South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 27 July 2014
1015-1440
Morning ride: Dartington (13 mi)Sunny and warm
7 present: Lawrence Buttress, Ashley Challis, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers, Ewan Suttie (12, Ashburton)
The group joined by Callum and George at Crofters
Ashley, Ewan, Dillan, Lawrence and Will at the Dartington Cider Press Centre
Everyone seemed to be here for Callum’s leaving cake fest except Callum himself, so everyone ate the cakes anyway – thinking of Callum with every mouthful of course.
After a scintillating display of brotherly love between Will and George which resulted in the spilling of a good deal of orange juice, we set off along Colston Road to give new member Ewan a good chance of completing his first ride. We needn’t have worried however as he kept up admirably. The main problem was Lawrence who managed to pick up a slow puncture.

After drinks at Dartington we returned to Staverton park for some Frisbee practice and then headed back via Abham. Sadly Lawrence’s slow puncture turned into a fast one when he tried pumping it, so we had to effect repairs before continuing home via Caddaford.

Callum had already read about the cakes and was now waiting eagerly at Crofters for us to return. So he got free cake (and everyone else got more too), and free noodles and a free drink and a photo on the trampoline, all coupled with some great final games of Modern Warfare 3 with seven people playing simultaneously. Finally it was time to go and we all wished Callum and his family the very best for their move to Newcastle.

Friday 1 August 2014
1830-2230
Social: Cinema Trip
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Tonight we enjoyed the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at Vue cinemas, Plymouth.

Sunday 3 August 2014
1015-1400
Morning ride: River Dart Counry ParkSunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Dillan, Lawrence and George on the track through Holne Woods (Ash took the road)
We set off at a brisk pace up Hembury hill with the idea of visiting Spitchwick, but by the time we got to Gallant le Bower the majority preferred Holne Café to what would have been a very crowded Spitchwick Common. John had to leave us here for a 12.30 luncheon appointment at Ashbuton.

The café surpassed its own high standards today with extremely generous portions of soup and toasties for very reasonable prices, so we'll definitely be returning again soon.

For the return journey we took the woodland track through Holne Woods (well Ash took the road as he had his road bike) and rode through a very busy River Dart park before taking the B-road back to Buckfastleigh.

Friday 8 August 2014
1900-2215
Social: Badminton and Games
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
We had the Ashmoor sports hall to ourselves this evening so we spread out onto two courts. Dillan and George both played well and showed improvement from the last time we played.

Sunday 10 August 2014
1015-1540
Day ride: Ipplepen (19 mi)Sunny but breezy
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Alastair Shapland
George, Dillan and Alastair at Broadhempston park
Fermoys Garden Centre, Ipplepen
The heavy overnight rain had stopped by 9am but there were still strong winds and occasional showers when the ride began so we decided to run a local day ride in preference to the planned car-assisted trip to The Camel Trail in Cornwall. The youngsters were keen to get the miles up in preparation for our tour next week so we set off up Green Lane with the idea of going to Fermoys garden centre at Ipplepen. A friendly dog at the traveller encampment on the track to Well Cottages insisted on following us for over a mile before we finally managed to leave it behind.

The youngsters were still wanting the longer ride at Staverton so we pressed on up the final hills to Ipplepen and arrived at the garden centre by around 12.15. We took our time enjoying hot food and drinks at the café and then looking at the many inhabitants of the pet store.

It was 1.40 when we finally set off for home, returning via Denbury and Broadhempston. The short time we spent in Broadhempston Play Park was notable mainly for Dillan’s not-so-clever throw of our rocket, which missed George and ended up in a nearby garden that was patrolled by aggressive-sounding dogs. The owner kindly returned home from the pub to retrieve it for us.

Michael was amazed that the youngsters not only coped well with the final hills to Buckfastleigh but were still full of energy by the time we reached Crofters! Congratulations to everyone who took part: this was your longest ride with the club so far. You are now properly prepared for the tour next week and some more longer rides in September.

Friday 15 August 2014
1900-2220
Social: Pizza Hut
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Alastair Shapland
We got some great value food at Plymouth's Crownhill Pizza Hut this evening, with everyone getting pizza, dessert and unlimited drinks for £8.

