South Dartmoor CTC

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Wednesday 10 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 2 Blaxhall to Great YarmouthCloudy but dry
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
The back of Blaxhall youth hostel
Mark Hedges leaves Blaxhall youth hostel
Matthew Soame on the sandy track from Snape
Chris and Eliot struggle on the sandy track from Snape
The track over Vault Hill to Dunwich
The shop at RSPB Minsmere
Tao disgusts everyone with his peanut butter and chocolate spread sandwich near Dunwich church
Dunwich beach
Enjoying the flooded road at Beccles Quay
The café at Beccles
Our first windmill on the river Waveney at St Olaves
The New Cut drain between Haddiscoe and St Olaves
Mark Hedges in the park at Great Yarmouth
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
We felt sure the rain would start soon so we wasted no time in riding to Snape and then along our fourth sandy track of the tour. Most of the group enjoyed the track despite experiencing problems with wheels sinking into the sand, but Peter Grantham and Matthew (who had touring bikes and weren’t used to rough riding) weren’t sure yet.

Michael’s search for windmills took us to the one at Friston, but it turned out to be disused and sail-less - unlike the symbol on the map! There was another brief stop at Leiston for the purchase of lunch and Danish pastries, and a further stop at Minsmere nature reserve, owned by the RSPB. None of our members were interested in birdwatching, so they contented themselves with buying postcards and chilled spring water from the RSPB shop.

The leading riders went straight past the right turn for Westleton, which gave us opportunity to try out another sandy track over Vault Hill (not as big as it sounds). Everyone was enjoying the tracks now, so we tried another bridleway short-cut to Dunwich despite Peter G’s warnings that it was very sandy. Once again the riding proved easy and fun.

The sea was very rough and cold at Dunwich beach, so we moved inland to the village church before settling down for lunch. Some of the food being consumed looked very sickly (see the tour video if you want to see just how sickly!)

We hadn’t yet gone half way to Great Yarmouth so we needed to increase the pace and get some miles behind us. The route took us along quiet lanes through Wenhaston and Brampton to Beccles where we eventually found an acceptable cafe where we could rest our sore behinds!

Leaving Beccles for the final lap we were attracted briefly to the quay where boats bobbed contentedly on the water and the youngsters rode time and time again through a flooded section of road. There was little time to enjoy the scene, however, and we were soon racing off for Gillingham and Haddiscoe, where we saw the first man-made river (or drain) of the tour.

After some very unpleasant main road riding into Great Yarmouth town centre we eventually reached the hostel, a comfortable end-terraced house situated near the park and the sea front. There was plenty of room for the Aerobie in the park, but we still managed to get it over the fence and onto the changing room roof! Some of our lighter members helped to retrieve it.

Thursday 11 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 3 Great Yarmouth to SheringhamHeavy rain
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
Great Yarmouth youth hostel on a very wet morning
Peter hands out hostel cards while Eliot tries to repair his coat at Great Yarmouth hostel
The view across Ranworth Broad from the visitor centre
The upper floor of Ranworth Broad visitor centre provided a dry and cosy venue for lunch
Peter Grantham and Matthew Soame making the best of the bad weather at Tuttington
Tristan, Daniel and Peter T play one of the games at the visitor centre
Tao is so mean to Mark
Floods like this made the day especially enjoyable for many
Chatting in the dining room after supper
Mealtime at Sheringham youth hostel
Neil, Eliot and Tao are joined by another hosteller in the games room
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
The rain, it seems, was running a day late. We rode back to Sainsbury’s superstore to buy lunch, but eventually we just had to take the plunge and hit the road, heading for the lanes through Mautby and Stokesby. Once again the windmills marked on the map were disused and sail-less.

We’ve ridden in rain before, but today it was just torrential all day. When we arrived at Ranworth Broad (the Norfolk equivalent of lake) we were all drenched to the skin and worried about getting cold if we stopped for lunch. Michael saved the day by finding the Ranworth Visitor Centre at the end of a ten-minute nature trail on the edge of the broad. It was a thatched house with an interior balcony on the first floor, and we were given special permission to make ourselves at home upstairs for lunch.

