South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 12 March 2006
1015-1115
Morning ride: Colston Road (10 mi)Wet
5 present: Rowan Elvin (13, Ashburton), Josh Ham, Craig Hocking (13, Totnes), Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Report to follow.

Friday 17 March 2006
1900-2200
Social: Squash
5 present: Kane Edwards, Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Report to follow.

Sunday 19 March 2006
1015-1700
Day ride: Berry Pomeroy Castle (22 mi)Sunny
5 present: Tao Burgess, Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Josh, Dennis, Tao and Joe at Longmarsh
Tao and Dennis on Longmarsh, Totnes
Berry Pomeroy Castle from below
Dennis, Joe, Tao and Josh at Berry Pomeroy Castle
Josh at Staverton station
Dennis at Staverton station
Report to follow.

Friday 24 March 2006
1900-2200
Social: Pizza Hut
6 present: Kane Edwards, Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Joe Venables
For our penultimate social of the season we took a trip to Pizza Hut and bought unlimited ice-cream factory and unlimited drinks for just £2.80 each!

Sunday 26 March 2006
1015-1400
Morning ride: Converted to SocialWet
4 present: Kane Edwards, Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones
Today's ride was converted to a social because of heavy rain.

Friday 31 March 2006
1900-2200
Social: Badminton
5 present: Kane Edwards, Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Report to follow.

Sunday 2 April 2006
1015-1530
Day ride: HarbertonSunny
5 present: Tao Burgess, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Steven Major, Gavin Pearson
Steven, Tao, Gavin and Josh near Rattery
Report to follow.

Friday 7 April 2006
1900-2100
Evening ride: StavertonSunny
4 present: Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Report to follow.

Sunday 9 April 2006
1015-1530
Day ride: Ugborough BeaconSunny
3 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Joe and Josh on Ugborough Beacon
Joe and Josh on Ugborough Beacon
Report to follow.

Wednesday 12 April 2006
0900-2300
Tour: Cornish Coast Day 1 Home to Tintagel (31 mi)Mainly sunny with strong wind
3 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Joe tempts fate on the Bolventor road
Josh and Joe in the Golitha Woods nature reserve
Joe and Josh on the quaint bridge in Altarnun
Delightful scenery - the River Fowey, alongside the Bolventor road
Joe and Josh at Altarnun
Josh Ham at Altarnun
End of the road - the door to the castle was firmly shut, so Joe took some video looking back to the mainland
View of Tintagel Castle island from the mainland
View back to the mainland from Tintagel Castle island
Video footage from today's ride
Last minute cancellations from Gavin, Tao and Oliver left just three of us to set off from Buckfastleigh at 9am for the short journey to Liskeard. We parked the car in Liskeard station, unloaded the bikes and were ready to start our tour of the North Cornwall coast despite having some anxieties about the unsettled weather forecast.

The smell of the hot pasties we purchased at Liskeard proved irresistible, so we ended up eating them right outside the shop - and it was only 10.30! Fully charged for the day ahead we navigated through the back lanes to pick up the Bolventor road across Bodmin moor, stopping briefly to explore the Golitha Woods nature reserve before following the river Fowey through some of the most delightful scenery of the tour. Josh decided he wanted one day to own a property in this picturesque valley! Meanwhile Joe was having problems with his new SPD pedals: one side was a bit tight, so a few times when he tried to stop he ended up sprawled across the road!

At Bolventor we called in to the Jamaica Inn, made famous by the Daphne Du Maurier book of the same name, and settled down to a tasty meal in the Peddlars restaurant. Josh and Joe could only afford chips, but they got so many for their £1 that they couldn't begin to eat them all! A short section of the busy A30 brought us quickly to Altarnun, its quaint bridge and river bathed in early afternoon sunshine, and from there we began the slow climb to Davidstow moor, passing wind farms along the way that suggested just how exposed the moor would be when we finally reached it. It was a little breezy as we climbed, but as soon as we crossed the cattle grid onto the moor we experienced the full power of the north-Cornish wind. We sought temporary respite in the lea of a derelict airfield building, watching a nearby man doing his best to keep his feet on the ground while flying his kite, then proceeded in close formation across the moor what we thought was the main airfield base! In fact it turned out to be a creamery, the airfield having closed in 1945!