Sunday 17 August 2014Morning ride: LandscoveHeavy showers with some sunny spells
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Alastair Shapland
Our ride to Landscove started with sunny spells but quickly turned to a long, heavy shower by the time we reached Baddaford. We found some substantial trees for shelter but it wasn't long before the rain was coming through, so there was nothing for it but to head up the hill and then down across the fields towards the café, getting quite wet along the way.

As we walked into the café, dripping wet, some other customers thought it would be amusing to ask if it was raining outside. They then tried to make out they had been out in it as well, but of course that meant the walk from their car to the café!

As soon as we had sat down for refreshments the sun came out, but it didn't stop us enjoying an extended cake and drinks stop. We eventually headed back via Green Lane where Ash met us for the final journey home just as another shower started up. Everyone got free cake at Crofters, however, to celebrate Michael's birthday, which helped make this an enjoyable day overall.

Tuesday 19 August 2014Tour: New Forest and Salisbury Day 1 Home to Burley (19 mi)Sunny and warm
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
The road from Millyford Bridge to Bolderwood
The Portugese Fireplace near Millyford Bridge
Heading offroad from the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive
A New Forest pony at the Bolderwood deer sanctuary
Rhinefield ornamental drive
Rhinefield House near Brockenhurst, built in 1887 as a private residence
Frisbee fun near Brockenhurst
Rhinefield ornamental drive
The railway path from Brockenhurst to Burley
Lawrence arrives in Brockenhurst
HD video footage from today's ride
Four of us met at Crofters at 8am to load the bikes and luggage into the car on a fine sunny morning. After collecting Lawrence from Newton Abbot we set off on the long and tortuous drive to the New Forest, stopping only at East End near Poole for refreshments - John and George couldn’t resist the temptation to order bacon baps, but Dillan and Lawrence were very happy with buttered toast and teacakes.

We finally arrived at our selected parking place, Millyford Bridge, at around 1pm and were soon riding through the most delightful woodland scenery you could ever hope to find. The Portuguese Fireplace, situated in a roadside glade, attracted the attention of the youngsters: it is a First World War memorial to the Portuguese army unit that was based there to help with forestry work.

The Deer Park at Bolderwood failed to provide the hot snacks and drinks we had been hoping for but it did offer an ice cream van and a wide range of New Forest ponies to accompany the consumption of our packed lunches. One of the ponies sniffed out Michael's crisps and helped himself to them! We were told the deer would appear soon for feeding time but sadly we didn’t get to see any of them before we set off once again.

The Bolderwood Ornamental Drive showcases some of the most magnificent trees in the forest, including the 500-year-old Knightwood Oak. Everyone in the group immediately fell in love with the New Forest as multiple shafts of dappled sunlight filtered their way through the ancient canopy of leaves. The road continued into the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where some downhill sections made the route even more enjoyable.

But everyone was looking forward to some off-road riding now, and it came when we arrived at Blackwater. The track was wide and peaceful, taking us deep into the unspoiled forest. The opportunity to ride a ford was irresistible, although today the water level was not high enough to make the task especially difficult. It was not too long before we had re-joined the ornamental drive and continued along our planned route to Brockenhurst, pausing only at a clearing for some Frisbee and rocket fun across the Ober Water.

Brockenhurst was a delightful village: it was amusing to see the ponies grazing right into the housing estates, stopped only where owners had taken the trouble to build a cattle grid. We bought provisions from the local supermarket and then headed south to join the old railway track near Lymington Junction. This took us along an interesting route to Burley where we found the hostel off a rough track soon after 6pm.

Once Dillan had been acquainted with the hostel routine of making beds, having showers and preparing food in the rather cramped Members’ Kitchen we spent the remainder of the evening playing Bomberman on Michael’s laptop – poor Lawrence just couldn’t seem to find his usual form this evening.

