South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 20 July 2007
1900-2145
Evening ride: River Dart AdventuresSunny
9 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Tom Pearson
Olly managed only ten minutes at the start before deciding he had to go home, but the rest of us headed to Ashburton and enjoyed some time on the ramps and rope swing at Ashburton Park.

Next stop was River Dart Adventures, now packed with summer campers, which led us on to the gentle track climb through Holne Woods. The ride concluded with the traditional descent of the Slalom track through Hembury.

Monday 23 July 2007
0700-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 1 Home to Grasmere (Butharlyp Howe) (20 mi)Sunny and warm
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Beside the lake at Bowness
Waiting by the ferry at Windermere - matching our 1991 group photo
Lakeland scenery on the way to Grasmere
HD video footage from today's ride
Flooding in the Tewkesbury area the previous Friday had left the rail route closed between Cheltenham and Birmingham right up to the end of Sunday, and nobody from National Rail or Virgin Trains could tell us whether our trains would run until the morning of travel. We prepared the cars for the worst case scenario, but at 5.15am Monday morning we were told that the line was reopened - a huge relief for Charles and Michael who really didn't want to drive 321 miles each way!

We had to split over two sets of trains, since our wonderful modern train service can't carry more than four bikes per train. The 7.03 from Newton was running ok with predicted delays of 45 minutes on the section to Birmingham, but the Acland family 0718 service had been cancelled, presumably as a result of engines being in the wrong place after the weekend closure. They managed to get onto the 0803 service instead, but we really had no idea how the travel plans would work out since several changes were involved in both journeys and we didn't have enough bike spaces booked on the replacement trains.

A freight train derailment north of Bristol Parkway left single line working that caused unexpected delays. We saw the floods and news helicopters as we passed Tewkesbury at a rather slow pace, so by the time Michael's group reached Birmingham they had missed the booked 1021 to Crewe. The next train was the 1103, but that was the train Charles' group was on! The friendly guard let us put all 8 bikes on until Wolverhampton, whereupon the Aclands disembarked. After another couple of changes Michael's group arrived at Oxenholme at 2.03 and Charles' group arrived five minutes later - exactly the times we had originally planned to arrive! We were amazed, and very impressed with the network.

The sun was shining brightly as we set off from Oxenholme, guided faultlessly through Kendal by Michael's latest gadget, a satellite navigation system. This year's summer had been unsettled throughout so we considered ourselves fortunate to start the tour with such good weather. We took the B road through Crook to the ferry jetty at Windermere and settled down on the wall in the late afternoon sunshine to take a repeat of our 1991 photo taken at the same spot. This is the largest natural lake in England with an area of 14.7 sq km and a depth of 65m near its northern end. We followed the eastern edge for several miles, through the towns of Bowness and Ambleside, stopping at a well-stocked garage shop along the way to buy supper and breakfast.

A few more scenic miles brought us quickly to the picturesque village of Grasmere, confusingly having the same name as its nearby lake and famous as being the home of the poet Wordsworth. We headed straight for Butharlyp Howe, one of two hostels in the village, and were very impressed with its country setting and facilities. The lads definitely had the best dorm, being spacious and offering pleasant views across the nearby countryside. The self-catering kitchen was in a separate building in the gardens, and it was here that Freddie impressed everyone by preparing an excellent meal from just pasta and cheese!

There was a games room in the basement kitted out with pool, table football and a gigantic version of Connect 4, and this kept everyone entertained until the late evening when Michael brought out his laptop in the dorm and started the first of many 6-player Bomberman contests.

