South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 14 May 2004
Evening ride: Avon Dam (12 mi)Sunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley
Oliver always likes to visit the moor when he returns to Devon, and today the weather was perfect for an excursion to the Avon Dam. Not a breath of wind stirred the surface of the water, and the utter stillness was only interrupted by the occasional spell of birdsong.

Sunday 16 May 2004
Day ride: Hennock Reservoirs (39 mi)Warm & mainly sunny
9 present: Tao Burgess, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Myhill, Gavin Pearson, Anna Presland (5, Bovey Tracey), George Presland (8, Bovey Tracey), Kevin Presland
Ashley, Oliver and Tao
Gavin, Tao, Oliver, Ashley and Matthew at Tottiford reservoir
Kevin, Anna and George by Tottiford reservoir
Gavin, Ashley, Oliver and Tao
Oliver Lindley
Ashley Myhill
Gavin Pearson
Matthew Hamlyn-White
Tao Burgess
Video footage from today's ride
A short ride in the hot morning sunshine brought our larger than usual group to Glendennings quarry, where Kevin and his two children met us on a very well laden tandem. When George had learned the name of the May Bug that he discovered hiding from the light we allowed Kevin to lead us on an interesting route to his home town of Bovey Tracey. There was a slight delay while those who had neglected to pack their lunch hastily purchased it from the Spar, then we were off again on another of Kevin's detours. The route through Reeve's Combe and Five Lanes was certainly new and interesting for most of us, but we remained sceptical of the benefits when we realised just how long the excursion had taken.

The tandem managed well on its first stretch of off-road along the side of the beautiful Tottiford reservoir. After rounding the corner of the bank we soon came across a wide stretch of grass overlooking the water that made a perfect lunch stop. The youngsters played while the older ones just talked - well, it really was too hot to do much running around.

Returning via the path on the far side of the reservoir, Kevin and family decided to head for home while the rest of us continued past Blackingstone Rock to Moretonhampstead. Many cold drinks were consumed under the now baking sun in preparation for the final leg of the journey through North Bovey and Hound Tor.

Wednesday 19 May 2004
Evening ride (Junior): Staverton (10 mi)Hot & sunny
5 present: Michael Jones, Harry Laity (9, Buckfastleigh), Gavin Pearson, Jodie Rogers (10, Buckfastleigh), Rachel Short (11, Buckfastleigh)
This was the first of five special junior rides, designed principally for youngsters taking part in the cycle training scheme at Buckfastleigh. The three youngsters set off along Colston road with eager anticipation, taking care to do all the right turns by the book. Staverton Island offered the usual stone-skimming across the Dart, and then the journey home commenced. Harry's previous cycling experience proved very useful as he sailed up all the hills, but Jodie was not far behind even though she had never really ridden her bike much. Everyone did well though, and they all thoroughly enjoyed their first taste of cycling adventure.

Friday 21 May 2004
Evening ride: Avon Dam (12 mi)Mainly sunny
4 present: Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
Everyone except Michael missed last week's visit to the Avon Dam, so a repeat was arranged this evening by popular demand. This region of Dartmoor is different every time we visit depending on the weather, the season, and how we feel ourselves, but its timeless beauty is always present. This evening there were many fish jumping out of the smooth waters into the golden glow of the setting sun, and everywhere around was utterly still. And when the diminishing light finally forced us to move on there was the exciting high speed downhill track across the moor to Cross Furzes that always leaves us wanting to go around again.

Saturday 22 May 2004
Weekend ride: Salcombe Day 1 (22 mi)Hot & sunny
8 present: Louis Burgess, Tao Burgess, Will Burgess, Michael Jones, James Manning, Ashley Myhill, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
Will, Louis and Joe by the river Avon
Entering the overgrown track near Loddiswell that leads to the river and the old railway line
Will Burgess
Louis Burgess
Louis Burgess
Joe Venables
Tao and Gavin on the railway path to Loddiswell
The sky was cloudless for our second youth hostel weekend of the year and the temperature was a very comfortable twenty degrees. Louis and Will were all kitted out with panniers for their first weekend awheel and everyone was full of eager anticipation as rode through South Brent and Wrangaton to California Cross.

