South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 17 June 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Avon DamPerfect weather
10 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
Andrew, who had only come to the start to say hello, decided to join us when he found out where we were going! The rhododendrons that line the path to the Dam were in full bloom this evening - and the midges were thirsty for blood!

The dam, which was almost full, looked glorious as the sun set over the horizon. Once again, the skylarks accompanied us as we sped across the moor to Cross Furzes and home.

Tuesday 21 June 1994Evening ride (Junior): Hembury WoodsWet and breezy
2 present: Michael Jones, Kim Kilty
Our second Junior ride was not blessed with good weather. Only Kim was brave enough to turn out, and after a little thought he decided on a short ride around the two Hembury tracks followed by some computer games at Crofters.

Friday 24 June 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): ScoritonDamp
9 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
The rain was falling again, but nine members had still turned out. They all seemed to have the idea of going on a very short ride and then spending a very long time at Crofters playing computer games!

Michael gave the impression of going along with the idea, but secretly felt the rain would ease off and so included more and more detours in the route. After encompassing Hembury, Holne, Michelcombe and Scoriton he suggested a short-cut via Combe. As they began to climb the enormous hill to Cross Furzes some people began to realise they had been tricked, but the rain had all but stopped and most were too busy chatting to their friends to notice where they were going!

Michael isn’t as hard as nails, however, so he left a little time for computer games at the end of the ride.

Sunday 26 June 1994Day ride: Lannacombe BeachCloudy with sunny periods
9 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
A 9.30 start and some fast riding got us to Lannacombe by 1pm, leaving us nearly an hour and a half to play on the beach. Most of us went in up to the ankles, but Tao, Keir and Eliot kept taking risks and were soon drenched up to their waists. Then, of course, they reasoned that they might as well go in a bit further: within ten minutes they could be seen prancing around in the sea fully clothed! Fortunately they had enough dry clothes between them to get home.

Thirty-five minutes of riding brought us to Slapton by 3pm, where we enjoyed refreshments and fun on the stony beach. More liquid was collected at Forces Cross, and then we came to the first delay of the day: one of the five Land Rovers that preceded us down Corkscrew Hill managed to turn over half way down, and our youngsters just had to watch as they tried to right it!

The speed wasn’t quite so fast as we clocked up the fiftieth mile at 7pm, but we felt we’d had another excellent ride in the company of some very good friends.

Philip deserves a commendation for keeping up with the group all the way - he has only recently graduated to full-day rides.

Friday 1 July 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Knowle (14 mi)Perfect weather
14 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Becky Harber, Mark Hedges, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder (Adult, Buckfastleigh), Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Nick Radmore, Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright
This fourteen mile ride took us up Green lane, down the track to Abham, through numerous lanes to Knowle and home via Woodland and the somewhat overgrown tracks between Parkfield Cross and Pridhamsleigh. Keir managed to fall off no fewer than three times this evening!

Sunday 3 July 1994Afternoon ride (Buckfastleigh): Venford ReservoirFair weather
16 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Alex Lessware, Sebastian Lessware, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Eric Pouney (Adult, Paignton), Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Ben Widger, Tom Widger
Our new member Eric Pouney from Paignton wasn’t sure about the Hembury Woods track, but when he found himself climbing the hill past Shuttaford he knew he needed a rest. He diverted to the Old Forge cafe at Holne while the rest of us continued to the ice cream van at Venford for refreshments.

For the return route we couldn’t resist the rough track descent to Michelcombe. Philip Oakley, however, was a little too enthusiastic, overshooting the path part-way down, descending a rough bank at rapid speed and riding straight into a stone wall! He was grazed and bruised, but there was no serious damage - except to his pride!

Tuesday 5 July 1994Evening ride (Junior): AshburtonSunny
3 present: Neil Ault, Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley
The track from Furzeleigh to Priestaford turned out to be exceedingly overgrown. Neil and Philip were all for turning back after five minutes of stings and scratches, but Michael assured them they were almost at the end - in fact they were only half way!

Next came an exploration of an unfamiliar steep track from Knowle Cross to Ashburton which offered excellent views across Peartree and gave Michael an idea for the next Friday ride. We returned homewards via Great Bridge and Hele Cross.

Friday 8 July 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): AshburtonDry
10 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Our investigation of the track from Knowle Cross to Ashburton on Tuesday had uncovered another promising-looking track running over the hill to Headborough Farm. Tonight we decided to try it. After a couple of twists it became very overgrown and then ended with a gate and barbed wire, firmly blocking the way: evidently the construction of the Ashburton reservoir on the hill many years ago had severed the track.