The final leg of the journey to Tintagel was somewhat cold with a stiff headwind and increasing cloud, so we explored a few of the shops when we arrived, including Granny Wobbly's Fudge Pantry, a sports and camping shop that boasted some very high-tech gadgets and the toy museum with its fascinating range of metallic Star Trek characters. Having purchased provisions for the night we rode out of the village, past the ancient church and along the rough track that leads along the headland to the hostel. A glorious sunset greeted us as we arrived at the secluded hostel, situated high up on the headland overlooking the sea. This was surely the most perfect youth hostel in the land!

There is one dormitory at Tintagel that the well-informed hosteller always wants to occupy, and that is the front dorm, half submerged in the hillside and offering the very best sea views from the narrow windows. On many previous visits Michael had failed to secure this dorm, but today we were lucky. It is a 6-bedded dorm, and because we had paid for six beds we were all able to have top bunks and plenty of space for our belongings!

Joe liked riding with no panniers so we decided to explore Tintagel castle next. We were able to look around most of the ruins and explore some of the caves and rocks by the sea before the fading light forced us to return to the hostel. Once settled in the warm kitchen we set about preparing our meals, Joe adding to the fare by opening a box of Nesquik chocolate milkshake powder for all to share! We finished an excellent first day with card games in the kitchen and chats with other hostellers.

Thursday 13 April 2006
0800-2300
Tour: Cornish Coast Day 2 Tintagel to Treyarnon Bay YH (40 mi)Cloudy with strong wind
3 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Joe, Michael and Josh outside Tintagel YH
Joe, Josh and Michael outside Tintagel YH
Ice creams at the garden café, on the Camel Trail near Bodmin
Tintagel YH
Video footage from today's ride
The wind was still very much in evidence on Thursday morning - it had been blowing all night and had actually helped us all sleep soundly! After a good breakfast we proceeded with good speed to Delabole, passing close to the enormous turbines of the nearby wind farm. We had planned to look at the slate quarry, still worked today, but we didn't see any signs for it so decided to press on.

We stopped briefly for pasties and cakes at St Kew Highway, then sped on to Wadebridge for lunch. We were planning to ride the Camel Trail to Padstow, but since we had plenty of time we rode the section to Bodmin and back first, stopping at the garden cafe on the way back. There were several cyclists out today despite the rather unfriendly weather conditions. Back at Wadebridge the three cycle hire shops were doing brisk trade, with around ten cyclists a minute coming off the path from Padstow. We stopped occasionally to admire the views and wildlife of the river Camel, then arrived in the bustling fishing village of Padstow by around 4pm. Sadly the pasty shop that Michael remembered so well had sold nearly all its stock for the day, but we found a few left that took our fancy.

The highlight of our time in Padstow was a 15-minute speedboat trip that cost £4 each. We had never travelled so fast on water before. We got drenched as the boat turned into the wind, but it all just helped make the trip even more memorable! A waterfront cafe helped warm us up before we set off once again for the short journey to the hostel.

Our route took us past Harlyn sands. Even though the weather was still cool and cloudy we decided to enjoy the beach anyway: Joe and Josh ran across the soft sands and straight into the water, fully clothed, before Michael could say a word! It was just as well we were just minutes away from the hostel!

Treyarnon Bay hostel, situated beside its own unique bay, is quite large compared to the others we used on this tour, and it is distinctive in offering its meals service to non-residents as well as hostellers. We didn't have time to order hostel food, but Joe would have liked to do so. Our dorm was comfortable and quiet, so after a good meal and some expensive time on the hostel's internet service we settled down for another good night's sleep.