The garage provided a useful and affordable refreshment stop, then we took a small detour off the main road along the narrow path that descends to the river Avon. Bluebells abounded in the woodland beside the river, and the silence was only broken by the youngsters playing with tree-stumps. The old railway track brought us back to tarmac roads at Loddiswell from where we made good speed to Malborough garage and our main shop stop before the hostel. Here we bought bread, milk, yoghurts and a frozen banoffee pie!

We didn't arrive at Salcombe hostel until after 7pm, but the evening was so warm that nobody minded at all. When the youngsters had finished running all over the hostel to explore its many rooms and corridors we prepared our meals in the newly refurbished kitchen and then prepared for our evening walk along the coast path.

James remarked that he had never seen such a magnificent view as we got from the path overlooking Salcombe estuary, from the wide open sea to the right, past Prawle Point with its lighthouse and right along the estuary to the flickering lights of Salcombe itself. There were sadly no glow-worms to be seen this year, probably because we were a few weeks too early, but there was plenty of opportunity for us to contemplate the universe as we sat on the wooden seat tucked under the cliff looking out over the remote and beautiful Starehole Bay.

Sunday 23 May 2004
Weekend ride: Salcombe Day 2 (30 mi)Hot & sunny
8 present: Louis Burgess, Tao Burgess, Will Burgess, Michael Jones, James Manning, Ashley Myhill, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
Will Burgess
Joe, Louis, Will, Ashley and James at the entrance to Salcombe YH
Ashley Myhill
Louis Burgess
Enjoying the Overbecks semi-tropical gardens around the hostel
View to Salcombe estuary from the hostel
Gavin, Ashley, Louis, James, Will, Tao and Joe outside Salcombe youth hostel
Salcombe youth hostel
Gavin, Will and Louis at the hostel entrance
Finding out more about Overbecks
Louis and Joe with the ducks in the hotel pond
Joe and James on South Sands beach
The second group arrive on the ferry from Salcombe
Louis entertains at East Portlemouth
Will, Louis and Joe at the East Portlemouth café
Café stop at East Portlemouth
Rest point on the journey home
Viewpoint on the hill down to Slapton Ley
Video footage from today's ride
Sunday morning dawned all too soon for Will who seemed very content to stay in bed for a good deal longer. We ate breakfast on one of the huge mahogany tables in the dining room, then enjoyed a free tour of the National Trust tropical gardens before setting off down the hill to the first beach. Nobody was in any hurry this morning, so the youngsters had time to play with the Frisbee or just wade out through the waves. Will's first throw sent the high-flying aerobie into the hotel park, and during the retrieval process Louis discovered the duck pond with real live ducklings. He keeps ducks of his own, so he should have known that it was a big mistake to try to pick one up: the mother flew straight at him in full attack mode!

The second beach looked fun as well, but as it was now past 11am we pressed on to Salcombe ferry terminal and waited patiently while the little ferryboat cleared the queue in front of us. It took two trips to take us all across to East Portlemouth. The outdoor cafe just above the jetty (see picture) provided a delightful setting for refreshments, with stunning views across the estuary and some delicious organic coffees!

Some twisty lanes, a ford and a steep climb brought us quickly to Chivelstone from where the route to Torcross was relatively easy. Louis did report a strange sound coming from a hedgerow, however, that he described as "cheep-cheep-hiss"; his conclusion was that it was a bird being eaten by a snake!

After a short pause to admire the superb views across Slapton Ley we descended the final hill into Torcross, purchased lunch from the village store and settled down on the quiet beach to enjoy it. The youngsters managed to upset the owner of the adjacent beach who insisted that it was his own private property and they had no right to play on it. Michael pointed out that there were no signs to that effect for people approaching from Slapton, but he didn't seem interested in discussing the matter.

It was 2.30 and the most direct route home seemed like a sensible idea. We rode through Slapton village, climbed the big hill and then proceeded home along quiet country lanes via Moreleigh, Diptford and Rattery. Strangely enough, everyone seemed to get faster as we got closer to home, so we got back at a very acceptable time. Congratulations to everyone for helping to make this an excellent weekend.

