South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 8 May 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to SocialDamp
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Another unpleasant evening encouraged us to change the ride to a Pizza Hut social at Plymouth, which Dillan enjoyed immensely of course.

Sunday 10 May 2015
1015-1530
Day ride (Car-assisted): Haldon Forest ParkCloudy with occasional spots of drizzle
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
The Red Track at Haldon Forest Park (12:54)
The Red Track at Haldon Forest Park (12:40)
Dillan's little snack at Route 5 (13:44)
Our planned weekend to Bellever YH had to be cancelled since many of our members are revising for exams. With just Dillan and Michael out today, Dillan was able to select whatever ride he wanted, which turned out to be a thorough exploration of the blue and red tracks at Haldon Forest Park.

We got back to the car by 1pm and finished the day with an all-day breakfast fry-up at the Route 5 restaurant on Haldon and a visit to Tesco at Newton Abbot.

Friday 15 May 2015
1900-2130
Evening ride: Rattery (12 mi)Sunny spells
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
We decided to start our ride with an examination of the new Dry Bridge near Rattery, replaced during the course of the past six months and now almost ready to open. It all looked very impressive, although our estimate of cost at £500k turned out to be wildly out when we checked online later - it actually cost £1.6m!

From here we invented a new evening ride, taking us along the cycle route through Rattery and then down what seemed like a very long descent to Huxham's Cross. We returned along Colston Road as darkness fell.

Sunday 17 May 2015
1015-1610
Day ride: 30th Anniversary Ride, Dartmoor Letterboxing (20 mi)Sunny periods
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Stan Ford, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
The Ten Commandments Stones at Buckland Beacon (12:28)
Approaching Buckland Beacon (12:20)
Dillan inspects one of the two letterboxes we found at Buckland Beacon (12:35)
Impressive views from the top of Buckland Beacon (12:30)
The second letterbox at Buckland Beacon (12:40)
Michael caught on camera by Will (12:36)
The newly refurbished Green Café at Widecombe (14:17)
The path from Buckland Beacon to Cold East Cross (12:47)
Dillan enjoys his delicious toffee ice cream with clotted cream (14:30)
Ice creams at Widecombe (14:26)
Our favourite ducks near Leusdon showing off their new penthouse flat and pond (15:14)
Stan Ford joined us for our 30th anniversary ride to Dartmoor, and we received several good wishes from ex-members who were unable to be with us. Stan’s trusty Raleigh Randonneur suffered a broken chain on the first climb up the shortcut near Peartree, but Michael got his hands oily to ensure we could proceed up Ausewell Hill with the minimum delay.

We took the unsigned path across Welstor Common to Buckland Beacon, a fire beacon still used to celebrate royal events, and after hauling the bikes over the stile Michael took the group to the pair of granite slabs that together form the Ten Commandments Stones. Most of the group had never seen them before, and in Stan’s case that was not for want of searching. The stones, which were inscribed in 1928, have become somewhat eroded over the years so you really have to know where they are to be sure of finding them.

When we had finished taking in the breath-taking views across Southern Dartmoor Dillan found one letterbox and Will found the other. The boxes don’t seem to contain ink pads and stamps these days, but we left our comments in the books using the pens provided and continued on our way.

Will was ravenously hungry for some reason, so after taking the path down to Cold East Cross we decided against looking for more letterboxes at Bonehill Rocks, instead proceeding down the steep descent to Widecombe. Here we were in for a surprise: the famous Green Café had been gutted and completely refurbished inside by new owners. The old kitchen and serving area was gone, replaced with a new eating area complete with old fireplace; there was a brand new kitchen and serving area on the car-park side; the cloakrooms had been completely rebuilt; and new tables and chairs both inside and out completed the conversion to a café that finally seems appropriate for such a popular tourist village. We enjoyed a range of tasty food from the excellent menu and gave the new proprietor full marks for what must have been a very expensive enterprise.

Next stop was the ice-cream hut in the village which boasted very generous helpings of delicious ice cream topped with clotted cream for just £2.50. Refreshed for the return journey we headed onwards via Ponsworthy at a good speed, diverting through Leusdon in the hope of seeing our favourite white ducks. We were not disappointed: they seemed to have brand new fox-proof quarters next to their refurbished pond, so hopefully they will survive until Christmas at least!