Friday 14 April 2006
0800-2300
Tour: Cornish Coast Day 3 Treyarnon to Perranporth YH (29 mi)Wet start, then cloudy
3 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
View of Treyarnon Beach, in front of the hostel
Treyarnon Bay YH
Pasties at Padstow
Joe on Treyarnon Beach
Josh and Joe in the mist at Bedruthen Steps
Video footage from today's ride
The weather forecast last night had led us to believe that today would be brighter than yesterday, and with decreasing winds we were so confident about the day that we decided to return to Padstow to sample the full range of pasties. The first drops of rain began to fall as we walked along Constantine beach, and by the time we reached Padstow the rain was constant. There were certainly plenty of pasties, but we did feel rather cheated of the promised good weather!

The light rain continued all the way to Bedruthan Steps, where thick mist ensured that nothing at all was visible of the sea or steps! Josh was in need of a morale boost so we settled into the cafe for hot drinks and good food. There seemed little point in going to the steps, but at least the rain had stopped by the time we had finished looking in the gift shop. We continued through Mawgan Porth to the enormous Watergate Bay, where Josh watched the surfers enviously and decided he'd like to take up surfing one day. Arriving in Newquay we went straight to Newquay Zoo, our main attraction of the day, and spent a couple of hours examining its many inhabitants. It's not as large as Paignton Zoo, but it has a different range of animals and kept us very well entertained. Joe fell in love with a bunch of around 20 otters, Josh was impressed by the roaring lion and we all thought the white peacock at the centre of the maze put on a very impressive display for us!

At 5pm it was definitely time to be moving on. We rode to the tiny village of Cubert and then took the back lanes into Perranporth. The hostel is located high on a cliff overlooking one of the largest beaches in Cornwall, so the views were very impressive. For our last night we were a little more adventurous with our meals, working together to produce three jacket potatoes with tuna, cheese and beans - only possible because of the introduction of microwave ovens to hostels! When Josh had finally finished chatting with the surfer-dude who ran the hostel the tide had moved out so we set off for an after-dark exploration of the beach.

Saturday 15 April 2006
0800-1800
Tour: Cornish Coast Day 4 Perranporth to Home (16 mi)Sunny start turning to drizzle
3 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Josh and Joe enjoying spectacular views on the coast path between Perranporth and St Agnes
Joe Venables near the hostel overlooking Perranporth Beach
Joe on the train from Camborne
Video footage from today's ride
Our final day dawned with some promising sunshine. Joe, who had won the award for slowest packer at the first two hostels, was actually outside first today, but since he then spent twenty minutes effecting bike repairs Josh disputed his claim for first place. Josh had been the clear winner at Tintagel, and Michael was first at Treyarnon, so eventually Josh conceded that Joe should be awarded first place today.

We explored some of the local shops and had a daylight walk on the enlarging beach before setting off along the coast path from Perranporth to St Agnes. The path provided plenty of challenges and offered spectacular coastal views. There was plenty of evidence of the extensive tin mining that once flourished in the area, including a horizontal disused mineshaft and the now derelict engine houses and vertical shafts near Cligga Head. The conical wire covers over the shaft heads are apparently designed to keep humans out but allow bats in! Our five-mile adventure took most of the morning and culminated with excellent views of Perranporth airfield, used by the RAF during the war but now used only for gliding and private aviation. Several planes took off and landed while we were there, many dropping parachutists nearby.

On arrival at St Agnes we ran into an RNLI motorbike scramble near the coast, which kept Josh interested for some time. Cloud had now blotted out the morning sunshine so we began to feel distinctly chilly as we ate lunch outside the little stores in the village. Our plan had been to enjoy the beaches along the coast towards St Ives, but by the time we reached Portreath, light rain was beginning to fall. We made use of the nearby cafe to buy Knickerbocker glories and other items, but the rain showed no sign of easing. Our enthusiasm for beaches began to wane, so we headed straight for Camborne station where we boarded the 1514 service to Liskeard.

