South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 10 April 1994Day ride: Hameldown BeaconWindy, then sunny & fine
5 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
From the Bickington pickup we rode via Haytor Vale to Manaton and settled down for lunch in a sheltered field. Paul wasn’t impressed with the numerous cow pats, however, and was pleased to get back to the bikes.

When we arrive at the track that leads to Hameldown Beacon there was some dissent in the ranks: apparently everyone thought it would be muddy on top of the hill, so we had to skip the track and take the tarmac lane to Widecombe. Having negotiated the French tourists who had invaded the village we enjoyed refreshments at the Wayside cafe and then set about finding a circuitous route home to fill in the time left by missing Hameldown.

Michael quickly found the answer with a climb up Southcombe Hill and a rough footpath beside the river to Ponsworthy. The path included a few stiles and rocks but otherwise made a delightful excursion. It was thirsty work, however, and Michael was forced to break all his rules by drinking some of the stream water at Ponsworthy.

We returned via Leusdon, Spitchwick and Hembury. The more observant members noticed a heron wading in the marshes near Spitchwick, and a wild rabbit a little further along the lane.

As we approached Gallant Le Bower, Eliot, Paul and Tao made Michael promise to return on Friday for the track descent to Holne Bridge, and Tao arranged to ride out specially from Newton Abbot and stay the night with Eliot.

Friday 15 April 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): MichelcombeCold & dry
11 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Jeremy Ford, Russell Grant (Junior, Devon), Michael Jones, Don Malpass, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Michael honoured the agreement made on Sunday by taking the group down the track to Holne Bridge. In order to get the timing right he arranged the outward route to pass through Buckfast, Scorriton and Michelcombe. The youngsters would never have thought of taking such a route of course, so they needed constant reassurance that we were actually going to the agreed track!

As we entered Holne, Paul’s Shimano chain broke and needed several vital minutes of work to make it useable again. Martin Hills volunteered immediately, making his return to club rides particularly welcome as far as Michael was concerned!

We eventually arrived at the head of the track a few minutes before dusk, leaving only just enough light for us to see our way down. In fact it was so dark as we rode through the River Dart Country Park that Tao rode into a rope barrier! Fortunately he wasn’t hurt and was able to take part in the Anaconda Run fun before we set off for Peartree and home.

And what was Russell’s opinion of his first ride? A bit tiring, but good fun - especially the downhill bits!

Sunday 17 April 1994Day ride: Dartmouth CastleDry
9 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Harry Hall, Sebastian Lessware, Paul Oakley, Jim Unknown (Adult, Devon), Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Ben Widger
Michael had to miss this well-attended ride as a result of a family reunion. Well actually he put in an appearance at the Totnes pickup and then left Charlie, Seb and Budgie in charge of the pack.

The ride was somewhat hilly, following the Dart through Tuckenhay to Dartmouth. Lunch was enjoyed on the quayside, then the Totnes brigade returned through the lanes with Harry while the remainder took the ferry to Kinsgwear and separated near Paignton. Budgie’s Buckfastleigh contingent stopped at their favourite cafe, the Rising Sun tea-rooms at Woodland, on the way home.

Friday 22 April 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Staverton BridgeCloudy, then rain
11 present: Neil Ault, James Gant, Russell Grant, Andrew Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Don Malpass, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Andrew Watson
The ride took us along Colston Road to Staverton Bridge, from where we took the riverside track to the village. Michael knew that the landowner had complained to another cyclist last year about riding along the track, so he advised the leading riders to push the section through the meadow. Some didn’t of course, so the rest of us cycled as well. As it happened, the landowner was waiting for us at the end. His wife could clearly see the value of allowing youngsters to enjoy the countryside, however, and it took only a little time for Michael to convince him that we really weren’t doing any harm, so everything was OK in the end.

Only famous sports personalities like James Gant and Andrew Watson could join club rides after a break of nine months and make it look easy!

