South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 13 July 2003Tour: South West Norway Day 10 Flåm to Bergen Montana YH (34 mi)Hot and sunny
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Re-mastered video from today's ride
Report to follow, based on the following notes made at the time.

Very early start to catch the 8.35 train back up to Myrdal. Famous tourist train, very clever engineering, spectacular views - stopped near the top to view a waterfall. Paid another bike fee to pass through the tunnel to Upsette, then took to the bikes for a very long descent, track first, then tarmac. Stopped to look at a very rickety rope bridge.

Superb weather and getting hotter as we pressed on. Eventually arrived at Voss. Bought lunch and ate it near the youth hostel. Looked at the park by the lake, where paragliders were landing after long flights from the nearby mountain - very happy and lazy atmosphere, could have stayed there for the rest of the day.

Train to Bergen for mid-afternoon. Looked around the very busy harbour area, bought some expensive refreshments, looked at the fish market, and the expensive boats, then decided to take the cable car to Mount Ulrika. Hot climb, but it turned out it was right next to the youth hostel! Magnificent views from the top, could see all of Bergen and much of Norway beyond, with islands and sea and mountains fading into the distance.

Youth hostel comfortable, although had to pay for tokens to use the kitchen, and had to borrow crockery and cutlery from the warden as usual fare had been removed by the public health authority!

Monday 14 July 2003Tour: South West Norway Day 11 Bergen to Jektavik motel (38 mi)Very hot
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Re-mastered video from today's ride
Report to follow, based on the following notes made at the time.

Early-ish start with the best breakfast of the tour at Bergen hostel. Spent much of the morning looking around the many interesting shops, doing our food shopping and buying fish at the fish market. Then back past the park lake where we ate lunch.

After some difficulty we picked up the North Sea cycle route again (marked with a different sign now) and made our way out of the busy Bergen region. Tao had a spectacular blowout on a piece of metal hiding in the mud, but we repaired it effectively. There was a climb along the way, but mainly it was fairly flat.

Bought more strawberries at Halhjem, then took the 6pm crossing to Sandvikvag. A quick telephone call on Oliver's dwindling mobile battery finalised our accommodation for the night at a motel near Jektavik, where we were given a luxury cabin all to ourselves for a knock-down price in view of the cancellation of our intended farm.

The landlady insisted we accompany her on a crabbing trip at midnight, so three of us obliged (Oliver carried out more repairs on Tao's tyre). The crabs creep up from the deep at dusk, only to be raked in by our host and dropped in a bucket - for boiling later! She didn't rest until she had a crab for each of us, although many (including myself) didn't want to eat one at all. Midges out in force, but she kindly provided midge repellent.

Tuesday 15 July 2003Tour: South West Norway Day 12 Jektavik to Buavåg cabin (47 mi)Very hot
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Re-mastered video from today's ride
Report to follow, based on the following notes made at the time.

Morning started with Gavin and Michael visiting the reception to find the poor crabs boiled and awaiting collection. Oliver, Tao and Michael didn't want any at all, so Gavin (a fisherman at heart) represented all of us by taking a couple of crabs. He was instructed how to break them apart and suck the white flesh out of the claws, but he only managed to make his way through half of the crab before he had to submit. It really was a gruesome sight.

Set off early and traversed the remainder of the island at a good speed. Through Leirvik, where a good bike shop provided Tao with a new tyre, just to make sure he made it home. Good cafe provided the usual custard cake and some ice creams and drinks. Then made our way out again, and soon found the two bridges that took us to Bomlo island (avoiding the undersea tunnel). This proved to be very desolate and devoid of all shade from the now sweltering heat. We paused briefly in a garage to buy drinks, but otherwise we saw virtually nothing until we reached the ferry port, where Tao hastily bought some milk and just rolled onto the ferry as it was about to leave. We really do like cutting it fine.

Final ferry crossing brought us to Buavag where we had to ride about a mile and look for "something red or blue" by the road! We found a blue bucket, and our host then turned up in her car and showed us a very comfortable basement flat with very thick walls - lovely and cool. The night was disturbed by cat and kitten coming in the window to eat the bread and nose through the waste bag!

Wednesday 16 July 2003Tour: South West Norway Day 13 Buavåg to Home (26 mi)Sweltering
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Re-mastered video from today's ride
Report to follow, based on the following notes made at the time.

Bright and sunny outside, but cooler inside owing to the very thick walls. Very comfortable breakfast, then we set off at a good pace for Haugesund. Scenery still very desolate with little sign of habitation until we approached Haugesund. This was the worst heat ever - chocolate all melted very early, heat coming off the tarmac, water very hot in bottles.

