South Dartmoor CTC


Sunday 25 June 1995
Day ride: Plym Valley Cycleway (52 mi)Hot & sunny with cool breeze
13 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Carrie Burgess, Allen Davies, Garry Davies, Pearl Davies, Phillip Davies, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Roy Loder, Paul Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
The five from Buckfastleigh arrived early at the Avonwick pick-up. We then met up with Martin and Carrie at the Woodpecker and followed the fast A38 to Plympton. We had arranged to meet the Davies family at the start of the cycleway, but in fact they were waiting for us in the Plym Bridge car park a little way along the path. We followed the cycle path for several miles until we reached the disused platform near Leighbeer tunnel before stopping for a well-earned lunch.

Fortunately a few members had brought lights so we were able to navigate the dark tunnel without crashing into each other or hitting the walls. When we emerged on the other side we were surprised to see that the usual barrier marking the end of the path had been removed and the path now continued all the way to Clearbrook! This offered us a much easier route to Meavy, so when we arrived at Burrator reservoir we had time to stop for ice-creams.

It was here that we met Miles and Lynn Webster from Bath with their 8-year-old son Max. They decided to join us on the newly-opened railway path to Princetown, winding its way around the many humps of the moor with a very gentle gradient. The path had been opened on a trial basis: it is longer than the road, but we all thoroughly enjoyed riding it, including Max who was able to ride all the way.

By the time we reached Princetown we were definitely in need of refreshments: the Bath group returned to their car and we bought food and drink from the local shop. The best value drink available was a five-litre container of chilled spring water, so Michael bought it and sold it to those who wanted it by the bottle.

It was getting late now so we returned at high speed through Two Bridges to Hexworthy. It was after we had reached the top of the hill that Ashley realised he had left his glasses at Huccaby Bridge, so we had to wait while he returned to fetch them.

We returned home past Venford reservoir, which was looking low today after the recent spell of dry weather, and Scorriton.

[This report never previously published - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

Friday 30 June 1995
Evening ride: SpitchwickVery hot
7 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Craig McCracken, Phillip Oakley
We rode to Ashburton and then set about the long climb of Ausewell Hill. Today however we were plagued by annoying flies all the way up - and by Neil's complaints about them!

We rode to Buckland-in-the-Moor and then took the steep wooded descent to Spitchwick. Here the draw of the water on such a hot day was too much for Tao and Neil to resist, although Tao took a long time to pluck up enough courage to jump off the lower bank into the cool waters below. Meanwhile we met the Richardson family who chatted with us (Ben has been coming on our junior rides).

When everyone was dry and cool we returned home via Hembury.

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Sunday 2 July 1995
Afternoon ride: Puper's HillOvercast
6 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley
The weather looked rather threatening and not really ideal for a moorland ride, so we decided to do something a little shorter. We rode to Buckfast and then everyone except Paul took the track through Burchetts Wood, which was actually not too muddy today. Keir and Tao filled their water bottles from the Holy Brook at the end, and then Keir, being Keir, couldn’t resist a water fight and succeeded in getting Michael and two bikes very wet.

Keir, Paul and Tao went home the long way via Coombe and Cross Furzes while the rest returned via Oaklands Park.

[This report never previously published - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

Tuesday 4 July 1995
Evening ride (Junior): ParkfieldDry
13 present: Luke Comerford, James Hudson, Ben Ireland, Michael Jones, Austin Loder, Sue Loder, Mischa Matthews (Junior, Buckfastleigh), Craig McCracken, Gavin Pearson, Ben Richardson, Daniel Smith, Graham Smith, Philip Taylor
Our evening started with a ride to Pridhamsleigh, although we lost Luke on the way who decided he needed to go home. We introduced the youngsters to the delights of the Pridhamsleigh track, but it was a bit overgrown in places and both Craig and Philip managed to fall into the stinging nettles - they seemed to have the idea they could suck the poison out but gave up when the pain showed no signs of abating.

We crossed the lane at Bulland and tried the left hand track for the first time. This led us across some fields and then up towards Parkfield by the side of a hedge that was littered with fox burrows. Graham got a puncture along the way and needed some help as he didn't have a pump.

