. The route included some rather lengthy tunnels but also gave us our first glimpses of the magnificence of Norway's scenery ‑fast flowing rivers, towering mountains, picturesque fjords ‑ a natural wonderland. With an hour to spare at Voss we took a cable car up the towering Hangur mountain side, giving us fabulous views of Vangs lake from the restaurant at the summit.

The hostel was purpose built in a delightful location on the edge of Voss lake - no wonder Voss is such a popular tourist location!

Friday 18 August 1989Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): SpitchwickDry
17 present: Erica Brown, Hazel Brown, Richard Burge, Gary Duquemin, Julian Duquemin, Chris Giles, Martin Hills, Catherine Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Luke Kudliskis, Marcus Kudliskis, Simon Paull, Chris Platt, Martin Rushworth, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart
With Michael in foreign parts, it was the ideal time to visit Spitchwick. The outward trip was via the old A38, past the Lanterns and the ascent of Highgrove Hill. It was then onwards to Buckland-in-the-Moor, but before the group descended the hill to Spitchwick a "Michael health warning" was given.

With darkness closing in there was just enough time for a few brave souls to swim in the river while everyone else amused themselves upon the Common. The return trip was via New Bridge and Hembury. But before the descent into Hembury Catherine Hopper caused major delays when her chain became jammed. The whole chainset had to be removed to free it. By this time darkness had descended and with Ever Ready beams lighting the way the group arrived in Buckfastleigh at the rather late time of 10.15.

Saturday 19 August 1989Tour: Norway Day 4 Voss to VangsnesVariable
7 present: Mark Burnard, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Peter Rushworth, Mark Sloman
Bunk room at Voss YH, overlooking the lake
The common room at Voss YH
Voss YH
Shane and Mark ready to leave Voss YH
The hairpin bends of today's big climb
A very wet Shop Stop
Shane Powell admires the scenery
Mark Burnard & Shane find the first snow - in August!
Grass-roofed house overlooking the lake
Nearing the top
Mark Moxham admires the view
Our first tunnel
Shane and the Sognefjord at Vangsnes
The long descent to Vik, on the Sognefjord
There was more rain for our first day of cycling - not at all what we had hoped for. Our route took us north from Voss, flat for most of the way. We stopped at a shop to stock up with Norwegian yoghurts, made by the official Norwegian dairy company and especially delicious with their separate compartment containing the dry ingredients. We pressed on up a steep 1000m climb with many hairpins. On the way we saw several herds of goats and some farms advertising geitost - goat's cheese - very popular in Norway. It's a dark brown in colour, and sweeter than most cheeses - most of us thought it excellent! As we neared the top we found snow next to the road - an amazing sight in mid-August! We passed several houses with grassed rooves before enjoying the exhilarating descent to Vik. This is located on the Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway. We rode around the edge for a few more miles to Vangsnes and our youth hostel.

Sunday 20 August 1989Tour: Norway Day 5 Vangsnes to SogndalVariable
7 present: Mark Burnard, Michael Jones, Ian Luke, Mark Moxham, Shane Powell, Peter Rushworth, Mark Sloman
Queueing for the ferry across Sognefjord, Vangsnes to Hella
Vangsnes YH
A very wet stop near Sogndal
The double decker ferry with movable ramp
Vangsnes is really only important for its ferry links across the Sognefjord, but the hostel was comfortable enough. Just for a change it was raining as we left. The ferry to Hella was cleverly designed with two decks and a ramp that could be lowered to allow access to the upper deck. Norway has so many ferries that it's not surprising they have some impressive designs.

Next stop was Sogndal, involving a pleasantly flat ride along the north bank of the fjord. Sogndal itself was a busy town nestling in the shelter of the Sogndalsfjord. The warmer climate and fertile soil was the reason for the presence of many fruit trees, particularly apples, perhaps the first real cultivation we had seen in Norway.

Sunday 20 August 1989Day ride: Bridford WoodSunny
16 present: Michael Banks, Hazel Brown, Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Martin Hills, Marcus Kudliskis, Simon Paull, Unknown Rider 1, Unknown Rider 2, Unknown Rider 3, Unknown Rider 4, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Martyn Williams
All parties met more or less on time at the Bovey Tracey pick up and Richard Burge, in his temporary position as leader, exercised his authority by changing the final destination to Blackingstone Rock. Nobody disagreed and so all set off for the first stop, inevitably the Primrose Cafe at Lustleigh. There was some uncertainty when the choice of road and railway track was faced and several bikes passed over the fence more than once. The majority though settled for the road.

Who was going to ask for the discount at the Primrose? There was no problem though as the customary concession was granted without a word. Talk and thoughts were about the distant pioneers threading their way amongst the fjords.

The long climb up to the Rock took its toll and after lunch taken on the summit, the Paignton contingent decided to head directly home as Julie had developed a leg problem. In Moretonhampstead a moment of confusion reigned where everyone took off on their own but reassembled to take the road to North Bovey and beyond. There were lots of steep hills to climb and a stop at an ice cream van came just in time for some. The reward came in the downhill towards Ashburton and a speed of 42mph was clocked at one point.

All agreed it had been a stretching day but felt it had been rewarding and that Richard had made a fine job of leading such a varied bunch - and, everyone was back home at a reasonable hour!

Editor's note: All junior members and less-experienced adults are strongly advised to keep their speed down below 25mph on all descents. Experienced riders should also restrict their speed if they are being followed by juniors or less experienced adults.

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