It was very cosy in there. The little windows and binoculars offered excellent views across the broads, and there were conservation-type games to keep us amused inside. It was some time before we realised that the whole building was floating on the broad: it had been built elsewhere, towed across the broad and then secured to the bank with steel ropes.

Somehow the afternoon turned out to be quite enjoyable despite the rain pouring down even heavier than before. There was a brief puncture stop at Wroxham and then another brief toilet stop at Wroxham Barns Craft Centre, but for the rest of the time we just kept moving and warm. The route to Sheringham took us through the hamlets of Scottow, Swanton Abbot, Tuttington, Banningham, Erpingham, Aldborough and Gresham. The lanes were all very interesting, but the best features (according to the youngsters anyway) were the many lakes that had filled up dips in the road. Being wet already they just couldn’t resist splashing through the water at the highest possible speed. Perhaps this is why some members felt that today was the best day of the tour!

Sheringham hostel was stunning by any standards. It has been converted from a large detached house standing in its own gardens, and was modern and immaculate inside. In addition to the very welcome drying rooms there was a modern dining room (with pizza on the menu for supper), a table tennis room, a tv room, a study room (where some of us played cards) and very comfortable dormitories. A few people spent some time with the hairdryers in the washrooms, drying out their youth hostel cards!

Friday 12 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 4 Sheringham to HunstantonDry and bright
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
Tao draws attention to his very expensive Red Grape Juice
Daniel and Tristan prepare breakfast at Sheringham youth hostel
Sheringham youth hostel
Preparing to leave Sheringham youth hostel
Weybourne windmill
Sheringham youth hostel
Lunchtime at Langham Glass in Langham (they moved to Fakenham in 2005)
Cley windmill
Langham Glass adventure playground
The adventure playground at Langham Glass
Enjoying a thorn-free section of the Holgate Road
The muddy lake at the start of the 3-mile track from North Creek / South Creek to Stanhoe, known as Holgate Road
Peter Talbot at the top of the windmill
Bircham Windmill, near Great Bircham
The lake at Fring
Daniel Talbot makes some new friends at Bircham Windmill
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
The morning was very different to the previous day: the sun was shining and everyone was busy preparing their bikes on the lawn outside the hostel. It was gone 10am when we finally set off.

By the time we’d visited a motoring parts shop to buy some engine oil for our rusting chains it was too late to explore Sheringham’s beaches, so we left the resort without ever seeing the sea!

Neil ran into trouble before we reached Weybourne: his rear wheel, which had been suffering from loose spokes for some time, suddenly became buckled and unridable. The rest of the group explored the lane route to Cley while Neil effected what repairs he could. The windmill was closed until the afternoon, so we waited in the local cafe until Neil arrived.

Lunch was purchased from the supermarket at Blakeney and consumed on the picnic tables at Langham Glass in glorious sunshine. There was time to play in the adventure park and take a brief look at the interesting specimens of coloured glass on display in the shop before we had to press onwards.

The map showed that we needed to follow the B1388 from Binham to Walsingham, so Michael instructed the leaders accordingly. At about the time that we had expected to arrive at Walsingham we found ourselves entering Hindringham: evidently the B-road had continued along a right turn and the road we had followed had become a lane! It just goes to show how you should never make assumptions about roads - check them every time!

Having passed the shrine at Little Walsingham and followed the almost straight road through Egmere we soon found ourselves at the entrance to our planned three-mile track. The only problem was that that access was blocked by a large muddy lake that spanned the width of the lane. Tao, being Tao, decided that he wasn’t going to pick his way around the edge like the rest, so he rode straight through the middle: naturally it turned out to be far deeper than he expected, so he was totally soaked when he emerged at the far side.

The track was excellent in many ways, being wide, scenic and reasonably flat. Unfortunately it also had thorns large enough to cause three punctures in mountain-bike tyres, and this was going to be a problem because we wanted to get to the working windmill at Great Bircham before it closed. The only solution was for the main group to press on to the mill, leaving the puncture crew to catch up as soon as they could.

