South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 17 December 2004
Social: Crofters Social
6 present: Chris Comber, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
At our pre-Christmas social we finalised our plans for the Christmas activities programme.

Sunday 19 December 2004
Morning ride: Festive Cheer Ride, Staverton (11 mi)Cold with sunny intervals increasing
4 present: Jaden Bush, Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie
Crisp winter weather made our Christmas Cheer ride all the more enjoyable, although since most of the riders had no gloves we were unable to extend the ride to the Totnes cafes as originally planned. Instead we enjoyed a leisurely spin along Colston Road to Staverton and returned via Abham just in time to see the Santa Special steam train returning to base with loads of happy youngsters clutching their presents. There were free hot chocolates and refreshments all round at Crofters and of course plenty of computer games throughout the afternoon.

Please note: The Christmas Lunch ride that we had planned for today proved too expensive for most of our riders, but we will be happy to arrange some special activities during the Christmas week according to demand.

Monday 27 December 2004
Morning ride: Christmas Special, Avon Dam (12 mi)Cold & sunny
4 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Purdie, John Stuart
The private road from Shiply Bridge towards the Avon Dam
John Stuart at the Buckfastleigh start point
Keir and Oliver
Keir Purdie, halfway to the reservoir, decides the water is too cold for a dip
John found the ice
Keir and John go exploring
Oliver Lindley
Keir bravely takes on Oliver
Snowy conditions on the moorland track behind the reservoir
Keir and Oliver on the Avon Dam
Keir Purdie
The Hunt, going about their business
Dartmoor ponies at Water Oak Corner
Oliver, John and Keir make it to the top of the Abbots Way path
The ford at Cross Furzes
Keir and John make a new friend
Our Christmas Special turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and memorable rides of the season. The mist was rising sleepily from the frosty fields and streams behind Dean Prior as the sun shone brightly from low in the eastern sky. Our first surprise of the day was to discover a Boxing Day hunt on the top of the hill near Gidleigh Bridge. The normally quiet lane was packed with horse boxes and onlookers, all watching the pack of horses that had just set off across the adjacent moorland. We had never seen a hunt before on any of our rides, so this was probably just a determined effort by the hunting fraternity to enjoy one final day of fun before the ban comes into effect.

Shipley Bridge was, not unexpectedly, packed with visitors today. We couldn't resist stopping for some photographs by the river Avon partway up the path: Keir thought about going in for a dip, but decided against it when he tested the water temperature. At the half-way point John, much to everyone's amusement, discovered a particularly slippery section of ice on the path that the rest of us had managed to negotiate successfully. There was now enough snow on the ground for a brief snowball fling, but by the time we reached the dam there was considerably more, enabling us to enjoy a full-blown snowball fight! The whole scene of the snow-covered moorland hills behind the dam, all lit by bright sunshine, made this the perfect destination for our Christmas ride.

Continuing along the track behind the dam we soon encountered the hunt on the horizon, apparently unable to find a fox. Well, we're all in favour of the ban so I can't say we shared their disappointment. The snow was now quite deep in places, and by the time we reached the top of the Abbots Way the backdrop of ice and snow made us feel as though we were in the Arctic! To complete a perfect ride we then discovered a group of Dartmoor ponies grazing in the snow near Water Oak Corner. They weren't a bit frightened of us, and allowed themselves to be fed, stroked and photographed!

The final descent to Cross Furzes was negotiated with a little more caution than usual. Keir successfully rode the ford for the first time, then we headed homewards for a well-earned Christmas social that didn't finish until late in the evening.

Michael now his first high resolution digital camera, so future reports should have a good selection of high quality photographs.

Friday 31 December 2004
Social: Crofters Social
3 present: Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie
Our New Year's Eve special included a surround sound movie show and some festive games.

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