Tuesday 24 July 2007
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 2 Grasmere to Borrowdale YH (19 mi)Sunny and warm
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Preparing the two rowing boats on Grasmere lake
Grasmere Butharlyp Howe YH
The reds, showing off their teamwork
Henry gives his all
Easy lunch at Keswick
Returning to shore at the sixtieth minute
The breathtaking view across Derwent Water from Mary Mount - also the cover for OS map 90
Breaking the climb at Ashness Bridge
Finally at the top of the track from Watlendath
The Devil's Punchbowl at Watlendath
The track to Borrowdale
Spectacular views on the descent to Borrowdale
Olly celebrates reaching tarmac
The going gets tough
HD video footage from today's ride
A quick check of the hostel's internet service confirmed that the fine weather would continue all day, so when we finally got away at 10am we headed straight for the Faeryland boat hire company on the edge of the lake. It was exactly where Michael remembered it to be from the 1991 tour, but everything was closed with no signs indicating whether it might ever open again! The local tourist information office in the hotel advised that the owner had no contact telephone number and no particular opening hours, but that he was "likely" to be there by 11am as it was peak season!

We amused ourselves for half an hour by browsing the various outdoor equipment shops in the village, during which time Olly bought a Frisbee football and others tried out a balancing board. When we returned to the bikes Michael was amazed to see that his speedo, which had been reading 21 miles when we left the hostel, now showed 40 miles! There appeared to be no logical explanation for this whatsoever, just as there seemed no explanation for why the Satnav couldn't work out where we were in the village, or why mobile phones didn't seem to work near the shops! Grasmere is apparently not a good place for electronic equipment!

When we returned to Faeryland we were relieved to find that the proprietor had finally arrived, so once Fred had fed the ducks and swans we set about hiring two 4-person rowing boats and spent a very enjoyable hour navigating the delightful lake, surrounded on all sides by Lakeland hills and mountains. Everyone had a go at rowing, although some were definitely better than others - Sam won first prize on the yellow boat and Charles did best on the red.

We had been warned by the proprietor that if we were out for more time than the designated hour we'd lose some of our £20 deposit. Michael's boat got back with 3 minutes to spare and Charles' with just 1 minute, so Olly was bragging about how they got better value for their £15 by spending more time on the water. When Michael pointed out that Charles' team had landed on the far side and spent a full 10 minutes walking around on the land, he had to accept that Michael's team had actually done best in this regard!

We kept Jill happy by agreeing to a quick coffee, then we headed off with some speed along the climb to Dunmail Raise and along the length of Thirlmere, a long reservoir enlarged from the original lake in 1894. A further burst of speed brought us to the busy town of Keswick in time for a rather late lunch, but we were rewarded by finding one of the best sandwich shops in the country just waiting to serve us with a huge range of baguettes and Paninis custom made to order. An old fashioned sweet shop sold us sweets from jars and the local coop provided a good range of food for supper and breakfast.

When Michael had finally coaxed the slower shoppers out of the store we set off for a track detour to the hostel - without telling the youngsters of course! This began with a stiff climb to Ashness Bridge, a delightful beauty spot that had attracted many tourists. Further up the hill came the most amazing view we had ever seen, looking right across Derwent Water towards Keswick. This is where the photo was taken that appears on the front of OS map 90, so we spent a little time checking the map to see what had changed!

The going was fairly easy for the next few miles and we were soon at Watlendath, home of the tarn named the Devil's Punchbowl. Numerous ducks bobbing around in the sunshine helped make it an idyllic spot, but sadly we didn't have time to stop for the drinks offered at the farmhouse.

Our route took us off-road on the bridleway that leads over the mountain and down into Borrowdale. Michael had warned us that it was a bit steep and rough, but fortunately the climb didn't last long and we were soon resting on the grassy verges at the top admiring a view that was more reminiscent of Austria than Britain. It was only by going off-road that we had been able to experience the utter tranquillity of this place, with mountain ranges, hills and forests stretching out for miles in each direction.

The descent was much longer, but turned out to be slow going because it was almost unrideable for most of the way. The views just kept on getting better as we continued, but there were a few moans here and there as new stretches of steep, rocky path opened out below us. We passed numerous packs of huge rocks along the way, evidently left there for path repairs: Michael felt they had been dropped by helicopter, but Charles disagreed. When we finally reached the tarmac at the bottom of Borrowdale there was relief all round.