Since everyone seemed to be enjoying the off-road riding we tried a third track, the one from Parkfield to Gullaford. Our resident bird-spotter Ben pointed out a kestrel flying overhead, just before Philip fell off his bike.

We returned home via Green Lane after an interesting and eventful ride.

[This report never previously published - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

Friday 7 July 1995Evening ride: Cold East CrossFine and warm
12 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Craig McCracken, Paul Oakley, Philip Stone
This adventurous evening ride took us out to Ashburton along the old road and then through the back lanes and up the hill to Halshanger Cross. We then turned left for the climb to Cold East Cross, stopping for some water fun at the bridge on Rushlade Common.

We checked the map and caught sight of a new track shortcut to Buckland, so we had to try it. Once we were through the gate the track was easy and quite short, linking into a lane we had never used before. It wasn't long before we had ridden through Buckland and were watching Neil jumping into the river at Spitchwick again!

New Bridge was unusually busy with some kind of festival so we didn't waste any time climbing the hill to Hembury, although Richard Goss somehow got a lift up the hill. We took the usual track down through the woods, but Keir was evidently riding a little too boisterously as he got a puncture at the bottom and needed to get a lift home.

Congratulations to Craig who did especially well this evening.

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Sunday 9 July 1995
Day ride: Lannacombe BeachSunny and hot
7 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Michael was suffering from a bad cough so needed to lead today's ride in his car. Philip thought this was a great chance to take part in a longer ride, so he hopped in too.

Our route from the Totnes pick-up took us through Harbertonford, Moreleigh and Stokenham. We somehow missed the turning for Lannacombe Beach and had to double back, but in the end we reached it and spent an enjoyable hour and a quarter playing there and eating lunch. Eliot, Neil and Tao all managed to get wet.

We rode back to Torcross for drinks and chips from the take-away. During the subsequent beach fun Philip got his shirt filled with pebbles.

We returned home via Strete, buying some milk at a store and leaving Tao to finish off the surplus. Corkscrew Hill at Tuckenhay provided the usual steep track fun, and after riding through Totnes we got home just after 6pm - an energetic ride for some!

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Friday 14 July 1995
Evening ride: LandscoveDry start, showers later
11 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Jeremy Ford, Stan Ford, Richard Goss, Andrew Guy, Llewellyn Holmes, Michael Jones, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Craig McCracken
With Michael leading in the support car again we rode along Colston Road and were surprised to find Ben Widger at Hood Manor.

The ride continued over Staverton Bridge and along the riverside path, then veered up to Landscove where we spent some time in the play park. After circling around to Higher Penn Farm we took the woodland track down to the pheasant farm at Lower Combe, but this caused a few problems because Blob (Jeremy) got a puncture and Stan fell off.

We returned to Crofters for 9.10pm.

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Saturday 15 July 1995
Weekend ride: Beer YH Day 1 (42 mi)Sunny, occasional showers
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Garry Davies, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Richard Goss had hoped to attend this weekend at the last minute, but unfortunately it was not possible to arrange for him to join us at such short notice. Michael was in the support car again as we collected Budgie from the Budgie Box at Caton and Eliot and Tao at the Gappah pick-up. After a climb over Haldon Hill and the fabulous descent to Starcross we met up with the last member of our group, John, brining number to 10.

The ferry crossing was fun on the small ferry boat. Ashley's bike would not fit on, so Michael took it in the car and drove around Exeter, meeting everyone on Exmouth beach. The youngsters seemed more interested in buying things from the beach kiosk than sitting on the beach to eat their lunch.

We followed the lanes through Budleigh Salterton and then took the road/track to Otterton. Unfortunately the road was marked as closed to motor vehicles, so Michael had to take the long route again.

There was a bit of a climb to the top of the hill overlooking Sidmouth but the effort was rewarded with some fabulous views of the town and coast. Ashley, however, rode straight past the viewpoint without stopping, so evidently the view wasn't of interest to him. After a great descent everyone settled into the busy Mocha café on the seafront, with several ordering the famous, tasty but extremely expensive Knickerbocker Glories. Michael did have a problem finding a parking space though, and ended up having to walk a fair way to the café.

Fun was had at the ford in Sidmouth, then the steep climb to the observatory was not quite so much fun. Philip decided there was not much point having a support car if it didn't offer support when you needed it, so he transferred to the car for the climb. The ride to the hostel then proceeded with the descent to the pretty village of Branscombe, the climb at the other end and the descent to Beer.

