South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 26 September 2014Social: Paignton Seafront
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
As soon as Michael mentioned the idea of going to Paignton both youngsters (unusually) settled immediately on the idea. It turned out the main attraction was the arcade machines, although when we took them to the ones on Paignton Pier they had to admit the whole experience was more interesting than they had imagined.

When John had got over the £2.50 car parking charge, and the fascinating future in store for him as foretold by a talking fortune teller in a glass box, we spent some time playing on the adventure playground in the semi-darkness and finished a great evening with a trip to Asda.

Sunday 28 September 2014
Morning ride: HolneCloudy but dry
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, John Rogers
Hembury Woods - after the track
Lawrence, who had missed a few rides recently, want to start the ride with the hill to Cross Furzes, so that is exactly what we did. Once we had reached the top in double quick time we found that only Ash wanted to do the Chalk Ford track today - Lawrence was anxious about his brakes, and John just isn't that keen on serious off-road. So Ash did the track and the rest of us wandered over to Scoriton at leisurely pace, discussing nuclear fusion and other related topics.

Holne was the obvious next stop, but Lawrence didn't like the short steep route we took today - for him it will be Michelcombe every time from now on. At the café Lawrence wanted a half portion of soup but the chef, who didn't think he would have it if he knew its name, offered him a discount if he could guess what it was. It certainly was different, but none of us guessed that it was curried banana!

Hembury fort was the next stop, but Ash, Lawrence and Michael's excursion around the moat track proved unwise today as brambles were concealed in some of the bracken that encroached from either side.

Friday 3 October 2014Social: Games evening
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Tonight's social was computer games with a break in the middle for a trip to Tesco for some snack shopping.

Sunday 5 October 2014
Day ride (Car-assisted): Woodbury Common (24 mi)Mainly sunny, chilly start but warm later
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Lunchtime in Exmouth
View of the Exe estuary from the Exe Estuary trail between Topsham and Exmouth
Exmouth beach
Lunchtime in Exmouth
Failing to get air..
Riding through the fort at Woodbury Common
The rope swing at Woodbury Fort
Ash gets lots of air
Ash enjoys the ride
Lawrence the swinger
John came up to the start but had to get back for lunchtime so five of us packed their bikes into the cars and drove to our starting point near Topsham. The Exe Estuary Trail provided a lot of fun as well as good views, taking us through a nature reserve and past the Lympstone commando training centre with its barbed wire fences. We reached Exmouth by 12.30, raided the local bakery and café for pasties and bacon baps and then settled down in the town square for lunch. A youngster kept us entertained with his newly-acquired radio-controlled buggy.

Next stop was the sea front, where Dillan ate more doughnuts than was good for him and everyone took a walk along the sand. Quiet B-roads then took us up the gradual climb to Woodbury Common, and here everyone had fun in Woodbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort that offers some exciting jumps across the moat area. We also found a rope swing that persuaded everyone to stay longer than we had intended.

We finally left the castle at around 4pm for the mainly downhill journey of 7 miles back to the car, concluding an action-packed day that had taken many to brand new destinations.

Friday 10 October 2014Social: Games Evening
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Dillan was not feeling well this evening so a games evening at Crofters seemed the most appropriate social.

Sunday 12 October 2014
Day ride (Car-assisted): Plym Valley Trails (8 mi)Dry with sunny spells
5 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers
A glade in Colwill Wood
John on the Plymbridge bike trail
Jack and Ash enjoy the trail
The group in Colwill Wood
George by the river Plym near Plymbridge
The cave, just off the trail
Jack was back! And he turned up with a great idea for a new ride - a new trail that connects with the Plym Valley cycleway. We took the cars to Coypool near Plympton, rode the cycle way just beyond the first viaduct and then headed off along the new trail up through the woods to the left. It was well made and great fun, snaking its way between the trees and very gradually taking us up to the ridge. At one point we caught sight of the Wrigley factory just beyond the woodland border, reminding us how close this part of the woods is to Plymouth.

There were warnings about erosion on the path, and we did find a couple of steeper sections that needed care or perhaps even some foot work, but generally the trail was excellent and included plenty of gentle downhill. Eventually it brought us to the river near Plymbridge from where we rode the short distance along the road back to the car park. The mobile cofee van had finally turned up, so we all made good use of the facility.