Sunday 24 April 1994Day ride: Hunters' PathSunny, occasional showers
2 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones
Only Tao and Michael braved the early showers this morning. They discussed the options and eventually decided that they weren’t going to be done out of a good ride just because their comrades couldn’t be bothered to turn out. Lustleigh’s Primrose cafe seemed like a good first port of call, so off they set.

The weather looked sunny and bright as Tao finished the last mouthful of his chocolate gateaux, so our two brave wanderers agreed to proceed all the way to Fingle Bridge as planned. They rode through Moretonhampstead, climbed the hill to Cranbrook Castle, descended the steep stony track to Fingle Bridge (taking care, of course, not to overshoot the path when it took a hairpin right), climbed to the top of Hunters Path and enjoyed lunch overlooking the magnificent scenery of the Teign Valley.

After enjoying the rest of the path (mainly downhill) they were delighted to sail past a queue of cars held up at Sandy Park - a coach couldn’t get round the last bend because a car had parked there! After Chagford the two returned to Bovey Tracey via Manaton after an excellent ride.

Friday 29 April 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Avon DamWarm
8 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Keir Manning, Phillip Oakley, Nick Radmore, Philip Stone
This was definitely the warmest evening ride of the season so far - perfect weather for a romp along the Abbot’s Way. Nick and Keir joined us for the fun, and Neil was to be seen on a touring bike, his own being under repair.

The last time we tried this ride we were slightly late home, but this evening the fast pace brought us back by 9.15pm.

Sunday 1 May 1994Afternoon ride (Buckfastleigh): Haytor RocksSunny
18 present: Neil Ault, Chan Beevers, Janet Beevers, Richard Burge, Carrie Burgess (Adult, Newton Abbot), Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Alex Lessware, Sebastian Lessware, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Tom Widger
We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our May Day afternoon ride - surprising really in view of the wet morning we had just experienced!

Janet and Chan Beevers, joining us for their second ride, once again opted for a short cut, this time from Halshanger Cross to Cold East Cross, while the rest of us pressed on through Birchanger. Dayle was delayed here for some time, straightening a buckled rim.

There were more mechanical problems at Haytor when Tao’s derailleur broke (that boy really does have more than his fair share of trouble). Martin once again jumped for his chain rivet extractor and did the honours while the rest of us enjoyed soup and ice creams from the refreshment van.

Friday 6 May 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Galant Le BowerRain, after dry start
11 present: Neil Ault, Andrew Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder (12, Totnes), Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Nick Radmore, Eliot Thomas-Wright
We knew the rain was coming, so we rode only as far as Galant Le Bower before diverting homewards via Holne Bridge. Matthew HW, being in a bit of a hurry, came off on the corner leaving the park. He was a bit shaken, but otherwise unharmed, and more concerned about his bike than himself!

Sunday 8 May 1994Day ride: Rough Stuff EventFine, after damp start
10 present: Tao Burgess, Ben Hobday, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Don Malpass, Ken Twydell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Ben Widger, Tom Widger
The Rough Stuff Event is our annual opportunity to meet with other CTC members from South and West Devon. This year’s event followed an interesting route through the lanes around Bovey Tracey and took around 2½ hours to complete. Many tracks were included, some of which were new to us: one was so steep that nobody could climb more than half way up!

Seb was first from our Section (fourth overall), Tao was first junior and Ben Hobday (ably assisted by Ken) was the youngest participant. We’d like to thank Arthur Browne for organising the event, and his wife for supplying endless quantities of tea, squash, buns and biscuits from the trailer.

Kevin and Dawn Presland, living temporarily at Ilsington while they search for a new home, accompanied us as far as Haytor as we rode homewards across the moor.

Friday 13 May 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): SpitchwickSunny
11 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Jeremy Ford, Michael Jones, Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Nick Radmore, Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Another thoroughly enjoyable evening ride took us up the riverside Hembury track, past Galant Le Bower and straight to Spitchwick via the riverside track from New Bridge.