The mill turned out to be excellent. The whole group was allowed to climb the many cramped stairways to the top for just £10, passing numerous exhibits and video presentations on the way. The view from the top showed us just how flat the surrounding land really was. Afterwards there was a cafe, a hen and chicks that greedily ate our leftover bread and a children’s play area designed for under sevens - our youngsters couldn’t resist playing in it of course, and they were promptly told off by the management!

Now we really had to keep moving to reach the hostel in time for supper. We took the lanes through Fring and Sedgeford, were nearly overcome by the smell of lavender at Heacham and arrived at Hunstanton hostel just ten minutes before supper time. Our welcome was a little less than warm: first we had to ride half a mile to get to the bike shed at the back of the hostel, then we were told that we were too late to have soup (what is the point of booking in advance if it isn’t to make sure your supper is waiting for you when you arrive!).

Neil should have done some major repair work to his wheel, but instead he chose to join the rest of the group for a closely-supervised walk to the beach and fairground. All the rides were very expensive, so we didn’t stay very long.

Friday 12 August 1994Evening ride: South BrentSunny
9 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Ken Oakley, Phillip Oakley
This evening’s ride was led by Richard Burge in Michael’s absence. He took the group through Dean, Harbourneford, South Brent, Avonwick and Rattery, returning via Pennywell at about 8.30.

Saturday 13 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 5 Hunstanton to BrandonWarm & sunny
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
Daniel removes the waterproof cover from his 'Beanie'
Paul and Neil eating breakfast in the conservatory at Hunstanton youth hostel
Peter and others outside Hunstanton youth hostel
Preparing to leave Hunstanton youth hostel
Mark Hedges in the Sandringham café
The modern café and visitor centre at Sandringham
One of the many friendly pheasants and ducks on the estate
Paul, Neil and Elior eating lunch in the grounds of the Sandringham estate
A friendly little dog at Sandringham
Daniel plays cricket outside the Sandringham estate
The group on the Peddars Way
The Peddars Way near Little Massingham
The castle at Castle Acre
The castle at Castle Acre
More fun on the Peddars Way near North Pickenham
Michael taking revenge at our parking place in Pye's Lane, Castle Acre
The bridge over the Little Ouse River in Brandon
More fun on the Peddars Way
The Little Ouse River at Brandon
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
One or two ladybirds landed on us as we gathered in the morning sunshine, but there was little sign of the plague of ladybirds that had apparently descended on the village during the week. Daniel decided that the weather was now dry enough to remove the waterproof cover that he had fitted over his handlebar-mounted cuddly toy.

First stop today was Sandringham, the Queen’s winter residence. For the rest of the year it is open to the public, so when we had sampled the delicious cakes on offer at the newly-completed visitor centre, half the group took the tour of the house and grounds while the rest played cricket on the parkland outside using Daniel’s soft bat and ball (which had been confiscated on several earlier occasions when he used it to hit people instead of balls).

We ate lunch outside the visitor centre and then set off through Hillington to join the Peddars Way, a roman route that headed directly towards our destination and offered many sections of interesting track along the way. There was time to look at the castle in Castle Acre before setting off again for North Pickenham, Little Cressingham and The Arms.

Our intention was to continue across an enormous area of heathland marked on the map as a Danger Area, but we soon discovered that the whole area had been sealed off by the military. There was no alternative but to take the detour around the edge via Bodney and Mundford at breakneck speed.

It was here that Neil’s wheel finally gave up the ghost. He was forced to walk the several remaining miles to Brandon, arriving just as the rest of the group were tucking into their last provided meal of the tour.

Brandon is situated in the middle of Thetford Chase, one of the largest wooded areas in the country, so there were delightful gardens and trees all around the hostel. Being in the village, however, there were also some housing estates nearby which detracted a little from the scenery. During supper Michael was approached by another hosteller who remembered seeing him on a previous tour two years earlier: it seems that almost every year we are recognised by some hosteller or another.

