South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 14 March 2008
1900-2200
Social: Squash
3 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
This evening's squash court was booked at the Torbay Leisure Centre, Paignton for 9pm, so we enjoyed a few games at Crofters before heading to Paignton for some very enjoyable games of squash. Zac was fairly new to the game but made good progress with encouragement from Ashley and Michael.

Sunday 16 March 2008Morning ride: CancelledDry
0 present:
There were no participants out for today's ride.

Friday 21 March 2008Social: Movie Evening, AI
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
The film AI formed the main entertainment for this Good Friday social evening.

Sunday 23 March 2008Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
There were no participants out for today's Easter Day ride.

Friday 28 March 2008
1900-2200
Social: Cinema Trip, Spiderwick Chronicles
5 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
The film tonight was The Spiderwick Chronicles, which turned out to be even more entertaining than expected.

Sunday 30 March 2008Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
There were no participants out for today's ride.

Friday 4 April 2008
1900-2100
Evening ride: Staverton (10 mi)Sunny
3 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Our first evening ride of the new season found three of us riding along Colston road, eagerly awaiting the chance to try out some new lights. Darkness had fallen by the time we reached Abham, and all lights were verified to be working admirably. Everyone agreed that the stillness of the deep Devon countryside makes the evening ride experience unforgettable.

Sunday 6 April 2008Morning ride: CancelledDry
0 present:
There were no participants out for today's ride.

Friday 11 April 2008Tour: South Cornish Coast Day 1 Home to Coverack YH (22 mi)Sunny with showers
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Preparing to leave the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek
Seals in the Gweek Seal Sanctuary
The entrance to Coverack YH
Ashley beside the Arthur satellite dish at Goonhilly Downs
Coastal view from our dormitory at Coverack YH
HD video footage from today's ride
Two days before the tour the Met office were predicting abysmal weather for the first day of the tour and showers for the remainder, so Michael took the executive decision to take the two younger riders to Cornwall by car. Zac had the front seat and was in charge of the Satnav, but sadly he had entered the wrong postcode so we almost ended up going to completely the wrong destination!

The Acland family took the train to Camborne and were slightly concerned at the heavy showers that buffeted the train. When they started cycling, however, the sun came out and the remainder of the day was really hot. They found it very amusing when they arrived at the Gweek seal sanctuary half an hour before Michael, Ashley and Zac!

Finding each other at Gweek proved more difficult than expected since there were no mobile phone signals in the area. Michael did a tour of the village and found the Aclands enjoying lunch outside the village shop, so we were soon together again for the look around the seal sanctuary.

Entry prices on the door were very steep, but Michael had checked online the previous night and bought some of the tickets for less than half price. Unfortunately he hadn't been able to get hold of the Aclands before he left home to confirm their plans, so they had to pay full price. Nevertheless we spent an enjoyable hour or so eating lunch in the cafe and watching the many seals (and seagulls) being fed. Casualties included Ashley, who while rolling down a woodland sloped managed to impale is leg on a small stick, and Michael, who cleverly managed to drop his new camcorder. There was no serious damage however.

Now the tour officially began as we set off up the gentle climb to Goonhilly. Everyone did well and we were soon at the Earth Station, complete with its many enormous satellite dishes. Sadly the dishes, which were once used to send and receive live TV to the USA and other world destinations, are now mainly redundant and the site has become a tourist attraction. We arrived just too late to get into the main exhibitions, but we were allowed into the shop and the computer area, where the youngsters spent time trying to get their favourite comedy sketches to appear on the Apple computers.

Before we left, Michael and Ashley got told off for walking in the restricted zone near the Arthur satellite (apparently they should have followed the path around the edge rather than the hard area next to the dish), and all the youngsters played in the play park.

The final stretch of cycling was easy, being flat and downhill all the way to the hostel at Coverack in glorious afternoon sunshine. The hostel itself was a magnificent mansion set in its own grounds high on the hillside. Our dorms had fabulous views overlooking the sea, and everyone agreed this was likely to be the best hostel of the tour.

After showers and meals we played a few games of pool in the common room while Ashley skated around on his new Heelys. Then there was time for the main fun of the evening - a game of manhunt around the grounds. For those who don't know the game, everyone hides from the seeker, and as each person is found they become seekers too. Some hid in trees, others in bushes, but the two that hid underneath an upturned canoe were felt to have gone a step too far! We wondered if they would think it fair to bury themselves under the garden!