When we arrived there was a problem with the booking: someone at the hostel had moved us to Sunday night! Fortunately there were enough spare beds at the hostel anyway so we set about having showers. John paid for the hostel meal but the rest of us were self-catering.

For evening activities we walked from the hostel down through the avenue of trees to the village and beach, playing with the Frisbees and tennis ball along the way. Eliot very cleverly managed to lose two Frisbees that landed in a roadside stream and disappeared into a very long drain that continued under the road. The other youngsters, playing tag around the trees, were all highly amused.

After walking some of the coast path towards Seaton we had more problems on Beer beach when Keir managed to lose the tennis ball, our last plaything. Eliot did buy Michael a new Frisbee, although it was not as good as the Aerobies that had been lost.

We would have rounded off the evening with a ghost story, but as some were unable to calm down we abandoned the idea and just settled for a good night's sleep.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

[MJ in car. 9.30 departure from BFL. Richard Goss hoped to go, but could not be arranged at such short notice. Budgy at Budgy box, Eliot and Tao at Gappah, good descent to Starcross, where John was waiting. Now full complement of 10. Ferry crossing fun, MJ took Ashley’s bike and drove around Exeter, lunch on Exmouth beach although kids went up to shop so MJ ate alone. On through lanes to Budleigh Salterton, on through Otterton, lane closed so MJ around again, climb to Sidmouth, Ashley went straight past the viewpoint, obviously didn’t interest him! Cafe stop in the Mocha cafe, MJ problem parking, several ordered the extremely expensive KBGs, fun at the ford, then long climb past the observatory, Phillip now in the car! Descent to Branscombe, then steep climb again and final descent to Beer. Problem with booking, had moved us to Sunday, but enough space anyway so OK. Showers, John had the evening meal provided, rest self-catering, frisbee throwing, walk to coast, Eliot lost 2 frisbees in drain, played IT around the trees, lost tennis ball on the beach (Keir), Eliot bought MJ new frisbee, good night for MJ at least, although some in a silly mood so no ghost story.]

Sunday 16 July 1995
Weekend ride: Beer YH Day 2 (48 mi)Sunny, occasional showers
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Garry Davies, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Some members of our group needed encouragement to complete their hostel chores this morning, but when we finally got away we climbed the hill to the main road and rode at high speed to Sidmouth where we bought lunch. We continued on to Newton Poppleford and then forked left for Woodbury Common. Today Tao led the cyclists up the track short-cut from Hawkerland: he didn't come out where Michael was waiting but still found his way to the car.

We had lunch in the car park before Tao led the cyclists along another track to the fort: once again he didn't come out where Michael was waiting. We had great fun riding around the fort, although Paul managed to damage his wheel while doing a jump which put his bike out of action. Philip was ready for the support car again however, so Paul rode Philip's bike for the rest of the day.

The ride down to Topsham was easy, as was the canal path to Alphington. The long climb over Haldon however through Shillingford St George began to take its toll from some who needed some helpful lifts in the car. It was all change at the top when Keir's freewheel broke, so Keir moved into the support car with Philip and everyone else had to cycle again.

We called in at the mill café at Chudleigh for very welcome refreshments before heading home through Bickington, concluding what had generally been a good weekend.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

[Sunday, not too early a start as MJ had to chase up the job completion, climb to main road, sped along to Sidmouth where bought lunch, then on through Newton Pop, left and along lanes to Woodbury Common via a track, Tao missed MJ at the top but still reached the car OK. Lunch in car park, anotther track to the fort, again missed MJ, Phil in car again, Paul did a jump and damaged his wheel, so he rode Philips bike, descent through to Topsham, canal route to Alphington, back over Haldon, some needed a lift in the car! Keir freewheel problems, so he had a lift instead from the top. Chudleigh cafe, then back thorugh Bickington. Not a bad weekend.]

Tuesday 18 July 1995
Evening ride (Junior): Chalk FordMisty, some light drizzle
12 present: James Hudson, Michael Jones, Jake Lane, Austin Loder, Craig McCracken, Gavin Pearson, Ben Richardson, Daniel Smith, Graham Smith, Philip Taylor, Dale Turrell, Wendy Turrell
Climbing Wallaford Road all the way to Cross Furzes was ambitious for these youngsters, but by tackling it in several short stages everyone reached the top in a very reasonable time.

