South Dartmoor CTC

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Tuesday 21 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 2 Loch Lomond to Glen Nevis
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
The main road route along Loch Lomond
To complete our journey to Fort William we needed to use another train service, but this time the trains, called Sprinters, had limited bike capacity and only ran a few times each day. Our solution to this problem was ingenius but, typically, complicated. We rode the 15 miles or so along the Western bank of Loch Lomond to the station at Arrochar and Tarbet, and here Michael had arranged a van and driver to be waiting for us at 1305, supplied by local firm Macrae and Dick of Fort William. We loaded all the bike into the van and sent Peter and Paul HW to ride with the driver to Fort William while the rest of us took the 1325 train, arriving at Fort William at 1546. Riders were reunited with bikes at the station and we then rode the few miles to the hostel at Glen Nevis.

Our first outdoor adventure was the ascent of Ben Nevis - on foot of course. As usual the clouds were low, and we were soon tramping through thick, damp fog. No-one was sure of the route, so we gave up after an hour, returning to the hostel cold, wet and hungry to find that the showers were cold - all part of the fun I suppose.

Fourteen pints of milk and three loaves of bread had been reserved for us at the hostel to help with our self-catering meals experience.

Wednesday 22 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 3 Glen Nevis to Garramore
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Route map for Day 3, Glen Nevis to Morar
Regroup on the Road to the Isles
Dune jumping near Garramore YH
Bathing in Lock Eilt
Dune jumping near Garramore YH
The clouds cleared overnight to leave a crystal clear morning, but of course we didn't have time to make another attempt at the mountain. We decided to make a weekend visit next summer when we could be sure of good weather!

Our ride today took us 42 miles along the scenic Road to the Isles, otherwise known as the A830 (although it's actually very quiet for an A-road). We stopped for lunch at Glenfinnan monument where a few paid the small fee to climb to the top where great views of Loch Shiel were enjoyed. We then continued along the increasingly hilly, twisty and scenic road to Garramore youth hostel, near Morar.

The evening was spent jumping off tall dunes of silver sand on a beach near Morar, the sun setting gloriously over the Western Isles. The setting was idyllic. This beach isn't at all like the ones we have in Devon. It is bright and clean, and we had virtually all of it to ourselves. The silvery sand rises steeply to grassy banks, and we spent much of the evening running towards the edge, jumping into the air and landing several seconds later in the soft sand below. When we couldn't jump any more we took to chasing after Mark Hedges, the Jack Rabbit who just wouldn't be caught.

Thursday 23 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 4 Garramore to Raasay
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Route around Skye to the Isle of Raasay
We had to start early today so we could ride the five miles to Mallaig in time to catch the 1045 ferry to Armadale, on the Isle of Skye. We then rode around the island to Broadford where we were able to buy provisions for the evening and then continued to Sconser where we took the 1715 ferry to the Isle of Raasay. From here it was just a few miles' ride to the hostel. We had ridden around 40 miles today in total.

At Raasay hostel we discovered that Martin Hills liked his home comforts. The hostel is very simple, and it all became too much for Martin when the heavy rain began. He was cold and miserable and could find nothing nice to say about the poor little hostel. Admittedly the warden seemed to prefer the company of some older hostellers, treating our group rather coldly at times. For example, the tiny common room was the only warm place for sitting and chatting, but it was already full with the other hostellers. We therefore retired to our dormitory to make the best of the situation, and were told not to use the dormitory as a common room and not to keep walking in and out with wet feet!

Friday 24 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 5 Raasay to Lochmaddy
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
The Old Man of Storr
Ready to leave at Raasay YH
Route across the Isle of Skye from Sconser to Uig
Cloud effects on Skye
The next morning was delightful, the sun shining on the blue waters which separated Skye and Raasay. After taking the 0915 ferry back across the water our route took us along the eastern flank of Skye. We were rewarded with the amazing sight of clouds pouring over the edge of cauldron-shaped mountain ridges, and bubbling up around the rock pinnacle known as the Old Man of Storr. It was a sight we will never forget.