The evening was spent washing the dishes by hand (this was the first hostel that didn’t have a dishwasher), sorting out Neil’s transport arrangements for tomorrow (why do these problems always happen on a Sunday when the bike shops are closed) and settling down into our single large dormitory.

Sunday 14 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 6 Brandon to ThurlbySunny
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
Brandon youth hostel, front
Brandon youth hostel, rear
Sweep with Daniel at the Gateway supermarket in Downham Market
Daniel Talbot and others outside the hostel
Eliot leads the group along Stow Bardolph Fen
Crossing the River Great Ouse at Downham Market
Lunch near Gorefield church
Fruit trees near Emneth on the Fens
Tao Burgess
Mark Hedges disclosed the contents of his sandwich
Peter Talbot
Chris, Eliot, Paul and Matthew
Chris and Tristan on the bridge over North Level Main Drain
North Level Main Drain from Newton Fen
Tao Burgess at Thurlby youth hostel
Matthew Soame at Pode Hole
Chris Platt at Thurlby
Peter Grantham at Thurlby youth hostel
Daniel Talbot
Tristan Wooller
Michael
Eliot Thomas-Wright
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
This was going to be the longest ride of the tour at 64 miles, so we were grateful for the good weather. Neil tried the bike/toy shop in Brandon, but they couldn’t rebuild the wheel, supply a new wheel or a new rim and spokes, so he decided to walk to Thetford, take a train to Peterborough (he wasn’t allowed on the first two because there was no space for his bike) and take a taxi to Thurlby.

The rest of the group cycled through Weeting, Methwold, Stoke Ferry and through a “Road Closed” sign to West Dereham and Downham Market before taking a brief rest to search for the local Gateway supermarket. Daniel was out first, so he made use of the time to befriend a sensitive little black dog with sad eyes whose name turned out to be Sweep - see the Tour Video if you want to see him for yourself!

Immediately we were off again, crossing the Hundred Foot Drain and the River Great Ouse to enter the Fens, Britain’s largest area of totally flat land. Everywhere fields of crops met our eyes: wheat, sugar beet, carrots, fruit trees, cauliflowers - you name it, there it was growing for as far as the eye could see. The lanes tend to go round the edges of the rectangular fields, so if you need to cross at an angle (like we did) you have to follow a rather zigzag route.

For those who don’t know, the whole area lies below sea level, so how do they keep the seawater out? They build man-made drainage ditches that run in straight lines and then pump the water out to sea at the pumping stations.

Our route took us across Stow Bardoulph Fen, over Middle Level Main Drain, past the delicious-smelling fruit orchards of Emneth and then straight through the large town of Wisbech to the villages of Leverington and Gorefield where we enjoyed a brief lunch stop in the shade of some roadside trees near the church.

Several of us could have used a good long rest at this point, but of course there was no time. On we went, over North Level Main Drain, across Tydd St Giles Fen and over South Holland Main Drain to Holbeach St Johns. Everywhere here the ground was table-top flat, which made the cycling easy but ensured that everyone got sore behinds. The chance of a rest came at Moulton Chapel, when Michael got a blow-out in his rear tyre. A woman living in a nearby house kindly allowed all of us to troop through her kitchen to use the toilet and refill our water bottles while Michael effected repairs.

We skirted around Spalding, then stopped briefly at a garage so that Chris could pump up his tyres (he’d been going on and on about garages all day, and now at last he was happy). The final sprint to Thurlby hostel took us through Pode Hole (where Daniel did his water fountain impression in the middle of the road), Tongue End and Bourne (because we couldn’t find the track shortcuts marked on the map). We finally arrived at 6.15pm and found Neil already there after an expensive day on public transport.

The hostel was very basic, but cosy nevertheless, with private gardens where the kids played chasing games until darkness fell. Most of the evening was spent queuing for the shower, recording video interviews (for the tour videotape) and walking to the telephone (remember to turn left out of the hostel for the nearest telephone if you ever visit Thurlby, not right like Michael did).