This was Josh's first real train journey, and Joe had been looking forward to it all day. The hour-long journey gave us chance to relax, enjoy the view and get thoroughly warmed up before disembarking at Liskeard and loading the bikes back into the car. We decided to use the remaining time to enjoy an end-of-tour visit to Pizza Hut at Derriford. We hadn't had the best of weather, but it had nevertheless been an enjoyable adventure of some 117 miles over 4 days.

Sunday 16 April 2006
1015-1300
Morning ride: Easter SpecialDry
3 present: Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Michael Jones
Josh and Dennis somewhere in the upper reaches of Hembury Woods
Only three turned out for our Easter Special ride on the day after our Cornwall tour. We rode up the long hill through Hembury Woods, through the higher gateway and along the upper track to one of the delightful woodland glades. Here, Michael hid some cream eggs which Josh found quickly and Dennis found with a little help. We concluded our short excursion with a ride along several Hembury tracks.

Friday 21 April 2006
1900-2115
Evening ride: River Dart Adventures (9 mi)Dry
5 present: Kane Edwards, Josh Ham, Michael Jones, Ben Parker, Joe Venables
Five riders turned up for a dry and sunny start to our evening ride. Kane, who has yet to buy his own helmet and bike, had to settle with Michael’s small Raleigh Lizard, which at its current state will be at the tip within the next month! Ben made a return to club cycling after a long sabbatical.

We had only reached Buckfast when Michael received a telephone call informing him of a rather embarrassing situation with one of his peacocks - it had found its way into a neighbour's bedroom! Michael reassured them that they needn't call the RSPCA and that he would collect the bird later.

Riding along the riverside path in Hembury Woods we all agreed that it was a wonderful evening for cycling. We crossed the fence and then began riding the travesty that was the track to River Dart Adventures. It was covered in fallen trees and slippery surfaces: navigation and precision was key to prevent injury! Fortunately no one suffered any problems and we were soon enjoying the quaint surroundings of the River Dart Country Park.

Michael was in no mood for stopping, and everybody found themselves going back uphill as soon as we arrived! Fortunately the track back through Holne Woods was a gradual hill that wasn’t too hard on the youngsters. The downhill tracks of Hembury Woods provided the perfect conclusion to a good ride.
[Contributed by Ben Parker]

Sunday 23 April 2006
1015-1210
Morning ride: Hembury (7 mi)Sunny
2 present: Josh Ham, Michael Jones
Hembury Woods are quite large by any standards, and the network of tracks and paths can be hard to navigate. Josh decided that we should explore some of the tracks we don't use very often, and it wasn't long before we found ourselves on new territory. We passed plenty more tracks along the way that we'll have to explore another day. We paused for refreshments in one of the upper glades surrounded by enormous beds of primroses, then sped back through the woods along another tracks, returning to Crofters for lunch.

Friday 28 April 2006
1900-2115
Evening ride: Avon Dam (12 mi)Dry
3 present: Michael Jones, Ben Parker, Joe Venables
Ben and Joe at the Avon Reservoir
Our familiar excursion to the Avon Dam via Dean Prior and Shipley Bridge was particularly enjoyable on this sunny evening. Everything was still and quiet by the dam, and the only sound that broke the silence near the top of the Abbots Way was our first cuckoo of the season!

It was almost dark for the final descent to Cross Furzes, but we didn't need lights until we hit the downhill to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 30 April 2006
1015-1800
Day ride (Car-assisted): Devon DA 75th Anniversary (32 mi)Sunny spells
3 present: Tao Burgess, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Tao tries out the Black ramp at the new Haldon Forest Park
Views to the Exe estuary from the Mamhead Obelisk track
Joe and Tao on the coast path between Dawlish Warren and Dawlish
The CTC anniversary meet-up at Starcross village hall
Today we were joining the Devon DA's 75th anniversary get-together at Starcross. Since the event wasn't going to finish until 4pm we used car assistance as far as Gappah, then rode up to the new Haldon Forest Park at Buller's Hill to explore some of the new cycle tracks that have been laid out there. We were amazed at how much had changed since we last visited the site - there are now food and toilet facilities, and literally hundreds of cyclists milling around! We tried the red track, designed for more experienced cyclists, and found it challenging but very enjoyable. Tao couldn't resist trying the descent of a steep wooden ramp in the nearby black run - equalling the success of the fearless youngsters who had been riding it all day, but not quite matching their 2 seconds of airtime!