Neil crossed the fence and confirmed that the track could be rejoined on the far side of the reservoir. This seemed a better option than going back, so we proceeded to cross the fence - with some difficulty! Budgie wasn’t too pleased when we got stuck behind a heard of cows on the approach to the farm: his bike was plastered in mud!

The ride continued up the hill to Druid, down to Cuddyford Cross, up the hill from South Dartmoor School to Bronswell Farm and down the track through Whiddon Wood. It was then that several of us noticed the woodland path through Whiddon Scrubs. It turned out to be level, reasonably smooth and highly picturesque - ideal for the careful cyclist.

Sunday 10 July 1994Day ride: Plym Valley CyclewayHot and sunny
12 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Ben Hobday, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Dave Turrell, Ken Twydell, Tom Widger
Our bi-annual 50-mile jaunt around Burrator began early - so early that Michael didn’t remember to oil his chain. The Avonwick garage was pleased to assist, however, by donating some light engine oil - the chain didn’t squeak again all day!

When Seb and Tom eventually arrived after some puncture problems we set off down the A38, much to the disgust of the adult members present. But as Michael said, the ride was tough enough already without adding additional hills at the start of the day. The A38 was fast and relatively easy despite a slight headwind, bringing us to the start of the cycle path by around midday.

After some lively discussion we decided to have a quick lunch break at the usual wooded glade in Cann Wood. Then we were off again, crossing the three viaducts and doing our best not to collide with the many other cyclists of all ages who were using the path. The tunnel near Dewerstone Rock left those without lights in a state of some consternation!

The climb from Goodameavy was tough in the afternoon heat: Ben agreed with his Dad that they should return to Paignton via Cornwood, but he still did as many miles as the rest of us by the time he got home.

There was a delay at the turn-off for Meavy because Tao and Chris, being so engrossed in seeing who could ride down the hill at the most dangerous speed, had forgotten to stop. We waited patiently until they returned and then, when Michael had pointed out for the umpteenth time how foolish it is to race down hills, we proceeded to Burrator reservoir for ice creams.

We took the road route to Princetown’s Foxtor Cafe on this occasion and sank gratefully into the cool chairs to enjoy well-earned refreshments. The final leg of the journey took us through Hexworthy and Holne, but our extra-fit crew still managed to get home by 5.30!

Friday 15 July 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Chalk FordWarm & sunny
11 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Philip Stone, Gavin Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Michael appeared tonight on his newly-restored Mercian frame, thanks to a little help from Eliot during the week. The ride took us up the hill to Cross Furzes and down the moorland track from Lud Gate to Chalk Ford and Scoriton. It really was a glorious place to be on this particular evening.

We still had plenty of time so we continued the ride around Michelcombe and Holne to the River Dart Country Park, where the youngsters enjoyed sliding down the twisty tubes on sacks for a full ten minutes.

Sunday 17 July 1994Day ride: Ten TorsCloudy start, then hot/sunny
21 present: Neil Ault, Daniel Broadbent, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Alex Lessware, Sebastian Lessware, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Ricky Robertson (18, Devon), Gavin Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Dave Turrell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Ben Widger, Tom Widger
We’ve been running the same route for our Ten Tors event for several years, so this year we substituted Wind Tor and Yar Tor for Haytor and Rippon Tor. The effect was to space the Tors out more evenly and to make the event even more fun than before.

Saddle Tor, Top Tor and Pil Tor presented no problems, and we were soon enjoying an early lunch on Tor number four - Bonehill Rocks - in glorious sunshine. Alex, the mountain goat, just couldn’t resist climbing through all the nooks and crevices in the rocks.

The next three Tors - Bel Tor, Chinkwell Tor and Honeybag Tor - were very impressive but involved a considerable amount of walking, a concept alien to most of our young cyclists. Rewards came, however, when we descended Bone Hill to Widecombe for refreshments purchased from the local shop.

The new route showed itself when we turned right out of Widecombe for the steep climb of Southcombe Hill. From the top, Wind Tor was just a short ride across a moorland path. It was during the descent to the road that Alex attempted one of his first ever jumps, lost control and had to choose between a rock and a gorse bush. He chose the latter, ending up somewhat scratched and bruised and the subject of much merriment for the rest of the afternoon!

We managed to find some unfamiliar lanes near Shallowford to take us to Yar Tor, overlooking Dartmeet, then there was just Dr Blackall’s Drive and Mel Tor to go. Ashley and Philip Oakley managed to get Budgie and Julian to give them piggy-backs up the final Tor, which offered spectacular views over the Dart valley.

