South Dartmoor CTC

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Thursday 4 April 1991Tour: South and Mid Wales Day 4 Glascwm to Bryn Poeth Uchaf (32 mi)Prolonged showers all day
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Christian Bryant, Mark Burnard, Matthew Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Thomas Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Ian Gibbs, Nicholas Guard (15, Solihull), Timothy Guard (12, Solihull), Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, David Platt, Paul Smith, Robert Walker, Martyn Williams
Glascwm YH annexe - our dorm!
Glascwm YH
The final half-mile track to the hostel
Sheltering under the viaduct before the final climb
We awoke to the sound of heavy rain falling steadily on the flimsy roof of our dormitory. It seemed foolish to rush out of bed if we weren't likely to leave for a while, so we enjoyed a lie-in and a leisurely breakfast, followed by a prolonged hostel-cleaning programme which did not cease until Michael was satisfied with the standard of work. While all these activities proceeded the rain stopped, but it had started again by the time we left.

Riding to the first of our three Spa towns, Builth Wells, was not especially thrilling in view of the weather. It was now lunchtime and nobody really fancied eating cold food in the rain, so we treated ourselves to hot meals in an excellent local café, even though we couldn't really afford the time.

When evening meals, breakfasts, 16 pints of milk and three loaves of bread had been purchased and stowed away in various panniers the afternoon was well advanced. We proceeded through Llangammarch Wells and various prolonged showers to Llanwrytd Wells, where tiredness and hunger forced us to stop briefly at the local Spar. There then followed an unpleasant uphill section of the A483, made all the more miserable by strong headwinds and further spells of rain. Sugar Loaf hill marked the beginning of the descent, but the worst climb was yet to come: under the viaduct and up the steep lanes to Hafod-y-Pant, the warden's farm.

When we had stamped our cards and negotiated the muddy half-mile track over the hill to the hostel, daylight had almost disappeared. There were only two other hostellers booked in, and they were sitting in the semi-darkness waiting for someone to show them how to switch on the Calor gas - used for cooking, hot water and lighting in the absence of electricity. After some fiddling with the cylinders outside Michael and Simon managed to get it working, and when a fire had been laid in the hostel felt very cosy indeed.

The evening meal was rather chaotic, with everyone rushing to complete their meals before they died of hunger, so there was quite a mess to clear up afterwards. The little remaining time was spent chatting and reading in the common room before retiring to comfortable wooden bunks in the dimly-lit upstairs dormitories.

Friday 5 April 1991Tour: South and Mid Wales Day 5 Bryn Poeth Uchaf to Tyncornel (31 mi)Prolonged showers all day
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Christian Bryant, Mark Burnard, Matthew Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Thomas Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Ian Gibbs, Nicholas Guard (15, Solihull), Timothy Guard (12, Solihull), Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, David Platt, Paul Smith, Robert Walker, Martyn Williams
Just leaving the hostel
Bryn Poeth Uchaf YH
It was almost dry as we left the hostel next morning, descending to the village shop at Rhandirmwyn for refreshments and lunch. The rain soon began to set in, however, like some horrible nightmare. By the time we had reached Llyn Brianne reservoir, just a few miles up the road, gale force winds and torrential rain made progress almost impossible. The reservoir was impressive with its gigantic water fountain at the base - worth a few photographs despite the weather.

We found a modern toilet block near the reservoir's dam, which offered some small degree of shelter under its porches. A few members then discovered the warm-air hand drier in the lavatory itself, and it wasn't long before sixteen wet cyclists were packed into the tiny area, enjoying the nearest thing to comfort that we were to experience that day. When a gentleman arrived to use the convenience for its intended function we offered to leave, but he said he wasn't bothered and didn't blame us for sheltering.

It soon became obvious that the rain was not going to stop. We had a long way to go, so we set off over the dam to 'enjoy' the track that runs around the reservoir. In all my time as a cyclist I have never known such unpleasant conditions as we experienced a few minutes later, pushing into a gale-force headwind with torrential, icy-cold rain beating into our faces. Fingers became blue as we were tested to the limits of our endurance: we would have given anything to be spared the misery of those few moments.

Somehow we managed to round the bend into the lea of the wind and continued along the forest path in improving conditions, taking only one wrong turning along the way. Approaching the junction with the road, a sheep was discovered stuck in a cattle grid with its feet through the bars, completely helpless. Martyn helped it out and it trotted off, bleating joyfully.