We headed back to the road and then proceeded with all speed to Starcross, where the British Legion village hall had been set up especially for our event. More than 120 cyclists from the various sections of the Devon DA arrived by 2.45, and after a short speech from our president Ken Strong we devoured the sandwiches, cream scones and birthday cake that had been generously organised by Mike Bowden of Exeter section. There was just time for a group photo before we said our goodbyes and headed back along the coast path from Dawlish Warren to Dawlish.

Joe kept us entertained yet again by forgetting to remove his left foot from his SPD pedals before stopping - he fell embarrassingly to the ground on three separate occasions, even knocking Tao to the ground on the final occasion! After negotiating the final climb from Ashcombe we enjoyed the final descent to Gappah, just managing to get home by 6pm.

Friday 5 May 2006
1900-2140
Evening ride: Spitchwick (12 mi)Dry
4 present: Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Ben Parker, Joe Venables
Dennis was the next rider to use Michael’s below average bike this evening, and also gave us the reason for Josh’s absence from cycling; a sore arm! Joe showed off his spanky new lights, which were very cheap considering their value. With four of us present we set off for Spitchwick along the road to Ashburton before turning left and up the hill towards Buckland in the moor. Ben consistently complained that Dennis was being given the biased treatment from Michael - offering him a chocolate egg if he rode all the way - but stopped his whining when we got to the top of the hill which leads down to Spitchwick.

Michael gave advanced warning of the tight corners down this steep decline, but Ben seemed to ignore these, first skidding off into some leaves and then going straight on at one of the corners! Fortunately he wasn’t injured and we were soon riding through the relaxed surroundings of Spitchwick and on to New Bridge.

After playing with the Frisbees for a few minutes Dennis asked whether we could do the slalom in Hembury Woods en route to Buckfast. His question was answered when after a couple of hills we were riding past the fort which lies at the top of the woods. It was now practically dark and Michael advised both Ben and Joe to only take the slalom track if they felt confident. They did, but while Michael and Dennis took the easier route out of the woods, Ben struggled to see where he was going - his light was pointing straight ahead, not at the ground! Fortunately he was behind Joe whose new front light was beaming and giving a clear indication of what lied ahead.

[Contributed by Ben Parker]

Sunday 7 May 2006
1015-1410
Morning ride: Dr Blackall's Drive (18 mi)Sunny and warm
5 present: Dennis Ham, Josh Ham, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Michael Jones, Joe Venables
Joe, Josh and Dennis on Dr Blackall's Drive
The weather was perfect for cycling so we decided on an adventurous ride to Dartmoor that wouldn't push Dennis too hard. After riding through Hembury we stopped at New Bridge for ice creams and hot soup, then tackled the long but scenic climb through Leusdon. We noticed that the Leusdon Lodge hotel that for many years provided an excellent venue for our Christmas Lunch rides is now a private house, so the magnificent views afforded from the dining room can now only be enjoyed by a select few!

Matt had to get home for lunch, but the rest of us pressed on to the top of Poundsgate hill to begin the exciting return along Doctor Blackall's drive. Everyone was so keen to enjoy the ride that nobody stopped to enjoy the main viewpoint over the river Dart - except Michael of course. But everyone loved the final fast descent to the New Bridge track - Dennis reckoned it made this his best ride ever! We returned home the quick way via Hembury so that Joe and Michael could pay a visit to Big Peaks for some bike repairs during the afternoon.

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