Wednesday 20 August 2014Tour: New Forest and Salisbury Day 2 Burley to Salisbury (21 mi)Mainly sunny and warm
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Burley youth hostel
Burley youth hostel
Emerging from the path that leads to Burley youth hostel
Burley youth hostel
Rockford
Tracks on Bigsburn Hill
Donkeys near North Gorley
North Gorley
Fordingbridge
Fordingbridge
The view from Whitsbury bridleway - no sign of the fort
Lunch in Fordingbridge park
The track across New Court Down towards Odstock
George meets a pair of pugs and their owner on the Whitsbury Down track
The unusual font in Salisbury cathedral, completed in 2008
Salisbury cathedral
Dillan outside the cathedral
Exploring Salisbury cathedral
Enjoying a very welcome refreshment stop at one of the Costa shops in Salisbury
HD video footage from today's ride
Breakfast at Burley hostel was a delight: sitting in the conservatory-style dining room to eat it on such a perfect morning was pleasant enough, but then the warden kindly allowed us to help ourselves to bread and cereal (for those who had arrived ill-prepared for preparing their own breakfasts).

Perhaps the biggest mistake of the morning was not to stop at the café in Burley: it had been 10.15 when we had left the hostel, and it just seemed a little premature to stop so soon. We followed the route through Burley Street to the Vereley Hill car park and then took the grassy track across the heath to Picket Post where there was a track-style underpass to get us safely across the busy A31. We then followed tracks to Linford, ably assisted by Michael’s sat-nav, where quiet lanes and tracks took us over Rockford Common to Rockford.

A sign to a garden centre gave us hope of refreshments, but it was several miles along the road, at South Gorley, that the garden centre finally materialised. There was no proper café there, but there was a sheltered sitting area outside with access to a coffee machine, so we made the most of the opportunity for a break and chatted with a fellow cyclist from Bath. Lawrence somehow managed to arrange for the staff to bring his hot chocolate to his table much to everyone’s annoyance.

The marked change of scenery near Stuckton told us that we had now left the National Park: the ponies disappeared and suddenly it felt just like ordinary England. The town of Fordingbridge, however, was a different story. Here the river Avon widened to offer the perfect location for lunch and recreation, with large numbers of waterfowl adding significantly to the entertainments. To complete the perfection the busy local bakery offered the tastiest filled rolls, pasties and cakes we had seen in a long time, and at such low prices that we could afford to stock up for the rest of the day!

Arriving at the picturesque village of Whitsbury Michael noticed a well in a garden near the road. An elderly gentleman was in the garden picking fruit from a tree but took the time to come over to explain that the well was no longer operational. He said he was “scrumping”, but it was a very pleasant surprise when he came out of his gate and offered us each a juicy ripe plum from his box.

There was a wealthy-looking stud farm at the place on marked on the map as the location of Whistbury Fort, so we proceeded quickly to the start of the track to Odstock and set out to cross the heathland towards Salisbury. Things went a bit wrong however when we came to a fork in the path that was not apparent from the map, both travelling in broadly similar directions and both just marked with the sign “Byway”. We tried the left-hand fork which took us down a gentle incline: whilst the tracks were not marked on the sat-nav, Michael could see that we were heading at right-angles to the Odstock road we were heading for so advised that we returned and took the other fork. Lawrence didn’t like the idea of going back however and decided to ride on a little way to see if the track made a right turn.

Sadly he didn’t stop and carried on until he was out of sight, even though he didn’t have a phone on him. We waited .. and waited … but eventually had no choice but to follow him. When we reached a wooded area a few hundred metres along the track we found him walking back towards us with blood on his hands – he had tried a sharp turn on the way back, had come off his bike on the gravel and grazed the palms of his hands. Michael patched him up with plasters and bandages so that he looked like a leper and we then returned to the fork, delayed a little when we met a man with two pugs that seemed to love the attentions of our younger members.

The new track was definitely heading in the right direction. The middle section turned out to be riddled with muddy lakes and the final section was covered with rough flint stones, so when John finally arrived at tarmac he was very relieved. The route into Salisbury involved one or two short climbs but was otherwise uneventful.

Salisbury cathedral is notable for having the tallest medieval spire in Europe, the tallest church spire in the UK, the world’s oldest working clock and the best of the four original copies of Magna Carta. We were impressed by the new font in the cathedral, with water flowing off each of the four corners, and checked out the models of the cathedral that was built in 1220.