Tyncornel is the most isolated hostel in England and Wales, situated in a remote valley on a rough track. From our present position we could have taken the track short-cut over the hills (just a few miles). Sadly, however, we hadn't purchased supper or breakfast at the shop, and there seemed little point in getting to the hostel with nothing to eat. And besides, none of us had ever tried the short-cut, and it seemed from the map that we might end up pushing our heavy bikes for much of the way. There was nothing for it but to take the road alternative adding 18 miles to our journey.

When we had ridden up the long drag to the telephone box, young Joseph was totally exhausted (hardly surprising really). We allowed him a short rest and, after a puncture, arrived at Tregaron at 5.30, just seconds before the Spar closed its doors.

Michael's tyre was bulging in two places now, requiring constant attention to keep it from bursting. He hobbled along behind while the rest set off up the long climb from Llanddewi Brefi to the hostel, but progress was still painfully slow: everyone was weary and hungry after so much bad weather. When we reached the top and the road turned into a track we found ourselves riding in virtual darkness, wet, tired and hungry. When the dark shape of the hostel loomed up ahead we were heartily thankful.

Tyncornel's kitchen is even smaller than the one at Bryn Poeth Uchaf, so a repeat of last night's supper fiasco was a certainty. Tonight, when the clearing up had been completed, we just went to bed and luxuriated in warmth, comfort and sleep. Tomorrow would probably bring more rain, but right now we didn't really care.

Friday 5 April 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): HolneDry but cold
4 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Martin Hills, Martin Luke
Although BST was now with us, we still had limited daylight and a route was chosen which would bring us home before dark. With Holne in mind it was decided to go through Buckfast and take the roads to the start of Hembury Woods track - it was more like a stream at times. A right turn took us to the top of Hembury, and then a devious route brought us through the back of Holne to the steep descent into Scorriton. Since the night was drawing in it was quickly decided to head for home along the usual roads, bringing us back for 8.30pm.

Saturday 6 April 1991Tour: South and Mid Wales Day 6 Tyncornel to Llandeusant (40 mi)Torrential rain all day
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Christian Bryant, Mark Burnard, Matthew Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Thomas Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Ian Gibbs, Nicholas Guard (15, Solihull), Timothy Guard (12, Solihull), Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, David Platt, Paul Smith, Robert Walker, Martyn Williams
Paul outside Llandeusant YH
Tyncornel YH
Llandeusant YH
The rain began as we had breakfast, but we had already decided that we weren't going to cycle in the rain on this particular day. Michael cycled off to a nearby farmhouse in order to make arrangements for the whole group to be transported to the next hostel in two vans. Everyone in the group had agreed to share the cost equally.

Now this was all rather short notice, but we managed to find a van firm and a minibus firm who could help us for a reasonable charge. We still got wet as we waited at the end of the tarmac road in the pouring rain at midday. The minibus soon arrived, taking all the luggage and thirteen cyclists, the other three being offered coffee in the warmth of the farm house. The bus driver dropped Michael at the Cèllan van firm and continued on to Llandeusant hostel via Lampeter, where Simon purchased a few essential items such as a new tyre for Michael and a new derailleur for Tim.

Meanwhile Michael drove the van back up the hill to the bikes (difficult along those narrow lanes). He and the other three carefully packed all the bikes into the van and squeezed themselves in as well, then Michael drove back to the van firm. The proprietor took the driving seat for the last part of the journey: there wasn't enough room for everyone now, so two went by taxi. When everyone finally arrived at Llandeusant hostel at about 4.30 the total bill came to about £95 - but everyone agreed it was worth £5.95 each and set about enjoying the luxury of a full evening at the hostel. Games were played, showers were taken, bikes were fixed and meals were consumed - and we were all grateful to Ian for cycling the mile or so to the Cross Inn to collect our 13 pints of bottled milk!

Sunday 7 April 1991Tour: South and Mid Wales Day 7 Llandeusant to Ystradfellte (23 mi)Rain
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Christian Bryant, Mark Burnard, Matthew Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Thomas Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Ian Gibbs, Nicholas Guard (15, Solihull), Timothy Guard (12, Solihull), Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, David Platt, Paul Smith, Robert Walker, Martyn Williams
Neil, Nick, Thomas, David & Matthew
David & Neil by the first waterfall
Nick with one of the best waterfalls
Simon & Mark
Ystradfellte YH
Another interesting water feature
We hadn't heard the weather forecast, but our plans for Day 7 were based on the assumption that it would rain heavily all day. We decided to leave early and proceed at top speed with the absolute minimum of stops. This would get us to the hostel by lunch time so that we would have time to dry out and visit the waterfalls before supper.