Borrowdale hostel was just a mile or so down the valley, and we were not disappointed by what we found. Situated in a secluded woodland glade it was well equipped with an enormous games room, a comfortable lounge with internet station and large gardens all around. The dorms may have been a bit cramped compared to Grasmere, but then Grasmere was exceptional.

Several other youngsters in the games room joined in the table tennis competition with our group, making it a very homely atmosphere. As usual, the evening concluded with a massive Bomberman session in the dorm, where Michael just lost to the other five 10-9.

Wednesday 25 July 2007
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 3 Borrowdale to Buttermere YH (10 mi)Damp start, sunny later but breezy
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Borrowdale YH
Ready to leave Borrowdale YH
The cafe and restaurant at Seathwaite
Henry admires the view from Sour Milk Gill, Seathwaite
The Honister slate mine at the top of Honister Pass
Some signs are never welcome
Buttermere lake
The long downhill to Buttermere from Honister Pass
Enjoying Mars cake and drinks at the Buttermere café
HD video footage from today's ride
Last night's weather forecast predicted rain until 12.00, so we got up late, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then played numerous games of table tennis with the other young hostellers who were all very friendly. The rain was easing at 11.30 so we rode the two miles to Seathwaite and climbed the waterfall known as Sour Milk Gill. Well, to be strictly correct, five of us climbed the waterfall while Olly, Sam and Freddie preferred to wait by the bikes! Those who did the short climb enjoyed some magnificent views of the valley below.

When we returned in the now brightening conditions we decided to take advantage of the homely cafe for an early lunch. Some even had pan-fried trout, caught in the adjacent fishing pools, and the overall opinion of all the food was excellent.

Availability of hostels when the tour was originally booked in May meant that our next hostel was just a few miles away, at Buttermere. All we had to do was to climb Honister Pass at 356m, and considering we were starting at 103m this only involved a climb of 253m! The lower stages were very steep and caused problems for Olly and Henry, but eventually we emerged at the top to the sight of the Honister Slate mine, now open to visitors. We narrowly decided against the 90-minute tour of the mines, opting instead for a browse around the visitor centre and the purchase of some refreshments - including our first sample of "Mars cake". The slate produced at the mine seems to be mainly used for house signs and chess boards!

The downhill to Buttermere was steep in places but great fun to ride. All too quickly we were admiring the views across Buttermere, where Michael seemed to be getting excited about confirming the location of one of his 1991 photos!

We hadn't seen a shop all day, and as Michael was thinking about this he remembered that on the previous visit in 1991 we had discovered that locals go all the way to Keswick to get their food! We had been banking on plenty of shops in Buttermere village, but when we arrived at the hostel the warden confirmed that there was only a cafe there, and that the only food we were going to be able to get was from his hostel kitchen. We'd managed to avoid the cost of hostel meals so far, but tonight it seemed the YHA were going to win.

Having dropped our bags at the hostel we rode the mile or so down to the village and made the most of the cafe by purchasing a range of drinks and some more Mars cake. Charles and Michael had hoped to use our surplus time for a walk to Robinson Ridge behind the hostel, which offers excellent views across Buttermere to the mountains beyond, but Olly and Henry refused point blank to cycle the half-mile uphill detour required so we contented ourselves with the view from the first ridge and then headed back to the hostel.

Buttermere hostel looked nice from the outside and was in a pleasant location, but we all found it a little disappointing compared to the previous hostels. There was no tv reception, no internet station, no games room and no mobile reception. The showers were ok until Charles had a go, whereupon a pipe burst and we were deprived of hot water for the rest of our stay! We hadn't seen a shop all day so those who didn't have emergency rations had to buy the hostel meals: these did turn out to be excellent however, and the atmosphere in the dining room was rather upmarket, with table service for all!