Ghost stories and pink panther cartoons finished off a perfect first day of the tour.

Saturday 12 April 2008Tour: South Cornish Coast Day 2 Coverack to Boswinger YH (30 mi)Mainly sunny
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
The group outside Coverack YH
The group outside Coverack YH
Tranquil scene at Helford Post Office & general stores
Coverack harbour
Zac, Sam and Ash on the very expensive St Mawes ferry from Falmouth
First group takes the Helford Passage ferry
Round houses at Veryan
Ashley Freeman on the St Mawes ferry
Ash at Veryan Green
Heidi and Charles at Veryan Green
HD video footage from today's ride
Saturday dawned bright and clear. We had a long way to ride today, but we thought the detour down to the village of Coverack would be worth the effort. It probably was, with some delightful views of the harbour and sea, but it did add a little more time to our journey.

Some interesting lanes on the peninsula brought us soon to the picturesque village of Helford, where the village shop provided a tranquil spot for refreshments overlooking the sea. Michael and Ashley consumed two packets of biscuits between them, but everyone else seemed more interested in pressing on to the Helford Passage ferry.

The ferry proved too small for all of us to go on one journey, so we split into two groups and then, after a crossing that lasted around three minutes, received the rather extortionate bill of £29 - that's an average of more than £4 each! No doubt the ferryman would have argued that it was a long way around to go inland!

Talk of possible summer tours kept us occupied as we climbed over the next set of lanes, eventually bringing us to Falmouth for around 2pm. Ferries to St Mawes were every hour, 2.15 and 3.15, but we needed to get lunch and supper so we did some leisurely shopping in Falmouth and enjoyed lunch on the pier in glorious sunshine.

The St Mawes ferry was much larger than Helford Passage and could easily take all of us on one crossing, but the prices were very steep and they would offer no discount whatsoever for our group. We ended up paying £54 for the group, that's around £7.75 each! We felt totally ripped off, but at least the journey was a little longer, taking around twenty minutes.

It was now getting rather late in the day, so we pressed on up the hill from St Mawes, meeting an unpleasant hail shower near the top. Ashley happened to notice a chrome bar end in the road which he thought had come from Michael's bike. We left it when we didn't recognise it, but a few miles down the road we discovered it had come from Olly's bike!

A few of the faster members of the group detoured down the hill to St Just in Roseland, an ancient church set in semi-tropical gardens overlooking the Fal estuary, while the rest of us continued along the hilly route to Veryan, famous for its round houses. Everyone arrived there at about the same time, but nobody except Michael had enough energy to ride up the hill to see the houses!

The younger riders were now quite tired, and after a short rest by the village pond at Veryan Green we covered the final, hilly leg of the journey to Boswinger at a fairly slow pace. It was 7.45 when the last members arrived, but everyone felt pleased to have covered such a hilly thirty miles.

What little time there was left of the evening was spent preparing and eating meals and playing chess - and helping Zac sort out his scalded hand. Michael's second ghost story came to an abrupt end when the character he was describing fell asleep in his hostel bed: Ashley fell asleep at the same moment, so there seemed little point in concluding the story that night!

Sunday 13 April 2008Tour: South Cornish Coast Day 3 Boswinger to Golant YH (18 mi)Mainly sunny
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Preparing to leave Boswinger YH
Zac outside Boswinger YH
Ashley and Zac having fun with the gun
Zac and Ashley man the gun at Charlestown museum
Radio-controlled boats at Charlestown museum
Zac, Olly and Ashley play with the radio-controlled boats at Charlestown museum
HD video footage from today's ride
After an early shower the morning became bright and cheery. An easy ride took us to the picturesque fishing village of Mevagissey, but Michael's assurance that it would be Mega Busy proved misleading: today the whole place was strangely quiet, with some of the better shops not even having bothered to open! We located the only fudge shop that was trading and then headed onwards.

The warden at Boswinger had told us of a new off-road cycle route from Mevagissey to St Austell that would be easier and far more interesting than the road route. We soon found it, and after a fairly steep initial climb it turned out to be very enjoyable and very downhill! The youngsters got plastered with mud and splashed through the many puddles that lined the route. The track made the day far more interesting than it otherwise would have been.