When everyone had finished chatting, sitting or riding around the Common we set about climbing the hill through the woods to Buckland. Nick discovered that he could keep up with the fastest in the group and vowed to come on his first full-day ride as soon as possible!

With such a friendly atmosphere in the air, Michael’s offer of free hot chocolate at Crofters was taken up by nearly everybody.

Sunday 15 May 1994Day ride: Shire Horse CentreSunny and warm
8 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Jeremy Ford, Michael Jones, Don Malpass, Nick Radmore, Charlie Walker, Andrew Watson
Believe it or not we’d never been on a ride to Yealmpton before today! We planned to spend a little time there, so we wasted no time and sped through Ermington along the B road.

After a peaceful lunch on the grass outside the Shire Horse Centre, Michael managed to negotiate a special rate of £1 per person for a thirty minute exploration of the Centre itself. There was plenty to see, including falcons, pets of all kinds, horses and foals, and of course the adventure playground, where Jem, Budgie and Julian dropped endlessly off the highest drop slide and skinned their elbows superbly.

Jem wanted to buy a drink so we took some back lanes that brought us into the village and then found some more unfamiliar lanes that took us back towards Lee Mill. Looking at the map, Michael suddenly had a flash of inspiration and suggested a lane and footpath short-cut that would offer even more new scenery and avoid a long section of the A38 corridor. Everyone agreed (including Budgie!) so we gave it a try.

The lane through Popple’s Bridge was pleasant enough, but the footpath began with a high stone stile and then led us through a rather muddy field. We quickly decided that the parallel farm track would be preferable and joined it half-way down the hill to West Worthele farm. When we reached the farm, the owner said that she was very happy for us to use that track, so that was OK.

Budgie, who likes to keep his bike spotless, jumped up and down with rage when he realised that he couldn’t see most of his bike for mud. He tried to blame Michael, but he just reminded him that he had agreed to the route!

We enjoyed refreshments at the Copper Kettle cafe at South Brent and then rode speedily homewards as the first drops of rain began to fall. Nick was a bit tired after his first full-day ride, but you wouldn’t have thought it to see the way he cycled the last few miles!

Friday 20 May 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): LandscoveMisty start, drizzle later
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley
The poor weather was undoubtedly responsible for the low turnout this evening. Ashley, Julian, Paul and Philip wanted to keep their bikes reasonably clean so we chose a route through Green Lane, Baddaford, Parkfield Cross and Landscove that stayed firmly on the tarmac.

It wasn’t long, however, before we came across a tempting downhill track that nobody could resist. A second short track brought us out at Charlie’s Cross on the main Totnes to Buckfastleigh road just as the rain began to set in, so we gave up the idea of a Colston Road return in favour of a main road sprint homewards.

Sunday 22 May 1994Day ride: Holcombe Burnell (40 mi)Sunny / showers
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Nick Radmore, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker
Budgie was late! He’d had a puncture, and now he couldn’t get to the Budgie Box (RAC box on the A38 near Caton) by the usual time. He chased down the A38 to the Chudleigh Bridge pickup, but alas, everyone had already gone. He got out his map and decided that the most likely route we had taken was the right turn to Longdown at the far end of the Teign Valley road. He set off at high speed.

Along the way, who should he meet but Charlie Walker, hotly pursued by Andy Walker, heading the opposite way! This was a stroke of luck: they would obviously know where the group had gone. He stopped and turned around - only to see Charlie and Andy disappearing into the distance! Budgie swore!

He pressed on to the destination, but didn’t see any other club members all day! Where had they gone?

The answer was simple: to the BMX track at Christow for 2½ hours! Paul Oakley had suggested visiting the track, and Michael had thought that perhaps we could spare half an hour for a bit of fun. Once there, however, we were joined by some local youngsters and the whole crew just wanted to go round and round the track, doing incredible jumps over the bumpy bits - so we stayed there for lunch! We could see the Teign Valley road from the track: if only we had looked at the right time, we’d have seen poor Budgie riding by!

