South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 14 September 2007
Evening ride: Hole FarmDry but cloudy
3 present: Sam Acland, Michael Jones, Tom Pearson
With threatening weather in the air we decided on a relatively short ride, along Colston road, over Riverford Bridge and home via the track to Hole Farm.

Sunday 16 September 2007
Morning ride: DartingtonMainly dry with occasional misty drizzle
5 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Michael Jones
Dartington Hall estate
Sam demonstrates the mysterious solar-heated decontamination chamber
Construction of a 'mud hut' in Dartington village
Riding along Colston road the youngsters noticed what they thought looked like a spaceship. Closer inspection revealed coiled pipes around the top and a walk-in area, so the general consensus was that it was a solar-heated shower. When Michael pointed out that there was no door or curtain rail however, we decided users would have to be clothed, so the final label given was a solar-heated decontamination chamber!

Our route took us through the Dartington Hall estate from Dartington Church, and then through the little-known village route that nobody except Michael had ever seen. As we turned the last corner we came across a partly-built egg-shaped house with mud walls, and Charles, being fascinated by all things construction, engaged the owners in a prolonged conversation that covered every detail of the design!

Highlight of the morning was definitely the visit to Cranks restaurant, where everyone bought an excellent lunch at the usual high prices. We returned via Colston Road again, which looked and felt quite different in reverse!

Friday 21 September 2007
Evening ride: HemburyDry but cloudy
5 present: Sam Acland, Michael "Wolfie" Bulmer (Junior, Devon), Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The afternoon rain stopped just before the ride, so we tested our lights with an excursion through the Hembury tracks. New rider Wolfie proved himself a very able cyclist and very much enjoyed the off-road flavour of the evening even though his front light stopped working in the heart of the woods! Sam's puncture delayed us somewhat on the return, but there was still enough time for playing Marvel: Ultimate Alliance after the ride.

Saturday 22 September 2007Weekend ride: CancelledWarm and dry
0 present:
An unfortunate clash of dates and a poor weather forecast meant there were no bookings for our Salcombe weekend this year.

Friday 28 September 2007Evening ride: CancelledDry but cloudy
0 present:
For various reasons there were no riders out for our final evening ride of the season.

Sunday 30 September 2007
Day ride (Car-assisted): Exeter Ship Canal (24 mi)Dry with sunny periods
9 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Reuben Johnson, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Freddie Tyler
Zac McGrath by the Exe Estuary
Unloading the bikes near Black Forest Lodge
The canal path
The start of the canal at Turf Lock
Fred, Reuben and Zac enjoy Ice Cream Factories at Pizza Hut
A heron provides a rare photo opportunity
Fred and the other youngsters enjoying the trampoline in Exeter park
Reuben, Ashley and Zac at Pizza Hut
Ashley and Zac wait by the canal while youngsters from Millfield School begin to ride in our direction
Video footage from today's ride
There was a good turnout today for one of our most popular rides, including Reuben who hadn't been out with us for two years. We parked the cars near Black Forest Lodge, unloaded the bikes (and youngsters) and set off for Starcross and Powderham.

The Powderham road was closed to motor vehicles to protect runners who were taking part in a charity event. When we passed the Powderham estate we were rewarded with the sight of hundreds of deer racing across the grounds. Perhaps they had been frightened by the runners or perhaps they just felt frisky in the morning sunshine, but they provided Olly with an ideal opportunity to use his camcorder.

Fred, being Fred, led two others straight past the track turnoff. When they eventually returned we crossed the railway line and headed with good speed along the narrow path that runs along the edge of the Exe estuary. Everyone loved the track, and there were plenty more after we reached the beginning of the canal at Turf Lock. The canal seemed to be full of wildlife, including swans and even a heron that blocked our path at close range.

Hunger was beginning to bite, but the youngsters still found time to watch some mini motorbike riders on a piece of rough ground near the centre of Exeter before we covered the last mile or so to Pizza Hut.

Our last two visits to Pizza Hut have been excellent, but today things were very different. When we arrived at 1pm we asked for a table for 9. The waitress looked at the sea of empty tables near the window and announced that they wouldn't have a table for our size of group for around 15 minutes. Apparently the empty tables were closed off because they were short-staffed! We thought about suggesting that we had one of those large tables and that they closed off two smaller tables in the used area to keep the total number of tables the same, but we decided this would be too complicated for them and contented ourselves with asking whether they could move two tables together for us. She looked around vaguely and said she would see what she could do. Meanwhile we asked if we could order in advance of sitting down. The answer once again was no, because they were short staffed!