We’ve had all kinds of night-time noises in our dormitories, but tonight was the worst of all: with Tristan’s snorting, Paul’s scratching and Chris’s snoring Michael got no sleep at all!

Monday 15 August 1994Tour: Norfolk Day 7 Thurlby to DevonWarm and sunny
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
The group outside Thurlby hostel
The group outside Thurlby hostel
Neil Ault
Daniel's home-made sandwich
Removing the bikes from the train at Liverpool Street station
Paul Oakley and Chris Platt
Neil Ault
Peter Talbot captures some final photographs before disembarking at Reading
Daniel Talbot thinks up a lie in Liar Dice, closely watched by Tao
Paul Oakley
Mark makes a new friend at Newton Abbot rail station
Remastered HD video footage from today's ride
British Rail was suffering one of its longest ever rail strikes at the time of our tour, but Michael had been relieved to note that train services were running on all the lines that we intended to use. This morning, however, his worst nightmare came true: Mrs Talbot rang to say that she had just read in the papers that all trains on the Peterborough to London line would not be running today.

Michael spent more than an hour on the telephone establishing that the report was indeed true, that the nearest working line to London was at Cambridge and that the only way for us to get there was to hire a van at a cost of £94. Some members were being collected from Peterborough so most of us rode the ten miles or so to the station while Neil got on the van at Thurlby. The traffic was very busy and it took us some time to find the station, even with the aid of an OS map. The van was even later though because they had taken the time to remove six seats to make room for the bikes.

It was a tight squeeze, so tight in fact that we weren’t able to offer a lift to Matthew who had arranged to cycle back to Bury St Edmunds, but eventually we were off, saying farewell to Matthew, Tristan and Peter and hoping that we might make it home that night after all.

To our surprise, everything went smoothly. We had to wait an hour for the next train from Cambridge to Liverpool Street, but there were no problems on the underground and we got all the bikes onto one Plymouth-bound train. We dropped Daniel and Peter T off at Reading, and finally arrived in Newton Abbot just thirty minutes later than originally planned.

So what were our feelings about the tour? The cycling was easy, the scenery was rural but generally uninteresting (because it was so flat), the tracks were good, the coastal areas were a bit touristy, but it had been a fun week. Norfolk could never match the majesty of Scotland or Norway, of course, but it’s good to say that we’ve been there and seen it.

Incidentally, British Rail were very helpful after the event and eventually provided £50 in compensation for the problems caused by the strike.

If you think you’d enjoy taking part in a tour like this, see the details about our forthcoming tours elsewhere on this website.

Friday 19 August 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): LandscoveDry and cloudy
14 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Richard Goss, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Chris Platt
Having ridden through Caddaford, Staverton, Broadhempston and Landscove, ten members decided to ride the Beeston track and got very muddy indeed. Several didn’t have lights and were given due warning about the consequences of not bringing them next week!

Sunday 21 August 1994Day ride: Haydon Common (55 mi)Mainly dry, sunny periods
7 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley
Our route to Gappah was blocked, unusually, by a lorry that had parked itself on the narrow New Bridge, near Heathfield. It was so wide that we could not pass without running our bikes along the bridge’s wall. Closer inspection revealed that the bridge was undergoing repairs: evidently the repair crew wanted to prevent cars using the bridge whilst allowing themselves easy access to their materials.

The exhilarating descent of Telegraph Hill brought us quickly to our usual wooded glade lunch spot in Haydon Common. An interesting track then took us eventually to Cockwood, crowded Dawlish Warren and along the sea wall to Dawlish. We had half expected to see Eliot, who was staying in temporary accommodation in the Dawlish area whilst his parents searched for a house in Newton Abbot, but we didn’t see any sign of him - what a disappointment he is!

Budgie produced his dinner-plate Frisbee on the beach, but it proved to be as disappointing as Eliot - it just wouldn’t fly in the breeze. We needed an aerobie like the one Peter brought on the Norfolk tour!