There were a couple of mechanical breakdowns on the return, probably caused by members riding too fast on the rough ground of Dr Blackall’s: first, Julian got a puncture, and then Seb broke a pedal! Seb hobbled through Hembury to Buckfastleigh with the rest of us where he hoped to ring his parents for a lift home. To his annoyance Michael produced a used pedal from his workshop and fitted it in seconds!

Everyone except Dave, Ken, Keir, Charlie and Neil completed all ten Tors and qualify for certificates, which will be awarded at the Christmas Lunch.

Tuesday 19 July 1994Evening ride (Junior): SpitchwickWarm & sunny
9 present: Michael Jones, Kim Kilty, Ashley Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt, Charlie Raven (16, Devon), Eliot Thomas-Wright
Our fourth junior evening ride attracted a larger attendance than usual because Michael submitted to the requests of members aged 13-16 to allow them to join in. They must enjoy their club if they’re keen to ride three times a week!

The ride took us to Spitchwick via the Hembury track and Gallant Le Bower. There were very few people around at this time of the day, just a couple of lads from South Dartmoor school jumping off ropes and ledges into the deep river below.

Retracing our steps to Holne Chase we were soon back in the River Dart Country Park. When the tube slides had been sampled at least five times by each member we returned to Hembury along a riverside path that we have never done before in the club.

Friday 22 July 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): MarldonWarm & sunny
15 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Jeremy Ford, Dayle Guy, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Mark Knowling, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
We’d planned to make this a mainly road ride, but we didn’t expect to cover 22 miles! Everyone seemed to be very fit - even Mark, who hasn’t been out with us for a long time! The weather was perfect and we just kept riding into the sunset.

It was nearly dark as we returned to Buckfastleigh, an opportune moment to point out that lights must be brought by everyone on all evening rides.

Friday 29 July 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Avon DamPerfect weather
14 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Richard Goss, Dayle Guy, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Gavin Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright
The midges were biting as we rolled into Shipley Bridge on this balmy evening, so we didn’t stop until we reached the dam itself, which was beginning to look on the low side. Dayle once again resisted the temptation to do a “bunny hop” off the dam wall.

Walking across the moor we couldn’t help noticing a group of walkers on the horizon near our marker post. When we eventually reached the spot we discovered that the top half of the post had been broken off and found some items of litter strewn about the ground. Some of the younger members immediately decided who the culprits were, picked up the litter and determined to pass it back to the walkers when we caught up with them. Michael pointed out that we couldn’t be sure it was them, and after further words of restraint they agreed to give them the benefit of the doubt. The walkers did appear somewhat unruly, however.

Disaster struck for poor Philip Stone as we made the final descent towards Cross Furzes: he went over the handlebars after trying to ride at speed along a groove in the path. He ended up with a few cuts and grazes, but was able to ride back to Crofters for surgery (a plaster actually).

Sunday 31 July 1994Day ride: Thurlstone DandsThreatening start, rain later
4 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware
In view of the inclement weather we decided on a shorter ride that took us through Wrangaton to Ugborough Beacon, where we attempted to become skilful with a rather poor quality Frisbee that was in fact one of Budgie’s plastic dinner plates!

After lunch we took the exciting track descent to Owley and hoped to be able to enjoy refreshments at South Brent’s Copper Kettle. Unfortunately the cafe was full, so we sped back to Buckfastleigh for Star Trek entertainment as the first raindrops began to fall.

Tuesday 2 August 1994Evening ride (Junior): Totnes (14 mi)Occasional drizzle
4 present: Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Phillip Oakley
Riding along the green lanes of Colston road we began to smell a strong aroma that distinctly resembled tobacco smoke. Around the next corner we found the source, an elderly gentleman with a pungent pipe taking his dog for a walk.

Everyone was keen to have a good long ride this evening despite the weather, so we ended up riding the cycle path from Dartington to Totnes. There is now a new extension that goes past the railway station and finishes up at Totnes Pool - a much better finale than the old termination at the Unigate factory.

We returned homewards via Barracks Hill and Rattery.

Wednesday 3 August 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Rising Sun TearoomsCloudy but warm
10 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Jeremy Ford, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Phillip Oakley
This was an unscheduled ride, arranged in July by the leaders of all the major cycling groups in South Devon. The idea was simple: groups would ride to the Rising Sun Tearooms from various corners of South Devon, enjoy an hour or so of chat and quality refreshments and then amble homewards.

