South Dartmoor CTC


Wednesday 11 May 2005
Evening ride (Junior): Hembury Woods (8 mi)Mainly sunny and warm
8 present: Lydia Burke, Sophie Carter, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Scott Mason, Gavin Pearson, Derry Todd (10, Buckfastleigh), Megan Venables
Sophie, Lydia, Megan, Scott, Derry and Harry at a clearing in Hembury Woods
For our second junior ride of the season we took the youngsters along the lower Hembury track to Shuttaford and then back to the top of Hembury where the wide clearings in the wood offered excellent Frisbee opportunities. Of course, Harry had to throw the ring a little too hard so it landed in a tree, but fortunately Gavin was an excellent shot with some sticks that we found lying nearby.

We spent the remainder of the ride exploring the many tracks that criss-cross the wood. The girls seemed to make a lot of noise as they bounced over the rough stones, but everyone did well and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Friday 13 May 2005
Evening ride: Holne (10 mi)Dry
6 present: Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Oliver Lindley, Scott Mason, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
The youngsters wanted to play Frisbee in Holne park, so we rode past Hawson Court and through Scoriton and Michelcombe. The park was a little overgrown and wet today, making Frisbee throwing somewhat difficult.

Returning to Gallant le Bower Keir managed to get a puncture, but there was still just enough light to ride the Slalom track when we eventually arrived at the top of Hembury Woods.

Sunday 15 May 2005
Day ride: Ten Commandments Stone (20 mi)Mainly sunny & warm
4 present: Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir and Joe examine the contents of the letterbox
Joe, Dennis and Keir discover a Dartmoor letterbox on Buckland Becon
Dennis, Keir and Joe
Dennis, Keir and Joe on the Ten Commandments Stone, Buckland Beacon
We selected a flexible ride today in case ten-year-old Dennis found the riding a bit tough, but as it turned out we needn't have worried. We climbed Ausewell hill in double quick time and then took the moorland path to Buckland Beacon.

It was here in 1928 that a stonemason from Exeter was engaged to engrave the Ten Commandments into granite slabs by the Lord of Buckland Manor. The work took six months, during which time the stonemason lived in a cow shed on the site and was supplied with a loaf of bread each day for his efforts! Our exploration of the site also included the discovery of four Dartmoor letterboxes hidden under the rocks.

When Joe had finished falling off his bike for no reason whatsoever we followed the track past the cattle and Dartmoor foals to Cold East Cross, then continued down Widecombe hill for lunch at the Green restaurant. We all had hugely expensive ice cream sundaes and felt ready for anything when we finally set off again. Local Ian Boyes gave us his good wishes in the general stores - he seemed to know as much about our group as we did!

Ponsworthy ford provided entertainment for the youngsters, then Keir provided more on the descent to Spitchwick by riding into a ditch! There was no real harm done however, and we were soon enjoying a Frisbee contest on Spitchwick Common and then hot food at New Bridge. We concluded the ride with the descent of the Slalom track in Hembury Woods - the best part of the ride according to Dennis who performed remarkably well on his first day ride.

Friday 20 May 2005
Evening ride: Ashburton (10 mi)Dry
4 present: Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Sunset in the field below Gallant Le Bower
We quickly reached Belford Mill after a short ride through Ashburton, but the woodland track back towards the town turned out to be a little muddy after the recent rains. We returned through the picturesque Druid lane, then on through River Dart Adventures and up the steep path from Holne Woods, pausing in the tranquil rabbit-festooned field to enjoy the sunset before emerging at Gallant Le Bower. Keir and Joe enjoyed the muddy descent through Hembury as darkness began to fall.

Sunday 22 May 2005
Day ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Today's ride was cancelled.

Wednesday 25 May 2005
Evening ride (Junior): Staverton (10 mi)Sunny and warm
8 present: Lydia Burke, Sophie Carter, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Scott Mason, Gavin Pearson, Derry Todd, Megan Venables
Gavin was planning to catch up with us along Colston Road but got a puncture near the start - and of course he'd left in such a hurry that he didn't have a puncture repair kit with him! Fortunately Michael's cousin was driving in the opposite direction and was happy to take a puncture kit to Gavin, who finally caught up with us in Staverton Park. When the Frisbees had been thoroughly aired we returned home via Abham.

