South Dartmoor CTC

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Monday 12 August 1996Tour: Scotland Day 9 Achmelvich to Carbisdale Castle YH (48 mi)Cloudy
14 present: Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Alasdair Green (10, St Albans), Kieron Green, Nick Green, John Hayes, Matthew John, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Craig McCracken, Jamie Stephens (14, Wolverhampton), Eliot Thomas-Wright, Luke Whiting, Fergus Worthy (15, Droitwich)
Alasdair prepares breakfast in the hostel kitchen
Achmelvich YH
Oliver in the Spook Room (our dormitory) at Carbisdale Castle YH
Jamie and Alasdair at the Altnacealgach Inn, halfway between Achmelvich and Carbisdale
New video footage taken on today's ride - clips are short because the charger was broken at Raasay
It seems that no report or notes for this tour were written at the time, so we are inviting everyone who took part in the tour to make a contribution to the notes below that we are compiling from memory. Please watch the video and maybe look at your own photos from the tour and then send us notes about anything interesting you remember about this day. Tell us also if you see any errors in the notes. We will add all contributions to the notes as they come in, and will then write a full report in due course. If you are one of the many people on the tour who took a camera, please also send us any good photos you have – you will see that the only photos we have at the moment are low-resolution captures from the camcorder. Contact Michael via the Facebook group Friends of South Dartmoor CTC. (January 2015)

As we set off from the hostel early and were climbing the first hill, Michael had a major problem with his bike. I believe the derailleur dropout had been buckled inwards by Alisdair's impact on Raasay, and now it was breaking away so that the derailleur was not working at all. While Julian waited patiently at the top of the hill with the rest of the group Tao and Michael turned the bike upside down to ascertain what options were open to us in this remote location. To our surprise a man came out of his home just opposite to ask if we needed any help. It turned out his garage was equipped as a full engineering workshop with every possibly tool at his disposal. Tao sent Julian on with the others while the kind engineer straightened and welded the dropout so that the derailleur would work. The frame would need a proper repair from Mercian after our return, but the temporary repair made it possible for Michael to continue the tour so we were very grateful for the help.

Today we were travelling from the east coast to the west coast, but the weather was not too promising as we left. The route was mainly on main roads so was not too arduous. As we travelled we could see the mountains of the west gradually transform into the rolling hills of the east. Michael and Tao caught the rest of the group within 10 miles or so of Achmelvich.

We used the Altnacealgach Inn, on the banks of Loch Borralan, for a welcome rest and refreshments - the only establishment in the area - but then the final leg to the hostel was mainly downhill and very enjoyable.

Carbisdale Castle youth hostel is the most spectacular of all Scottish hostels. It boasts a tower, a library, a gallery of marble statues, ghosts and secret passages. We had a lot of fun at the hostel tonight, exploring all the rooms and secret passages and making a general nuisance of ourselves. There were two enormous Members' Kitchens on the ground floor so we could spread ourselves out and enjoy cooking our meals.

To make our stay even more enjoyable the wardens had booked us into the Spook Room, the room which used to be the children's nursery and the place where the ghost of the nanny is reported to appear on a regular basis. Along one side of the room was a raised area with a wooden railing, like an internal balcony, where the ghostly nanny has apparently been seen on numerous occasions rocking in her rocking chair. Our members were understandably anxious about sleeping anywhere near the balcony - they didn't even want to sleep with their backs to it!

Tao has a story to tell about this. Earlier he had been taking the mick out of some small children who were walking around the hostel hallways with coats or blankets over their heads: they had heard the story of a ghost that reputedly haunts the hallways, and believed that if the ghost touched them on the shoulder they would die the next day!

In our dorm there were only just enough beds for everyone, so somebody had to sleep in the bunk next to the haunted balcony. Tao decided he wasn't scared of ghosts that he felt sure didn't exist, so when nobody else would take the bunk next to the balcony, Tao happily volunteered. His views changed during the course of the evening however. The room had an outside balcony that could only be accessed by climbing through the window, so when everyone else was in other parts of the hostel Tao, being Tao, did just that along with Eliot and another member. While they were out there they heard a noise in the room. They looked back into the dorm and something move quite quickly - almost flying - across the room. They put their heads through the window to find out who was there, but the room was empty and the door was not only closed but had clearly not been opened any time recently. They were all convinced they had just seen the ghost and were worrying about it for the rest of the evning.