Thirty minutes later we had checked out the menus and decided what to order but were still waiting by the door. Several twos and fours had been allocated to tables, and some of those had left again 15 minutes later because nobody had taken their order! We asked again about placing our orders before sitting down, but were again told no.

It was nearly 2pm when we finally got a table. We had been determined to get the waitress who took us to our table to take our order before she left us, but again we were foiled: she was not a waitress, she was just clearing tables! At 2.12 we had our order taken, and the food finally arrived at 2.35. Unfortunately one of the orders was wrong, but we had enough food to be going along with. We asked whether we could speak to the manager and were told that the chef was off too so the manager was cooking the pizzas!

Then we got to the part the youngsters had been waiting for: desserts. They all wanted ice cream factories, but once again it took a while to get a waitress. She eventually came and took our order, but didn't make any attempt to clear our table. And after the first two servings the ice cream machine turned out liquid ice-cream - apparently it needs a rest after every serving!

It was 3.45 when we finally got away from Pizza Hut. We negotiated free drinks on our order which provided some compensation for our troubles, but now we had precious little time to complete the ride as we had planned. Our excursion of the park started with the trampoline which provided endless entertainment for the youngsters. Maybe they should get one put in at Buckfastleigh?! We checked out the bridges and then paused briefly to admire the young skateboarders showing off their undoubted skills in the skate park.

As we headed back along the canal for home a huge group of youngsters merged with our group, all riding Giant Rock bikes. We found out that they were a group from Millfield School at Taunton, out for a ride on hire bikes, but Zac happened to have exactly the same bike and he was mistaken for a member of the school group on two occasions! We rode with them past the busy quayside shops and came across a few Exeter youngsters on bikes who seemed to want nothing more than to demonstrate that they were better cyclists than Millfield! Because Zac was with us we had to deny that we were part of the Millfield group!

Our rather belated return to the cars at Black Forest Lodge was punctuated by a toilet stop at Turf Lock and some repairs to Freddie's saddle at Starcross. We didn't get back to Buckfastleigh until nearly 7pm but the youngsters insisted on at least half an hour of computer games to round off what had been an adventurous and enjoyable ride.

Friday 5 October 2007
Social: Games Evening
6 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Frankie Unknown (Junior, Devon)
Our first social of the new season kept everyone entertained with the latest console and PC games.

We'd like to remind members that they are only eligible to take part in social events if they have attended at least one scheduled cycle ride within the previous 3 weeks.

Sunday 7 October 2007Afternoon ride: Parkfield TrackDry but cloudy
1 present: Michael Jones
Only Michael turned up to the start today so the ride was cancelled.

Friday 12 October 2007
Social: Badminton
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
We managed to get 2 badminton courts at the Ashmoor centre this evening, but not until 8.30, so the youngsters had to find something to do at Crofter for the first hour. Needless to say, that wasn't very difficult. Zac did well on his second ever badminton games and Charles, who tried to give the impression of not being very good, surprised Michael by putting up a very good game.

Sunday 14 October 2007
Day ride: Ten Commandments Stone / LetterboxingSunny
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The Ten Commandments Stone
The path towards Ten Commandments Stone
Freddie Tyler
The Ten Commandments Stone
The Acland family were a little late starting and so opted to take the car to the top of Ausewell hill. They passed us near the bottom of the hill, but no amount of persuasion could even get Charles to ride it with us, much to Ashley's frustration!

An unmarked path across the moor led us to Buckland Beacon and the Ten Commandments Stone. 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! Nobody except Michael had been here before so there was a race to find the stone first. Sam won, but only by asking another visitor where it was!

When we had found the only letterbox on the tor we headed along a different moorland track to Cold East Cross, passing some rather lazy-looking black cows along the way. It was getting rather close to lunchtime and nobody really fancied Michael's idea of climbing Rippon Tor (not even Michael himself), even if there were several letterboxes there. We headed instead for Bonehill rocks which offered shelter for lunch and an abundance of letterboxes. Ashley, whilst looking around for boxes, discovered a young Australian man and his friend with full mountaineering gear trying to climb a big boulder that was only twice their height!