Paul’s younger brother, Philip, was on his first full-day ride today, so there was no question of doing a quick sprint to Holcombe Burnell. Anyway, some nasty rain clouds were heading our way, so we chose a route through Bridford to Blackingstone Rock. We’d never approached it from this angle before: surrounded by beautiful countryside full of bluebells it looked quite stunning today.

Next stop was Moretonhampstead, for refreshments at the Corner Cafe. The final lap took us through North Bovey and across the moor via Hound Tor and Hemsworthy Gate. We stopped along the way for hot dogs (vegetarian variety for Michael) at the Hound Tor van. Then, with renewed energy, Philip had no trouble making the final few miles to Buckfastleigh.

Friday 27 May 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): LambsdownCold & grey
11 present: Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Don Malpass, Edward Millard, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright
By the time Michael arrived at the start, Julian had persuaded Ashley that his rim was too dangerous to continue with the ride, so Ashley set off for home.

The long climb past Nurston Farm was followed by an unusually muddy ride along the track to the moor. At one point Philip made a wrong move, walked through some particularly gooey mud and discovered that his muddy foot was in fact shoeless! After a little help the missing shoe was dug out of the mud and reunited with its owner.

The descent across the moor to Cross Furzes was fun as always. I think Becky enjoyed her first ride with us, despite the large differences between our club and the one she last rode with in Norfolk!

Sunday 29 May 1994Day ride: DartmeetExcellent weather
11 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Alex Lessware, Sebastian Lessware, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Andrew Simmons, Ben Widger, Tom Widger
This was one of those not-too-long rides that seemed to have just the right mix of all the ingredients that make up a perfect ride.

The lanes through Scoriton, Michelcombe and Holne to Venford reservoir were as enjoyable as ever, but then Michael suggested a track short-cut to Dartmeet that we hadn’t done for many years. Some (Tom actually) were doubtful at first, having experienced Michael’s short-cuts on many previous occasions, but as the pleasant grassy track took us down into the secluded valley, everyone had to agree that it was ideal.

When lunch had been consumed overlooking a stream and small woodland, we set off for the doubtful part of the short-cut - the stepping stone crossing to Dartmeet itself. The stones weren’t submerged as Michael had feared, and were easy going for the most part. There was just one tricky gap near the middle that had everyone pausing for courage and left a few (Philip in particular) with wet feet!

The Dartmeet cafe was filled with tourists and cigarette smoke as usual, but we were in need of a rest and didn’t fancy climbing the steep hill to visit the nearby farm cafe. The food and drink turned out to be tolerable, so the occasion was not quite as unpleasant as Michael had anticipated.

We concluded an excellent ride with the ascent of Dartmeet Hill, the descent of Dr Blackall’s Drive (a superb mile-long track offering magnificent views over secluded sections of the Dart valley), ice creams at New Bridge, the Hembury Woods track and Star Trek videos at Crofters!

Friday 3 June 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Cross FurzesDrizzle
4 present: Neil Ault, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
After a short ride past Buckfast Abbey, a hard climb past Bowerdon to Cross Furzes and one puncture we decided we were wet enough and retreated to the dry comfort of Crofters for computer games.

Sunday 5 June 1994Afternoon ride: BroadhempstonSunny start, cloudy later
17 present: Chan Beevers, Janet Beevers, Richard Burge, Andrew Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Ian Luke, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker
There was a slight delay at the Charlie’s Cross pickup as a result of Seb’s puncture. The Paignton contingent waited patiently at Broadhempston, however, in eager anticipation of another visit to the garden cafe at Landscove.

They were not disappointed. Although the tiny tea-rooms were full with queues waiting at the door, we were told that if we cared to sit on the lawn we would receive priority service. Unlike similar promises from other establishments, this one was kept admirably - we were enjoying hot and cold drinks and three different varieties of home-baked sponges within about five minutes! This is definitely a cafe to visit again.