A short climb took us over the hill to Charlestown, famous for its interesting harbour and its shipwreck and heritage museum. Sadly it is not famous for its food: there were no food shops to be found, and the only cafe was now an upper class Sunday Lunch restaurant that needs to be booked well in advance. Today it was full of well-dressed diners who had clearly forked out a very large amount of money for the waiter service. As we walked through dressed in our muddy cycling gear the waiter at the front wasted no time in letting us know that every table was booked!

We made do with biscuits and chocolate, then set about a tour of the museum. Highlight of the visit were the radio-controlled boats: the first one Ashley tried wouldn't turn left, but he was given another one free of charge by way of compensation. Zac bought a catapult pencil sharpener from the gift shop, but when he got outside and found that it didn't actually work he swapped it for another.

A mile up the road we found a huge Tesco supermarket which met all our needs for lunch and supper. We then continued through Par and up the hill to Golant, which didn't actually turn out to be as steep as we had expected. We arrived at Golant at 4.10 in bright sunshine. It had been an easy day, but the youngsters needed that after yesterday's high mileage and late arrival.

The hostel was open but reception was closed, so after a short rest in the foyer the more energetic members of the group played Manhunt in the grounds until 5.15. Loads of showers didn't seem to be in working order, but when we finally finished our meals we spent the remainder of the evening in the grounds again. Manhunt proved much harder here than at Coverack as the grounds were much larger: the younger members just couldn't run fast enough to catch the longer-legged members! A few pheasants were scared from their roosting places in the woods as darkness fell.

Michael's final attempt at a ghost story failed once again when Ashley fell asleep before it was completed.

Monday 14 April 2008Tour: South Cornish Coast Day 4 Golant to Home (15 mi)Sunny
7 present: Charles Acland, Heidi Acland, Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Ashley, Sam and Zac looking from East Looe to West Looe
The group at Golant YH
Ashley and Zac on the coast path to the Monkey Sanctuary
HD video footage from today's ride
Our final day turned out to be the brightest of all, with not a single shower all day. Some of the youngsters remembered the route to Looe from last year, which started with a trip across the Bodinnick ferry. This ferry gave us our usual discount and the journey cost us a mere £4 for the whole group! Well I guess they are a car ferry, so can be more generous to cyclists.

The climb from the ferry brought us quickly to the lanes, navigated successfully using Michael's Satnav which avoided referring to two overlapping maps. We arrived at Looe by lunchtime. Michael, Ashley and Zac bought pasties in West Looe and then extravagantly bought Knickerbocker glories in the Tasty Corner cafe - a long-standing tradition for this Section. The remainder bought food in the old-fashioned streets of East Looe, the others crossing by passenger ferry (80p each) to meet them rather than riding around the nearby bridge. There was time to browse the famous joke shop before the two groups split, the Aclands returning to Liskeard for their train home.

Michael's group showed just how much their cycling had improved during the tour by climbing the very steep hill from Looe to the coast path without walking. They then proceeded to the steps leading down to Milendreath beach. Ash, who had been looking forward to swimming throughout the tour, had planned to jump into the sea, but it took only a few seconds of standing in the icy waters for him to think better of that idea.

A final climb up the track brought us eventually to the Monkey Sanctuary, where Michael's car had kindly been deposited by his family over the weekend. The Sanctuary was due to close ten minutes after we arrived, so we were fortunate enough to get a reduced price entry: seeing the woolly monkeys and capuchin monkeys made a perfect finish to a very enjoyable tour.

Friday 18 April 2008
1900-2100
Evening ride: Converted to Social
2 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
With only Michael and Ashley turning out this evening, the evening ride was cancelled.

Sunday 20 April 2008
1015-1300
Morning ride: Colston RoadDry
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Zac was still tired after his half-term activities, so this morning's ride consisted of a short spin along Colston road and home again in delightful spring weather.

Friday 25 April 2008
1900-2100
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (8 mi)Sunny
3 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Neither of the youngsters seemed particularly enthusiastic about a ride this evening despite the nice weather, but once we reached Hembury they suddenly began to enjoy themselves and were keen to climb to the top to explore the tracks surrounding Hembury Fort.

We had a lot of fun around the fort until Zac got a puncture. In fact he got several punctures at once, and Michael's fix of two proved insufficient to retain the air. A quick call to Zac's mother sorted the problem: he pumped his way down the Hembury tracks to the bottom of the hill, from where he was taken home by car while Ashley and Michael completed the ride on their bikes.