This was all quite awkward for Tao who had landed himself with the bunk next to the haunted balcony. Unsurprisingly nobody wanted to swap. He ended up spending the night huddled up in a ball towards the top of the bed, as far away from the ghost as possible. His anxiety meant that it was a long time before he got to sleep.

When bedtime came Michael may have told everyone his favourite ghost story about the hostel, although perhaps that would not have been appreciated given the circumstances.

It was just after lights out that Craig started to complain about stomach pains. We hoped it would go away, but it just got worse and he was sure it was appendicitis. This was absolutely the last thing Michael needed near the end of a tiring tour: the hostel was in the middle of nowhere and he had no idea how hard it would be to get medical help.

Michael took Craig to the warden who kindly took both of them the few miles down to the doctor's surgery at Culrain. The doctor came out specially to meet us there, but even after examination he could not rule out the possibility of appendicitis. He would have to be checked out at Inverness hospital, 42 miles away! He arranged for the ambulance that serves the area to come and collect both Michael and Craig and take them on the long and bumpy journey to the hospital.

On arrival Craig was inspected but no conclusion could be reached at that time of night. After a considerable wait Michael was told that Craig would be staying overnight and Michael was free to go! Well he had got there by ambulance and that particular mode of transport was no longer available to him. He found a public phone in the hospital and rang a taxi service - he wanted £40 to take him back to Carbisdale Castle at that time of night. Well Michael had to get back to the group by morning and wanted as much sleep as he could get, so he agreed to the deal.

The taxi driver was fast and furious, but as we neared Culrain the quiet lanes became alive with .. Rabbits. They were everywhere, and the taxi driver just kept driving fast even though he was running over several of the poor creatures. With every bump Michael couldn't help feeling that he was personally responsible for all those deaths!

Arriving back at the hostel at around 4am Michael now had a new problem to contend with: how to get back in. The main entrance was locked, the wardens had gone to sleep in a different part of the castle and nobody was answering the doorbell or Michael's knock, although there was no guarantee the doorbell was actually connected to anything. Midges started to swarm around Michael, biting him mercilessly, so in desperation he went around to the other side of the castle, tried to ascertain which was our dorm (on one of the upper floors) and tried a few techniques to attract attention. But nothing worked, our whole group remained steadfastly asleep and poor Michael had no choice but to settle down on the midge-infested porch in the hope that someone would see him and open the door. It was the most ridiculous situation he had ever found himself in. He had to pace around all the time to keep the midges off.

It was around 7am when someone finally opened the door and let him in. He went to his dorm and slipped into his bed for a final hour of sleep - everyone else was still fast asleep! What a night.

[You can see a full video of this route, including both hostels, in the report for 15 August 1993.]

Tuesday 13 August 1996Tour: Scotland Day 10 Carbisdale to Home (45 mi)
14 present: Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Alasdair Green (10, St Albans), Kieron Green, Nick Green, John Hayes, Matthew John, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Craig McCracken, Jamie Stephens (14, Wolverhampton), Eliot Thomas-Wright, Luke Whiting, Fergus Worthy (15, Droitwich)
Seals in the Cromarty Firth
New video footage taken on today's ride - clips are short because the charger was broken at Raasay
It seems that no report or notes for this tour were written at the time, so we are inviting everyone who took part in the tour to make a contribution to the notes below that we are compiling from memory. Please watch the video and maybe look at your own photos from the tour and then send us notes about anything interesting you remember about this day. Tell us also if you see any errors in the notes. We will add all contributions to the notes as they come in, and will then write a full report in due course. If you are one of the many people on the tour who took a camera, please also send us any good photos you have – you will see that the only photos we have at the moment are low-resolution captures from the camcorder. Contact Michael via the Facebook group Friends of South Dartmoor CTC. (January 2015)

Today we had to ride 45 miles over the hills to the Cromarty Firth and then over the Black Isle to Inverness. After a very nice cooked hostel breakfast in the enormous dining room we set off as early as we could for what would be quite a long ride. I believe we arranged for the warden to take Craig's bike to Inverness station for us - maybe he was going that way anyway. Sadly Michael only managed to get one video shot during the whole day, of some seals that we saw basking in the Cromarty Firth.