It was misty here on the high ground as we rode past Hayford Hall and along the stony track to Lud Gate. Michael was leading by car again while his cough recovered, so he had to park in the lane and walk with group onto the open moor. The mist was now so thick that it was hard to see more than a few metres ahead. Everyone enjoyed the downhill track to Chalk Ford, except perhaps Craig who came off near the top. We crossed the boggy section with only a little difficulty and finally arrived at the ford.

Michael saw everyone over the footbridge and onto the path before walking back up the hill to the car and meeting them at Scorriton - surprisingly we all arrived at about the same time. Craig had suffered a blow-out on the stony descent, so Michael took him home in the car.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for the junior rides, but as many were away over the summer we agreed the next ride would be in five weeks.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

[MJ in car. Climb Wallaford road in short hops, all did exceptionally well. Misty at the top of the hill, rode past Hayford, along stony track, through Lud Gate, MJ parked car in lane and walked. Hard to see now. Descent of hill, Craig came off near the top, crossed the boggy bit, over bridge, MJ walk back to car, all arrived at Scorriton at the same time, Craig had a blow-out, MJ carried back in the car. Home 8.45. Next ride 5 weeks.]

Friday 21 July 1995
Evening ride: Avon DamSunny, perfect evening
15 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Allen Davies, Garry Davies, Pearl Davies, Phillip Davies, Julian Duquemin, Jeremy Ford, Andrew Guy, Dayle Guy, Llewellyn Holmes, Michael Jones, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Paul Oakley
The Avon Dam is one of our most popular destinations, especially on warm summer evenings like today. We rode up through Dean Prior and Shipley Bridge, then returned along the Abbots Way to Cross Furzes and home - another perfect evening ride.

[This report never previously published - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

Sunday 23 July 1995
Day ride: Ten Tors EventPerfect weather
6 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Phillip Oakley, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Haytor was the first tor of the day after the climb from the Bickington pick-up. Budgie wanted to climb to the top like everyone else, but sadly his SPD cycling shoes just wouldn't give him any grip, so no certificate for him!

Top Tor and Pill Tor were next - the younger riders climbed up every little rock they could see to try to earn extra points. Bone Hill made a very pleasant lunch stop and fourth tor, then we set about the walk to Bell Tor, Chinkwell Tor and Honeybag Tor. It was on this walk that Eliot got Philip very wet indeed. We also saw a number of par gliders surfing the air currents and a number of feathers strewn around.

After the descent to Widecombe we were highly amused to find a group of folk dancers on the Green, entertaining the tourists. We stopped at the post office shop for refreshments and then climbed Southcombe Hill to visit our eighth tor, Wind Tor.

What happened next was one of the most unfortunate incidents in the history of our club. Paul was racing ahead of the group around the bend at the top of the Shallowford hill. As he rounded the corner he came across a slow-moving car heading towards him. The car stopped but sadly Paul could not: he clipped the corner of the car and sustained a nasty injury to his shin.

Michael rode down to Shallowford to call the emergency services and within minutes the air ambulance arrived to take Paul to Derriford hospital at Plymouth. We were all a little shocked by events and didn't much feel like completing the last two tors. As we rode home I think everyone realised that the safe riding instructions given out by Michael and the Safety Team in recent weeks were actually critically important for everyone's safety on the rides.

(Paul was unable to take part in club rides for several weeks but he made a full recovery thanks to the efforts of the emergency staff. Apparently he had always wanted to fly in a helicopter, but lying flat on his back in the underbelly of the helicopter meant he didn't really get to enjoy it at all.)

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Wednesday 26 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 1 Home to Newcastle Ferry (10 mi)Sunny but breezy
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
Today was the start of our epic tour of Norway, a country we last visited in 1989. Travel arrangements were complicated, and made more so on the morning when Julian and Michael were told at Newton Abbot that their booked 9.29 train had been delayed by a lightning strike at Totnes. They were advised to take the earlier 9.15 train instead, so when Tao and Eliot turned up to see them off, the platform was deserted.