Friday 27 May 2005
Evening ride: Avonwick (17 mi)Dry
7 present: Gage Conway, Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Steven Major, Gavin Pearson, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
This evening's energetic ride took us through Harbourneford to Marley Head, down the track into South Brent, along the riverside road past the old Avonwick station and then home via Rattery.

Sunday 29 May 2005
Day ride: Ugborough Beacon (18 mi)Sunny & warm
4 present: Gage Conway, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Steven Major
Ugborough Beacon
Gage, Steven and Dennis on Ugborough Beacon
Leaving our mark in the letterbox
Dennis finds a Dartmoor letterbox at Ugborough Beacon
The spring on the way down the moorland track towards Owley, with South Brent in the distance
Gage entertains at Ugborough Beacon
Bottles refilled with Dartmoor spring water
Steven Major tastes the spring water
On a superb May morning we rode to South Brent, stocked up with food at Plymco and then pressed on to Wrangaton and the steep lane to the golf course. When Dennis had proved his worth by reaching the top first we started the short walk across the golf course, where a competition was in progress. Ten-year-old Dennis spotted a golf ball lying by the path, and when he saw some golfers heading in his direction he did the obvious thing: picked it up for them to save them a walk! Poor Dennis! But they were very understanding, hastily urging him to drop it back where he had found it.

We had lunch half-way up the hill, hunted for letterboxes at Ugborough Beacon itself, then headed across the moor to pick up with the path down the valley to South Brent. Part-way down we found a spring producing a stream of pure ice-cold water - just what we needed on such a hot afternoon. There was time to explore the wooded riverside before we headed home via South Brent.

Friday 3 June 2005
Evening ride: Spitchwick (12 mi)Mainly dry
4 present: Michael Jones, Harry Laity, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Spitchwick seemed like a perfect destination on such a sunny evening, but after riding to Ashburton, through River Dart Adventures and up Holne Chase, cloud cover was increasing dramatically. We continued to Spitchwick nevertheless, and spent an enjoyable twenty minutes on a Frisbee contest. Highlight of the evening was when Joe attempted a dramatic change of direction on a water-filled hollow, slipped and landed squarely in the middle of the puddle with an enormous splash! We rode home via Hembury Woods.

Sunday 5 June 2005
Morning ride: Holne (10 mi)Light rain
3 present: Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
With rain falling at the start that was forecast to continue all day we contented ourselves with a brisk ride through Buckfast and Scoriton to Holne and then home via Hembury Woods. The afternoon was spent enjoying the new film Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith at Plymouth.

Wednesday 8 June 2005
Evening ride (Junior): Holne (10 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Derry Todd, Joe Venables, Megan Venables
Our final junior ride of the season took us to Ashburton, through River Dart Adventures and up the long woodland track to Holne Park where Frisbee throwing was, as usual, the order of the day. We rode home via Michelcombe and Scoriton.

Friday 10 June 2005
Evening ride: Landscove Tracks (10 mi)Dry and sunny
4 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Our evening excursion took us up Green Lane, along the track from Baddaford to Lower Combe, through Thornecroft and down the rocky and muddy tracks towards Pridhamsleigh, then down the woodland track back to Lower Combe. And because we still wanted more tracks we took the overgrown and rocky track past Ware, Michael's childhood home.

Sunday 12 June 2005
Day ride: Mothecombe Beach (35 mi)Hot and sunny
4 present: Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir, Will and Joe
Keir, Will and Joe in the Erme estuary
We chose Mothecombe for our first beach ride of the season, partly because it's one of the easiest to reach. After stocking up with lunch at South Brent (where today they had no sandwiches whatsoever) we sped down the hill to Ermington and were soon dropping down to the Erme estuary.

The tide was on the way out when we arrived, so we had lunch on the near side in the shade of the only tree we could find and then waded across the shallow waters of the Erme to Wonwell beach on the far side. All that remained was to cycle home via California Cross, which we managed in excellent time.

Friday 17 June 2005
Evening ride: Skerraton Down (9 mi)Dry and sunny
7 present: Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Reuben Johnson (9, Buckfastleigh), Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Reuben did well on his first ride despite having to climb Nurston hill. Midges were out in force so we didn't wait around too long when we reached the moor. Keir spent his time trying to stalk sheep while Joe helped the younger riders push their bikes up the final grassy slopes. Thick haze made it difficult to see even Buckfast Abbey so we continued with the descent to Cross Furzes, pausing only to be friendly to the Dartmoor ponies in the paddock.