The impressive Kessock Bridge into Inverness led us to some very busy roads. Craig had been released - he had salmonella poisoning, almost certainly from one of the meals he cooked himself, but he was feeling better today. WE got to the station and probably had some time to buy food from the many shops in Inverness before boarding the sleeper train that would take us all the way to London. The train left Inverness at 20.30 and arrived at London Euston at 07.47.

We amused ourselves in the café car and in our cramped bunk rooms until bedtime, but then we were so tired we had a tolerable night's sleep.

[You can see a full video of this route up to Inverness, including Carbisdale Castle youth hostel, in the report for 16 August 1993.]

Wednesday 14 August 1996Evening ride (Junior): Unknown Destination
4 present: Michael Jones, Daniel Smith, Graham Smith, Holly Smith
Report unavailable.

Friday 16 August 1996Evening ride: Holne
13 present: Julian Duquemin, Ron Fox, Tom Fox, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Gavin Pearson, Daniel Smith, Philip Stone, Mike Way (Junior, Devon)
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Buckfast Abbey, Hembury lower track. Mike, Paul, Keir and Philip took short route, rest through Holne and Gallant Le Bower, return through Hembury Woods.]

Sunday 18 August 1996Day ride: Thurlestone Sands
5 present: Richard Burge, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Mike Way
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[MJ used car to keep Michael moving. Avonwick to Kitterford, California Cross to Harraton, Ringmore shop for milk & ice-creams. Challaborough beach swarming with tourists. Had lunch on coast path then played Frisbee in water. Returned via Aveton Gifford. Loddiswell tea room at Avon Mill nursery. South Brent and home.]

Tuesday 20 August 1996
1800-2055
Evening ride (Junior): Staverton Island
9 present: Neil Ault, Michael Jones, Daniel Smith, Graham Smith, Holly Smith, Dale Turrell, Wendy Turrell, Adam Watkin, Mike Way
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Colston Road. Staverton Bridge. Met Neil. Riverside path. Played on island. Home via track to Abham and Caddaford. Home by 8.55 - nearly dark.]

Friday 23 August 1996
1900-2145
Evening ride: Staverton
8 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Gavin Pearson, Daniel Smith, Adam Watkin, Mike Way
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Pridhamsleigh tracks towards Landscove. Keir, Oliver and Paul chose own route without telling Michael. Rest on towards Staverton. Adam puncture, no tools, used 27" tube. Home by 9.45.

Sunday 25 August 1996
1000-1630
Day ride: GrimspoundMainly sunny and fine
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Llewellyn Holmes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Paul Oakley, Daniel Smith, Philip Stone, Adam Watkin, Mike Way
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[One shower, otherwise sunny and fine. Mike did whole ride after getting a head start. Haytor, Jay's Grave, Hamel Down stream for lunch. Tao punctured Neil's bike. Widecombe, Shallowford (scene of Paul's accident last year) and home via New Bridge by 4.30.]

Friday 30 August 1996Evening ride: Lambsdown
14 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, David Burt, Julian Duquemin, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Austin Loder, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Daniel Smith, Philip Stone, Adam Watkin, Mike Way
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Lambsdown. Mike and David took shorter route home via Skerraton.]

Sunday 1 September 1996Afternoon ride: Stert BartonSunny
16 present: Andrew Bourne (Junior, Devon), Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, David Burt, Jay Ham (15, Totnes), John Hayes, Aren Houghton (14, Totnes), Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Philip Stone, Adam Watkin, Wesley Watkins (14, Totnes), Mike Way, Luke Whiting
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Beautiful sunny afternoon. Harbourneford. Road past Diptford. Stert Barton lane. Sandwell Manor. Tigley. Home via Rattery sawmill. Mike and four others came back separately.]

Tuesday 3 September 1996Evening ride (Junior): Holne
13 present: Aaron Austin, Michael Jones, Austin Loder, David Loder, Sue Loder, Craig McCracken, Gavin Pearson, Daniel Smith, Graham Smith, Holly Smith, Dale Turrell, Wendy Turrell, Adam Watkin
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Burchetts Wood, proved to be quite muddy but not too bad. Holne. Track descent to River Dart Country Park. Dale collided with Daniel - a few grazes. Arren fell off near Peartree and cut his hand. A few didn't have lights.]

Friday 6 September 1996
1900-2100
Evening ride: Venford Reservoir
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Jay Ham, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Paul Oakley, Harry Staniland, Philip Stone, Wesley Watkins, Chris Weeks
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Hembury Woods, Holne, delay while Tao and friends talked with Joe Bellows. Track from Venford to Michelcombe in semi-darkness. Home via Hawson Court by 9.00.]

