South Dartmoor CTC


Sunday 13 March 2005
Morning ride: Dartmeet (17 mi)Sunny but cold
2 present: Peter Heathman, Michael Jones
Peter on Dr Blackall's Drive
Peter Heathman carefully crosses the stepping stones at Dartmeet
Peter was on good form today so we embarked on an ambitious ride through Holne to Venford Reservoir. The track descent to Dartmeet provided plenty of fun, but once we had crossed the stepping stones across the Dart we had to climb the demanding Dartmeet hill. Peter made short work of it however, and we completed an energetic ride with the descent of Dr Blackall's drive. As we arrived back in Ashburton by 1310, Peter felt he needed a good long rest!

Friday 18 March 2005
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
The final social of the season included the usual mix of multi-player PC games and refreshments.

Sunday 20 March 2005
Morning ride: Avon Dam (13 mi)Foggy
9 present: Richard Burge, Louis Burgess, Tao Burgess, Peter Heathman, Michael Jones, Sol Kelly, Oliver Lindley, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Approaching the reservoir
Approaching the reservoir
The 'cormorant' just visible on the centre of the dam
Richard Burge made a welcome return to club riding today as we set off for Dean with a good turnout of cyclists. The forecast predicted that the fog would clear quickly to leave a sunny day, so Avon Dam seemed like a perfect destination. The fog was still thick as we approached the dam, so we paused for refreshments on the grassy bank overlooking the water. Some walkers were peering through the mist at what looked like a penguin perched on the central part of the dam: when it eventually took flight however it seemed more like a cormorant.

Sol felt ill during the final part of the ride up to the Abbots Way, and the fog showed no signs of clearing at all - we had to make sure we stayed together, as all sound was absorbed by this thick blanket. The final descent to Cross Furzes was still a lot of fun though, making an enjoyable end to the final morning ride of the season.

Friday 25 March 2005Tour: Somerset & North Devon Coast Day 1 Home to Quantock Hills YH (24 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir secures his drink
Maintenance work on Joe's rear hub
Start of the Quantock Ridge track on Lydeard Hill
View from Lydeard Hill
Joe Venables
The Quantock Ridge track
Riding the track towards Crowcombe Park Gate
Oliver Lindley
Finding our way over the Quantock Hills
Video footage from today's ride
Joe was annoyed when he arrived at Newton Abbot Station for the start of our 2005 junior tour. The expensive Altura panniers he had ordered the week before had not arrived in time for the tour, so he had been forced to use the cheap all-in-one panniers that had caused him so many problems on last year's tour. Oliver arrived just in time for the 0940 train which brought us swiftly to Taunton, the start of our great weekend adventure.

Joe's bike needed a few adjustments because he had left an important part of his hub at home, but soon we were speeding around Morrisons buying lunch and supper. We had plenty of time, so we left Taunton by the quickest route and detoured through quiet country lanes to Bradford on Tone. Next stop was Halse, where Keir took a look at the map and suggested an alternative route to the Quantocks that avoided some nasty-looking double arrows. We continued to Greenway and Bishops Lydeard, finally discovering a field near Terhill that was suitable for lunch.

Keir's bike needed some adjustments next so that he could get all his gears, and then Joe required further work to his rear hub. We struggled up the long climb to Lydeard Hill, enjoying panoramic views across the Somerset countryside. Now, however, began the real fun, with a track of several miles that followed the top of the Quantock Hills. It was bumpy and muddy in places, but generally it was fast and fun in the late afternoon sun, wending its way through woodlands and moorland.

Everything was going to plan until we passed Crowcombe Park Gate. A maze of tracks criss-crossed the moor at this point, but Michael felt sure he knew the way without checking the map. Hinkley Point nuclear power station looked magnificent on the distant coast, but it was almost directly in front of us - this was the wrong track. To make matters worse, Keir carried on down a hill and had to be brought back again - he didn't make THAT mistake again! There was nothing for it but to retrace the route until we found a link track that took us across to the Thornecombe Hill track that we should have taken. There was a good deal of riding to do and the light was fading fast, but we just made it down the final rough track to the lanes near Quantock Hills youth hostel before darkness fell. Michael also fell, but he blamed the rough track and the disappearing light!

Our dormitory was somewhat cramped, but the showers were excellent and we were soon setting about preparing a well-earned supper. Keir impressed everyone by making his own lemonade, from lemons and sugar he bought at Taunton!

To conclude an excellent first day we settled down in the dormitory to try Michael's new experiment: he had brought a full size laptop computer with him complete with joysticks, and Gavin was carrying a set of speakers with subwoofer! Miraculously it had all survived the rough tracks and was working perfectly. We played a few multiplayer games and listened to some music before settling into bed for a good night's sleep, soothed by the sound of many sheep on the surrounding hills.

