South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 14 May 2010
Evening ride: Lower CombeDry
4 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
After a damp afternoon we were pleasantly surprised to find the weather dry by the start of our evening ride. We came up with a plan for a novel ride, starting with an exploration of the Burchetts Wood track. Hallam, who rides horses in the woods, had told us the track was no longer muddy, and since it has always been muddy at every time of year since the world began we thought we needed to check it out. To our surprise he was absolutely right: stone chips and wood chips had been laid through all the muddy sections so now it was actually just a nice woodland path!

We passed some interesting cows and ponies on our way up to the Scoriton road, then went down to Lower Combe where we discovered that the old village hall has been converted into a house. To conclude an interesting ride we climbed the hill to Cross Furzes, with Ash staying ahead all the way, and the enjoyed the fantastic downhill to Crofters.

Sunday 16 May 2010
Morning ride: Staverton BridgeGrey with showers
3 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones
We planned a ride up Green Lane to the café at Landscove as there was a threat of rain in the forecast. When we reached the top of Green Lane however none of us felt hungry, so we diverted along the track to Riverford that goes past the travellers. There was a moment of indecision when a shower greeted us at the bottom, but it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived so we continued to Staverton Bridge as planned. Here we found a dog on the bridge, apparently threatening to jump off into the river below!

We rode up the hill to Huxham’s Cross, down the cycle path and home along Colston Road, riding as fast as we could in case a heavier shower decided to come along. We raced a steam train back past the bridge as we neared Buckfastleigh and this time we beat it.

When we finally reached home at 12.05 we had only been dampened by a little drizzle, and our youngsters realised that it didn’t actually cause them any harm at all.

Now came the final part of our plan, which worked out really well. We had a quick lunch at Crofters and then set off in the car at 12.40 for the Vue cinema at Plymouth. The rain was heavier now so were felt we had got the timing perfect. We watched the new Robin Hood movie starring Russell Crowe which finished at 3.50. Callum in particular really enjoyed the day and wants to join us again next time we go to the cinema.

Friday 21 May 2010
Evening ride: Cancelled
4 present: Charles Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
Sam and Charles Acland turned up for this evening's ride but because they had forgotten to ring in advance and nobody else had rung, Michael had already made other arrangements for the evening. Sadly, therefore, the ride could not take place, but Michael was disappointed and hoped that Sam and Charles would be able to make it next week.

Sunday 23 May 2010
Morning ride: Fermoy's Garden Centre, Ipplepen (19 mi)Hot (26°)& sunny
4 present: Ash Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Ash, Zac and Ryan at Fermoys
Tracks at Orley Common, near Ipplepen
Everyone was up for a Stage 1 longer ride today, so we decided to go to Fermoys at Ipplepen. It took us a while to find the sunscreen lotion so we didn’t leave until 10.34. We rode up the hill past Caddaford, through Staverton and along the flat route through Ambrook. After climbing the hill past Torbryan we rode into the woodland at Orley Common to try out the tracks.

Zac had never ridden to Fermoys with us so it was a new experience for him. We ate our food outside in the garden: Zac splashed out on a children’s roast dinner, and Ash and Michael had very large and tasty fruit scones with strawberry jam that Ash said he would be having again one day.

After looking around the well-stocked pet store we left at around 1.15 and headed home via Two-Mile Oak, Denbury and Broadhempston. It was uncomfortably hot by now so we were very glad to get home at 2.25 and to savour iced drinks in the cool of the Crofters clubroom.

Everyone did amazingly well today so we are definitely on track for a summer of great cycle rides.

Friday 28 May 2010
Evening ride: HemburyMainly dry & sunny
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Matt Porter
Zac, Matt and Ash up a tree at Humphrey's Cross
The youngsters somehow managed to persuade Michael to run a shorter ride than he had planned, so we set off up the Lower Hembury Woods track. Matt noticed the big tree halfway along that he had climbed once before, so we had to stop again for him to climb it again.

At the end of the track we rode up to Humphreys Cross, along to Hembury Fort and then down the slalom track to the car park. We also rode the last bit of woodland track that continues from the car park side, and finally to pad out the ride a little we took the track through the woods to the Hapstead road, returning home by 9.05.

As usual there was a short social after the ride until 10pm which included trampoline and computer games.

Sunday 30 May 2010
Day ride: Burrator Reservoir (30 mi)Sunny with cloudy spells
4 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
The leat near Burrator
Watching falcons on the Plym Valley cycleway
Combestone Tor
There was strong demand for an adventurous car-assisted ride today, and when Michael had vetoed Haldon Forest we eventually settled on the Plym Valley cycleway, although Michael insisted on extending it to the reservoir at Burrator.