The plan was to do some shopping in Haugesund, but our first plan on arrival was to find a cool place to sit and have a drink. The Kiwi supermarket was very cool, but the cafe next door less so. We tried browsing some shops and managed to buy a souvenir or too, but the heat was so oppressive that we were all feeling drained of all energy. The icy water of a fountain provided welcome relief before we headed back to the supermarket and cafe.

There was nothing for it but to get to the airport and hope we could cool off there. Another fast sprint left us exhausted on arrival, the heat even worse than before. But then we finally escaped the sun, using the washroom to have a good wash down and packing our bikes into the bags that we had left at the airport the previous week.

[Ryanair flight FR2255. Depart Haugesund 1755 local time, arrive Stansted 1850 (journey time 1:55)]

Plane left early as everyone was on board. We had never been so pleased to see cloud as we were on arrival back at England, although the thunderstorms caused us to have to circle for 10 minutes before landing. Norwegian family chatted with us on the journey.

With our usual fine timing we just caught the Stansted Express, then after assembling our bikes again at Liverpool Street we just caught the last train to Exeter with 6 minutes to spare. It had been a long and tiring day by the time we arrived home at 1.30am - effectively 2.30am Norwegian time - so we all slept very well.

Friday 18 July 2003
1900-2145
Evening ride: Skerraton Down (9 mi)Warm and sunny
3 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
The weather was good for our first ride after Norway, so Oliver's wish to see Skerraton Down became our command.

Sunday 20 July 2003
1015-1330
Morning ride: Widecombe (20 mi)Sunny with showers
2 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley
The only showers of the day took place while we were either enjoying drinks at Luke's house or enjoying drinks in the Widecombe cafe. We maintained a good speed and arrived home just in time for Oliver's Sunday lunch.

Friday 25 July 2003Evening ride: Totnes (15 mi)Sunny periods
6 present: Tao Burgess, Stan Ford, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
This evening's ride was punctuated with a number of unscheduled stops, mainly related to Stan's recently-recovered Raleigh touring bike, although Philip's drawing-pin puncture accounted for the delay at Dartington. We enjoyed the track to Totnes at breakneck speed and returned home via Rattery, giving Stan plenty to think about on the climbs.

Sunday 27 July 2003
1015-1330
Morning ride: Haytor Vale (18 mi)Sunny with showers
2 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley
Our climb to Haytor Vale was interrupted for twenty minutes while Michael and Oliver dammed up a stream behind Ashburton. Actually, Michael just needed to eat some food, and the stream offered a good excuse to sit and chat! Exploring Haytor Vale proved educational, as none of us really knew it existed. There was time for ice creams and drinks by the rock, then a speedy return via Ashburton brought us home in time for lunch.

Friday 1 August 2003
1900-2115
Evening ride: Landscove (14 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
A meandering ride took us up Green Lane and then down the cross-field track to Landscove. We continued to Broadhempston and then completed and enjoyable evening with a return through Staverton, stopping only to aid an ailing pigeon near Riverford.

Sunday 3 August 2003
1015-1415
Morning ride: Bradley (23 mi)Hot and sunny
4 present: Tao Burgess, Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley
Our planned ride to Bradley Woods ran into some difficulties when we experimented with the lane signposted to Down Farms on the far side of Ashburton. It proved very scenic and interesting, with narrow twisty lanes meandering through old fashioned farms, picturesque woodland and ancient bridges. It brought us out to a place that Tao knew well, and when he said he knew the best way to Bradley from there, we took him at his word. Unfortunately the route he has in mind included a very long, very muddy, very overgrown track. Navigation took so long and involved so many stings and scratches that we had to abandon the idea of the Bradley Woods track altogether.

Fermoys restaurant - also part of the plan - was just too tempting to abandon even though we were running quite late. Numerous freshly-squeezed orange juices provided us with the sustenance for our brisk return home via Staverton. Will coped well with his longest ride yet.

Friday 8 August 2003
1900-2115
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (9 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Louis Burgess, Tao Burgess, Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
This was an off-road ride that kept us near shade or water from start to finish. We took the riverside track through Hembury Woods, but the proposed swim didn't actually take place. Instead, Michael fixed a puncture and then we rode up to Gallant Le Bower cross through River Dart Country Park and up the woodland track that we had always previously descended. At the top of Hembury we were able to reunite a dog with its owner before making the final descent along the Slalom track, bringing us back to our starting point as darkness fell.

