South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 8 March 2015
1400-1730
Afternoon ride: Spitchwick (11 mi)Turning sunny and warm
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Dillan and George prepare for the steep downhill track to Spitchwick (15:34)
Dillan, Lawrence, John and George on the Lower Hembury Track (14:30)
George and Dillan at Spitchwick (16:18)
We had planned a Morning Ride today, but when everyone arrived at 10.15 the light rain encouraged everyone to spend the morning on a games and homework social, postponing the cycling to the afternoon.

When we set off for Hembury the rain had vanished and there were sunny spells at times. Everyone rode up the Lower Hembury Track, including John who now has off-road tyres that make the task much easier. Climbing the hill to Humphrey's Cross however Lawrence discovered an unwelcome split in his shorts, behind his thigh, and decided at once that he needed to go straight home before his favourite shorts were ruined beyond repair. No amount of persuasion would change his mind, so the rest of us continued towards New Bridge.

After refreshments at the ice cream van we took the steep track through the woods to Spitchwick and then spent a very enjoyable forty minutes playing Frisbee and other games on the nearly-deserted common in brilliant spring sunshine. Clearly this is the best time of year to visit, when the tourists are at home.

As it was getting late we returned via Holne Chase rather than Buckland-in-the-Moor, with everyone agreeing that Afternoon Rides could be a good idea from time to time.

Friday 13 March 2015
1900-2215
Social: Badminton
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
We decided to use the Ashmoor gym court this evening from 8pm as the sports hall was booked all evening. After playing numerous short 1v1 games however the hall became free earlier than expected, so we were able to conclude our session on two full-size courts.

An interesting debate at Crofters at the end of the evening highlighted the dangers for young people in automatically believing the content of videos posted on YouTube. In this case some wild accusations against the Walt Disney Company turned out to be very misleading, presenting faked evidence as fact and omitting many important facts.

Sunday 15 March 2015
1015-1445
Morning ride: North Huish (15 mi)Dry but cold (7°) and grey
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Dillan and George (12:20)
George and Dillan in the new Avonwick Play Park (12:18)
The bridge over the River Avon at Manor House, Diptford (13:05)
George and Dillan by the River Avon (12:57)
George does his stunt for the camera (13:06)
Manor House bridge, Diptford (13:06)
The Coombeshead Solar Farm project near Diptford (13:39)
We gave the weather a little chance to warm up with coffee at Crofters before setting off for Dean Hill at 11.15, narrowly keeping ahead of a bunch of elderly cyclists out for a spin. Dillan's sprained wrist (a school injury) and the chilly conditions prompted us to decide against the possible Ugborough Beacon ride today so we headed down to Avonwick, passing one of the elderly contingent answering a call of nature right beside the road!

Taking the road towards North Huish we discovered a brand new play park, constructed last summer by Avonwick parents at a cost of £30k. George and Dillan tested each piece of equipment methodically and gave the whole park their unanimous seal of approval.

Dillan and George really are much faster these days, so the long climb to North Huish didn't even slow them down today. Once they had checked the village out, establishing that the only public building was a church that was no longer used, we proceeded down the long steep hill to the bridge over the River Avon near Manor House. The lack of sunshine detracted only a little from the natural beauty of the area, and the youngsters enjoyed skimming stones and doing gymnastics on the bridge.

Our return route through Diptford to Rattery took us alongside the brand new Coombeshead Solar Farm near Shorter Cross. It will generate 7.86MW of power when it is connected to the National Grid this month, enough to power 3350 households.

After ringing through to Ashley to get him to put some Rowe's Pasties in the oven we proceeded at good speed through Rattery and Pennywell Farm, successfully negotiating the visitors to the Buckfastleigh Races along the way.

Friday 20 March 2015
1900-2215
Social: Computer Games with Tesco Trip
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers

Sunday 22 March 2015
1015-1455
Morning ride: Landscove Tracks (12 mi)Sunny, but chilly start
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Lawrence Buttress on the lower Parkfield track - a little muddier than we had hoped (11:52)
George on the upper section of the Parkfield track (11:44)
A junction on the Beaston track (12:17)
George and John approach a crossroads on the lower Parkfield track (11:57)
Tennis ball fun at Landscove Playground (12:50)
Lawrence raids Michael's chocolate box on the Beaston track (12:17)
Start of the final bridleway from Higher Penn to Lower Combe (14:14)
Stick combat in the gardens of the Hill House Nursery (13:44)
The air was chilly at the start despite the sunshine, so Lawrence collected his fleece on the way past his house. By the time we reached Ashburton, however, it had been stowed away in Michael’s pannier, and it really was turning into a glorious day as everyone rode up Chuley Hill.