We finally got away at 10.40 and parked the car at Plympton B&Q. Callum had never ridden this cycle path before, so he found it all very interesting. The Plym Valley Railway had made great progress in re-laying track towards Plym Bridge since we last visited: trees had been taken down and the foundations for a new platform at the Plym Bridge end were being erected. We had a chat with two volunteers who were pleased to tell us all about it. The line will reach a final length of 1.5 miles when completed – he didn’t think the length was very important as hundreds came when they start up their first train.

Once again telescopes were set up so that the public could watch the Peregrine Falcon chicks on their nests in the distant cliffs. When we had seen the chicks for ourselves we set off along the path at a good pace – perhaps a little too fast for Callum’s liking – led by Zac and Ashley. At the far end we climbed the path up to the road at Clearbrook and discovered that Ash had a puncture. Callum was just about to put the new tube back into the wheel when Michael asked him whether he had checked it for thorns. He said he already had, but reluctantly allowed Michael to check again. Michael found a HUGE thorn in there, and everyone laughed at how Callum could possibly have thought it was thorn-free!

It was now around 1pm so we headed on through Meavy and up the hill to Burrator. Ash was moaning a little that his brakes were binding, but everyone was suddenly happy when they saw the ice cream van. We had no packed lunches so we bought some crisps to go with our chocolate and then finished off with chocolate ice creams that were really very tasty. None of the youngsters had been to Burrator before and they all liked it there very much.

Our original plan was to return to the cars the way we had come, but now Michael was talking about the option of riding on home via Princetown. In fact there was considerable interest in this idea, so once Michael had checked that Gavin could take him to Plympton later to collect his car we set off up the hill at 2.20. Here we saw the Devonport Leat where the water appeared to be flowing uphill. Built in the 1790s by skilled engineers this used to supply fresh water from the high ground of Dartmoor to Devoport Dockyards in Plymouth, but now it just flows into Burrator reservoir.

Everyone powered up the hill to Princetown at amazing speed, allaying Michael’s concerns that the ride extension may prove too much for some. We looked in Lord’s Tearooms but it was very hot in there and smelled strongly of overcooked vegetables – and the prices were rather high. Instead we visited our old favourite, the Foxtor Café, now under new management. This turned out to be really good, offering us a range of scones, sausage sandwiches and cakes.

As we left the café at 4.18 there were a few drips descending from an almost cloudless sky, but these quickly vanished as we sped along the road to Two Bridges and on to Hexworthy. We stopped to admire the view from Combestone Tor (and to have a rest after the steep climb) and then sped home via Venford. It had taken us just an hour and a half to get home from Princetown, so congratulations to everyone on an excellent summer ride.

Friday 4 June 2010
Evening ride: SpitchwickHot & sunny
4 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
Ash enjoys the cool waters at Spitchwick
Taking the track from Chasegate alongside Kinghurst Down Wood
As it was so hot and sunny today we were looking for somewhere cool for our ride, and it didn’t take many seconds to come up with Spitchwick as the ideal destination. We rode up Holne Road and Hembury Hill. Ryan wanted to try the path from Holne to New Bridge, but Michael took us on the shorter path from Chasegate to New Bridge which Ryan hadn’t done for a very long time. The light was incredible as we crossed the style into the top field, and everyone loved the downhill path through the field.

Spitchwick was fairly quiet this evening but we rode to the far end where there was nobody at all. The air was still very warm so everyone was keen to get in the water. Ash went in first, then the rest followed, and we spent a very enjoyable 25 minutes there having a great time.

We finally left around 8.50, and since it was so late we abandoned the idea of Buckland, returning instead along the riverside path and then by road again to Buckfastleigh. We got home at 9.43, our longest evening ride for ages – and everyone loved it, with absolutely no regrets about missing game time after the ride. They still got ten minutes on the computer however before they had to leave at 10.

Sunday 6 June 2010
Day ride: Bow Bridge (30 mi)Sunny and warm with cloudy spells
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones
Relaxing after lunch on the Ashprington track
Callum, Hallam, Ash and Ryan at Totnes weir
An ice-cream break in the shade at Harbertonford
Contemplating the ford at Bow Bridge, Tuckenhay
With five of us out we couldn’t do a car-assisted ride, so Michael selected Ashprington as destination which he expected to be around 20 miles in all – he didn’t want to go too far since Ryan had missed the last two harder rides.

We set off at a fast pace along Colston Road and along the cycle path to Totnes, so fast in fact that Michael could see us reaching Ashprington and getting home again by 2.30! As usual everyone had brought too much clothing, so Michael’s pannier got filled to capacity.