We returned home via Hembury for around 4.10 after a very enjoyable ride. For those who couldn’t make the ride we will be running a 30th anniversary get-together at Christmas.

Friday 22 May 2015
1900-2000
Evening ride: Cross Furzes (5 mi)Mainly sunny
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
With Dillan feeling unwell we organised a short ride along Duckspond Road to Cross Furzes. The extra time after the ride was wisely used to plan a first version of our summer tour, which may be to Scotland this year.

Sunday 24 May 2015
1015-1730
Day ride (Car-assisted): The Camel Trail (24 mi)Cloudy with occasional drizzle
3 present: Tao Burgess, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Tao repairs his puncture by the café at Boscarne (12:10)
Dillan and Tao, ready to join the cycle path at Bodmin (11:54)
Padstow harbour (14:11)
Big queues outside Rick Stein's fish and chips restaurant (13:49)
Padstow harbour (14:12)
Padstow harbour (14:12)
Approaching Bodmin on the Camel Trail (15:56)
Dillan overslept this morning and woke up just as Tao and Michael were leaving in the car. We had soon collected him, loaded his bike and headed off to Bodmin through cloud and light drizzle. Heavier rain this side of Bodmin gave us some cause for concern, but once we had parked up by the Trail conditions were nearly dry.

We had planned an early stop at the Boscarne café, so it was somewhat fortuitous that Tao got his puncture just outside. He forecast the fastest repair we had ever seen, but when his tight tyre beading broke one of his plastic tyre levers the repair time got extended to about 12 minutes.

After an enjoyable café stop we set off with good speed through Wadebridge, passing countless families on hire bikes. We were looking out for dogs in hired dog trailers, but on the outward journey the intended occupant of the only trailer we saw was sensibly running along behind getting some exercise.

As we approached Padstow we ran into drizzle that was more like light rain. The narrow streets were heaving with visitors, no doubt due in part to the bank holiday weekend. Michael wanted a cheese and onion pasty, but the assistant in the only pasty shop without a queue managed to drop the only pasty she had, so he decided to join Tao and Dillan in trying Rick Stein's fish and chips.

Tao's scampi and chips were apparently the best he had ever tasted. Dillan's chips were good although apparently not as good as John's from Buckfastleigh. Michael wanted fish, but all the fish was cooked in beef dripping so he had the vegetarian option which was halloumi - very tasty, but not quite the fish he had hoped for.

We headed back with great speed, the rain stopping once again as we neared Wadebridge. On the final section to Bodmin we were finally rewarded with the sight of a trailer with two dogs in residence, although the large one seemed to be leaving little room for the small one. Tao embarrassed himself as we passed a lake with some rather loud sea birds: he made a joke about seagull noises but was told in no uncertain terms by two passing youngsters that they were actually geese!

This had been a busy and interesting day that proves just how much fun cycling can be even when the weather isn’t 100% ideal.

Friday 29 May 2015
1900-2130
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Sunny and warm
3 present: Tom Batten, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Staverton Island and the fight over Big Rock (20:25)
Tom and Dillan on the Staverton riverside path (20:11)
New rider Tom had a great bike but had never really used it much, so Staverton seemed like a suitably challenging first-ride destination for him. He seemed surprised that he kept up with us all the way along Colston Road as he had never ridden that far before.

Glorious sunshine turned to a fabulous sunset as we rode beside the River Dart at Staverton and picked our way across to the island for stone skimming. Most of the good skimming stones had already been cast into the river but we managed to find a few small ones that were just about adequate.

Tom was keen to explore the intriguing swamp path to the park, but we needed to get back before 9.30 so that would have to wait for another day. At first Tom was feeling so tired that he walked the hills past Hole Farm, but then he realised he wouldn't actually die if he got out of breath and pushed himself courageously to ride the last few hills back to Buckfastleigh. He seemed to very much enjoy his first excursion and we hope to see him again soon.