Wednesday 26 May 2004
Evening ride (Junior): River Dart Country Park (9 mi)Warm and sunny
11 present: Jordan Barker (9, Buckfastleigh), Julian Duquemin, Kane Edwards, Dennis Ham (9, Buckfastleigh), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Abi Iles (10, Buckfastleigh), John Iles, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Jodie Rogers, Rachel Short
We were pleased to welcome John Iles back to club rides after an absence of many years. This evening he was accompanying his daughter Abi, one of several new youngsters to join the second of our junior rides for 2004. We were ten at the start, but just beyond Buckfast Abbey we bumped into Julian Duquemin, so he tagged along as well!

The off-road fun started with the lower Hembury track - slightly uphill but everyone made good speed. After the climb to the high road at Gallant Le Bower we took the track descent to River Dart Country Park, the final steeper stage of which proved very popular with the boys who were all for going round again. The ride finished with the riverside track from the Park back through Hembury: several plucked up courage to explore the small cave part-way along.

Friday 28 May 2004
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Mainly warm & sunny
5 present: Kane Edwards, Jack Greep (11, Buckfastleigh), Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley, Joe Venables
New rider Jack turned out to be much faster than we'd expected, so our choice of easy route along Colston Road to Staverton may not have been strictly necessary. A steam train made itself known to us while we were running between the islands, presumably a bank holiday special. A little Frisbee throwing in Staverton Park was followed by the direct route home via Abham, punctuated only by a couple of minor slip-ups on the Shuttaford descent. Rain came in as we approached Buckfastleigh, putting a light dampener on what had been another excellent ride.

Sunday 30 May 2004
Day ride: Orley Common (20 mi)Sunny with occasional showers
3 present: Kane Edwards, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Everyone present agreed to downgrade the ride to a Stage 2 ride so that Kane could join in. We managed just 3 miles to our first stop, the Hill House tearooms at Landscove where Joe's mother welcomed us with surprise and generosity. One of the predicted "beefy" showers kept us in the greenhouses for ten minutes, then we covered another 2 miles to the next stop, Broadhempston play park. It took Joe and Kane at least 15 minutes to try out all the equipment on offer, so the final sprint to Fermoys had to be at a slightly faster pace.

Orange juice and cakes had to suffice as they'd finished serving lunches when we arrived. We found time to explore the Bird of Prey centre that we'd never noticed before, then headed off through Ipplepen to explore the interesting tracks around Orley Common. It really would be quite easy to get lost in this network of interconnecting paths!

The final leg of the journey took us through Staverton and Abham. I think Kane was glad to get home, but very pleased that he just achieved the twenty miles he had planned.

Wednesday 2 June 2004
Evening ride (Junior): Skerraton Down (8 mi)Warm and sunny
8 present: Jordan Barker, Steph Crutchley-Iles, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Abi Iles, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Jodie Rogers, Rachel Short
Our now regular group of youngsters pushed hard up the long climb from Dean, so it wasn't long before we were riding the rough track that leads on to the open moor of Skerraton Down. It was another perfect evening, and most of these youngsters had never ridden anywhere quite as magnificent as this stretch of moorland. Sheep watched us as we rode the final climb to the ridge. From here we could see for miles around in all directions.

The downhill track to Cross Furzes was another new experience for our youngsters, thrilling in the setting sunshine. Jodie finished on a bad note when she tried to ride across the stone footbridge and ended up falling in the water, but there was no real harm done. Returning to the road once again Abi ran into trouble when we hit a stretch of newly-laid chippings half way down Wallaford Road. Mum was there to patch things up however and everyone was in high spirits by the time we returned to the start.

Friday 4 June 2004
Evening ride: Chalk Ford (11 mi)Mainly warm & sunny
6 present: Julian Duquemin, Kane Edwards, Jack Greep, Michael Jones, Phillip Oakley, Joe Venables
Kane felt a bit under the weather as we rode the long climb of Wallaford Road and he wisely decided to head for home while the rest continued to Cross Furzes and the track to Lud Gate. Jack felt the climb had all been worthwhile when we started the moorland descent to Chalk Ford, with views stretching right out to the coast. A profusion of midges ensured that we didn't hang around too long, and after a short climb we were on the long stony downhill to Scoriton. With plenty of time to spare we finished the ride with a ride through Holne and Hembury Woods.