Sunday 8 September 1996
1000-1728
Day ride: Exeter Ship Canal
10 present: Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Jay Ham, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Andrew Simmons, Harry Staniland, Wesley Watkins, Chris Weeks
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Llewellyn couldn't come because of chest injury. Lunch by Exe estuary looking across to Topsham. Played in mud and with Frisbee. Only a few fisher-folk on the canal path today. Tao puncture so rest got drinks from the Double Lock Hotel. Home via Shillingford St George and Chudleigh, stopping at the Wheel café. Home by 5.28.]

Friday 13 September 1996Evening ride: Broadhempston
13 present: Richard Burge, Daniel Eaton (12, Totnes), Jeremy Ford, Jay Ham, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Jigme Malholland, Keir Manning, Gavin Pearson, Philip Stone, Wesley Watkins
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Colston Road, Staverton, Broadhempston. Back through lanes to Green Lane. Oliver's bright light made Michael fall off. Ashley and Michael punctures. Saw UFOs, kids afraid of ghosts.]

Saturday 14 September 1996Weekend ride: Salcombe YH Day 1Perfect weather
6 present: Richard Burge, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, David Robinson, Wesley Watkins
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Weather: perfect. Usual route: Totnes, Harbertonford, Moreleigh, Woodleigh. Decided to have a tea stop at Avon Mill, Loddiswell - Budgie, David and Oliver supped lots of tea. Hostel by 6.45. We had the large dormitory with view over the estuary. Dave prepared an interesting vegetable fry-up with assistance from Michael. Lots of smugglers lights on night-time cliff walk, which took nearly two hours because of various stops for chats and observations.]

Sunday 15 September 1996
0800-1640
Weekend ride: Salcombe YH Day 2
6 present: Richard Burge, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, David Robinson, Wesley Watkins
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Dave woke up at 7.05 and had his early morning shower, then he enjoyed smoked mackerel for hostel breakfast. Salcombe was delightful with lots of boat activity. Dave was slow but we managed Torcross for lunch at 12.40. Watched paragliders near Strete - only one had really mastered the thermals. Forces Cross café by 2.45 - Dave and Budgie insisted on more tea. Noted that Floyds Inn at Tuckenhay, which went bankrupt, has returned to its original name of The Malsters Arms. Home by 4.40.]

Tuesday 17 September 1996Evening ride (Junior): Spitchwick
5 present: David Lee Flay (Junior, Totnes), Michael Jones, Craig McCracken, Daniel Smith, Wendy Turrell
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Scorriton, Holne, Spitchwick. Helicopter came to have a look at us, then went off. Home via Hembury. Excellent ride. Lee did very well.]

Friday 20 September 1996Evening ride: Cross FurzesDrizzle
8 present: Llewellyn Holmes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Craig McCracken, Philip Stone, Wesley Watkins, Chris Weeks, Luke Whiting
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Drizzly, so short ride to Cross Furzes via Buckfast.]

Sunday 22 September 1996
1000-1650
Day ride: Clampitt (41 mi)
7 present: Richard Burge, Llewellyn Holmes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Loder, Jigme Malholland, Luke Whiting
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Collected Luke from Peartree, Budgie from Caton and Llewellyn from Heathfield. Canon Teign Falls café where Luke and Llewellyn felt robbed at the price of their cakes. Lovely view over the lake. Lanes to Christow BMX track where spent 20 minutes. Woodlands at Clampitt for lunch. Stick battle with rotten lightweight sticks. Luke and Jigme went wrong way. Track to reservoir, tranquil scene with two fishing boats. Blackingstone, Wrey Valley, new steep link lane to Bowerman's Nose. Hound tor (ice cream van). Cold East Cross and home by 4.50.]

Friday 27 September 1996
1900-2100
Evening ride: Old Forge Tearooms, Holne
11 present: Richard Burge, Tom Fox, Jay Ham, John Hayes, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Loder, Austin Loder, Adam Watkin, Wesley Watkins, Chris Weeks
Report to be written from the following notes made at the time - please write a full report if you remember the details.

[Last evening ride of the season. Buckfast, Hawson Court, Combe, Scoriton, Michelcombe, Holne. Old Forge Tearooms. Return via Hembury Woods - most did track in the dark. Full moon. Home by 9pm.]

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