Our evening was concluded with the usual Bomberman contests where Michael was once again narrowly defeated by the others, and an episode of the latest season of Doctor Who.

Thursday 26 July 2007
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 4 Buttermere to Eskdale YH (32 mi)Mainly cloudy with some rain
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Buttermere YH
The rain eases as we prepare to leave Buttermere YH
Henry feeds a friendly horse
The view across Crummock Water towards Buttermere
Olly takes a fall - and all because of a shoelace!
The cafe and shop at Gosforth
The miniature steam engine, being rotated by hand on the turntable
Enjoying the ride on the Eskdale miniature railway
HD video footage from today's ride
The burst pipe at Buttermere hostel had reached alarming proportions as we came down for breakfast: a stream of water had somehow worked its way down through three storeys to the dining room where it was running down the main light flex, around the bulb holder and down onto the floor! The bulb had been removed but we didn't see how they could have switched off the power without also leaving the whole room in darkness, so we gave it a wide berth!

The heavy rain falling outside left everyone feeling a little down as we waited on the western-style porch at 9.15. We had 32 miles to cover today, our longest mileage of the tour, and it looked like being a very miserable journey. Michael eyed up the warden's PC behind the reception desk and asked if he could get an accurate weather forecast and public transport times from it so we could make the right decision for the youngsters. But he refused point blank, pointing us instead to unhelpful bus timetables that covered only parts of the day's route and to a printed forecast that gave only a vague idea of the day's weather. We felt like nominating him for the Unhelpful Warden of the Year award!

So at 9.25 we decided to bite the bullet and set off, with Michael's Satnav removing all the worry of wrong turns and multiple wet maps and giving a constant readout of how many miles remained! Within five minutes however the rain stopped, leaving us with a dry 19-mile ride all the way past Loweswater to Ennerdale Bridge. Here the youngsters insisted on taking a break in the well-equipped park, but Heidi, not to be left out, was to be seen playing Hopscotch!

It was during the climb of the 290m Scaly Moss pass that the rain set in. This was the most testing time of the tour for the younger riders. We hadn't seen a single shop all morning so we were dependent on chocolate rations to keep everyone going. The rain continued for around an hour and a half, keeping us soaked all the way over the top of the pass and down the other side. The eerie towers of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant gradually became visible through the mist and rain as we made the descent, but we didn't feel any particular radioactive glow as we passed it.

A few miles along the main road we finally arrived at Gosforth, a village that we were sure would have a shop. In the event it turned out to have not only a shop (the first we had seen since Keswick) but also a cafe, located over the shop and run by a friendly proprietor who went out of his way to help everyone dry out and meet our various needs. It's hard to describe the relief shown by some of the youngsters as they got out of the rain and shared the hot air hand driers! We ordered - and got - whatever we wanted within reason and were so grateful for the service that we didn't ask the prices. The bill came as something of a shock, but we had received large portions of food and welcome shelter from the weather so we were fairly well satisfied.

As we finished our shopping for supper and breakfast we noticed that the rain had now stopped, so the final few miles to the hostel turned out to be very pleasant, even blessed with a few sunny spells. We had made good progress despite the rain so we had time to stop at the Eskdale to Ravenglass miniature steam railway station at Dalegarth. A train was about to leave and when the female guard told us it would be a 40-minute round trip to Ravenglass six of us hopped on at once. It really was a unique experience travelling on the 15" gauge track in an open-top carriage. We were just beginning to enjoy it when the guard told us that she had made a mistake, and in fact the journey would take 40 minutes each way! We felt this was too long for Olly and Freddie to wait at Dalegarth, and the only alternative was to alight at the first station, Fisherground, and take the next train back! The journey took only 8 minutes each way, and for the privilege of this 16-minute round trip we were charged £4.80 per adult and £2.40 per child - exactly half the price of the 80-minute full trip! We felt somewhat ripped off, but made the best of the journey.