Saturday 26 March 2005
Tour: Somerset & North Devon Coast Day 2 Quantock Hills to Exford YH (31 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir Purdie in the hostel grounds
Joe Venables at Quantock Hills YH
Quantock Hills YH
Gavin outside Quantock Hills YH
East Quantoxhead duck pond
Tao, Oliver and Keir with the warden at Quantock Hills YH
Tao and Joe in the Watchett café
Gavin and Oliver in the Watchett café
Oliver watches Watchett's town crier
Keir and Oliver at Watchett harbour
Keir climbs Minehead's North Hill
Gavin Pearson at Watchett
Selworthy Green
Keir Purdie reaches the summit
Exmoor lanes on the way to Exford
Video footage from today'sride
Saturday was a beautiful sunny morning - far better than the forecast we had seen before we left. We had time to take several photographs outside the hostel while Tao and Oliver attempted to prevent Joe's rear hub from completely falling apart.

First stop was the duck pond at East Quantoxhead. It looked at first as though all the ducks had left, but then two came along to save the day and generously ate some of the bread we threw at them. Joe's Weetabix, not surprisingly, disintegrated long before the ducks reached it!

A short spin brought us quickly to the fishing village of Watchett, where a town crier shouted his heart out on the street while we enjoyed drinks and teacakes in the harbour side cafe. We were loath to leave, but we had a good distance to travel before sundown. It was just beyond Blue Anchor Bay that we noticed Joe was pushing his bike. The hub had finally given up, and Oliver's idea of checking out the nearby junk shop did not produce any useful solutions. A quick telephone call identified a cycle shop not far away in Minehead: we arrived shortly after 12.30 and spent nearly an hour replacing his wheel and buying a new saddle for Gavin (who was really having a hard time with his original one!).

Now running an hour and a half behind schedule we called into the nearby Tesco store to buy our lunch and supper and then set about the long climb of North Hill. It was well into the afternoon before we met at the top ready for the track descent to Selworthy. We had hoped to buy ice-creams there, but the only cafe was full and we really didn't have time to wait around. Another interesting series of tracks led us to Allerford where nobody decided to attempt the ford. Finally we could start the ascent of Exmoor, a climb of around 434m. It was much later than we had intended, but somehow we kept everyone moving and arrived just before 7pm as darkness was falling. We were very glad to get in the hot showers and eat a good meal after such a long day.

Exford hostel has no TV room, and tonight BBC1 was showing the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who at 7pm. Michael had a copy of the episode on his laptop, and this was in fact the main reason for bringing it on the tour. It was a bit of a squeeze for everyone to see the screen in the cramped 4-bedded dormitory but somehow we managed it and were all very impressed - definitely the highlight of the evening.

Sunday 27 March 2005
Tour: Somerset & North Devon Coast Day 3 Exford to Lynton YH (25 mi)Misty start, but dry
6 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
The Somerset/Devon border just before Challacombe
Misty Exmoor on the road from Exford YH to Simonsbath
Gavin Pearson on the coast path
The coastal path from Hunters Inn
Keir Purdie
Keir admires the view from the coast path
Lunch on the coast path
Lunch on the coast path overlooking the sea
The climb from Woody Bay past Lee Abbey
Fabulous sea views from the coast path
Keir and Joe at Valley of the Rocks
Joe Venables at Valley of the Rocks
Gavin looks back from the coast path towards Woody Bay
Coast path to Lynton
A laptop on one of our tours for the first time
The group at the Cliff Railyway entrance, Lynton
Keir is just SO lazy sometimes
Video footage from today's ride

Monday 28 March 2005
Tour: Somerset & North Devon Coast Day 4 Lynton to Home (25 mi)Dry and sunny
6 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir and Joe at Lynton YH
Keir and Joe at Lynton YH
Lynton YH
Oliver, Gavin and Tao at Lynton YH
Video footage from today's ride (no audio)
On our final morning of the tour the promised rain had still not arrived. We proceeded at a good speed back to Blackmore Gate (which still didn't look godforsaken), but a motorist with car trouble was too much for Tao, Gavin and Oliver to ignore: they helped with repairs while the rest of the group enjoyed drinks and teacakes in the nearby cafe. The road to Barnstaple was fast and easy in the morning sunshine, and we arrived at the station just in time to see the 1355 departing without us. Well, we hadn't really planned to catch it anyway.

Pizza Hut provided us with a celebratory final meal of the tour which hit the spot to perfection. We then set about preparing to negotiate with the guard on the 15:57 train, who had to be convinced to take all our 6 bikes and 2 bikes from other travellers on a service that is supposed to be limited to two bikes! Fortunately he was a friendly guard and happily let us pack our bikes into the train. We arrived back at Newton Abbot just after 6pm with no complaints at all about the weather on our 2005 Easter Tour.