After a quick shop stop we climbed over Haldon Hill, descended the track towards Kingsteignton and then returned homewards via Fermoys’ cafe, where the range of cakes was very impressive. Budgie found some cheap aerobies on sale at Fermoys so we bought two and tried them out at Broadhempston’s play park: they turned out to be just as bad as the dinner plate, although one managed to fly long enough to lose itself in the hedge!

We did manage to meet somebody before we got home: Keir was visiting his relatives in Broadhempston and happened to see us in the park.

Tuesday 23 August 1994Evening ride (Junior): StavertonOccasional showers
5 present: Neil Ault, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
We walked the riverside path at Staverton this evening, so as not to upset the local residents, and returned homewards via Green Lane.

Friday 26 August 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): HolneLight drizzle turning to rain
11 present: Neil Ault, Andrew Guy, John Hayes (14, South Brent), Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, John Stuart
The central portion of the lower Hembury track was in a muddy mess this evening because the owners had been felling trees in the vicinity. The trees that remained offered some shelter from the drizzle, however.

The rain was distinctly unpleasant as we rolled into Holne so we decided to go for an early return through Michelcombe and Scorriton.

Sunday 28 August 1994Day ride: Redlap CoveSunny with occasional showers
4 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware
This was a new destination for us so we weren’t quite sure what to expect as we rode through Tuckenhay and Tideford to Stoke Flemming. We were checking our maps at the head of the dead-end track that led to the cove when a local woman warned us that there was no access to the beach.

Her warnings didn’t stop us having a look for ourselves of course. The descent turned out to be steep and overgrown with a profusion of nettles and brambles - Budgie complained all the way down. When we reached the grassy approach to the cove we discovered a fence that prevented us going any further: presumably the cove itself is unsafe. We contented ourselves with enjoying lunch in the company of the local dragonflies and voles before trying to identify a different route back to the road.

After some exploration we found a path that brought us out at the hamlet of Little Dartmouth, from where we followed the high bridleway around the coast to Dartmouth castle and town: the views from the path were magnificent, so I’m sure we’ll be doing it again sometime.

Having refreshed ourselves in the Spinning Wheel cafe we manoeuvred our way though Dartmouth’s bustling streets to the Kingswear ferry and then rode home through Galmpton, Aish, Berry Pomeroy, Littlehempston and Caddaford.

Friday 2 September 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Avon DamFine, with a slight mist
15 present: Neil Ault, Julian Duquemin, Richard Goss, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Philip Stone, Ewan Taylor (Junior, UK)
This evening’s route to the dam (which was now full to capacity) took us through Dean and Skerraton. Darkness had fallen as we descended the Abbot’s Way bridleway to Cross Furzes, so the youngsters had to ride slowly and safely on this occasion!

Our new rider, Ewan Taylor, was visiting the area for his holiday and decided to join our ride while he was here.

Sunday 4 September 1994Afternoon ride (Buckfastleigh): Owley
13 present: Neil Ault, Toby Bastin (12, South Brent), Richard Burge, Sam Dawe (12, South Brent), Julian Duquemin, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Keir Manning, Edward Millard, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone, Gavin Taylor
Today’s destination certainly suited our three South Brent lads, Toby, John and Sam. Having ridden through Dean, Skerraton and Shipley Bridge, Neil, John and Keir overshot the right turn and had to be brought back from Lydia Bridge.

Toby knew the lanes well, so when we had enjoyed the country lanes through Owley he led us back through Glazebrook to the Copper Kettle cafe at South Brent where Julian and Keir scoffed two pieces of rich chocolate cake each!

Tuesday 6 September 1994Evening ride (Junior): Destination UnknownWeather unknown
3 present: Neil Ault, Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley
Report unavailable

Friday 9 September 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Haytor RocksWindy with showers
14 present: Neil Ault, Toby Bastin, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
The ride to Haytor through Ashburton, Halshanger and Birchanger was pleasant enough, but as we turned towards Cold East Cross a gale force headwind blew torrents of icy rain straight into our faces, giving us a really tough ride in the descending darkness. This stretch of road can be a nightmare if the weather is against you.