Eskdale hostel was just a few more miles up the valley. It advertises itself as being "child-friendly" so we had high expectations when we arrived. It was indeed a nice hostel, although once again it lacked games room and internet service. Michael recruited another new member (Freddie) to his Condensed Milk club and the youngsters enjoyed some outdoor fun in the grounds before settling down for the inevitable Bomberman contests in the dorm.

Friday 27 July 2007
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 5 Eskdale to Elterwater YH (14 mi)Cloudy with occasional showers
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The group outside Eskdale YH
Eskdale YH - child friendly
Looking towards Wrynose Pass from the top of Hardknott
The final stages of Hardknott Pass
Wrynose Pass from Wrynose Bottom
The Hardknott climb from Wrynose bottom
The start of the road to Wrynose and Hardknott - matching our 1991 photo
Looking towards Langdale from the top of Wrynose Pass
Freddie Tyler at the top of Side Pike, with Blae Tarn behind
Sheltering from the wind at the top of Side Pike
HD video footage from today's ride
Friday's ride started with the assault of Hardknott Pass, reaching a height of 393m from a starting point of just 76m - that's 317m of climb. A person at the cafe yesterday had laughed when they heard we were tackling Hardknott today! Olly was very tired at first and struggled with the steeper sections, but Sam and Freddie volunteered to help Michael with a bike assistance scheme which involved stopping every so often to go back for someone else's bike! In this way we all got to the top at around the same time, with everyone challenged according to their ability.

There were spectacular views going right back to the coast, but it was, not surprisingly, very windy, making photography rather difficult. Good brakes were required on the steep descent which certainly justified the clump of double arrows on the map. No sooner had we reached the bottom than we had to begin the climb of the next pass, Wrynose. This, surprisingly, reached exactly the same height of 393m, but because we were starting from 220m it didn't seem nearly as bad. Nobody needed help this time, so the leaders had time to enjoy the further views into the Eastern Lake District.

At this point Michael realised that he had somehow misprinted the day's mileage: he had put 24m on the tour sheet but clearly it wasn't going to be more than 14m in total. Freddie, being Freddie, managed to overhear Michael telling Charles that the mileage was lower and proceeded to tell all the other youngsters that they were being led on an unnecessary detour! After an exciting descent to Little Langdale the younger riders totally believed Freddie and slowed to a crawl when we took a sharp left! It was a small detour of perhaps two miles, but it was all part of the planned route and the day was very easy by any standards. By the time everyone had reached the top near Blae Tarn Michael had managed to disseminate the truth, but he was not pleased that his announcement of what should have been good news had somehow been turned around to sound like bad news!

Our main event of the day was to climb a hill, or pike as it is called in the Lake District. We had chosen Side Pike because it was a fairly easy climb, to 335m. After negotiating a flooded section of road we parked the bikes near the road and everyone took part in the climb, which offered superb views across Great Langdale to Langdale Fell. There were a few walkers on the other side, and a Fell Runner who seemed to descend the hills very quickly indeed.

Once again we had seen no shop all day. Dungeon Ghyll Force waterfall looked a possibility with its tourist markings on the map, but when we arrived there was only a hotel and a car park. There was no choice but to press on to Chapel Style, and here at last was a shop of sorts. Langdale Stores didn't have any yoghurts and the range of food was very limited, but we managed to find a few items and ate lunch outside in the car park.

A few showers started heading our way so we headed quickly along the last couple of miles to Elterwater, arriving by 4pm. Fortunately the warden had left the common room open so we could settled down in comfort to play games and read the papers while the showers merged together outside. It was just possible to get mobile phone reception by standing on the wall outside the hostel, but every time Michael went there a heavy shower drenched him!

We just managed to squeeze all the bikes into the tiny bike shed when the warden arrived, and generally speaking the evening was enjoyable, with a well equipped kitchen and pleasant dining room. The rain was beating down outside while we settled down to the serious business of computer games and Doctor Who.