We continued around the island to Uig where we caught the 1820 ferry to the Outer Hebridean island of Lochmaddy. It was 2055 when we arrived, but fortunately the hostel was not far from the ferry terminal. Total mileage today was around 43 miles.

Friday 24 August 1990Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Hembury WoodsDry
7 present: Ryan Fuller (Junior, Devon), Simon Hopper, Chris Platt, David Platt, Andrew Simmons, Adrian Teague, Shane Teague
Without the Tartan contingent a depleted group had a short ride up the Hembury track and back via Holne. The cyclists managed to return before dark - a rare thing with Michael, but then Simon didn't have lights!

Saturday 25 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 6 Lochmaddy to Stockinish
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Evening fun near Stockinish YH
Ferry from North Uist to Harris
Route from Lochmaddy on North Uist to Stockinish on Harris
The magnificent solitude of Stockinish YH, now closed
On Saturday morning we rode the few miles to Newtonferry where we met the ferryman Mr McAskell at 11am. We had to load our bikes onto a rather small boat in order to travel from the isle of North Uist to the isle of Harris. Not all the bikes would fit in the cabin below, so a few, including Mark Burnard's Moulton (often called the Super Shopper because of its tiny little wheels) had to be strapped on top. It wasn't too badly affected by the salt water, however.

The route took us past the island of Berneray and on to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris where we had lunch in the café and bought some provisions. We then headed across the narrow, twisty, unfenced roads of Harris witnessing scenery that looked almost alien in nature. Total cycling distance today was around 20 miles.

The hostel that evening was at Stockinish, a remote and peaceful hamlet near the island's coast. When meals had been prepared we all wandered down to the sea to explore. Martin Luke, of course, had to explore further than everyone else: he stripped off most of his clothes and swam through the icy waters to an island several hundred metres out. To his credit he got back again, and still didn't appear too cold as he picked his way across the rocks and grassy verges towards the hostel.

Sunday 26 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 7 Stockinish to Stornoway
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Route from the Isle of Harris to Stornoway on Lewis
Our ride today took us northwards onto the Isle of Lewis, although there was no obvious point that separated the two islands. After around 43 miles of rather barren landscape we finally reached Stornoway near the north of the island.

There is no youth hostel in Stornoway so Michael had arranged for us all to stay in bed and breakfasts. The Tower and Park guest houses in James Street took six and three respectively and Mrs Skinner in Francis Street took the remaining seven. Park didn't do meals though, so those in Park came to Mrs Skinner for their evening snacks, which turned out to be pretty good!

Monday 27 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 8 Stornoway to Ullapool
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
The ferry back to the mainland didn't leave until 1330 so we had the whole morning to look around Stornoway and buy gifts and food.

When the ferry came it was huge, taking a very large number of cars in addition to cyclists and foot passengers. The crossing at three and a half hours was also the longest we had yet experienced on the tour, so some took the precaution of taking sea-sickness tablets during the morning.

When we finally arrived at Ullapool at 5pm the hostel was less than a mile from the ferry terminal, overlooking the Loch. It was a fine, modern hostel located in what was clearly a popular tourist destination, so we had a very enjoyable stay.

Tuesday 28 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 9 Ullapool to Achmelvich
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Matthew, Paul and Paul at the top of Stac Polaidh
Stac Polaidh
Route for Day 9
On Tuesday we set off early for the long ride north. The road signs here reflected the limited number of roads and road users in the area, one sign saying simply "The North". We followed that road as far as Drumrunie and then forked left onto a minor road that took us past a very distinctive mountain called Stac Pollaidh. Many of us couldn't resist the challenge of climbing to the top, which introduced a delay of an hour or two.