Sunday 31 May 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Converted to SocialOccasional light rain
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
A damp start and damp forecast prompted Dillan to request a badminton social, so we booked a court at Ashmoor for 11.30. Dillan pushed himself to his limits during the session and ended up getting as much exercise as if he had cycled.

Friday 5 June 2015
1900-2125
Evening ride: South Brent (11 mi)Sunny and quite warm
3 present: Tom Batten, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Tom and Dillan near Stidston Cross, South Brent (20:17)
With Tom out for his second ride we started with the relatively easy climb of Dean Hill, passing a very large and friendly black pig along the way. Tom was relieved at the downhill section around the Zempson loop and was so busy talking that he didn't really notice the uphill near the end.

This seemed like a good evening to take Tom on his first off-road adventure, so we rode the track from Marley Head to Stidston: the middle section had been severely rutted by winter streams but on the whole he seemed to enjoy it.

Michael pointed out the train tunnel that goes under Marley Head, although we had difficulty seeing the point where it emerges on the other side because of the trees that lined the road. We took the lane up to Rattery, then Michael discovered that Tom's front derailleur wasn't actually moving off the large ring regardless of the gear setting. Once he moved it to the small ring Tom suddenly discovered for the first time that climbing hills can be relatively easy, so it wasn't long before we descended past Pennywell to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 7 June 2015
1415-1640
Afternoon ride: Landscove (7 mi)Sunny and warm
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
With a disappointing turnout for a fabulous summer afternoon we changed the destination from Avon Dam to the Hill House Garden Centre tearooms at Landscove. The outward journey was interrupted when Dillan got a puncture, but it only delayed us by ten minutes. We enjoyed scones in the gardens before returning to Buckfastleigh by the same route.

Friday 12 June 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Decided on the Day
0 present:
Report to follow

Friday 12 June 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: CancelledCloudy
0 present:
Nobody turned out for today's ride so it was cancelled.

Sunday 14 June 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Holne (10 mi)Sunny and warm
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
Our planned day ride across the moor was converted to a morning ride to Holne since that seemed to suit everyone. Our route took us through Buckfast and past Hawson Court. On the way through Scoriton we were sad to see that Leo the dog was laying by the side of the road in a very weak state, unable even to get up to greet us. We could only hope that it was a temporary malaise, although he is getting on a bit now.

Dillan decided he was going up the short route to the café even though Michael and John were going via Michelcombe, but we soon met up for tasty hot refreshments before returning homewards via Hembury.

Friday 19 June 2015
1900-2120
Evening ride: Staverton Island (11 mi)Warm and sunny
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Skimming stones on the River Dart (20:13)
Dillan and George on Staverton Island (20:12)
We were pleased to welcome George back to the club this evening after a 10-week absence. Trying not to make the ride too difficult we contented ourselves with a spin along Colston Road and then down to Staverton Island where a bunch of young children were having an adventure party by the river. We found our own private section of beach for stone skimming, although some of the youngsters spent their time spotting us from the woodland.

Our return route took us through the park and past Hole Farm and Caddaford. We needn't have worried about keeping the ride easy for George as he had lost none of his cycling skills since the tour.

Sunday 21 June 2015
1015-1515
Day ride: Totnes Food Market (20 mi)Warm and sunny
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
The Hydro Power scheme at Totnes Weir (12:04)
The Hydro Power scheme at Totnes Weir (12:04)
Totnes riverside path (12:14)
All you need to know about the HEP scheme (12:04)
Dillan discovers some excellent home-made flapjack at Totnes market (12:52)
John buys hot food at Totnes food market (12:52)
Canada Geese in formation on the Rver Dart at Totnes (12:28)
Some of the food on display at Totnes food market (13:03)
View along Totnes Longmarsh (13:31)
John, Dillan and the Canada Geese (13:28)
Littlehempston (13:55)
With George apparently unable to find the motivation to get out of bed this morning the three of us set off on a slightly more ambitious ride than usual, along Colston road to Dartington and then along the cycle path to Totnes weir. Here we were in for a shock: the usual picturesque spot by the weir where we have often stopped for a rest and photos had become the centre of a building site. Closer inspection revealed it was the construction of a new Hydro Power scheme for Totnes, primarily built to supply Totnes School. It didn't look too attractive at the moment, but hopefully it will be better when completed.