A most unfortunate incident marred the final part of the ride from Cross Furzes. A young deer, hidden in the hedge, decided to jump out into the lane just as young Dennis was riding past. He had no chance of avoiding the poor creature, and both Dennis and the deer were grazed and shaken by the incident. There were no serious injuries and the deer soon got up and wandered off, but it just goes to show how some accidents just cannot be avoided.

Sunday 19 June 2005
Day ride: Bickington (15 mi)Very hot and sunny
4 present: Will Burgess, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Keir Purdie
Michael's broken crank, on the climb from Bickington
Keir examines Michael's broken crank - definitely a ride-stopper
The oppressive heat did not encourage us as we rode through Ashburton, but we hoped things would be a little cooler on the moor. On the climb from Bickington, however, Michael lost control and fell off his bike. Did he have a good excuse? Closer examination revealed that his right crank had broken clean in half - almost unheard of! With no backup available on the end of the phone and no way to ride with only one pedal we had little choice but to hobble back to Ashburton where BigPeaks fitted a second hand chainset as a temporary solution.

By now the heat was so oppressive that we decided to abandon ideas of returning to Bickington for the climb, choosing instead to take the short route home and cool off at Crofters.

Friday 24 June 2005
Evening ride: Venford ReservoirDry and sunny
3 present: Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Joe and Keir at Venford Reservoir
With everyone feeling on top form we rode to Venford with plenty of time to ride the path that circles the reservoir. It was a tranquil scene, with duck and ducklings adding to the fun.

Sunday 26 June 2005
Day ride: Exeter Ship Canal (53 mi)Warm and sunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Arriving at Turf Lock, where the Ship Canal meets the estuary
Joe at the start of the path along the Exe estuary near Powderham
Joe Venables at Turf Lock, looking up the canal
The Turf Lock Hotel
Joe enjoying well-earned refreshments at Pizza Hut, Exeter
A swan and cygnets in the canal
With only Joe and Michael out today we decided on a harder ride, taking the Gappah Cross route to Haldon and then descending to the Exeter Ship Canal path that starts at Starcross. The weather was perfect as we rode along the canal path, with swan and signets adding extra interest. We detoured past the riverside shops in the centre of Exeter but eventually settled on Pizza Hut as our preferred lunch stop, consuming two drinks refills before the pizza was served! It's amazing how much more enjoyable a meal can be when it has been really earned!

The long climb from Shillingford St George to Underdown proved the hottest part of the ride, leaving Joe feeling somewhat drained, but we were soon speeding our way home via Chudleigh and feeling very pleased with our efforts.

Friday 1 July 2005
Evening ride: Converted to SocialDrizzle and rain
3 present: Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
This evening's ride was converted to a social owing to the bad weather.

Sunday 3 July 2005
Day ride: Tuckenhay (28 mi)Warm and sunny
7 present: Louis Burgess, Gage Conway, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Steven Major, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Joe Venables
Lunch by the Harbourne river near Bow Bridge, Tuckenhay
Dennis, Joe and Keir
Today's adventurous ride started with the Colston Road route to Dartington and the cycle path to Totnes, where Morrisons provided a good selection of food for lunch. Next came the fun part of the ride - the cycle path via Sharpham to Ashprington. The path has been much improved over the last few years so we made good progress, interrupted only by a short stop at a rope swing.

We couldn't resist testing out the swings and climbing equipment in Ashprington Play Park, but there was no shade there from the mid-day sun so we continued down the hill to the stepping stones at Tuckenhay and got permission from the owner to have our lunch in a patch of garden beside the river. The ducks seemed pleased to be fed!

The return route was via Forces Cross, Moreleigh and Diptford, making an energetic ride that pushed Louis, Gage and Dennis to their limits.

Friday 8 July 2005
Evening ride: AshburtonWarm and sunny
5 present: Kane Edwards, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Keir Purdie, Joe Venables
Keir somehow managed to ride Michael's touring bike through Ashburton despite his rather small dimensions! The path from the school back to Ashburton offered plenty of fun and excellent views in the evening sunshine. Our return route took us up the hill to Holne Cross, down to Holne Bridge, up the long track through Holne Woods and then down our favourite slalom track through Hembury Woods.

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