Saturday 28 July 2007
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 6 Elterwater to Ambleside YH (22 mi)Warm and sunny
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Sam Acland at Elterwater YH
Elterwater YH
Out of this world scenery & light effects on the bridleway to Little Langdale
The group at Elterwater YH
The Slaters Bridge at Little Langdale
Little Langdale Tarn
Pausing for a rest on the steep climb near Moss Rigg wood
Slaters Bridge, matching our 1991 photo
The farmer drives his Lakeland sheep ahead of us towards High Tilberthwaite
Olly Acland tackles the final climb to High Tilberthwaite
Freddie takes the controls on Lake Windermere
HD video footage from today's ride
The remnants of last night's rain had cleared away by the time we assembled outside Elterwater hostel, leaving sunshine streaming through the large gaps in the cloud. We decided to proceed with the first of several planned route options, taking us along the bridleway from Elterwater to Little Langdale. Once the initial short climb had been negotiated the track opened out to reveal stunning scenery shown off to perfection by the morning sunshine. Michael's photo of the scene turned out to be one of those near perfect shots that are rarely achieved.

The second part of the route was supposed to be the bridleway to High Tilberthwaite, but Michael's particular interest in the Slaters Bridge meant that we inadvertently ended up following the footpath instead. This was a good deal tougher than the bridleway. First we had to explain ourselves to the farm owner who wondered whether we couldn't read the "no cycling" sign on the gate: when we pointed out that we were only pushing our bikes she had to bite her lip and retreat. Then there were the styles, designed to make it almost impossible for anyone other than walkers to negotiate the path: we must have carried the bikes over at least four styles, the last of which was so high that Charles was recruited as a makeshift crane! And finally there was the gradient, so steep on the climb from the valley that the younger ones really appreciated the extra help offered by the others.

But then there were the compensations that the bridleway could never have provided. The Slaters Bridge itself was fascinating, with most half expecting a real live troll to emerge from beneath as we pushed our bikes across its narrow stony surface. The youngsters played on the nearby island in the river. Then there were the views across Little Langdale Tarn to the hills beyond, reminiscent of the Austrian Alps in their sheer grandeur: Jill was so taken with them that she felt the whole tour was justified by these views alone. Finally, near the top we were fortunate enough to encounter a local hill farmer herding his flock of Herdwick sheep up the stony path on his quad. Olly got to the path first and found himself surrounded by sheep passing him on all sides - he confessed later to being slightly anxious, being unaware of their benign nature. We then had to follow the farmer and his sheep for another mile or so of track as it went over the top of the hill, through a flooded section and down to High Tilberthwaite. It really was enlightening to watch the farmer and his dogs at work, and he even took the time to chat with us when we reached his farm.

The path had taken a good deal longer than we had anticipated, so after the youngsters had spent a few minutes playing under a bridge we headed straight for Coniston. We enjoyed an early lunch on a jetty overhanging the lake, made famous in the 1960s by Donald Campbell who died in his attempt to regain the water speed record. There were more ducks here than we had ever seen before in one place. When the first piece of bread was dropped in they all began sailing towards us like an armada!

We decided there wasn't time for the visits to either Grizedale Forest tracks or Tarn How, so we headed instead directly to Hawkshead village with blue skies and bright sunshine all around. Hawkshead is a fascinating village with lots of interesting shops in narrow streets. Olly and Charles found some clothing to buy while Michael checked the times for our final activity - a boat trip in Windermere.

We made good speed along the quiet road to Ambleside, arriving at the Water Sports centre at around 4.15. Here we hired a 6-man motor boat and spent an enjoyable hour sailing around on England's biggest lake, marvelling at the number of exclusive boathouses that could be seen around the perimeter and longing for the time to visit the mysterious island in the middle. Everyone took turns at the steering wheel and nobody disgraced themselves with their performance. How fortunate we had been to get such perfect weather!