Friday 1 April 2005
Evening ride: River Dart Adventures (9 mi)Dry
7 present: Jack Binmore, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
We certainly had an adventure on our first evening ride of the new season. The ride began with an exciting race along the riverside track in Hembury Woods. As we rode through River Dart Adventures, however, Gavin tried to do a wheelie but couldn't release his SPD shoes from his pedals and landed on his rear end. The unfortunate result was a broken coccyx and a great deal of pain. He went off in the ambulance but was sent home later with several painkillers.

Meanwhile the rest of us rode up the woodland track through Holne Woods on what had become a very dark and cold night. Everyone seemed to have excellent lights so the ride home was very enjoyable.

Sunday 3 April 2005
Morning ride: Diptford (15 mi)Misty with light drizzle
3 present: Peter Heathman, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley
The weather was not too exciting today so we carried out a brisk examination of the lanes through Harbourneford, South Brent, Diptford and Rattery.

Friday 8 April 2005
Evening ride: Totnes Cycle Path (15 mi)Cold but dry
3 present: Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Joe Venables
With the cold weather encouraging us to ride faster this evening we completed a ride to Totnes Cycle Path via Colston Road and Rattery in double-quick time, arriving back at Buckfastleigh by 8.50. Hot drinks were very welcome at the Crofters clubroom!

Sunday 10 April 2005
Morning ride: Carey Kennels (14 mi)Sunny and warm
5 present: Gage Conway, Peter Heathman, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Joe Venables
Gage Conway
Oliver, Peter, Gage and Joe at Parkfield Cross, Ashburton
Oliver, Peter and Gage at Broadhempston park
Brake adjustments by engineer Olly
Gage Conway
Peter Heathman
Gage received a warm welcome back to club activities after a break of several months, but we weren't going to give him an easy ride just because he'd been away! From Ashburton we climbed the renowned Chuley Hill, then followed quiet lanes to Woodland and Carey Kennels, where the dogs were receiving some useful exercise in the morning sunshine.

Branching back to Broadhempston we spent a little time playing Frisbee in the park before returning via Green Lane.

Friday 15 April 2005
Evening ride: Staverton (10 mi)Cold but dry
6 present: Conor Allen (10, Buckfastleigh), Jack Binmore, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
New rider Conor kept up with everyone on our excursion to Staverton and soon got the hang of Frisbee throwing on Staverton cricket field. The wet grass left everyone with wet feet however, so we were all glad to get home as darkness fell.

Sunday 17 April 2005
Morning ride: Cross Furzes (5 mi)Increasingly wet
4 present: Gage Conway, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
A depressing weather forecast persuaded us to select a relatively short route through Buckfast and Coombe to Cross Furzes, but even with this modest distance the rain still drenched us before we got back to Crofters.

Friday 22 April 2005
Evening ride: Converted to SocialWet
3 present: Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
With torrential rain putting everyone off cycling we organised a session of badminton at the Torbay Leisure Centre, Paignton.

Sunday 24 April 2005
Morning ride: Avon Dam (14 mi)Mainly dry
4 present: Gage Conway, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir, Joe and Gage on the private road from Shipley Bridge to the Avon Dam
Gage examines his Dartmoor letterbox
Gage, Joe and Keir
Our ride today took us through Dean to Nurston and on to Shipley Bridge. Gage found a Dartmoor letterbox behind a tree and spent some time completing the details while the rest of us enjoyed the pleasant surroundings of the river Avon.

Keir was not feeling very energetic today, so we split into two groups. Gage and Joe continued on to the Dam and over the Abbots Way to Buckfastleigh, stopping so that Gage could attach a sheep skull to the front of his bike. Keir and Michael returned via the long track from Didworthy, observing a number of ducks, wildfowl and peacocks in the surrounding well-concealed farmland.

Friday 29 April 2005
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (8 mi)Dry with some mist
8 present: Conor Allen, Jack Binmore, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Oliver Lindley, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Hembury Woods looked distinctly eerie this evening with a moderate mist surrounding all the trees. The climb was a tough start for Conor on his second ride, but he was much happier when we took to the tracks at the top of the woods. Soon we were descending rapidly over bumpy roots and rocks into the heart of the woods, with stream crossings adding more interest to the ride.

Conor was not feeling too well as we doubled back along the riverside track, negotiating barriers and stiles along the way, and he was probably a little relieved when we were unable to continue on to River Dart Adventures because of a tree fall on the final section of narrow path. We returned along another track through the woods as darkness fell.