Sunday 27 April 2008
1015-1520
Day ride (Car-assisted): Hamel DownDry
3 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Climbing Hamel Down
Ashley & Zac try to solve the problem of the trapped sheep
Ashley Freeman takes a well-earned rest
Zac McGrath climbing Hamel Down
Ashley & Zac at the RAF memorial stone on Hamel Down
Ashley & Zac at the RAF memorial stone on Hamel Down
Ready to leave Hamel Down
Our brand new car-assisted ride to Hamel Down started at the Bonehill car park with a bit of a crisis: a sheep had got itself stuck between a stone wall and a wire fence, and no amount of struggling could get it free. Well sheep do these things regularly of course, but the boys wanted something done. While Michael was working out how to lift it without getting covered in the excrement that was hanging off its rear end, a local man came along, lifted it away from its trap and carried it off down the field!

The track from Bonehill to Natsworthy was fun and downhill, but Michael had miscalculated slightly: it came out half way down the hill from Hamel Down, and the lads were not too happy about having to climb up to the gateway that led to the moorland track!

We eventually arrived, took a short refreshment break whilst chatting to some nearby walkers, and then set off up the hill. It was a fun climb, and even though it was a bit steep in places both lads rode nearly all of it. Near the top we found the memorial stone to the RAF plane that crashed in the Second World War. All the crew were killed and the stone carried the initials of each person that died.

The original plan was to ride the track along the top of Hamel Down, but we were later than planned and the boys wanted to enjoy the downhill and the cafe at Widecombe, so we decided to do the top track on our next visit. We sped back down the track to the road, then enjoyed the long downhill through Natsworthy and had lunch at the Green cafe in Widecombe.

To conclude an excellent ride we climbed Bonehill to reach the car by early afternoon.

Friday 2 May 2008
1900-2030
Evening ride: Staverton (5 mi)Sunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Zac at the start of the track near Green Lane
Zac was tired this evening so we contented ourselves with a very short ride up Green Lane and then down the track towards Abham before returning via Caddaford.

Sunday 4 May 2008
1015-1800
Day ride (Car-assisted): Plym Valley CyclewayDry
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
The Peregrine Falcon protection group on the first viaduct
Zac on the Plym Valley Cycleway
The well-camouflaged Peregrine Falcon
Zac checks out the Peregrine Falcon
Our Plym Valley excursion began in the Plympton car park in good weather despite the predictions of rain. After a short look at the Plym Valley railway, which seems to be spending all its time creating a one mile section of track for its engines, we pressed on up the cycle path, crossing the numerous viaducts and enjoying the delightful spring scenery.

On the return journey we stopped at the first viaduct to see what all the binoculars were about. Apparently they were protecting a pair of peregrine falcons and allowing the public to view them free of charge at the same time. The falcon was so far away and so well camouflaged that it was virtually impossible to see without the aid of the powerful binoculars.

Returning to the car we concluded the day with a social at the Barbican leisure centre, starting with a pizza and finishing with the new film Iron Man which turned out to be well worth its number one rating.

Friday 9 May 2008
1900-2030
Evening ride: AshburtonSunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Zac on the woodland track near Belford Mill
This evening's ride took us along the old road to Ashburton, up to Belford Mill and then down the woodland track back to Ashburton. It was a perfect evening for a cycle ride that felt more like mid-summer than early May.

Sunday 11 May 2008
1015-1400
Day ride (Car-assisted): Haldon Forest TracksHot and sunny
2 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Part of the Family Trail
Zac explores the carved chair on the Play Trail
Part of the Go Ape forest adventure course
Michael at the Bird of Prey viewpoint on the Family Trail
On a hot and lazy morning that felt more like July than May we took the bikes to Haldon Forest Cycle Park and set about enjoying the Play Trail. This was Zac's first visit to the park so he was fascinated by all the sculptures that lined the route.

Returning to base we bought some refreshments (including an excellent sweet pancake) and the tried the Adventure trail at Zac's request. Unfortunately the 2.5 miles track turned out to be less than a mile when Zac looked behind him at a junction and followed the wrong sign. Instead we concluded the day by riding the Family trail. Half way around we were amazed to see a high wire adventure course that hadn't been there before - certainly something to visit in the future!

It was lunchtime, it was very hot, and we had only really planned a morning ride. So we headed back home for a cool afternoon indoors.

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