Sunday 6 June 2004
Day ride: Harford Moor (25 mi)Sunny and hot
3 present: Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
With three fast riders the pace was bound to be brisk. We were in South Brent in what seemed liked minutes, buying refreshments and lunches to keep us going over the moor. Another sprint along the back lanes brought us to Ivybridge and the long climb past the paper mill towards Harford. The lanes here are delightful at this time of year, but our target was the shady tree beside Harford church itself. On arrival we were dismayed to see that two elderly ladies had settled in our spot with a picnic rug laid out on the grass. We needn't have worried, however, as they invited us to join them and entertained us with tales of many a moorland ramble. Joe seemed more interested in the horse in the stable block opposite - it kept stepping back, charging at its door and then snorting with frustration!

The next stage of the ride involved traversing a section of featureless moorland to join the Redlake tramway. The baking heat made the journey feel more like a desert trek, but finally we hit the tramway and lay down for a well-earned rest and drink. Michael had planned to continue across the tramway and down the hill to South Brent, but Joe and Gavin were keen to take the extended off road route inland along the tramway, a ride they both missed a few weeks ago. And so it was that we rode four miles along the rough track, picked our way through huge expanses of cotton grass to Petre's Cross, plunged down the hillside to the river Avon, picked our way gingerly across the stepping stones and rode along the Abbots Way.

We paused awhile to admire the spectacular view of the Avon Dam, sharing Michael's Lemon Meringue Pie to add to the pleasure of the moment. The need for large drinks spurred us on along our favourite track, past many moorland cattle and down the superb descent to Cross Furzes and home. Milk shakes never tasted as good as they did today!

Wednesday 9 June 2004
Evening ride (Junior): Staverton (11 mi)Warm and dry
8 present: Jordan Barker, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Abi Iles, John Iles, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Jodie Rogers, Rachel Short
Everyone had a good laugh at Michael's expense when John had to ring him to remind him about the ride! His excuse was that he had been very busy all day! He joined up with the group at the top of Green Lane and from there we proceeded down the nearby rough lane past Riverford Organic and on to Staverton. The girls were going very slowly this week whenever they saw gravel on the road!

The riverside track brought us quickly to the village, then after a couple more hills we were in Landscove and trying to decide which route to take home. In the end we split the group, John leading two of the girls directly to Green Lane and Michael and Matthew leading the rest on the longer route past Thornecroft to the bridleway descent to Lower Combe. The youngsters enjoyed the bumpy descent through field and woodland, but the final climb was not quite so amusing!

Everyone showed a huge improvement this week, and we look forward to seeing some of the faster youngsters transferring to Friday rides very soon.

Friday 11 June 2004
Evening ride: Beaston (12 mi)Warm & sunny
7 present: Jack Greep, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Phillip Oakley, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
Our progress was interrupted somewhat when Gavin got a puncture half-way down the rough track from Parkfield, near Ashburton. We spent some time watching the cows go home in a nearby field, but when his first attempt at repair proved a failure we decided to ride a circular route that would bring us back along nearby Beaston track to give him time to repair it properly.

With Jack still doing amazingly well we were able to take the more interesting route home via Gullaford and the track through Lower Combe, repeating the conclusion of Wednesday's ride for the benefit of those who hadn't been there!

Sunday 13 June 2004
Day ride: Broadsands (32 mi)Sunny and very hot
3 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Joe Venables
As we rode from Buckfastleigh to Totnes we had to conclude that it really was going to be even hotter than last week. None of us cope well with excessive heat so after completing the riverside track we called in to the Safeways cafe and then stocked up with provisions for lunch.

Joe had requested Goodrington Sands for today's destination. The road from Longcombe to Galmpton passes the Parliament Stone, marking the parliament held there by William of Orange in 1688, but we were more interested in finding shade on the long climb. From Galmpton we climbed to Churston and then enjoyed the long descent to Broadsands. A shady seat offered excellent lunchtime views of all the activity on the beach and in the sea.