The ten representatives from our Section were joined by more than twenty other cyclists, but there was little mixing as most people seemed to prefer the company of their own club - which is probably understandable really! Nevertheless the evening was enjoyable.

Friday 5 August 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): SpitchwickPerfect weather
16 present: Neil Ault, Graham Burge, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Becky Harber, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Gavin Taylor
Spitchwick was the obvious destination in weather like this, particularly as Budgie had brought his Frisbee plate again - perhaps it would work better in the absence of wind? For a change we rode up through Ashburton and Buckland, allowing us the pleasure of the descent past the Witch’s House.

The Frisbee seemed set on heading for the river this evening. Michael was the first to wade into the water on a retrieval mission, but others quickly followed. After a lot of fun in a very friendly atmosphere we returned homewards via Hembury Woods.

Sunday 7 August 1994Afternoon ride: Rising Sun Tearooms (13 mi)Hot and humid
17 present: Richard Burge, Carrie Burgess, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Mark Hardwick (Junior, UK), Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
New rider Mark turned up out of the blue today - he was down in Devon for a week’s holiday and just couldn’t resist a ride with the local CTC!

OK, some of us went to the Rising Sun only a few days ago, but today’s ride had been planned for a long time so this was the ‘official’ visit.

After indulging in a variety of expensive drinks and confections we soon found ourselves at the start of the irresistible Beeston track. Unfortunately it was still muddy in a few places despite the recent dry spell, and Budgie was not at all amused! We concluded the ride with the altogether drier track through the fields and woodlands of Lower Combe, from where Green Lane took us quickly homewards.

Tuesday 9 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 1 Devon to BlaxhallSunny
12 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Peter Grantham (16, Norwich), Mark Hedges, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Matthew Soame (15, Bury St Edmunds), Daniel Talbot (12, Fleet), Peter Talbot (14, Fleet), Eliot Thomas-Wright, Tristan Wooller
Paul Oakley
Eliot and Chris on the first train to London
Chris Platt enjoying his 'exquisite cake' on the train at Ipswich station
Tao Burguess
Chris and Tristan on the forest roads near Tangham
Eliot had a good cake too
Chris and Neil
Offroad at last: sandy track near Butley
The Mouse Trap game
Board games at the hostel
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
Over the years our junior tours have taken us to most of the truly scenic areas of Great Britain: some of the most memorable areas have been the Scottish Highlands, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Cornish Coast, New Forest and Snowdonia. We have never explored East Anglia however, so as the first five from Devon boarded the 0736 London-bound train at Newton Abbot we really didn’t know exactly what to expect.

To work around the BR restriction of five bicycles per train we had booked Neil and Mark onto a second train that left one hour later. They were to collect the two Talbot lads at Reading and proceed together across the underground to Liverpool Street and then on via BR to Ipswich. Unfortunately overhead cables had fallen onto the line between London and Ipswich and the usual half-hourly service had been replaced by an hourly service with a change at Colchester. The first group were an hour late at Ipswich but the second group, who narrowly missed the 1200 train from London, were two hours late. Some of the extra time was spent enjoying exquisite Danish pastries from the ‘Piece of Cake’ shop on the station.

Peter Grantham was waiting at Ipswich as agreed, but there was no way of contacting the other two members of the group who were waiting at Woodbridge station eight miles away. When we eventually arrived they were still waiting patiently, but the afternoon’s ride would have to be curtailed as a result of the delays.

We eventually found the forest track from Hollesley Common to Tangham House (after an abortive first attempt which brought us back to the road within ten minutes) and were soon enjoying further lanes and sandy tracks between Butley and Blaxhall. The final track to the hostel was definitely not as marked on the map, so we ended up taking a detour along an alternative path that was very overgrown with nettles and brambles - some members were not particularly amused! We eventually got back on the right track so to speak and arrived at the hostel (a converted primary school in a tiny village) by 6.30, in good time for the evening meal.

The evening was not entirely uneventful because Peter’s high-speed Aerobie (a ring-type Frisbee) kept flying over the garden fence into the gardens of neighbouring properties, and the owners eventually complained to the warden. There was nothing for it but to assemble in the common room and dormitories for games of cards and Mouse Trap!

We didn’t sleep too well because Tristan kept making strange snorting noises in his sleep (some of us remember this behaviour from previous tours!), so we had time to contemplate the wet weather forecast for tomorrow.

If you have enjoyed reading these reports please send us a comment using the form on our Contact page