By making a hasty telephone call at a station on the way up they managed to alert Nick and family to be at Reading station earlier than the 1152 planned time, so then there were three travelling on the London Underground with bikes.

Kieron and Graham were waiting for us at King’s Cross, and since we were not allowed on the earlier train we reverted to the originally planned 1330 train to Newcastle which turned out to be very crowded. We arrived on time and after finding our way through the extremely busy streets we eventually got onto the road to the Tyne Tunnel and reached the ferry terminal at North Shields by around 6.00.

As we waited in line at the quayside in the evening sunshine we were able to see just how enormous the ColorLine ferry was. The 20.5 Gigaton MS Color Viking is the only ferry crossing between the UK and Norway and brings a lot of welcome trade both to Newcastle and Bergen. Strangely enough our passports were not checked, and soon we were loaded onto Deck 4. We watched from the upper decks as the ferry left port at 7pm and headed out to the North Sea on its 24-hour crossing. This was indeed the beginning of another great adventure.

The boat had around 13 decks and more than three restaurants as well as numerous shops. There was even a swimming pool on the lowest deck for those who could afford it. We ate our packed food on one of the upper decks, explored the ship inside and out while the sun set on the distant horizon and then settled down to get what sleep we could in the reclining chairs (we had not booked cabins to save on costs). This proved rather uncomfortable however so we moved to the carpeted floor nearby where we could stretch out. It was good to be near the outside deck in case anyone felt ill – or in case the ship sank!

[Pictures to follow]

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please tell us if you see any errors or omissions]

[Lightening strike at Totnes, caught early train that arrived at 0915 instead of delayed 0929, missed Tao and Eliot who had come down to see us off. Got a message to Nick and family to be at Reading early. No problem collecting him. Underground OK, met Kieron and Graham at King’s Cross, not allowed on early train so took 1330 as planned. Very crowded train. OK into Newcastle, very busy but eventually got onto the road to Tyne Tunnel and arrived at ferry terminal about an hour before departure. Passports not checked, loaded onto Deck 4, clocks forward 1 hour, packed evening meal, slept on floor beside reclining chairs, could have got an inflatible bed.]

Thursday 27 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 2 Newcastle to Bergen (2 mi)
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
We all seemed to get enough sleep somehow despite not having beds. Our first problem was how to use our packed breakfast cereal to make breakfast and thereby avoid the rather high prices for breakfast in the restaurants. The answer was to buy a glass of milk from the restaurant and take it back to our seats –we had all brought bowls and spoons.

The day had dawned sunny and bright so the views over the North Sea were breath-taking. We were not due to reach Norway until evening however so we had all day to amuse ourselves on this rather large boat. It turned out that there was a cinema on board, so we enjoyed a couple of hours watching the film Richie Rich, then bought some Norwegian chocolate from the duty-free shop and finally carried out an extensive exploration of the whole ship. Somewhere along the way we ate the packed lunch we had brought with us.

We got our first views of the distant Norwegian coastline around mid-afternoon, and by 5pm we had docked at Stavanger to drop off a few passengers. The ship then wove its way northwards along the coast, passing between islands and under bridges, until we reached Haugesund, another drop-off point.

We were feeling a little hungry by now, so we selected the most affordable restaurant on board and bought some very tasty pizzas for £4.20 each. Now that we knew our way around the many decks fairly well Nick helped do a guided tour of the ship for the video – we had to leave out some of the footage, including the lowest decks, as it would simply have made the video too long.

We arrived at Bergen, Norway’s second city, by around 9pm. There was plenty to see during the long docking process, and then it took a while to unload all the cars and our bikes. Nick was a bit anxious that his passport hadn’t been signed, but it was all OK in the end and finally we were riding around the delightful and spacious city with its parks and fountains and many wooden buildings. It was still light at 10pm and there were people bustling everywhere, yet the atmosphere was very relaxed. We took our time looking around, picking out places we would visit tomorrow morning before moving on.

Kieron struggled a bit on the two-mile climb to the hostel, but when we arrived it was very modern and comfortable. The hostel overlooked the whole of Bergen so we got some amazing views from the grounds after dark. What was perhaps most amazing was how quiet this large city was. This felt like the beginning of a very special cycle tour.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please let us know if you see any errors or omissions.]