Rather than climb the road again to get to Goodrington we thought we'd try the coast path that we saw marked on the map. There were some steep flights of steps to negotiate but we discovered a whole world of quiet beaches and unspoilt scenery that seemed a world away from the busy tourist beaches of Torbay. Finally arriving at Goodrington we enjoyed drinks and ice creams on one of the few free patches of beach and then set about enjoying the water. Joe, who enjoys scuba diving whenever he can, kept Oliver and Michael entertained with his seal-like antics.

Next stop was Paignton beach, and here we were greeted by the largest collection of new council machinery you could ever imagine. This was the annual exhibition of industrial vacuums, waste trucks, car crushers, skip transporters and other weird machines that we couldn't begin to understand. When we had each chosen the machine that we'd most like to buy we set off for the long, hot climb to Marldon.

We were running a little short of water by the time we reached the top, so Michael had the idea of calling in to see David Robinson. We were rewarded with ice cold drinks and an interesting chat before we completed the final leg of our journey home via Red Post.

Wednesday 16 June 2004
Evening ride (Junior): Ashburton (10 mi)Hot & sunny
5 present: Julian Duquemin, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Jodie Rogers, Rachel Short
Harry and Abi were away for the last of our series of five junior rides. We rode through Ashburton and Rew Cross past the long thin mill and then followed the track back through the woodland along the banks of the river Ashburn. Next track was the Terrace Walk along the ridge of hills that separates the two parts of Ashburton, offering panoramic views of the whole area in the evening sunshine. It was tempting to settle down on one of the public seats and doze for an hour! The ride concluded with the hills past Pridhamsleigh and the steep rocky track descent from Five Lanes to Dart Bridge, bringing us home almost on time for once!

Friday 18 June 2004
Evening ride: Holne (10 mi)Dry
6 present: Jordan Barker, Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Myhill, Joe Venables
Jordan decided to try his first Friday ride this evening after successfully completing the series of junior Wednesday rides, and he certainly did well considering his age. Our first off-road of the evening was Burchetts Wood near Hawson Court, dry and very rideable this evening. The three whose names begin with J couldn't resist riding through the ford at the end of the woods, all of them ending up with distinctly wet feet.

Scoriton and Michelcombe brought us eventually to Holne play park, and once everyone had thrown the Aerobie at least 10 times we continued homewards through Hembury Woods' Slalom track.

Sunday 20 June 2004
Morning ride: Skerraton Down (9 mi)Occasional showers
3 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Myhill
Some heavy showers at the start of the ride coupled with the fact that Oliver needed to be home for lunch to celebrate Father's Day left us with a shortened but enjoyable ride past Nurston Farm to the open moor at Skerraton Down. We filled out the ride with some Aerobie contests, tracing the route of the river Mardle and its tributaries and exploring the secluded Dean Woods valley (on foot) near Cross Furzes.

Wednesday 23 June 2004
Evening ride (Junior): Buckfast (4 mi)Gales & showers
2 present: Jordan Barker, Michael Jones
Gale force winds reduced numbers to just two for this evening's junior ride. There was still a good deal of rain around so we enjoyed a short ride through Buckfast and an exploration of the woodland tracks near Bilberryhill.

Friday 25 June 2004
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Sunny
6 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Ashley Myhill, Phillip Oakley, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
We were pleased to welcome Keir back to our evening rides - a little fitter than last year, but not much bigger! Totnes cycle path remained a possibility as we rode along Colston Road, but when we got to Huxham's Cross Keir seemed to feel that Staverton would be preferable. There was the usual stone-skimming from the island, then we did our annual excursion along the second section of the track, taking care to walk the final stage to avoid upsetting the locals. One of the owners still managed to come out as we rode past his house, just to make sure that we hadn't actually cycled the path!

As we were planning our return route Michael noticed that Keir no longer had a helmet - he had left it back on the island! We proceeded on a loop that brought us back to the island across the steam railway line, collected the missing helmet and rode homewards via Abham. Our exploration of Staverton's riverside tracks had indeed been thorough this evening!

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