A steep downhill brought us quickly to Widecombe, where the Green cafe provided useful refreshments for those who had neglected to bring a packed lunch. Freddie, always cautious here after the time he put hand wash liquid into Michael's water bottle, returned to the table to discover everyone looking at his own bottle that he had left there unattended. Their looks alone were sufficient to convince him his bottle had been doctored, even though it hadn't been touched!

We headed back to Leusdon for the downhill to Spitchwick which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Charles and Heidi then took the left for Buckland and the car while the rest continued through Spitchwick Common itself which was pleasantly deserted today. Hembury tracks provided a grand finale to the day's activities, with the usual computer games to follow.

Friday 19 October 2007
Social: Film Night
7 present: Charles Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Freddie Tyler
Our film tonight was The Ant Bully, which seemed to go down well with everyone. There was time for games and an episode of Robin Hood before the end of the evening.

Sunday 21 October 2007
Morning ride: Fermoy's Garden Centre, IpplepenSunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Freddie Tyler at Fermoy's
Freddie Tyler at Fermoy's
Freddie met Michael at Staverton making a total of two for our morning ride to Fermoy’s - everyone else had a good excuse of course, but missed out on some perfect cycling weather.

Freddie was keen to keep up a good pace so we got to Ipplepen in double quick time and spent an enjoyable half hour eating tasty refreshments and looking around the pet store. Freddie was keen to have the Fermoy’s sign in the photo, but the sun just wasn't in the right place for that!

Our return route, through Denbury and Broadhempston, was completed at a similar speed, bringing us back to Buckfastleigh by 1pm for an afternoon of computer games.

Friday 26 October 2007
Social: Cinema Trip, The Dark is Rising
4 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
Our trip to the Apollo cinema at Paignton to see The Dark is Rising was a great success: the film was shown in the exclusive Director's Screen - small but very comfortable. Everyone enjoyed the film, although Sam felt the ending was rather predictable.

Sunday 28 October 2007
Day ride: Stoke Gabriel WeirVery wet
5 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
A final respite from the rain at Peartree Cross, Ashburton
The day started with torrential rain which continued right through lunch. We played computer games at Crofters while we waited for conditions to improve, but it was 4pm before the rain finally stopped.

We did a short ride to Ashburton where Freddie split off for Woodland and home, then took the track from River Dart Adventures back to Hembury Woods. This was a new experience for several in the group: the path is littered with fallen trees that make the whole route more like an obstacle course than a cycle route. Having manoeuvred around some large trunks and scrambled up a steep bank we managed to return to the path and enjoyed the very autumnal colours on the woodland leaves right back through Hembury.

Friday 2 November 2007
Social: Fireworks and Computer Games
5 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
We met at Crofters at 6pm and set off to the popular bonfire night celebrations at King Edward VI School at Totnes. There were huge queues for the good, and when Michael finally got served he was told they had sold out of veggie burgers! The firework display was excellent and well worth the £2 entry fee, although when everything stopped after the first 6 minutes we had begun to wonder whether that was it. We eventually discovered that the display had been halted while a missing youngster was located amongst the huge crowds of spectators.

Returning to Crofters we spent the remainder of the evening on computer games.

Sunday 4 November 2007
Afternoon ride: BroadhempstonSunny and calm
4 present: Michael "Wolfie" Bulmer, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
Freddie, Wolfie and Ashley at Broadhempston
The first of our new afternoon invitation rides didn't get quite the anticipated response, with one or two supposed new riders cancelling at the last minute. However, Freddie brought Wolfie out again for his second ride with us and we enjoyed an excellent afternoon romp through the lanes. The autumnal leaves were delightful on the Staverton track, but we weren't quite so impressed with the new steps and gate that had been added to the railway crossing.

At Broadhempston we spent an enjoyable half an hour in the park, eating refreshments and playing "rugby" with a local youngster who happens to go to the same school as Freddie and Wolfie. We then accompanied Freddie and Wolfie back towards Woodland before continuing homewards via Baddaford. Ashley was particularly interested in the steep and rough track descent from Five Lanes to Dart Bridge which offered new views of Buckfast and the surrounding area.

Friday 9 November 2007
Social: Badminton
5 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Freddie Tyler
The only courts available for badminton this evening were late courts (9pm) at Paignton. Computer games at Crofters were followed by a good session of badminton on two courts, during which Freddie demonstrated his worthiness of being in the Devon team. Charles missed the chance of helping Michael give him a run for his money, but hopes to be there for the next badminton evening.