Ambleside youth hostel was just a few hundred metres from the Water Sports centre. It's a very large hostel with 257 beds. It is located right on the edge of Windermere and consequently offers some very special views, but even though it was very comfortable and boasted good facilities, somehow it seemed to lack character. Maybe this was a result of the large number of car-travelling middle-aged and elderly visitors who were staying there, or maybe it was the impersonal service that is inevitable with so many staff. Either way it felt more like a small hotel, so the general verdict from our group was that it was our least favourite hostel of the tour.

We rode back to Ambleside to buy food for our evening meal, then spent some time back at the hostel exploring the various staircases that traversed the very long three-storey building and finding the many showers that were distributed along its length. Just when most of us had learned where all the corridors led, Freddie set off confidently from the dorm to lead Michael to the kitchens and found himself heading down some stairs that led to .. a bathroom! Gutted!

There was a games room at the hostel, but this was our last night and the youngsters wanted to finish their tour with some final massive Bomberman contests. For the first time we had 4-bedded dorms and the ladies were not amused to be kept awake all night, first by noisy tourists outside and second by Henry who apparently snored for hours!

Sunday 29 July 2007
0800-2030
Tour: Lake District Day 7 Ambleside to Home (17 mi)Hot and sunny
8 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Henry Gunter, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The view across Lake Windermere from Ambleside YH
Ambleside YH
HD video footage from today's ride
Ambleside hostel provides breakfast as part of the overnight fee, so we found ourselves joining the end of a very long queue when we reached the dining area at 8.30. It was a good breakfast though: Henry piled his plates high and reckoned it was a "proper breakfast", whilst Fred and Sam helped themselves to two chocolate croissants each! We had an excellent view of the lake from our glass-fronted dining room at breakfast time. Everything looked perfect with the morning sunshine gleaming off the many yachts.

As we were preparing to leave the consensus once again was that Ambleside was too commercial. We also discovered that Charles had got up early enough to go on an amble to Ambleside before breakfast!

We had plenty of time before our train from Kendal, so we took time out to visit the Lakes visitor centre on the edge of Windermere. It was a pleasant location with an excellent cafe and gardens, but the youngsters were more interested in the well-equipped adventure playground.

Continuing to Bowness we discovered thousands of people lining the lake to watch a display by the Red Arrows as part of the Windermere Air Show. We watched as many of the stunts as we could, but time was pressing so we headed on up the B-road to Crook and Kendal with good speed. Somehow we managed to stop at Kendal, buy some food and ride the last few miles to Oxenholme with ten minutes to spare before the departure of the first of our trains.

This had been a varied and interesting tour that was blessed with far better weather than we had dared hope for in such an unsettled summer. Henry reckoned he would never forget his first cycle tour, and the rest of us took away fond memories of one of Britain's most beautiful national parks.

Friday 3 August 2007Evening ride: Cancelled
0 present:
There were no riders out for this evening's ride.

Sunday 5 August 2007Afternoon ride: CancelledHot and sunny
0 present:
There were no riders out for this peak season afternoon ride.

Friday 10 August 2007
1900-2030
Evening ride: Burchetts WoodSunny
2 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
With many of our regular riders away on holidays only Michael and Ashley turned out for this evening's ride. As it had been dry for a couple of weeks we decided to try the Burchetts Wood track, opposite Hembury Woods. It still proved to be a little muddy in places, but it was quite passable and Ashley thoroughly enjoyed exploring what was for him a completely new track.

Sunday 12 August 2007
1015-1230
Morning ride: Hembury WoodsWarm and sunny
2 present: Harry Blackman (9, Totnes), Michael Jones
New rider Harry Blackman by the river Dart in Hembury Woods
Nine year old Harry Blackman was fortunate enough to get one to one attention for his first club ride - and since Ashley wasn't out he also got to borrow the club mountain bike and helmet! He couldn't get over how easy the bike was to ride up hills, and he found the Hembury tracks so enjoyable that he just didn't want the ride to finish!