The Parkfield track – new to most of our members - got a rating of 4/10 today from our youngsters as the lower section was a bit muddy in places and, as Lawrence put it, there were no decent jumps. Everyone preferred it to the road however, so they then elected to ride the second track of the morning, Beaston, even though in this direction it was slightly uphill all the way. The lake that used to plague the middle has long since been drained, but today there were many swarms of annoying little flies that seemed to be spread along the whole length of the track.

When Lawrence had decided not to raid Michael’s chocolate box when we were so close to the café, and Michael had freed his clogged mudguard, we rode up to Memory Cross and then into Landscove where the youngsters tested the equipment and had fun with a tennis ball.

Today was our first visit to the Hill House Nursery Tea Room since it reopened for the new season in March. The cakes were just as tasty and enormous as they were last year, and the gardens offered plenty of opportunity for stick fights and other amusements. Lawrence is always wary of this place since he accidentally wandered into the pond as a toddler!

There was a unanimous vote for a third and final track on the way home which involved another climb to Higher Penn and then a fun descent through a field and a section of woodland. On the way home we had a chat with retired Buckfastleigh doctor Peter Edwards who was rolling the verge outside his home at Beara.

Friday 27 March 2015
1900-2215
Social: Laser Fighters, Plymouth
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
We finished our social season on a high tonight with Laser Tag at Plymouth. We had the whole arena to ourselves for both games so it couldn't have worked out better.

Our first game was a team game with George and Dillan against Michael and John. The second game was a free for all. Everyone found something to be happy about with the scores. Dillan and George narrowly won the first team game but Michael came first overall. George came first in the free for all but John improved his score over the first game. It really was an excellent evening, and I'm sure we'll be returning again next season, hopefully with a few more participants.

Sunday 29 March 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Converted to SocialWet and windy
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Inclement weather this morning persuaded us to run a badminton social at Ivybridge Leisure Centre. Unfortunately it was still wet by 2.15 so we abandoned the idea of an afternoon ride as well.

Friday 3 April 2015
1900-2120
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Cloudy and windy with occasional drizzle
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
The weather wasn't brilliant for our first evening ride of 2015 but at least it stayed mainly dry. Our route took us along Colston Road and down to Staverton riverside. Here the bridge over Staverton Leat, which takes water to the nearby mill, was unlocked today but sadly the river level was too high to allow us to cross the stepping stones to the island.

Darkness was falling now, giving us chance to try out our lights. They all worked fine, but as it happened the full moon lit our way brilliantly all the way to Abham and home as the chill air descended.

Sunday 5 April 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Quantocks & North Devon Coast Day 1 Home to Minehead Youth Hostel (26 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Kingston St Mary (11:11)
Preparing to leave Taunton rail station (10:40)
Lunch on Lydeard Hill (13:14)
The start of the Quantocks track at Lydeard Hill (12:29)
George and Will at Triscombe Park Gate (14:18)
The Quantocks track at Middle Hill (13:50)
Watery challenges near Great Hill (14:36)
Triscombe Park Gate (14:19)
Lawrence by the Statue of the Ancient Mariner, Watchet harbour (17:30)
The Quantocks track near Hurley Beacon (15:02)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Monday 6 April 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Quantocks & North Devon Coast Day 2 Minehead to Exford Independent Hostel (17 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Near Bratton Ball viewpoint on North Hill (12:47)
John and Will at the top of North Hill, Minehead (12:17)
The bridleway to Selworthy (13:03)
Start of the bridleway to Selworthy, near Selworthy Beacon (13:01)
George tests the rope (13:16)
The rope swing on the bridleway through Selworthy Combe (13:16)
The track from Selworthy to Allerford (14:24)
Lunch in the tranquil gardens of Selworthy Green (13:39)
The East Water river just past Cloutsham Ford (16:19)
Picturesque Allerford, where some successfully rode through the water (14:45)
A welcome rest at Lang Combe Head, the highest road in Somerset at 478m (17:40)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Tuesday 7 April 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Quantocks & North Devon Coast Day 3 Exford to Lynton Guest House (25 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Boeveys Tea Rooms at Simonsbath (11:59)
Lawrence, George, Will, Dillan and John at Exford hostel (10:14)
The lane to Hunter's Inn (14:39)
Lawrence goes overboard with sunscreen after climbing Parracombe Hill (14:23)
Ice creams at Hunter's Inn (14:57)
Ice creams at Hunter's Inn (14:56)
The coast path from Hunter's Inn finally rises above the coastal fog (15:33)
Dillan and Lawrence at Hunter's Inn (15:08)
A layer of coastal fog covers the sea all the way along the coast to Lynton and beyond (15:47)
The coastal fog rolling back towards Hunter's Inn (15:41)
Lawrence admires the coastal fog towards Woody Bay (16:19)
Quick - save them! (16:02)
Valley of the Rocks rises out of the fog, as seen from Lee Abbey (16:58)
Dillan climbs out of the coastal fog at Lee Abbey (16:51)
Lawrence on the coast path to Lynton (17:42)
Will at the Lee Abbey Christian Conference Centre (16:58)
The Cliff Railway at Lynton (17:46)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Wednesday 8 April 2015
0800-2000
Tour: Quantocks & North Devon Coast Day 4 Lynton to Home (17 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Dillan Edwards at the entrance to the Bath Hotel, Lynmouth (10:03)
The Bath Hotel, Lynmouth (10:03)
Lynmouth harbour (10:07)
John and Will at Lynmouth, looking back to the Bath Hotel (10:07)
Arriving at the Yeo Valley near Lower Loxhore (13:38)
Dillan at the Old Station House Inn, Blackmoor Gate (12:57)
George and Dillan start on the Sustrans cycle route through Barnstaple (14:08)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Friday 10 April 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to Social
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
For various reasons this evening's ride was converted to a social at Crofters where we viewed some of the high-quality video footage taken on our recent tour and played some computer games.