Tuesday 7 June 1994
1830-2030
Evening ride (Junior): StavertonFine but cloudy
6 present: Michael Jones, Kim Kilty (10, Totnes), Austin Loder (8, Totnes), Phillip Oakley, Dale Turrell (9, Totnes), Dave Turrell (Adult, Totnes)
This evening’s ride was the first in a trial series of special evening rides designed especially for children of primary and lower secondary age. The rides, running from 6.30 to 8.30, had only been advertised through the Buckfastleigh Cycle Training Scheme and by word of mouth from older members, so Michael was somewhat surprised to see a turnout greater than one!

We kept the ride fairly gentle by riding along Colston Road to Staverton’s riverside path and then returning via Abham and Caddaford. The youngsters seemed quite happy with the ride: watch this space to see how they develop!

Friday 10 June 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Totnes Cycle PathSunny and warm
14 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Stan Ford, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Don Malpass, Edward Millard, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
Michael began the ride with a stern warning to the youngsters who think it’s clever to speed around blind corners on the wrong side of the road, and was surprised to see a marked change in behaviour for the remainder of the ride!

We took Colston Road and the A384 to Dartington’s Cider Press Centre and then followed the cycle path as far as Totnes Weir. From here we had planned to take the riverside path to Brutus Bridge, but after crossing the bridge over the leat we discovered that the river was so high that the path was submerged!

Neil and Matthew rode through, with water covering their hubs, but the rest of us decided to retrace our steps and follow the main path to the station. It was at about this time that a passer-by would have heard a loud splash followed, after a moment’s silence, by a great deal of laughter. Edward, poor lad, instead of walking back over the bridge, had walked straight over the edge of the leat, fallen about a metre and was now standing knee-deep in the water below! Eliot had managed to walk into a river at Bellever a few years ago, but he had a sort of excuse - it was dark! Edward had no excuse, which made his unfortunate predicament all the funnier.

After meeting up with Neil and Matthew again, who had discovered that the riverside path had been shortened and diverted, we rode home via the Sixth Form Centre, Dartington Youth Hostel and Rattery, loaning Edward sufficient dry clothes to keep him warm. A few of the older members concluded the evening with an action-packed game of Dynablasters at Crofters.

Sunday 12 June 1994Day ride: Hameldown BeaconGlorious weather
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Ashley Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker
We couldn’t have wished for better weather for this moorland track ride. The ride from Bickington to Haytor was notable only for the fact that Tao and Paul insisted on taking the Pinchaford track route from Ilsington. It includes a good deal of uphill work, so the rest of us were waiting several minutes at Haytor as they picked their way across the rough moorland to the road.

After following the bridleway to Natsworthy Manor we settled down for lunch by the crystal clear East Webburn River. Within minutes we had discovered that the area was infested with biting midges of the type usually found only in Scotland, so it wasn’t long before we were on our bikes again, climbing to the top of Hamel Down.

Today was Remembrance Day, and we were touched to note that fresh poppies had been laid against the memorial to the RAF pilots who crashed on Hamel Down during the war.

The long track took us past Hamel Down Cross, Broad Barrow, Single Barrow, Two Barrows and the cairns at Hameldown Beacon, with skylarks being the only source of sound to break the stillness. Then there was the descent to Widecombe - steep and rough to test the most skilful cyclist. Instead of wasting money in the poor quality Widecombe cafes, we bought cheap and plentiful supplies from the village shop and enjoyed them on the Common. Philip obviously wanted to attract attention to himself - instead of buying wholesome food or drink he bought two enormous bars of nougat.

Our homeward route, suggested by Budgie, took us through Buckland, a packed Spitchwick and Hembury Woods. Nearly everyone took up Michael’s offer of a free drink and biscuit at Crofters before saying farewell to another superb ride.

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