Ashley joined us for the afternoon social at Crofters, but Harry was so keen he wanted to go out for another ride! Sadly he's moving away from the area next week, but he hopes to return from time to time for more biking fun.

Friday 17 August 2007
1900-2045
Evening ride: Burchetts WoodSunny
5 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Tom Pearson
Sam, Olly, Tom and Ashley by the river at the end of Burchetts Wood
Everyone seemed to want to go to Burchetts Wood again once Ashley had told them all about it. Michael's warnings of muddy conditions proved well founded, a result of the heavy rain earlier in the week, but everyone seemed to love the track anyway. Olly used the mud as an excellent excuse to walk through the river at the end of the track, but everyone else just cleaned their wheels from the bank!

The steep climb towards Holne was followed by the descent past Shuttaford farm and then the lower Hembury track - much more enjoyable today in the downhill direction.

By the time we reached Buckfastleigh everyone was filthy, but that didn't stop them returning to Crofters for a few computer games before heading homewards.

We'd like to remind everyone that working lights must be brought on all further evening rides this season.

Sunday 19 August 2007Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Today's ride did not take place as everyone was away.

Friday 24 August 2007
1900-2045
Evening ride: AbhamSunny
2 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
Ashley was in fine form for this evening's ride. We rode out along Colston road, stopping for a full 15 minutes to chat with Michael's relatives at Colston who were riding the most enormous Shire horses. We made good speed to Riverford and then took the track leading back to Hole Farm that we rarely get to ride. With no lights we had to make good speed to return before dark, but Ashley managed it with no difficulty whatsoever.

Sunday 26 August 2007
1015-1230
Morning ride: Belford MillHot and sunny
4 present: Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Michael Jones
Olly, Sam and Heidi at Ashburton
Sam and Olly were keen to introduce Heidi to the delights of the Belford Mill track, and Heidi was not at all disappointed. When we came to the Terrace Walk however there were a few problems when Michael's pannier caught on a piece of wire fence carelessly left sticking out of the ground: his pannier was ripped from the bike, breaking both clips and the elastic strap in the process! Temporary repairs proved ineffective but fortunately Michael was carrying spare clips and strap, so he was able to effect full repairs once we reached the road.

Friday 31 August 2007
1900-2045
Evening ride: Marley HeadWarm and dry
2 present: Julian Duquemin, Michael Jones
Julian with his very expensive bike at Rattery
Julian, back in Devon for a week's holiday, joined Michael for a speedy ride to Marley Head, returning via Rattery to ensure we got back before dark as Julian didn't have lights.

Sunday 2 September 2007
1415-1730
Afternoon ride: SpitchwickWarm and sunny
5 present: Charles Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The group at Spitchwick
Sam watches while Freddie jumps into the Dart
On a perfect sunny afternoon we headed through Hembury Woods and found Spitchwick packed with people of all ages. We settled down at the Buckland end and amused ourselves for well over half an hour; Sam and Freddie went swimming in the deep waters and then at Olly's request we played a game with the Frisbees in the trees.

The hill to Buckland was challenging as always, but everyone was fast today so we were soon heading down the hill to Ashburton and home.

Friday 7 September 2007
1900-2045
Evening ride: HolneWarm and dry
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Tom Pearson
Oliver turned up unexpectedly today after an absence of well over a year, joining us for a quick spin through Scoriton and Michelcombe to Holne play park. Frisbee catching became increasingly difficult in the deepening gloom: once or twice it proved impossible to see the ring Aerobie until it materialised centimetres in front of the catcher, which sometimes proved rather a shock!

We headed back to Buckfastleigh via Hembury hill.

Sunday 9 September 2007Day ride: CancelledWarm and dry
0 present:
There were no riders out for today's ride to the Avon Railway.

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