Continuing along the road we then forked right onto a road known locally as "The Mad Little Road to Wester Ross" - mad because it twists and turns all the way to Lochinver. From there it was just a short ride the hostel making a total of around 35 cycling miles.

It was Tuesday night when we experienced one of the finest moments of the tour. The hostel at Achmelvich, near Lochinver, is located near another silver sand beach. Once again we had a glorious sunset, but this setting was simply out of this world. It really isn't possible to convey the beauty and solitude of this place - you will just have to go there with us in 1992!

Wednesday 29 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 10 Achmelvich to Carbisdale Castle
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
The route from Lochinver to Culrain
Matthew near Achmelvich
Today's ride was almost the longest of the tour at 49 miles, crossing from the west coast to the East coast. Whilst there was certainly a bit of uphill at the start there was also a huge amount of downhill during the second half of the ride.

Wednesday night's hostel was certainly the most spectacular of the tour. Carbisdale Castle was given to the SYHA, and they have restored it as well as their limited funds will allow. We were given a lengthy guided tour of the hostel by the warden, complete with detailed descriptions of each of the many ghosts that regularly haunt the castle. Some members didn't feel too comfortable when the light was turned off that night!

Thursday 30 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 11 Carbisdale Castle to Perth
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
Route from Bonar Bridge to Inverness
The final 53-mile dash to Inverness on Thursday was hampered by a strong headwind. It's funny, but the last time we tried that route we had the same problem. We almost missed the train then, and we almost missed it again today. At one point I was explaining to one of the members how Richard Hopper had broken a rear axle at this very point on our tour four years ago. With that the boy noticed a problem with his gears, which later turned out to be caused by - a broken rear spindle!

We took the 1633 train from Inverness, arriving in Perth at 1858. Perth hostel was nothing special but served us well as a staging post for the long journey home tomorrow.

Friday 31 August 1990Tour: Scottish Highlands and Islands Day 12 Perth to Home
16 present: Neil Ault, Matthew Bentley, Mark Burnard, Julian Duquemin, James Fletcher (15, Swindon), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Stuart Lamonby (15, Swindon), Martin Luke, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Paul Smith, Martyn Williams
The journey home consisted of the 0850 train from Perth to Edinburgh followed by the 1042 inter-city train back to Devon. As usual all the bike spaces and tickets had been carefully booked in advance with the help of British Rail's group travel clerks at Torquay, and all the arrangements went exactly according to plan. The Devon contingent finally arrived at Newton Abbot at 1906 - a very long day indeed.

The tour was certainly very enjoyable. If you haven't tried one of our tours yet, you really should book up for one soon. To get away from the daily routine and cycle through some of the most majestic and spectacular scenery in the UK really does make you feel good. And of course the company is always excellent - you're certain to enjoy yourself on one of the greatest adventures you will ever undertake!

Friday 31 August 1990
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Buckland BeaconDry
5 present: Tao Burgess, Simon Hopper, Ken Oakley, David Platt, Andrew Simmons
Another haggis-free ride (the last however), which started off warm enough, but by the time the group had reached the aptly-named Cold East Cross the temperature had dropped sharply. At Buckland Beacon everyone tried to guess the location of the groups of street lights in the South Devon twilight. Then we enjoyed a slow descent to Peartree and home.

Sunday 2 September 1990Day ride: 100km Reliability RideDry
10 present: Matthew Bentley, Richard Burge, Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Matthew Jago, Martin Luke, Mark Moxham, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Martyn Williams
Ideal weather for this reliability ride, however Mark Moxham got lost and Matthew Jago retired sick. The first 50km took what seemed like ages but congratulations are due to the riders for completing a potentially exhausting ride: Jeremy Weston, Andrew Simmons, the three Martins (Hills, Luke and Williams), Simon Hopper, Richard Burge and Matthew Bentley.