Sunday 10 August 2003
1015-1330
Morning ride: Diptford (15 mi)Hottest day ever
6 present: Louis Burgess, Tao Burgess, Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Today was the hottest day on record, so we didn't want to push too far into the afternoon. First stop was the river Avon near South Brent, where the cool shade of the woods provided a perfect spot for a dip and splash in the warm but refreshing waters. Wet shirts kept us cool as we continued through Avonwick to Diptford, but the temperatures were now beginning to climb even higher and there were no more watering holes! We decided to return home via Rattery and then spend the afternoon in the coolest place we could think of - the air-conditioned cinema at Warner Village, Plymouth!

Friday 15 August 2003
1900-2045
Evening ride: Landscove (10 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
Tao was working from 11pm tonight so we did a brisk but short ride that kept us in trim and took us through Ashburton, Landscove and Caddaford.

Sunday 17 August 2003
1015-1315
Morning ride: Dr Blackall's Drive (15 mi)Warm and sunny
3 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
Today the weather was, for a change, comfortably warm. From New Bridge we took the steep climb to Poundsgate and on to the summit, where the absence of the usual ice cream van was a disappointment. The track that is often called Dr Blackall's Drive provided spectacular views of the steeply wooded Dart Valley and plenty of fun on the descent. Today we stayed off-road all the way to New Bridge, fortunately (from Michael's perspective anyway) missing the steep and dangerous bit that some of our more experienced mountain bikers have reported in the past. Ice creams and Hembury Woods concluded another excellent ride.

Friday 22 August 2003
1900-2100
Evening ride: Skerraton Down (10 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
A hot air balloon race across Dartmoor kept us entertained on the climb from Dean Prior to Skerraton Down - at least 7 balloons crossed our path, the sounds of hot burners pushing easily through the still evening air. Views from the high moor were excellent as always. There was enough time to try a couple of new tracks before we took the usual descent to Cross Furzes and home.

Sunday 24 August 2003Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Ride cancelled

Friday 29 August 2003
1900-2100
Evening ride: Torbryan (13 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
The steep lane past Caddaford Farm marked the beginning of one of our more adventurous evening rides of recent weeks. Continuing through Staverton at a good pace we were soon near Ipplepen and turning off for the hamlet of Torbryan. The footpath that Michael had in mind took a scenic route along the lower boundary of a field and then past a luxurious country house. He had recollections of unfriendly landowners in the big house, however, so we made sure to push our bikes along the final stages. As it happened, only the ducks seemed concerned at our presence as they viewed us cautiously from their secure island on the lake.

Our return route took us through Broadhempston and home via Green Lane.

Sunday 31 August 2003
1015-1300
Morning ride: Harberton (14 mi)Warm and sunny
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley
As Philip had managed to get the day off work to come on a Sunday ride with us, we took a route along Colston Road to the Totnes cycle path that has been Philip's favourite ride for many years. The cafe near Somerfield provided an enjoyable refreshment stop, boasting outdoor seating and excellent food. A brisk climb through the town brought us quickly to the lanes near Harberton, which in turn led us to the discovery of a brand new track descent.

Finding ourselves back in the Follaton area of Totnes (we didn't have a map) we followed the main road to Tigley and then negotiated the steep climb to Rattery, Pennywell Farm and home.

Friday 5 September 2003
1900-2040
Evening ride: River Dart Country Park (9 mi)Warm
6 present: Jake Chilcott, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Jamie Mason, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson
Several riders didn't have lights so we decided to do a short but brisk ride that would get us home by dusk. The lower Hembury track brought us quickly to Galant Le Bower cross and the interesting track through the fields to River Dart Country Park. There was a slight delay on the final section while Michael waited in the woods for the rest of the group: unbeknown to him the particular track they had taken had been diverted since he had last ridden it, so they were actually waiting inside the park itself!

Sunday 7 September 2003
1015-1300
Morning ride: Staverton (13 mi)Threatening rain
4 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson
With the forecast rain apparently threatening from all directions at the start of the ride we planned a loop route that would never take us too far from Buckfastleigh. The ride was interesting nevertheless, taking us up Green Lane, left to Baddaford, down and up a cornfield track that we rarely use and then on to the Mother Hubbard tearooms at Landscove for refreshments in the garden.

By now the sky was showing signs of clearing, so we opted for the Staverton extension that took us down a couple of tracks and eventually brought us home along Colston Road.

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