Unfortunately the good pace didn’t last. At Totnes weir we had a short chocolate break and then when we were about to leave Callum discovered that he had a puncture. What Michael didn’t realise at the time was that Callum had ridden around on it while it was flat, just to make sure! Michael had to fix the tube as nobody had a spare for the small Trek bike, and while he was doing that Zac rang to see if he could arrange to join the ride late. It would apparently depend on what his Mum said when she returned from Totnes. Meanwhile Callum did his usual trick of checking the tyre for thorns and not finding the small thorn that was there. Even when that had been removed however the tyres was still deflating slowly, but Michael decided to pump it for now and move forward with the ride.

As usual nobody had brought much lunch, and several had not brought any money, so we called in to Morrisons to get some sandwiches and then pressed on to the Ashprington path, stopping on the bench with the great view over the river Dart at around 1pm. Zac rang just before we stopped to say he wouldn’t be coming because his Mum wouldn’t bring him in, but as Michael pointed out he could have cycled to Totnes and got there by 12.35!

We had a very pleasant lunchtime amongst the buttercups in the sunshine, although Hallam didn’t much like the chicken pasta he had bought. Michael then fixed the second hole in Callum’s tube (the one caused by him riding around earlier) and we eventually left at around 1.35. As usual we enjoyed the downhill part of the track but not so much the uphill bit. Hallam rode it all however.

Next stop was Ashprington Play Park, where the big swing was generally considered to be pretty good. The downhill to Bow Bridge was great fun, but then, stupidly, three people attempted to ride the ford despite Michael’s warnings. Hallam tried first, stopping halfway across and getting both feet soaked. Callum went second and made it across, but went so fast he splashed his feet to be nearly as wet as Hallam’s. Finally Ash tried: he nearly made it to the far side but put his right foot down in the water, then when trying unsuccessfully to start again put his left foot down! It all made for great entertainment.

We took the flat road to Harbertonford and stopped at the shop for ice creams and drinks by the river – very relaxing. We had done 16 miles by now with 8 to go (although Michael told everyone 4, based on his original estimate of 20 miles for the ride), and by the time Callum had filled his water bottle when everyone else was ready to go it was 2.38 before we finally got away. Michael was still estimating a 3.30 return time, but with actually 8 miles to go that was always going to be tricky.

Things went fairly well through Sandwell and everyone enjoyed the main road section and the descent to Tigley, but now it was 3.15 and some parents needed phone calls to delay them arriving at the Buckfastleigh collection point. To make matters worse Ryan was now feeling really tired, so it was 4.11 when we eventually made it over Rattery hill to Buckfastleigh. It had been a good ride though, and everyone did really well.

Friday 11 June 2010
Evening ride: HemburyDry
3 present: Ash Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
Michael had a busy day planned for tomorrow so he organised a short ride to Hembury, following the lower track halfway and then turning right up the "new" track that leads back to three quarters of the way up the main hill. Ash and Ryan rode the Slalom from there and we met up again at the bottom of the hill.

We had planned a game of Lord of the Rings after the ride, but as we couldn't find the disc we contented ourselves with COD4 and trampoline.

Sunday 13 June 2010
Morning ride: Chuley CrossSunny
4 present: Ash Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Ash, Ryan and Zac at the top of the Pridhamsleigh track
Ryan and Zac came on the ride today, but when Ryan rang he said he was very tired and would like a shorter ride today if possible. Well that suited Michael OK. It was a sunny morning with average temperatures for the time of year. Some people suggested Haldon Forest but as we couldn’t do that in the time we had we did a short ride to Ashburton Play Park for Ryan and Ash to do some jumps, then returned up the hill to Chuley. Ash saw a stoat with a young rabbit near the top: he chased off the stoat and the rabbit eventually ran into the undergrowth but it looked as though it had been at least partially injured.

We took the stony track down from the far side of Parkfield – it was OK, but boggy at the bottom as usual. We then tried the Pridhamsleigh track which we hadn’t been on for many years. Here there were very large badger holes in the bank and one actually in the floor of the track! Michael had warned about the possibility of the track being overgrown, but in fact it was clear today and very enjoyable, except for Ash coming off on the way down and hurting his knee. We got home at 12.50.

Friday 18 June 2010
Evening ride: Chalk FordCloudy but warm
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Callum Freeman
Piglets near Chalk Ford
Climbing the viewing platform outside the Deer Park
Ash checks out the piglets near Chalk Ford
After a little discussion at the start we headed for Chalk Ford, climbing the hill to Cross Furzes in a record time of 24 minutes. After descending to the ford we found the piglets again, somewhat larger than when we last saw them. Today we were prepared with the camera, however, and spent an enjoyable time playing with them again.