It was dry but overcast as we left the hostel. Perhaps we had been unduly pessimistic about the weather? Four minutes into the ride, however, the first drops began to fall, and within ten minutes it had become continuous, steady rain. As we stopped at Sennybridge for provisions the rain was heavy, but the weather gods saved their worst for the hairpin climb over Fforest Fawr. Bitterly cold headwinds and torrential rain were taking their toll, and some of the younger members who had previously cycled bravely onwards through the worst of the weather were now beginning to give up.

Somehow Simon shepherded the stragglers to the top, ready for the welcome descent into the greener, sunnier & more pleasant lands of the Mellte valley. This was a different world, but we were too dazed to appreciate it.

The hostel consists of two buildings, one on each side of the lane. The warden kindly allowed us to use the common room in the annexe, where a stove radiated sufficient heat to dry most of our belongings while we ate lunch. Several hours later most of the group cycled down the lane to see some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Britain - huge, deafening and magnificent. At least the rain hadn't stopped us from enjoying this particular pleasure.

The evening was very enjoyable. The highlight came during supper when one of the Crabtree twins (whom we had nicknamed Ningie after the character in the tv series Gruey) was trying to light a gas grill. He doesn't have gas at home, so he was peering into the grill with a lighted match in his hand, trying to see where to put the flame. Suddenly there was a whooshing noise and Ningie was standing up with a dazed expression on his face. Closer inspection revealed that he was unharmed - except for his singed eyebrows. It didn't take long for his name to be changed to Singie!

Sunday 7 April 1991Afternoon ride: Combe FishacreWet
11 present: Graham Burge, Richard Burge, Alan Dawson, Luke Hatherly, Ben Hobday, Roxanne Hobday, Sebastian Lessware, Martin Luke, David Robinson, Ken Twydell, Charlie Walker
By the time we reached the final pick-up point at Combe Fishacre the rain had really started so we sheltered under the railway bridge for a while. During a brief respite we set off to Ipplepen with the idea of going towards Torbryan. Unfortunately the clouds threatened again, so we followed the motto "when all else fails, off to Pick 'n' Park".

After a lengthy tea break the weather had improved, so we went to Denbury (where the Burges left us) and took a circular route back home. We learnt the following week that Martin Luke had turned up at Fishacre Barton instead of Combe Fishacre - what a Wally!!

Monday 8 April 1991Tour: South and Mid Wales Day 8 Ystradfellte to Devon (14 mi)Overcast start, improving
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Christian Bryant, Mark Burnard, Matthew Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Thomas Crabtree (15, Bridgenorth), Ian Gibbs, Nicholas Guard (15, Solihull), Timothy Guard (12, Solihull), Martin Hills, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, David Platt, Paul Smith, Robert Walker, Martyn Williams
We were on the way home and the weather was beginning to break - just as we had predicted. The route to Treherbert railway station was mainly downhill, but we were delayed when Christian discovered a broken rear axle - solid spindle of course. His progress got slower and slower until we were in danger of missing the train. Michael managed to arrange a taxi for him and Simon while the rest sped on up the hill from Hirwaun, making excellent progress in the dry weather.

Thankfully, everyone managed to get to the station on time. Trains in South Wales are unable to carry more than two bikes at a time, so we had arranged for Interlink, the carrier firm, to meet us at the station with a large van. We loaded all the bikes and then boarded the train to Bristol. The van had already arrived. When the non-Devon members had unloaded their bikes the van set off for Devon and we said our farewells.

Never has one of our tours been fated with such bad weather, but somehow it had still been an adventure which we would never forget. As we headed homewards for hot showers and good suppers, we wondered if the summer tour would turn out hot and sunny by way of compensation!

Wednesday 10 April 1991Evening ride (Paignton): BroadhempstonClear but cold
14 present: Jenny Bryant, Mike Bryant, Sarah Bryant, Alan Dawson, Ben Hobday, Dave Humphreys, Matthew Jago, Martin Luke, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker
An excellent turnout for an evening ride - could have been more if Rob's carrier bolt had not worked loose. Ken did have a spare but he was still on his way to Marldon when Rob shot by on his way back home, gibbering.

We went via Farthing lane to Red Post and on to Broadhempston. There Ken made a slight miscalculation on timing and led us even further from home before cutting across to the Landscove road and back to Red Post. Unfortunately the pace got slower as time progressed and we didn't get back until gone 10pm.

Friday 12 April 1991Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Local ride Dry but cold
11 present: Nathan Arecco, Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Martin Hills, Catherine Hopper, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth
We were pleased to see Catherine Hopper and Nathan Arecco cycling again today.