Sunday 12 April 2015
1015-1340
Morning ride: Holne (9 mi)Breezy with sunny spells
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Carradice saddlebags have a multitude of uses (12:37)
An unconventional way of carrying child and dog on a tandem, at Holne café (12:37)
A miniature pony near Bowden Farm (13:09)
Leo and his collie friend at Scoriton (12:51)
With everyone in fine form after our recent tour we took the Silver Street route to Scoriton and the café at Holne where a new coffee machine had taken residence. Also visiting the café was an Ashburton mother and son on a child-back tandem, equipped with Carradice bar bag and saddlebag. As they were leaving we noticed that the saddlebag had been cleverly adapted to carry the family dog, who seemed quite happy to have the bag closed around him.

Michael had guests for the weekend so we needed to be home for lunch, but our entusiastic youngsters voted to return via the steep climb from Combe to Cross Furzes and of course rode the hill with ease.

Friday 17 April 2015
1900-2120
Evening ride: Skerraton DownDry and fairly warm
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
For our second evening ride of the season we decided to venture off-road, riding up the hill past Nurston and heading onto the open moor from Skerraton. Everyone was really fast up the hill so we arrived at the top just before darkness fell.

After admiring the extensive views across South Devon several had light problems so we returned via Cross Furzes in a fairly close group, sharing the two lights that were actually working properly.

Sunday 19 April 2015
1015-1510
Morning ride: Fermoy's Garden Centre, Ipplepen (21 mi)Sunny; warm by midday
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Dillan relishes his chocolate flake cheesecake at Fermoy's Garden Centre (12:50)
Dillan and Will investigate an unexpected road block near Abham (11:36)
Our progress to Fermoy's was impeded by various events. First, Dillan's chain broke at the bottom of Green Lane. Michael fixed it but it broke again in a different place a few minutes later. The cause turned out to be a broken front derailleur that kept catching the chain and pulling it apart, but once that was straightened the chain didn't break again.

On the way past Abham we encountered a fallen tree that perfectly blocked the whole lane. There were no warning signs so we guessed it must have been an overnight fall. The process of negotiating the branches on the left was a little tricky but we eventually got through and headed onwards via Staverton. By way of a change we took the Newhouse Barton lane from Fishacre Barton to Ipplepen: apart from temporarily losing John and Will at a double turn it definitely felt like an easier route than the usual.

Fermoy's must have been busy today because they took 30 minutes to deliver Michael's toasted teacake and 40 minutes to supply John and Will with their bacon meals. Dillan was not unhappy however as he had longer to savour his delicious chocolate flake cheesecake.

John needed to be home by 3 so after returning to Broadhempston via Denbury we split into two groups: John and Will went home via the direct route to Green Lane while Dillan and Michael took the Beaston Track, this time in the downward direction, and then returned via Landscove.

Friday 24 April 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to SocialIncreasingly wet and dismal
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
This evening's forecast proved incorrect when the afternoon drizzle failed to turn to sunshine in time for our evening ride. Instead it turned to real rain for the duration of the evening, so our youngsters chose to divide the time between a trip to Tesco at Lee Mill and various computer games.