Ash and Jack were eager for more fun, and when another cyclist told them of a second trail in Cann Wood they were determined to explore. We rode back to a point just before the first viaduct and then turned right up a track. This time however it was not an official trail, so we only had Ash and Jack's vague recollection of directions to go by. We took a left that after a while seemed to be leading us well away from known territory, so rather than get lost we took another track that returned us to the cycleway.

This excursion seemed to have satisfied everyone's thirst for adventure for one day, so we headed back to Coypool for more refreshments (George got his bacon bap) before heading homewards.

Friday 17 October 2014Social: Cinema Trip
5 present: Neil Ault, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Our film this evening was The Maze Runner, the first adaptation of a series of books. The film turned out to be an excellent choice for a great evening out.

Sunday 19 October 2014Morning ride: Staverton (10 mi)Warm, sunny and dry
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, John Rogers
Jack, Ash and John near Abham
Jack was feeling a little tired today so we contented ourselves with a ride along Colston road to Staverton where we stopped at the garden centre for very tasty but rather overpriced refreshments overlooking the river Dart.

Friday 24 October 2014
Social: Games and Quizzes
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell
A music quiz was followed by a supermarket trip to get some fudge cake and other goodies. We concluded the evening with some computer games.

Sunday 26 October 2014
Day ride (Car-assisted): Haldon Forest ParkCloudy but dry
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
George and Dillan on the red track
George enjoys the attractions on the easy track
The group on the red track
Dillan was not up to his usual fitness today but he dragged himself out of bed for the ride so that he wouldn't miss the social on Friday. As things turned out he was very glad he did, as he felt much better once we started cycling.

With the weather being a little dull we decided that today would be an excellent opportunity to visit Haldon Forest Park. After travelling up in two cars we rode the easy track first by way of change, then planned to have lunch before tackling the red track. Unfortunately the park was so packed with visitors today that the queues for the single café were horrendous and the delay for hot food even worse. We placated the youngsters with the promise of something hot later, made do with a couple of cold items and then tackled the main ride of the day.

The track seemed to have been diverted in several places since our last visit. For example, the bridged gully where Ash came off last time was not on the route now. Ash was using his new Go-Pro helmet cam today so if anything went wrong it would all be recorded. The final section of the route was closed off for reasons initially unknown: a few of us tried it, crossing an increasing number of fallen trees along the way, but soon we came to a huge area of fallen trees that was totally impassable, so we returned to John on the alternative blue route feeling a little stupid.

To finish a fun day in style we visited the Route 5 services restaurant on Haldon Hill where everyone enjoyed American-style burgers and (in some cases) vegetarian breakfasts.

Friday 31 October 2014Social: The Hairy Hand
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
As it was Halloween we decided to fuel up at Pizza Hut and then drive back over a very foggy and spooky moor via Princetown. We looked out closely for any sign of the Hairy Hand near Two Bridges, but tonight it was clearly occupied with more important matters.

Sunday 2 November 2014
Morning ride: River Dart Country Park (12 mi)Dry with sunny spells
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Ash leads the pack with his new helmet cam in Holne Woods
George on the Headborough Farm track near Ashburton
Holne Woods
The clearing in Holne Woods
When Lawrence arrived today he was showing off his flashy new hydraulic brakes - a birthday upgrade for his Trek. He didn't feel like riding too far however, so we rode to Ashburton to check out the new skate park and then tried the Headborough Farm track for the first time in several years - it wasn't anywhere near as muddy as last time, but I don't think John was too impressed with the first half.

The obvious next destination was River Dart Country Park, from where we took the track through the delightfully autumnal Holne Woods towards Holne. Ash tried to lift some logs that were clearly too heavy for him - evidently he thought he was Superman today instead of the usual Batman.

As we were now so close to Holne there was huge demand for calling in to the café there for bacon baps and soups. We finally left around 1.20 after a very pleasant stop and headed home via the Hembury Woods fort and tracks.