Sunday 11 November 2007
Day ride: Haldon Forest TracksDry morning
4 present: Charles Acland, Olly Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
Olly and Ashley
Ashley & Olly relax in one of the play areas near the Play Trail
The autumnal lane across Haldon to Mamhead Obelisk
Ashley demonstrates his musical skills on the Play Trail
Ashley & Olly at Mamhead Obelisk, with views to the Exe estuary
Charles, Olly and Ashley at Mamhead Obelisk
Charles and Ashley at Mamhead Obelisk
Mamhead Obelisk
Weather was somewhat overcast for our car-assisted ride to Haldon, but we were still a bit surprised at the relatively low turnout for a ride that is always great fun.

Having parked in the gateway car park near Buller’s Hill we first rode the Play Trail as a warm-up, offering interesting and mainly level paths around the nearby forest. There were interesting play activities around almost every corner of the route, which of course Ashley and Olly just had to try out. Next was the Family cycle trail, which was a little longer and slightly hillier. We then rode the few miles across Haldon's autumnal lanes to Mamhead Obelisk, which offered magnificent views to the Exe Estuary and beyond while we ate lunch on the comfortable seats. This was a new location for all except Michael, and they were so impressed that they will undoubtedly return again.

A few spots of drizzle began to fall as Olly and Michael chased each other around the nearby undergrowth, so we headed back along the tracks near the Obelisk and arrived back at the Forest Park just as the rain seemed to become more settled. We had seen a van selling hot pancakes earlier, so now was the time to sample them whilst giving the weather a chance to decide what it was going to do.

Freddie, who was also cycling around the park with his family, met us briefly, but the rain was definitely in for the afternoon and neither Charles nor the youngsters could be persuaded to do any more riding today. We headed back to Buckfastleigh for some computer games, looking forward to returning to the park at a future date.

Friday 16 November 2007
Social: Games Evening
3 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Michael Jones
The planned music quiz was replaced with a games evening in view of the small attendance this evening.

Sunday 18 November 2007
Morning ride: Avon DamDry with sunny spells
5 present: Michael "Wolfie" Bulmer, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Freddie Tyler
Gidley Bridge
A delightful autumn scene at Gidley Bridge
Michael Bulmer, Dennis Ham, Zac McGrath & Freddie Tyler by the Avon near Shipley Bridge
Zac and Dennis
Michael Bulmer - known as Wolfie to his friends!
Dennis & Zac riding up the path to the Avon Dam
The dam is seriously overflowing after overnight rain
The Avon Reservoir outflow
The final section of downhill on the Abbots Way
Freddie and Wolfie prepare for the stupendous Abbots Way downhill
Crossing the ford near Cross Furzes
According to the forecast there was a high probability of rain continuing throughout the morning, and since Zac needed a puncture fixing we arranged to start later at around 11am. The rain actually stopped before 10am and conditions looked promising when we were ready to leave, so we set off through Dean Prior hoping that the promised rain would stay away.

When Zac eventually plucked up courage to ride past Nurston bungalow (scene of some unfortunate dog incidents on previous rides) we made good speed to the top of the hill and on through Gidley Bridge, which looked spectacular in its autumn decor. Zac and Dennis were slightly annoying however: asked to continue on up the hill while Michael took some unhurried photos, they actually hid behind a hedge and sprang out on him when he set off! Then everyone else had to wait while they climbed the hill at their slightly slower pace!

There were only a few people around Shipley Bridge. The driveway to the dam was made more interesting than usual by the huge volume of water surging down the Avon. South West Water contractors had left the path in rather a mess, however, during recent replacement of the water pipe: a very impressive trench digger (Wolfie wanted one of his own) had been used to dig up the tarmac, but it hadn't cut clean edges and the hole and been filled with loose rubble! We hope they don't intend to leave it like this.

The dam itself was overflowing more than we could remember seeing for some time. When we had taken a good look at all there was to see we headed back across our usual moorland route to the Abbots Way bridleway, which whilst wet, wasn't as muddy as we had perhaps expected. This was the first time on the Abbots Way for both Freddie and Wolfie, and needless to say they thoroughly enjoyed the fast descent to Cross Furzes and home.

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