Sunday 26 April 2015
1000-1655
Day ride (Car-assisted): The Grand Western Canal, Tiverton (24 mi)Cloudy and chilly but dry, sunny spells later
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
A nesting swan in a private garden in Tiverton (11:44)
The start of the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton (11:29)
The Halberton Aqueduct, built to take the canal over the Tiverton branch line (12:02)
The canal in Tiverton (11:44)
Lunch just beyond Sampford Peverell (13:23)
The canal at Sampford Peverell (12:50)
Swans and cygnets (13:44)
A pair of swans and cygnets (13:44)
Lowdwells Lock (14:07)
The far end of the canal at Lowdwells Lock. It once continued to Taunton (14:06)
Waytown Limekilns (14:15)
The path back to the canal from the bridge over Waytown Tunnel (14:13)
The Tivertonian shire horse having a well-earned break before the journey back to Tiverton (15:21)
The Tivertonian tourist barge at East Manley Bridge, towed by a shire horse (15:17)
John and Dillan at the Canal Café, Tiverton (16:06)
Several of our members inexplicably missed out on this memorable exploration of the Grand Western Canal, but their absence just made the task of packing bikes into the car much easier than it would have been.

The day started at the Tiverton end of the canal at 11.30, where a visitor centre and café welcomed us. Without the photographs showing the “navvies” digging the canal by hand with only shovels and barrows to help them it would have been hard to believe it could have been built in such a way.

The whole canal was alive with ducks, moorhens, swans and fish, giving us plenty to look at as we rode the first section to Sampford Peverell. Here we diverted from the canal to check out the local Spar, but the absence of hot food made us glad we had brought our own lunches. We rode a little further along the canal to a secluded seat which made a suitable venue for lunch, although a chill wind encouraged us to dress warmly.

We pressed on to the current end of the canal at Lowdwells Lock, although we could see that the canal once continued all the way to Taunton. We had covered nearly 12 miles from the start, flat all the way but still quite tiring because of the mild headwind. The return journey however was swift and easy, encouraging Dillan to race to every bridge – nobody else was racing, but he was definitely fast and seemed to enjoy awarding himself first place every time!

As we neared Tiverton we were rewarded with the sight of the horse-drawn Tivertonian tourist barge turning in the canal in preparation for its return journey. The magnificent Shire horse was temporarily released from his duties so he could enjoy a snack break in the bushes.

On reaching Tiverton again we couldn’t resist trying out the Canal Café: the scones and drinks were reasonably priced and the garden setting made a perfect end to a very special ride.

Friday 1 May 2015
1900-2115
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (7 mi)Gloomy but mainly dry
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
Can you spot the deer? (19:54)
A shorter ride seemed appropriate on this rather dismal evening, so we rode through Buckfast to Hembury and then climbed the main hill at a super-fast pace. Near the top Michael remembered that he had seen a deer in the woods here many years ago, so he told Dillan and they both looked around in the vain hope that one might miraculously appear. Within seconds a young deer jumped out from the trees up to the right, saw us and stood motionless for several minutes before wandering off. The chances of this happening were so remote that it felt like Michael’s words had somehow conjured up a deer out of thin air!

We rode past the fort and through to the deep glade at the top of the woods, then took a track that we have only explored a few times that took us down through the middle of the woods to the riverside path. The birdsong and encroaching new leaves from the trees made the gloomy weather feel much less oppressive as we returned home.

Sunday 3 May 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Holne (9 mi)Mainly dry with occasional sunny spells
5 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
The group at Holne (12:45)
Will, Lawrence and Dillan outside the Community Tea Room, Holne (12:45)
John and Will emerging from the Hembury Fort moat path (13:10)
With showers forecast for the morning and rain for the afternoon we set off up Wallaford Road with a plan only to make up a route as we went along. It was still dry after a brisk climb to Cross Furzes, so we headed through Combe to Holne with the idea of possibly going to Venford or Ashburton. Stopping outside the café we had just decided not to stop there when a rain shower began, so we did the sensible thing and spent an enjoyable half an hour sampling the cream of carrot soup and other tasty refreshments. Dillan seemed reluctant to break into his notes – we think he is saving up for something – but in the end he bought a toasted teacake.

The sun was shining again as we left, but as it was nearly 1pm we were now forced us to head more directly home via Hembury Woods so as to avoid the later rain. Only Lawrence rode the ‘Slalom’ track through the woods, although everyone rode around the fort. The rain began as we reached Buckfastleigh, almost exactly as we had planned.

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