Friday 7 November 2014
Social: Badminton
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Everyone did well for our badminton social at Paignton. We called in to Asda on the way home.

Sunday 9 November 2014
Morning ride: Skerraton Down (8 mi)Sunny, chilly, with some showers
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
The descent to Cross Furzes
View from Skerraton Down
Fallen tree on the descent to Cross Furzes
Our planned route up Dean Hill turned out to be a bad choice today: a steady stream of cars was making a usually quiet lane rather dangerous for cyclists. We soon discovered that the cause of the phenomenon was the closure of the eastbound A38 near Drum Bridges and the reluctance of many motorists to take the recommended detour via Dartington. We opted for Nurston hill instead.

The initial track to Skerraton Down was a bit muddier and rockier than usual, especially around the gateway to the open moor where a few got wet feet. When three had fought over two Kinder Buenos from Michael's chocolate box - resolved when Lawrence kindly gave his to George - we headed up over the rough moorland to the ridge. Here the views across South Devon were fabulous, making all the effort worthwhile.

We had another muddy lake to negotiate around the second gate, then when a few had climbed the fallen tree we continued down the hill to Cross Furzes. George took a tumble on the way down, predicted seconds earlier by Lawrence, but he did not suffer any serious damage.

The final descent of Wallaford Road was chilly to say the least, so everyone was pleased to get to the Crofters café for warm refreshments.

Friday 14 November 2014Social: Games Evening
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones
After a trip to the local supermarket to stock up with treats we played Advanced Warfare on the PC network back at Crofters.

Sunday 16 November 2014
Morning ride: Dartington (12 mi)Sunny periods and occasional showers
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
The lane from Staverton to Abham
A shower at the start persuaded us to have a Crofters coffee, but we got away at 10.45 for the ride along Colston Road to the Dartington cycle path.

The Venus Café at the Cider Press Centre made an excellent venue for further refreshments. Dillan was back to his usual form this week and was keen to continue to Totnes, but Lawrence had a new PC game that he wanted to try out and John needed to get home for lunch, so we returned to Buckfastleigh via Staverton and Hole Farm.

Friday 21 November 2014
Social: Cinema Trip
9 present: Neil Ault, Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
There was a lot of interest in our trip to Plymouth to watch the movie Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. The general consensus was that it was an enjoyable film, although part two should of course be even better.

Sunday 23 November 2014
Morning ride: Broadhempston (12 mi)Dry but chilly
3 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Heading up Green Lane we wondered whether we would arrive at the Broadhempston community café in time to be welcomed or turned away - the shop closes at 12 but for them this means leaving at 12, not just closing the doors to new customers at 12, as they like to go home and cook their family roast. As it turned out we arrived at 11.38, but after being ignored while we sat in the café section we decided to go to the shop counter to request service. She paused with a fixed face, looked up the clock (which said 11.44) and reluctantly agreed to serve us. She couldn’t resist pointing out however that if we had been a minute later she would have refused!

We mainly had to help ourselves to food and drink from the shop, although Michael had a coffee. When it came to 12.00 we found ourselves been ushered out of the door, so we moved to the play park where Lawrence kept us amused for half an hour. First he managed to throw the Frisbee over the hedge into the same garden we intruded on a previous visit - the female owner had to be retrieved from the pub and then needed to get a broom to reach the Frisbee. As if that wasn't enough he then threw it over the high fence into the building plot and had to find a way around that. Silly Lawrence.

We returned home past the primary school and through Staverton. Lawrence proved that Sqeezebelly Lane was a quicker return route to Crofters than the football pitch path.

Friday 28 November 2014
Social: Movie Quiz
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
After a trip to Tesco where John kindly bought us all a huge stack of profiteroles, we had some enjoyable quizzes back at Crofters, first a game theme quiz and then a movie clip quiz which proved very entertaining - the youngsters just didn't want to go home tonight!

Sunday 30 November 2014
Day ride: Dartmeet (18 mi)Cloudy start, then perfect weather
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Lawrence and Dillan on Combestone Tor
Venford Reservoir
Stepping stones at Dartmeet
Combestone Tor
George and Dillan on Dr Blackall's Drive
George narrowly avoids a kick
We had a little difficulty dragging John and the youngsters away from Michael's new TV this morning - I think John was a little tired and felt very comfortable on the sofa. We got away by 10.45 however and once we were on the road the ride quickly became one of the best rides since summer.