Michael got a puncture as we climbed the hill from Chalk Ford, so we didn’t extend the ride as originally intended and got home at around 9pm. The youngsters played Call of Duty in the clubroom until 10.

Sunday 20 June 2010
Morning ride: Avon Dam (12 mi)Hot & sunny
4 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones
Dappled sunlight at the ford near Cross Furzes
The Avon reservoir
Ryan rang early to say he was coming but then had to cancel just before the ride started because he had hurt his arm on a door at home. He did hope to join us later but unfortunately that didn’t happen, so just the four of us set off for the Avon Dam.

We were honoured to have Hallam on the ride. He had been given a choice of cycle ride or horse ride and he had chosen the cycle ride, partly because he had never been to the Avon Dam before.

It was already quite warm as we rode up Dean Hill and on to Bloody Pool. Here Hallam’s Mum passed with a horse box and Ash had a long chat with a bloke who was setting up his radio controlled aeroplane – the grass was apparently too long for take-off so he was just doing some maintenance on it where he would be well away from his neighbours.

We continued on to Shipley Bridge where we bought ice-creams and sat in the sun to eat them. Ash pointed out an interesting-looking beetle, Michael got involved and started talking about it and Callum promptly squished it.

The path to the dam was delightful today with rhododendrons out in full bloom. The reservoir itself was not quite full but very close – surprising in view of the recent spell of dry weather. The Teign Valley Pedal Pushers caught up with us at the dam: they had planned to go back to Shipley but decided to follow us when we suggested the moorland route to Buckfastleigh. Michael was not amused when one of the women in the group tried to poach Ashley for their fast group! We left them behind after a short time but I think they enjoyed the detour.

We left the reservoir at 12.20 so we expected to get home by 1.10. In fact we got back at 12.55 which was pretty good going. This had been a very good ride that everyone had really enjoyed.

Friday 25 June 2010
Evening ride: Baddaford TracksSunny and warm
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Climbing the track from Combe
Michael took everyone on a Tracks Special this evening. After climbing Green Lane and riding down to Baddaford we took the track to Lower Combe that we rarely use and then pushed up through the woodland track to Penn Farm. From there we took the track down across the fields to Landscove at Ryan’s request: it’s now a Riverford field. Zac got a puncture so everyone played in the school playing fields while the puncture was repaired.

Unfortunately things did not go quite to plan. There were actually two holes, and since Zac did not have a spare tube they had to be repaired. Michael then got Zac to pump the tyre, but as he removed the pump a sudden load hissing sound confirmed that he had somehow managed to break the valve! As we had no spare tubes Michael rang Zac’s Mum, but she was unable to collect him and didn’t like the idea of him walking. So we ended up riding back while Zac walked with us until he was close enough for Michael to come back with the car to collect him – from the end of Old Totnes Road.

When we were finally all back at Crofters at 9.40 we rounded off a rather disappointing evening with some Call of Duty rather than the planned Lord of the Rings.

Sunday 27 June 2010
Morning ride: Staverton ParkVery hot & sunny
3 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones
Today was the hottest day of the year so far – 28 degrees by mid-afternoon, which none of us found very pleasant. Michael was feeling drained by the heat before the ride even started!

We didn’t get around to leaving until 10.40 or so and then did a fairly short ride along Colston Road, interrupted when Ash got a thorn in his rear tyre which had to be fixed in the shade of a tree.

We continued down to Staverton Bridge where the river level was really low, rode along the riverside path to Staverton Island which was still closed to visitors on Sundays, saw a steam train heading to Totnes and then rode up the woodland path to the park where we played on the new swing thing.

We rode down the Staverton Station where at 12.17 we waited for the train to return. It was the “Driver Experience”, a special hire train with two or three carriages where they hire the whole train for the day for perhaps £400. They get to go up and back four times during the day, taking it in turns on the footplate. When the Driver Experience had gone through we waited for the passenger train to come through from Buckfastleigh and Ash was shown photos of the very big train when it used to run commercially.

We returned home via Caddaford, getting back for around 1.15.

Friday 2 July 2010
Evening ride: Hembury WoodsWarm with sunny periods
3 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones
Ash and Callum skim stones across the Dart in Hembury Woods
The start of this evening ride was delayed until 7.30 because Ash had some punctures to fix, and since the lads were tired after sports day we agreed on an easy ride to the tracks in Hembury Woods. We didn't see anybody else in the woods at all as we sped along the rugged paths and tracks. Michael managed to drop a huge stone in the river whilst Ash and Callum were searching for skimming stones and they didn't really manage to get their revenge.