[Slept averagely OK, all day on boat, saw Richie Rich, explored the boat, bought duty-free choc, bought evening meal on ferry, bought glass of milk to make breakfast cereal on the boat, called at Stavanger, Haugesund and finally Bergen. Very light, took our time looking around, eventually rode up to the hostel, Kieron problem on the climb, very modern, spectacular views of Bergen lights.]

Friday 28 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 3 Bergen to Flåm (14 mi)Cloudy but dry
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
Norwegian-style breakfast was included in our overnight stay at Bergen hostel. There were cereals, huge bowls of yoghurt, herring, cheeses, cold meats, breads, jams – all very tasty and generally very healthy. The verdict from our group was a definite thumbs up.

We were using a train today to get us up into the mountains, so after descending to Bergen we quickly found the train station, picked a train and booked our bikes on it. We had plenty of time before the train was due to depart, so we left out bikes at the station and began our detailed exploration of the city, once Norway’s capital.

A shop selling fleeces and stuffed animals was the first to catch our attention, reflecting Norway’s strong hunting tradition. We saw some of Bergen’s famous cobbled streets and could see why Bergen is said to have the largest number of well-kept colourful wooden houses anywhere in Europe.

The fish market on the harbour side was definitely the most fascinating spectacle of the morning. Norway has a huge coastline and a very great love of fish, so the range of produce on offer was staggering. Live lobsters waddled around in tanks waiting to be bought and dropped in boiling water, and hundreds of crabs were laid out on display. At one point we came across slabs of flesh that looked remarkably like whale-meat, confirmed by a little picture of a whale nearby – that made us feel a little uncomfortable.

We returned to the main shopping square and browsed ordinary shops selling electrical items and outdoor clothing, then moved to a huge shopping centre with a Viking boat hanging from the roof. There was time for a very enjoyable café stop, where Julian enjoyed cream cake on the tables outside, before we headed back to the station and boarded the 1.30 electric train for Myrdal.

The railway line we were taking is known as the Bergen Line, a single-track line built in the 19th century to cross the Hardangervidda plateau at a height of 1237m above sea level. It remains the highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe and offered us spectacular views during our two and a quarter hour climb.

From Myrdal station near the top we had considered the possibility of using another train to take us down the steep Flåm valley, one of the most scenic areas of Norway and very popular with tourists. But there was a track going down and in the end we decided to give it a try – after all, the weather was good and it was all downhill.

The first half was very rough and steep with hairpin bends – Julian was not too impressed as he was on his road bike, but the whole valley was very attractive with its fast flowing mountain rivers, snow-topped mountains, tunnels and high wooded sides. The rail track that was weaving around our track all the way down was an incredible feat of engineering. A simple wooden cross with the name Philipp written on it made us wonder whether it was for a dog or a child.

The second part of the journey had a tarmac surface so then everyone was happy. It led us to the tiny village of Flåm, situated in a picturesque location on the edge of the Aurlands fjord. Our hostel was in the camp site close to the fjord. It was grade 1, the simplest kind in Norway, but we had a wooden chalet all to ourselves with three two-bedded rooms each equipped with table and kitchen facilities. Once we had settled in and eaten our food we played Frisbee by the fjord, enjoying the absolute tranquillity of this beautiful place.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please let us know if you see any errors or omissions.]

[Descend to Bergen, found train station, identified train, booked bikes, left bikes at station and explored Bergen for a while, including fish market. Train to Myrdal, long climb up mountains, lot of people got off the Flam train when it arrived, chose to descend the track to Flam, very rough sections to start with, with hairpins, Julian not too impressed, but good when we hit the tarmac, attractive valley, incredible train engineering, gravestone to Phillip part way down. Hostel in camp site, own chalet, close to edge of beautiful fjord, split Julian/Nick + rest. Windows and door open in main room. Played frisbee by fjord in evening.]

Friday 28 July 1995
Evening ride: BroadhempstonDry , hot and humid
6 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Roy Loder, Phillip Oakley
Michael was away in Norway so Richard and Neil led the ride today. We rode along Colston Road then took the cycle track to Totnes - the tide was in so we couldn't do the whole track. Once in Totnes we took a short section along the main Newton road and then turned off for Littlehempston. We pressed onward through Landscove and Broadhempston and then used various back roads to arrive at Ashburton via Whistley Hill. We returned to Buckfastleigh via Pridhamsleigh.