Sunday 1 May 2005
Day ride: Stover Country Park (29 mi)Dry with sunny periods
6 present: Gage Conway, Peter Heathman, Michael Jones, Sol Kelly, Steven Major (15, Buckfastleigh), Keir Purdie
The main lake at Stover
Gage, Keir, Steven, Peter and Sol at Stover Country Park
Stover Country Park
Steven, Sol, Peter, Keir and Gage
This was Steven's first ride for many years - he's only had his new bike for 24 hours! Our ride started cautiously with the climb to Green Lane and the back of Landscove, but it quickly became apparent that Steven would have no problems with any ride we might choose. It wasn't long before we were at Broadhempston, and since the weather was very pleasant the majority were in favour of continuing to Fermoys for lunch /refreshments. Election fever was in full swing in Ipplepen with posters on several houses - and we even saw the Lib Dem candidate doing his tour of the local houses, wearing his very large rosette.

When the youngsters had finished playing in the park behind the cafe we decided to take a longer route back via Newton Abbot so that we could explore the tracks at Stover for the first time in many years. Fortunately Keir, who lives at Heathfield, knew the route very well, so he led us on his own special tour of Stover, taking us past the famous lake and numerous walkers out for a quiet Sunday afternoon stroll. Peter's new racing bike, kitted out with very narrow tyres, seemed to manage the tracks without too much difficulty.

After a short stop at Bovey Straights garage Keir led us through the plantation to Blackpool, and from there Michael took the easiest route home through Bickington and Ashburton. This has been a demanding ride for everyone, but nobody let the side down.

Wednesday 4 May 2005
Evening ride (Junior): Staverton (10 mi)Mainly sunny and warm
9 present: Jordan Barker, Jack Binmore, Lydia Burke (10, Buckfastleigh), Sophie Carter (9, Buckfastleigh), Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Scott Mason (11, Buckfastleigh), Gavin Pearson, Megan Venables (9, Buckfastleigh)
Stone skimming on Staverton Island
The group near Staverton Island: Jack, Scott, Harry, Lydia, Jordan, Megan and Sophie
Scott and the others on Staverton Island
Staverton Island: Gavin, Scott, Jordan, Jack, Harry, Sophie, Megan and Lydia
The first of six special junior rides got off to an excellent start with seven enthusiastic youngsters, nearly all of whom are taking part in the cycle training scheme at the primary school. With the sun shining brightly we set off along the relatively flat Colston road, jumpers being removed after just a few moments. Everyone was in good form so it wasn't long before we had arrived at the island near Staverton where stone-skimming across the river Dart was the order of the day.

They wanted Frisbee as well so we had to divert to the park for a few moments, but there was plenty of time because they were all so fast on their bikes! When chocolate refreshments had been purchased by the chocoholics we returned home via Riverford Organic and Caddaford farm, with everyone feeling pleased with themselves and looking forward to next week's ride.

Friday 6 May 2005
Evening ride: Chalk Ford (10 mi)Sunny start
9 present: Gage Conway, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Oliver Lindley, Steven Major, Scott Mason, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
The group at Chalk Ford
Gage's failed attempt to ride across Chalk Ford
Dartmoor seemed an appealing destination in view of the warm sunshine that bathed us at the start. Clouds increased as we climbed Bowerdon Hill from Buckfast, and by the time we reached the moor at Lud Gate there was thick mist, a chilly wind and the distinct prospect of rain. The moorland descent made all the climbing worthwhile, and Gage's attempt to ride across Chalk Ford resulted in top quality entertainment for everyone.

Before descending the long stony track to Scoriton Michael warned everyone not to go too fast if they wanted to avoid a puncture. Gavin probably wasn't going too fast, but he still got a pinch puncture, right next to the valve. He didn't have a spare tube and darkness was falling so the rest of us pressed on homewards and sent out a car to collect Gavin from Scoriton.

Sunday 8 May 2005
Day ride: Stoke Gabriel (26 mi)Mainly sunny & warm
8 present: Gage Conway, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Steven Major, Gavin Pearson, Joe Venables
Joe, Henry and Oliver at Stoke Gabriel
Lunch at Stoke Gabriel
Steven, Gage and the rest of the group at Stoke Gabriel
Stoke Gabriel lake
Jill suggested Stoke Gabriel as a destination today, and since nobody had any objections we proceeded along Colston Road to the Totnes cycle path and bought lunch and refreshments at Morrisons. The short section of main road to Longcombe was quite busy today so we were relieved to turn off even though Parliament Hill awaited us!

The approach to Stoke Gabriel was very inviting, with quaint old houses adorned with wisteria flowers. We made straight for the lake by the weir and spent an enjoyable hour feeding the ducks and swans and soaking up the lazy atmosphere.

This was going to be Henry's longest ever ride without doing any detours, so we headed back through Collaton St Mary and Red Post, reaching Buckfastleigh in plenty of time for a short social at Crofters.

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