Sunday 2 September 1990
1415-1700
Afternoon ride (Buckfastleigh): Old ForgeSunny
6 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Dayle Guy, Michael Jones, John Stuart, Eliot Thomas-Wright
With just six of us out and glorious weather we felt free to change the destination from Sigford to the Old Forge at Holne. The decision was an excellent one, the glorious sunshine making the occasion perfect in every way. We followed up with a wander down a track to New Bridge and then up through some fields (mainly pushing) to Hembury. A final descent through Hembury Fort's twisty woodland track brought us home by about 6pm.

Sunday 2 September 1990
1415-1700
Afternoon ride (Paignton): Gatcombe TracksDry
2 present: Dave Humphreys, Unknown Rider 1
Another enjoyable ride, led by Dave Humphreys.

Friday 7 September 1990
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Woolston GreenGrey
14 present: Neil Ault, Andrew Caunter, Dayle Guy, Gregory Hamlyn-White (Junior, Buckfastleigh), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Marcus Kudliskis, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, David Platt, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart
With three Hamlyn-Whites in tow we couldn't have expected to pass Pridhamsleigh (the home of their grandfather) without some incident. In the event the farm dog caused the problem by following his young masters all the way up the hill! Someone had to go back with him of course, and everyone agreed it should be one of the HWs!

There were further delays at Chuley Cross when blackberries were discovered, but the remainder of the ride was brisk, passing through Woolston Green and Abham, until Marcus got his puncture near Caddaford ...

Sunday 9 September 1990Day ride: Tinners' HutSunny
16 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Dayle Guy, Martin Hills, Jonathon Hunt, Matthew Jago, Michael Jones, Luke Kudliskis, Marcus Kudliskis, Martin Luke, Keir Manning, Philip Robinson, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Ken Twydell
The final pick-up point of Avonwick saw 16 of us head off towards the moors via Ivybridge and a stop for lunch at picturesque Harford church. Here some of the older 'lads' got a bit boisterous and gave Martin Luke a dunking in a horse trough. Although he had probably 'asked for it' this behaviour was far too extreme and we all got a telling off from a couple of understandably irate locals. I hope that in future we all remember that the good name of the CTC depends on us showing courtesy and consideration to others and that it is unfair to put adult leaders in the invidious position of taking the blame for others who, whilst 'junior', are old enough to know better.

Once on the moor there was a treat for the mountain bikers (ie everyone bar Ken and Michael) with a long gentle downhill track to our destination. We never did see a tinners' hut but someone said they saw a potato cave.

The river Erme was crossed with some difficulty followed by a very stiff climb across virgin moor to the Two Moors Way. This we followed for some 1.5 miles where we split up - the more active continuing along the track whilst the younger and more tired went across country up to Petres Cross and then on down to rejoin the group at the river Avon.

We then took the Abbots Way to Buckfastleigh and refreshments at Michael's for those who wanted them. All in all it was a very enjoyable day with plenty of rough stuff for the mountain bikers.

Wednesday 12 September 1990
1900-2130
Evening ride (Paignton): Littlehempston (15 mi)Dry
6 present: Neil Ault, Ben Hobday, Dave Humphreys, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, Ken Twydell
Everyone laughed when a twig caught in Michael's front wheel, jammed the mudguard against the wheel and stopped the bike dead in its tracks. Michael just managed to avoid going over the handlebars because he wasn't travelling too fast.

Friday 14 September 1990
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Totnes (14 mi)Dry
13 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Dayle Guy, Gregory Hamlyn-White, Martin Hamlyn-White (Junior, Buckfastleigh), Michael Jones, Luke Kudliskis, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Andrew Simmons, John Stuart, Eliot Thomas-Wright
By popular demand we had to negotiate the famous riverside track from Dartington to Totnes, emerging at Brutus Bridge. This time Neil got a puncture at the start, but at least the water levels weren't as high as on one of our previous visits! The return route took us past Dartington youth hostel, so we couldn't resist popping in for some refreshments.

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