Saturday 29 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 4 Flåm to Sogndal (48 mi)Hot and sunny start, cloudy later
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
After a makeshift breakfast put together from bits we had in our panniers from Bergen, milk we bought from the camping shops and bowls we had brought with us from England we set off along the edge of the Aurlandsfjord towards Aurland, stopping to look at some very expensive, very amazing cruise ships along the way. The many linked roads around Aurland explained our one wrong turn, but we were soon starting up the hairpin climbs of Bjorgavegan that would lead us over the mountains to the Sognefjord.

This incredible road reaches a height of 1306m at the summit, the second highest climb of the tour, but almost at the first hairpin Kieron was having breathing problems. He wasn’t used to long cycle rides and he was having some breathing difficulties on the climb. We pressed on, enjoying some of the most spectacular views of the tour: this was the definition of Norway’s scenic beauty, and these views alone almost made our whole trip worthwhile.

We gave Kieron all the support we could, but it was soon obvious that he would not make the top in time. Fortunately we managed to find a friendly driver who gave him a lift to the top while the rest of us cycled, pausing briefly to chat with a couple of cyclists from Oslo.

Despite the soaring temperatures and buzzing flies there was snow lying all around as we neared the top, a very unusual sight for us in the middle of summer. We couldn’t resist playing on it for a while – snow fun without the disadvantages of cold fingers.

Reunited with Kieron we rode along the top of the mountain and then enjoyed the longest most exhilarating descent most of us had ever experienced, dropping 1300m to the fjord in a distance of just a ten miles with a few rather hair-raising hairpin bends along the way.

It was now getting quite late and we still had to ride seven miles along the fjord to the ferry at Revsnes. On arrival we watched as an enormous double-decker ferry opened up for the lower deck in way we never expected. Fortunately for Michael, who was very thirsty, there was a café on board which allowed us to pass the time very pleasurably for the short journey to Kaupanger.

From the ferry terminal there was a short climb to the town of Kaupanger followed by an enjoyable long descent to Sogndal, location of our next youth hostel, and I think it’s fair to say we were all very pleased to arrive.

This was a grade 3 hostel, but we were in rooms that were away from the hostel again. This time it was an accomodation block used by school students during term time, so it was quite comfortable. There was a problem in the kitchen department however: we couldn’t find any pans or other kitchen utensils, then noticed a sign that said we had to bring our own! It would have been slightly awkward carrying cooking utensils on the bike even if we had been told in advance. Anyway, we made the best cold food we could without utensils and then settled down to watch television – they were showing the BBC comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo, which made us feel a little better.

[This report was written in 2014 from the following notes - please let us know if you see any errors or omissions.]

[Makeshift breakfast, then along fjord and started big climb after a wrong turn. Kieron immediately had problems. Coaxed him up to near the top of the hairpins, then had lunch and pressed on some more, eventually obvious that he wouldn’t make the climb in time, so got a lift for him to the top, snow at the top despite the hot weather, met two Oslo lads who had climbed the hill on their bikes, along the top, incredible descent to the fjord on the far side, some captured on tape, now getting quite late, several miles along the fjord to Revsnes, large double-decker ferry, cafe on board, MJ very thirsty, short climb from Kaupanger, long descent to Sogndal, cabins again, showing Allo Allo on tv, kithcen had no pans etc so cooking difficult, note on wall saying have to bring own, but this difficult on a bike!]

Sunday 30 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 5 Sogndal to Skjolden (33 mi)Sunny and warm
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
We slept quite well in our school dorms, but as we got ready to leave Julian was very unhappy with the colour of the tap water which was a shade of grey, no doubt straight from the mountain streams.

We looked around the town of Sogndal but unfortunately, being Sunday, everything was shut. At least we could browse the bikes on display in the cycle shop window.

Our route today was mainly flat. We rode around Barsnesfjorden and then came to our first tunnel, Aroy, only 403m long but still an event for us. After riding around Hafslo lake we climbed a little and then dropped down to picturesque Marifjora where we found a convenient seat overlooking the fjord for lunch. The weather today was perfect so we spent an enjoyable hour, with Graham describing a strange new clear Pepsi drink called Crystal Pepsi, Michael getting excited over Norwegian chocolate and everyone rocking around on a nearby floating jetty.