Sunday 4 July 2010
Morning ride: Venford ReservoirGrey and windy
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones
The group at Venford reservoir
The plan this morning was to take the track to Dartmeet but by the time we got to Venford reservoir showers were threatening so we contented ourselves with riding the track that circles the reservoir. The water level was strikingly low today and we were able to walk on areas of rocky grassland that are usually submerged.

We returned via the lower Hembury Woods track, by which time conditions were distinctly damp.

Friday 9 July 2010
Evening ride: Parkfield TrackHot, sunny & humid
4 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
The first part of the Parkfield track
We took the old road to Ashburton, climbed Chuley hill and then took the track to the left that starts just past Parkfield. The track has two sections: the first part was a bit rough but offered great views across the surrounding hills in the glorious evening sunshine. The second section, running through woodland at a lower level, was infested with many swarms of flies but included some great jumps for the mountain bikers.

We pressed on to Landscove and played with the Frisbee in the school playing fields - Ryan almost lost it when it landed on top of a tall hedge but fortunately it fell down through the bushes so we could reach it. Conditions were very humid so from there we headed straight home via Green Lane.

Sunday 11 July 2010
Morning ride: Converted to SocialFair
3 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones
Michael was delayed this morning by having to pump up his car tyre. After a discussion we agreed a social today, travelling to Plymouth to see the film Shrek 3 in 3D. It was a great movie and everyone enjoyed the morning. When we got back we finished with some excellent network computer games.

Friday 16 July 2010
Evening ride: Converted to SocialHeavy showers
3 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones
Heavy showers around 7pm persuaded us to switch the ride to a social. We went to Plymouth to play several games of Pool, called in at Tesco on the way home to get some snacks and finished with some computer games for the last ten minutes.

Sunday 18 July 2010
Day ride: Redlake TramwayDry & cloudy with sunny spells later
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
View of the Avon Dam from the Abbots' Way
Panoramic views from Ugborough Beacon
Our initial destination was Ugborough Beacon and everyone seemed happy about that. We rode up Dean Hill and through South Brent, getting to Golf Links Road at Wrangaton by 11.30. As usual the strict dress code in operation at the golf course provided some amusement (no t-shirts and all shirts must be tucked into trousers) but we didn't hang around long enough to risk getting struck by a golf ball. The youngsters needed a rest halfway up the Beacon, and we stopped again near the rocks at the top for a short lunch while admiring the extensive views across South Devon.

After riding a short distance into the moor it was 12.50 and Michael presented the options for the second part of the ride: either take the track decent to Owley and head home via South Brent, or take the adventurous option along the Redlake Tramway, emerging eventually at Cross Furzes. Hallam was a little anxious because he had arranged for his father John to collect him at 3.30 and had been instructed to ring if he was going to be later. The mobile number to ring had been written in large numerals on his lunch box, but every time he rang he got a strange and increasingly-annoyed person answering. Everyone wanted the adventurous option however so we decided we should go for it and would hopefully get back by 3.30 anyway.

The track was not especially rough so we made good progress. Despite the mainly grey skies Callum quickly ran out of water (as usual) and was trying to take everyone else's - Michael made him promise to bring two bottles in future, but he still did a fair amount of whinging.

Eventually we neared the point where Michael knew we needed to strike out across open moorland to join the Abbots Way track near the Avon. He got to what he felt sure was the right spot but couldn't see the gully that he had expected in the featureless moorland, so we pressed on a little until we caught sight of Redlake spoil heap itself. This confirmed our location, so after a short backtrack we left the track and waded through the long grass past some of the ruins of old mine workings. Hallam was convinced Michael was lost, but quickly we reached the top near Petres Cross and headed down across the hills to the clapper bridge over the Avon, now bathed in bright sunshine.

A small side-stream was clean enough to quench the thirst of the few who were desperate. Soon we had traversed the rough section of the Abbot's Way and came up behind the Avon Dam, looking magnificent in the afternoon sunshine. Everyone enjoyed our familiar downhill to Cross Furzes, although Callum went a little too fast and took a tumble on the soft grass. It was 3.58 when we finally reached Buckfastleigh: John had been waiting, and when he saw the number written on the lunchbox he said "I dictated the number to Steph and she wrote it on the box: I don't know whether I dictated it wrong, but that's not my number!” So Hallam was forgiven and everyone felt pleased to have taken part in one of our most adventurous rides of the year.

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