Everyone was relieved as we descended out of the wind towards Ashburton and home.

Sunday 11 September 1994Day ride: Hunters Tor FortDry start, rain late afternoon
9 present: Toby Bastin, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, John Stuart
Tao was happy this week: he had been readmitted to South Dartmoor school in Ashburton two years after his family moved from Buckfastleigh to Newton Abbot. Eliot was also happy, as he had managed to stay at the school even though his family had just moved from Buckfastleigh to temporary accommodation in Dawlish, but his transport arrangements would not get easier until they had found a permanent home in Newton Abbot. He had assured us he would be riding out today from Dawlish, but there was no sign of him at the Bovey pick-up.

Neither was there any sign of Richard and Julian, which was surprising really when you consider that they were with us at Buckfastleigh. They rolled in when Michael had finished fixing his punctures: Richard had thought the pick-up was at Chudleigh Bridge!

The ride to this brand new destination began with the usual rail track to the Primrose Cafe at Lustleigh and continued with the long, steep ascent of Lustleigh Cleave. When we finally managed to get past a flock of sheep at the top we turned left for Peck Farm and set out along our selected bridleway onto the moor. A couple of local youngsters on bikes were following the same path and would probably have plucked up courage to ask about the club if we hadn’t stopped for lunch just short of the fort.

The fort turned out to be little more than a circular ridge (like most Devon forts) but the scenery was excellent and the track was good fun, though a little tiring. The last section was steep, rocky and overgrown, but the lads still wanted more so we continued across the steep-sided Bovey valley to Becky Falls.

When everyone had taken a much-needed rest at the cafe we set off through Manaton (Toby thought it was Manhattan) to Bowerman’s Nose, Cold East Cross and Buckfastleigh, where the day was concluded in traditional style with several games of Dynablasters at Crofters.

Tuesday 13 September 1994Evening ride (Junior): CancelledTorrential rain
2 present: Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley
Rain stopped play!

Friday 16 September 1994Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): BroadhempstonFine but distinctly cold
11 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Jeremy Ford, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Don Malpass, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Philip Stone
This evening’s ride took us through Pridhamsleigh, Parkfield, Broadhempston, Staverton and Colston.

Keir got a puncture as we approached Buckfastleigh. This wouldn’t normally be too big a problem, but Keir didn’t have the single most important tool that every cyclist should carry - a pump! Because he was at the back it was some time before help arrived, so maybe he’ll bring one on his next ride.

Sunday 18 September 1994Day ride: Mothecombe BeachDry with sunny periods
19 present: Neil Ault, Toby Bastin, Daniel Broadbent, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Alex Lessware, Sebastian Lessware, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Keir Manning, Edward Millard, Paul Oakley, Charles Staniland, Harry Staniland, Philip Stone, Tom Widger
The ride from Avonwick to Mothecombe was notable for just two incidents. Descending the long hill to Ermington a bunch of the leading riders, having been asked to wait half-way down, chose a spot that was just around a blind corner near Ugborough. Daniel was the first to discover them, and was fortunate to avoid a collision. Then, approaching the final climb to Mothecombe, Tao broke a spoke, leaving his wheel badly buckled. How would he get home?

We parked the bikes at the head of the footpath and walked to the beach, which was very peaceful today. When everyone had enjoyed lunch and finished jumping around in the water we returned to the bikes and descended the road to the main beach. The plan was to wade across the river Erme, something that is only possible when the tide is out. The sensible members took off their shoes and socks before wading across the sandy river bed - those who were too small to wade were carried across. One way or another we all got across within about fifteen minutes.

We knew the tide was out so we took the tidal road to Aveton Gifford. By this time Tao had found that he could still ride his buckled wheel. We stopped at Loddiswell’s Avon Mill cafe for refreshments and then concluded an excellent ride by returning home via Wrangaton and South Brent.

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