We still had a fair way to go, so we pressed on around our sub-fjord through Gaupne and then followed the main Lustrafjord right down the northern edge. Part-way along we saw a strange swirling vortex in the middle of the fjord: we never managed to explain what it was, although we suspected there was a hefty stream of water somehow flowing down under the fjord from the opposite mountain.

The hostel at Skjolden, which was grade 2, was situated right beside a huge river as it cascaded into the head of the fjord – the amazing sound of the water made this a very special hostel that most felt was the best of the tour. There were tables and chairs on the grass between our rooms and the river, so we spent most of the evening there taking drinks, eating meals and writing postcards.

There was some amusement when Graham, who had bought a microwavable Chilli Con Carne ready meal, decided to cook it in a saucepan of boiling water in the absence of a microwave oven. The result may have turned out better if he had avoided un-sealing the film cover before boiling it.

[This report was written by Michael from memory in 2014 as no notes were written at the time. If you took part in the ride and you remember additional details about today's ride, please sent them to Michael.]

Sunday 30 July 1995
Day ride: Culver CourtDry
4 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Ashley Loder
With only three at Buckfastleigh it was on to the pick-up at Chudleigh Bridge where Tao was waiting. After a short discussion we decided that the planned destination was too far away, and anyway nobody had ever been there. So the ride went instead over the moor. We rode up the Teign Valley, stopping at Christow BMX track on the way, then on past Dunsford and up the long hill to Moretonhampstead. There were plenty of classic motorbikes coming down the Teign Valley.

We had lunch along the road past Moreton before reaching the top of the main Moreton to Postbridge road. We turned right at Challacombe Cross, eventually joining the Widecombe to Ponsworthy road. We continued on to Ponsworthy, down through Leusdon then through Spitchwick, New Bridge, Holne and Scorriton to Buckfastleigh.

Monday 31 July 1995
Tour: Norway Day 6 Skjolden to Boverdalen (41 mi)Hot and sunny
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Kieron Green (11, St Albans), Nick Green, Michael Jones, Graham Taylor (16, Stanford-le-Hope)
Re-mastered video footage from today's ride
Breakfast by the river was delightful this morning, but we had a long climb ahead of us so we packed our bags early, stocked up with food at the local store and then started the huge climb over the Jotunheim Mountains that would take most of the day.

It was hot weather for a uphill cycling, but fortunately we were following an icy mountain river all the way up which offered plenty of opportunities to cool off in the waterfalls and pools. Julian soaked his shirt in a stream on several occasions, Nick enjoyed ducking his head under the glacier water and Graham just did some wading.

The road wasn't too steep, but as we neared the upper reaches there were multiple hairpin bends that kept the gradient easy - too steep and the road would be useless to cars in winter.

When we reached the 1000m sign there was plenty of snow to be seen on the nearby mountain tops and some fabulous views from the viewpoints. This was the Hurrungane mountain range, having some of the most alpine peaks in Norway, with 23 over 2000m. Galdhöpiggen is Scandinavia’s highest mountain at 2469m. An information board by the road pointed out the names of the nearby peaks. As we climbed past 1100m we could see our first glaciers in the high mountains.

After a lunch stop in the shade of a wooden hut we pressed on past 1200m and now found deep snow lying by the side of the road, offering plenty of fun in the hot sunshine. In the final stretches to the peak at 1434m the sights were just totally amazing - incredible glaciers not far from the road, massive lakes with icebergs and mountain peaks touching the clouds. We took a fair few photographs of this strange and wonderful landscape.

The last part of the day was certainly the easiest, with a long 18-mile downhill ride all the way to the hostel. The hairpins near the top were a bit treacherous in places but it really was the best downhill ride of the whole tour. Snowy peaks turned to forests and fast flowing glacial rivers.

When we finally reached the grade 2 hostel it was nothing special, a rather dull building by the side of the road, but it was comfortable enough inside.

[This report was written by Michael from memory in 2014 as no notes were written at the time. If you took part in the ride and you remember additional details about today's ride, please sent them to Michael.]

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