Next stop was one of the Costa shops in Salisbury, offering a welcome warm refreshment break before we visited the local Tesco Metro for provisions and then rode the short distance to the youth hostel. This was twice the size of Burley, again set in its own grounds, and we spent a very enjoyable evening there. Bomberman once again formed the main entertainment, and everyone did much better than the previous evening. Dillan just snatched victory over the other three at the last minute.

Thursday 21 August 2014Tour: New Forest and Salisbury Day 3 Salisbury to Home (30 mi)Cloudy but dry
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Salisbury youth hostel
The main hall at Salisbury youth hostel
Dillan at Old Sarum, Salisbury
Old Sarum, Salisbury
Dillan and Lawrence check out the remains of the Old Palace at Old Sarum
The foundations of the original Salisbury cathedral at Old Sarum
Volunteers bring the past to life at Old Sarum
George the Roman
A troop of ponies taking it in turns to manure the grass on the road to the Rufus Stone
Lunch on the steps of Salisbury Guildhall
The Rufus Stone, New Forest
HD video footage from today's ride
After John had persuaded everyone except Michael to sample his bacon baps we returned to the Tesco Metro to get some new plasters for Lawrence’s hands. We had around twenty miles between us and the car, but after careful consideration everyone voted for a detour to see Old Sarum, the old centre of Salisbury three miles north of the city dating back 5000 years.

The excursion proved rewarding. The fortress had outer and inner dry moats, the foundations of the original Salisbury cathedral and the ruins of the old palace and King’s Tower at the top. We had to pay for access to the latter, and the only drinks available were from a machine, but the whole visit was very interesting. The volunteers who dressed in period clothing and armour helped in no small way to bring the past to life.

We stayed longer than we had intended, so by the time we returned to Salisbury via the cycle paths we were ready to buy lunch from a busy and well-stocked bakery near the Guildhall. George, however, had decided he wanted pizza, so we had to wait another fifteen minutes until his Pizza Hut order had been prepared and consumed on the Guildhall steps.

It was 1.30 when we finally set off on our return route through Alderbury. The route roughly followed the river but was not as flat as we might have expected. At Downton George got his handlebars adjusted by John while the rest of us checked out the village: the newsagents and Spar had both closed down and the Post Office was having a Closing Down sale, so things looked a bit bleak for Downton. We did find a fish and chip shop and a pharmacy however.

A lane short-cut led us to Woodfalls where a local shop conveniently provided the refreshments that George was asking for and the rest of us had quietly hoped for. Conscious of the time we then pressed on again and soon passed over the cattle grid that brought us immediately back to the New Forest scenery that we had enjoyed so much at the start of the tour.

Michael’s plans for some more off-road riding were scuppered by a sign on the path to Frithham announcing that the path was closed. While he was trying to decide an alternative route Dillan thought he needed his rear tyre pumped. It was actually quite firm but Michael humoured him and pumped it up anyway. The result of this was a puncture near the valve and a rapid change of tube, so I guess the moral of the story is not to fix something that isn’t broken.

On the road to the Rufus Stone we came across a troop of ponies. The younger riders were amused to note that after the first one dropped its manure, the second one came along, smelled it, walked a little further and then left its own mark. They watched intently as a third appeared to be doing the same, but in the end it walked on.

We passed the Sir Walter Tyrrell inn (reminding some of a family in Game of Thrones) and then at the Rufus Stone itself we discovered that Sir Walter accidentally killed the King William II with an arrow aimed at a stag that accidentally hit an oak tree and glanced off in the general direction of the King! This happened in the year 1100.

We had only five miles to go to the car now, but the satnav led us to the extremely busy A31 and seemed to be advising us to turn right along the side nearest to us, riding against the flow. We looked carefully and could only see a slip road, so it appeared that the sat-nav had got it all wrong. This was a problem, as it was now well past 5pm.

We backtracked a hundred metres and took a cycle path that ran parallel to the dual carriageway, bringing us eventually to another crossing. This was even worse however: we could see the road we wanted on the other side, but there were crash barriers in the middle of the road and hardly any breaks in the traffic. We selected a further five-mile detour in preference to certain death, leading us eventually to an underpass that brought us past the deer park and back to the car for around 7pm. Everyone was tired now, but at least we had upped the mileage to over 30 miles.