Sunday 14 April 1991Day ride: Hamel DownSunny at times
19 present: Tao Burgess, Alan Dawson, Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Matthew Jago, Roger Johnson, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Martin Luke, Peter Rushworth, Gary Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright, James Twydell, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker, Joseph Watkins, Martyn Williams
After the long climb from Bickington to Haytor we managed to find a little shelter from the cold wind behind the banks of the track near Jay's Grave. The Twydell family had a delightful picnic laid out. The rest of us looked on enviously, but Julie hadn't forgotten us: she had kindly made a large apple pie which she promptly divided up and gave out to the hungry masses!

Now that we had got cold there was little enthusiasm for the climb to the Hamel Down track: a quick vote was followed by a speedy descent to the relative warmth of the café at Widecombe before we returned homewards via Ponsworthy and New Bridge.

Wednesday 17 April 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Paignton): Stoke GabrielFine
9 present: Mike Bryant, Sarah Bryant, Alan Dawson, Matthew Jago, Gary Taylor, Ken Twydell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
Dave Humphreys couldn't lead the ride due to an injured back so Ken took over at short notice. The ride took direction as we went with a series of votes and, for once, went smoothly with an interesting if hilly circular route via Westerland to Stoke Gabriel and on via Aish and Berry Pomeroy, arriving home for 9.30.

On the way back Ken went over what he thought was a puddle that turned out to be a major pothole. He didn't come off but vowed to drastically improve his lighting - watch out for further developments and reports.

Friday 19 April 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): VariousOccasional showers
10 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, David Platt, Unknown Rider 1, Unknown Rider 2, Unknown Rider 3, Unknown Rider 4, Peter Rushworth
There was more than a little confusion tonight. Richard Burge was down to lead the ride along a predetermined route, and Michael was planning to catch them up when he got back from his trip to Bristol. In fact he got back a little earlier than planned, and Neil told Richard, who somehow got the idea that Michael would therefore change the arrangements and come down to the start. So at 7.25 Michael left home and chased up Dean Hill, riding faster and faster all the time and wondering how they could possibly have made such good progress. Meanwhile, Richard and the rest of the group were waiting at the start. They waited until 7.45 before deciding that perhaps there had been a misunderstanding.

Michael went all the way to Diptford and home via Rattery as planned. The others enjoyed a short ride up Dean hill and then returned to Crofters to explain what had happened!

Sunday 21 April 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Woodbury Common (67 mi)Sunny, cold, showers
2 present: Martin Hills, Peter Rushworth
Peter and Martin arrived at the start this morning to discover Richard sitting in his car: he was a shade of green and unable to lead the ride. We continued nonetheless, arriving early at the final pick-up. No one else turned up so we were able to make good time to Woodbury Common, arriving at the castle at 1145. After consuming ice cream and hot dogs we continued to eat lunch. Thoroughly filled, we went about 'getting seriously lush megabad air' (jumping) around the local area.

After Peter was 'politely' asked by a warden not to ride in the castle, we went down the road to Woodbury Mountain Bike race track where a circular course was followed. On the way we met some mountainbikers whom we chatted with, and drooled over their suspension forks.

Return route was via Exeter Ship canal, Dawlish (including obligatory tea stop) and Teignmouth.

Sunday 21 April 1991Day ride: CurtisknowleSunny
18 present: Neil Ault, Stuart Benns, Tao Burgess, Karina Hobday, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Martin Luke, Luke Roberts (12, Devon), David Robinson, Gary Taylor, Debbie Twydell, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker, Joseph Watkins, Martyn Williams, Craig Wilson (15, Devon)
Martyn, with a large chain he found
Karina, Debbie & Gary
Ken with his child-back tandem
New rider Luke Roberts
From the Avonwick pick-up we took the road which runs alongside the river Avon and the old railway station (Ham Mill Halt) to Diptford. Michael had to give Luke a little training on the right-turn procedure, then we continued to Curtisknowle. Unfortunately the leaders were so keen to charge off at the front that most of them went straight past the right turn which leads to the track alternative: those of us who took it agreed it was an excellent detour.

Lunch was enjoyed on a log pile near the river at Gara Bridge before we tackled the big climb out of the valley. It wasn't long before we found ourselves passing the famous goat farm about which Plymouth Section are always raving. A change is as good as a rest, or so we are told, so plans for Loddiswell café were abandoned in favour of goats milk scones and organic apple juice. The food wasn't too bad, and the prices were excellent, but the odours emanating from the male Llama outside were sickening!

Return was via Topsham Bridge and Moreleigh.

Wednesday 24 April 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Paignton): MansandsCold but clear
11 present: Mike Bryant, Sarah Bryant, Alan Dawson, Matthew Legg (11, Devon), Luke Roberts, David Robinson, Philip Robinson, Gary Taylor, Ken Twydell, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
Mike had very generously allowed himself to be conned into planning the route and had opted for Mansands - perhaps because this would be as far as possible from his home ground of Torquay/Newton Abbot.