The cloud quickly departed to leave blue skies and bright sunshine as we rode up through Scoriton, where our four-legged friend Leo was waiting to greet us. Everyone was fast and enthusiastic today, so we proceed through Michelcombe and straight up the hill to Venford without hesitation. The provisional plan had been to ride the track around the reservoir and then return to Holne, but suddenly everyone was keen to ride the full circuit through Dartmeet despite John's attempts to frighten them with his exaggerated descriptions of Dartmeet Hill. So we abandoned the track and pressed on to Combestone Tor.

The moor looked rather wet and boggy in places and we expected the river to be fairly high, so we decided to take the road through Hexworthy rather than the track to the stepping stones. The Forest Inn appeared permanently closed even though there were no signs anywhere to confirm the fact. On the lower side of the hairpin bend Michael was almost tempted to buy a jar of home-made lemon curd, left on a shelf outside a cottage with an honesty box, but decided against it when he saw the price was £2.95 for a very small jar.

Michael wanted to show everyone the stepping stones that we would have had to cross if we had taken the track from Combestone, so we parked the bikes tidily against the wall near Dartmeet and walked the few metres down the path. The river was quite high and the middle stones were wet and a little dodgy: Lawrence got across easily but George and Dillan managed only the first few stones before deciding the road had been a better option today.

On the way back to the bikes we were accosted by an elderly gentleman who lived in the house. We soon realised he was not coming out to wish us a good day and praise the youngsters for being out enjoying the countryside. He was, in fact, telling us off for parking our bikes against the wall opposite his house, and he was really quite angry. Since his living quarters were on the stepping stones side of the house we wondered how he had realised the bikes were even there after just five minutes of parking them - maybe they have become so annoyed by tourists parking cars there that they have installed a CCTV camera, or perhaps they just spend their lives looking for someone to get angry with.

We said, quite truthfully, that we hadn't noticed the no parking sign located on the house side of the layby, and apologised for any offence caused, but we pointed out we were only there for five minutes, we had parked right up against the wall on the other side and we really weren't stopping anyone from parking. He wouldn’t accept it however and went back into his house, determined to remain annoyed.

When we reached the bikes the gentleman's wife was there, and she had another go at us! She said we had parked in someone's parking space, but the facts that we weren't blocking it, that the person hadn't turned up to park there and that we were only there for five minutes had absolutely no effect on her demeanour. Again we apologised but she just would not stop complaining - or being angry. When she realised we were not going to get angry and that she was really not winning the argument she retreated to her garden but couldn't resist one final question about how we would feel if someone parked in one of our parking spaces. Michael quite truthfully replied that he wouldn't mind at all if the circumstances were the same. With that she disappeared.

We needed lunch at the Badgers Holt restaurant to recover from the torrents of abuse, Most had burgers but Dillan saved his money for later and just bought toast - mean, nasty George offered Dillan a piece of burger and then ate it himself. It was warm and cosy there, but the prices were perhaps not quite as cheap as we would have liked.

We set about climbing Dartmeet Hill, everyone climbing it at their own pace. Michael had estimated around 15 minutes and in the end we all reached the top in between 13 and 19 minutes. Both Dillan and George did extraordinarily well today and felt very pleased with themselves as they admired the view.

When Michael had changed his brake cable we set off along Dr Blackall's Drive. John, foolishly as it turned out, decided to take the track as well, but some sections were a little too rough for his narrow-wheeled bike and he did a fair amount of pushing. The views across the secluded Dart valley were superb of course, and some Dartmoor Ponies allowed George to stroke them before getting a bit fed up and wandering away with a parting kick – fortunately George had kept well away from their rear ends.

John re-joined the road at the top of New Bridge hill while the rest of us took the final downhill track to Newbridge as the sun disappeared over the horizon. It was getting distinctly chilly as we returned via Hembury, but this has been an excellent ride in every respect. Hopefully the younger riders will be encouraged to do longer rides like this whenever the weather is suitable.

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