The journey home included a stop at the Subway restaurant near Winterborne Zelston – the youngsters had seen it on the way out and were not going to miss it on the way back. When everyone had had their fill of rolls and cookies we set off for home again with everyone except Michael falling asleep. We were already late, so when we came across a “Police: Accident . .Road Closed” sign in the middle of the A35 near Axminster with no obvious diversion signs we realised we were going to be very late indeed. By the time we had found our way to the A3052 and meandered our way slowly back to Exeter it was clear we would need to drop Lawrence at his home in Newton Abbot, adding further to our delay. Road works on the M5 near Exeter made things even worse, so it was 11.45 when we finally arrived back at Buckfastleigh.

We had certainly crammed a lot into this three-day adventure, and everyone had come back with very positive views of the New Forest national park. Congratulations to all our youngsters for riding so well, and especially to Dillan who was taking part in his first tour.

Friday 22 August 2014
1900-2200
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers
After an action-packed tour the youngsters were happy to play computer games this evening after looking at the tour photos.

Sunday 24 August 2014Morning ride: Ashburton for BadmintonDry but cloudy
3 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
For some reason our younger members were tired after the recent cycle tour so wanted a shorter ride than Haytor. They decided on a ride to Ashburton, past the new skate park and on to the Ashmoor recreation centre where we played badminton for an hour. We then bought lunch from the Spar and ate it on a bench on the old railway line. A cute Chihuahua begged some pasty from us before its owner finally managed to call it away.

We returned via the A38, a new experience for both lads. Lawrence could suddenly see possibilities for cycling out from Newton Abbot at high speed and vowed to try it for the social this Friday. We rounded off an enjoyable ride with a games social at Crofters.

Friday 29 August 2014
1900-2200
Social: Informal social
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
With several members away or busy we changed the advertised swimming social to an informal social which included viewing last week's tour vidoes in full HD from our website.

Sunday 31 August 2014Day ride: CancelledSunny
1 present: Michael Jones
Several people were away today and those that were left overslept, so today's ride had to be cancelled.

Friday 5 September 2014Social: Games Evening
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Tekken 6 formed the main entertainment this evening.

Sunday 7 September 2014Morning ride: South BrentSunny and warm
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
Dillan at Lydia Bridge, South Brent
A speedy ascent of Dean Hill followed by an equally speedy detour around Harbourneford brought us quickly to South Brent where refreshments were purchased from the local coop. We ate them by the riverside and then returned via the Lutton lane, meeting Ash along the way.

Friday 12 September 2014Social: Pool
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Out trip to Plymouth this evening included Pool at Tenpin and some tasty cookie dough at Pizza Hut.

Sunday 14 September 2014
1015-1540
Day ride: Stover Country Park (26 mi)Cloudy start, sunny afternoon
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Stover Country Park
Ash, Will and Dillan on the drop slides at Trago
Everyone seemed up for a longer ride today, so we set off for Bickington, checking out the new Ashburton skate park and finally discovering the whereabouts of the swimming pool.

The plan was to go to Haytor, but once our youngsters got to Bickington they all seemed to want to go to Trago Mills instead. We took the old road via Liverton and spent an enjoyable hour playing on the drop slides and getting some very tasty food from the various shops.

We soon found the cycle path through Stover Country Park, then rode through the quiet, leafy Teigngrace lanes to Newton Abbot. The main road to the A38 was easy and quiet, and from there we took the cycle route back to Ashburton and the easy, downhill dual carriageway to Buckfastleigh. Dillan deserves special praise for completing his longest ever local ride in record time.

Friday 19 September 2014Social: Pizza Hut
3 present: Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
We visited Pizza Hut at Plymouth this evening since everyone felt like a meal out. Arcade games at Tenpin rounded off a very enjoyable social.

Sunday 21 September 2014Morning ride: HolneSunny and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Hembury Fort
George and Dillan riding the track through Birchetts Wood
This did not turn out to be our most adventurous ride despite the glorious weather, partly because Dillan was not feeling too well and partly because the youngsters could not agree on a route. We ended up riding the track through Burchetts Wood, which was not too muddy today, and then proceeding at a rather slow pace to the café at Holne where we enjoyed soup and bacon toasties.

The return through Hembury was equally slow - we hope everyone will be feeling back to normal for next week's ride!

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