John had heard that the Totnes food market was open today (being the third Sunday in the month) so we rode up the main straight to take a look. It was very busy with plenty of different types of food on offer, so it was no surprise that we all ended up buying something tasty. Dillan thought it would be a good idea to make a point of visiting it every month, but perhaps every other month would be more sensible.

We were in no particular rush today so we detoured down to Longmarsh and were greeted with a most unusual sight: around twenty Canada Geese were swimming up river in a single-file line, maintaining a fairly consistent distance from the goose in front! They only broke formation when they reached the quayside, where it was every goose for himself.

Next stop was Littlehempston, where the stone bridges made a peaceful resting spot after the demands of the downhill track - fortunately causing no punctures on this occasion. We passed the Devon Shiatsu centre near Buckyette, but after reading the sign we still had no idea what it was. We found out later it is a kind of Chinese massage using only the fingers, thumbs and palms, but with the remote location and absence of all vehicles we didn't expect they pick up much passing trade.

Arriving at Staverton station we popped in to see the train off and took a brief look at the Meccano exhibition before heading home. On the way past Hole Farm John noticed a squashed snake on the road. At first we thought it was a grass snake, but on checking the markings at home we discovered that it was an adder!

Friday 26 June 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Scoriton (7 mi)Warm and sunny
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Sunset in Burchetts Wood (20:27)
This evening's ride took us up Wallaford Road to Cross Furzes and then down via Combe to Scoriton where we were relieved to see that Leo the dog had made a full recovery since our last visit.

After taking the shortcut to Hawson and then the lane over the Holy Brook Bridge Michael turned right into what looked to Dillan like a gap in the hedge. While he was trying to work out what he was doing he unfortunately rode into a ditch on his left, baling at the last to avoid serious injury.

The gap in the hedge was actually the beginning of the delightful track through Burchetts Wood. It turned out to be muddy in a few places but generally flat, dry and full of the tranquillity of summer. To conclude an enjoyable ride we took the track through the woods to Bilberryhill and home.

Sunday 28 June 2015
1015-1415
Morning ride: Converted to SocialLight rain
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
When the damp weather showed no sign of clearing by 11.00 we booked two badminton courts at Ashmoor leisure centre and spent an enjoyable 75 minutes on some highly energetic games.

Friday 3 July 2015
1900-2120
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (8 mi)Cloudy and thundery, rain later
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
We rode out to Buckfast to Hembury Woods, then had to return to Grange Road when Dillan realised he had lost his helmet peak. In view of the increasingly gloomy and threatening weather we contented ourselves with riding up the lower Hembury track and then returning via Hembury Hill, reaching home just after the rain began.

Sunday 5 July 2015
1015-1220
Morning ride: Rattery (8 mi)Dry with sunny spells
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
A forecast of showers at lunchtime seemed to frighten Dillan so much that it was hard to get him cycling at all today, despite Michael's assurances that weather forecasts for showers don't necessarily mean you will get wet. He had pulled himself together by the time we reached the top of Rattery hill so we were able to enjoy a brisk ride over the new Dry Bridge and then past a fly-infested Moors Head to the Nurston road.

The forecast rain never came, but in some ways it was fortunate that we had not strayed far from home since Michael's freewheel chose this moment to seize up - he had to pedal all the way down the hill and then home without freewheeling once.

We didn't waste the afternoon sunshine, choosing to fix two punctures, replace Dillan's rear derailleur and purchase a new freewheel for Michael's bike from Big Peaks at Ashburton.

Friday 10 July 2015
1900-2140
Evening ride: The Abbots WaySunny and warm
3 present: Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
George and John on the Abbots Way bridleway (21:13)
George made the choices at each stage of this evening's ride. The result of this was that we rode up the long hill to Cross Furzes and then took to the Abbot's Way bridleway onto the moor. We found a quiet, open spot on the hill adorned with a wide variety of grasses and spend an enjoyable half hour throwing Frisbees through the warm, still air.

It was with some reluctance that we eventually dragged ourselves away from this moorland sanctuary and headed home the way we had come.

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