Due to the distance we had to opt for a main road route to Hillhead - it was surprising just how quickly we ate up the miles on the smooth, straight roads. At the Hillhead garage we stocked up with crisps and sweets and were just about to go when Matthew discovered a puncture - Ken gave an impromptu display of his puncture repair skills whilst giving a running commentary to Luke, Mathew and Alan, our junior members. Luke was, to put it mildly, a little cheeky and was twice threatened with 'Yorkshire Justice' from Charlie. It is to be hoped that he really does know it all, because it is likely that he will have to mend his next puncture himself!

Due to the time wasted on the puncture, Mike decided to give Mansands a miss, so we returned via the back road to Galmpton and via Stoke Road to the back of STC, where we joined the ring road back to Marldon.

Lights! - Dave had an interesting sealed lead/acid rechargeable system on which he is still ironing out the bugs. Ken had a combination of a spoke-driven dynamo, halogen headlamp, two halogen rechargeable Nightrider front lamps, mudguard mounted rear light and a Vistalight - an LED rear light that gives five hundred hours light from two AA size cells - he is still working on the Fairy on Top!

On a more serious note it is hoped that Dave and Ken will be able to produce a technical sheet on cycle lighting in the near future.

Friday 26 April 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Landscove (10 mi)Occasional showers
12 present: Nathan Arecco, Clive Buckland (Adult, Buckfastleigh), Tao Burgess, Andrew Caunter, Dayle Guy, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Joseph Watkins
Report unavailable.

Sunday 28 April 1991Day ride: ClampittSunny
28 present: Stuart Benns, Christian Bryant, Jenny Bryant, Mike Bryant, Tao Burgess, Jamie Davey, Alan Dawson, Barry Dawson, Dayle Guy, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Lee Jelfs, Roger Johnson, Michael Jones, Matthew Legg, Sebastian Lessware, Martin Luke, Paul Oakley, Luke Roberts, David Robinson, Philip Robinson, Gary Taylor, David Waldron, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker, Joseph Watkins, Craig Wilson
On the road near the reservoirs
Jenny, "enjoying" the rough track from Clampitt
First stop today was the Canonteign Falls café, although not everyone partook of the refreshments. We then followed country lanes through the picturesque village of Christow and up the long hill to the destination.

Michael was somewhat disappointed when we arrived, because the surrounding forests had all been harvested since his last visit several years ago, leaving a desolate wilderness almost everywhere. We made the most of it, however, selecting a couple of grassy banks along the track for lunch.

Continuing along the track we were soon riding around the reservoirs. Approaching Hennock a few decided to explore the bridleway shortcut down to Five Lanes - it turned out to be very rough, but enjoyable nevertheless. After a short puncture delay we separated near Bovey Tracey, some returning to Paignton via Chudleigh Knighton and others stopping at the café at Bovey Tracey.

Wednesday 1 May 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Paignton): CoffinswellDry
8 present: Alan Dawson, Gary Taylor, Ken Twydell, Ivan Unknown (Adult, Paignton), Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker, Robert Walker
Ivan (the mechanic from Paignton Cycles) turned up on his lovely refurbished original type Moulton which Ken loved but Gary thought was a relic. By the time we reached Compton, Ken and Ivan had swopped bikes, but had swopped back by Kingskerswell. It was very comfortable but a Sturmey Archer 3-speed is too much like hard work around these parts.

We had the vague intention of going on the Haccombe track but only got as far as Coffinswell before deciding that it was getting too late and making for home.

At Compton we took a left turn and climbed a long steep hill to the new ring road and then back to Five Lanes via the new bridleway that used to be the old ring road. This was a longer route home but did avoid the tedious climb that we usually take.

Friday 3 May 1991
1900-2130
Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): MichelcombeWindy, sunny and cool
10 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Tao Burgess, Andrew Caunter, Andrew Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Catherine Hopper, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
After meeting Joseph Bellows at Hawson Court we rode to Michelcombe and Holne, pausing to follow tradition and play on the swings! We then took the track which was one of the old entrance roads to the River Dart Country Park estate, intending to turn left for emergence on Holne Chase. Unfortunately, stopping was the last thing on the minds of the impetuous leaders of the pack, as the track continued steadily downhill through the woodland. We eventually met up with the track from Galant le Bower, however, emerging at Holne Bridge.

We returned homewards through the Country Park, getting back close to 9.30pm.

Sunday 5 May 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Exeter CatherdralSunny
3 present: Dayle Guy, Martin Hills, Peter Rushworth
Report unavailable.

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