South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 12 July 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Converted to SocialRain
6 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers, Ewan Suttie
Inclement weather today encouraged us to arrange a session of badminton at Ashmoor instead of the planned cycle ride. Ewan made good progress with his badminton skills from a low starting point and everyone had some energetic and enjoyable games. The afternoon social involved a game of Lord of the Rings and some PC repairs!

Friday 17 July 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: CancelledMainly dry
0 present:
Today's ride was cancelled as nobody arrived at the start.

Sunday 19 July 2015
1015-1415
Morning ride: South Brent (10 mi)Dry with sunny spells
3 present: Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
John and Will on the Island bridge, South Brent (12:53)
Will liked the idea of a fairly short ride for some reason so we rode up Dean Hill and through Harbourneford to South Brent where we bought snacks and lunch from the coop. South Brent Island made a great place to eat lunch in the afternoon sunshine: the profusion of butterflies and dragonflies confirmed its status as a real haven for wildlife. After photos on the bridge we returned via Bloody Pool and Gidley Bridge - a leisurely but enjoyable ride.

Friday 24 July 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: CancelledOccasional drizzle
0 present:
Heavy rain all day turned to drizzle for the evening, and with nobody in attendance the ride was cancelled.

Sunday 26 July 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: CancelledRain
0 present:
With bad weather from the start today the ride was cancelled.

Friday 31 July 2015
1900-2130
Evening ride: Landscove (8 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
The bridleway from Higher Penn to Tidwell (20:16)
Dillan, John and George on the bridleway from Higher Penn to Tidwell (20:14)
John lights up the world (20:18)
Our ride this evening took us up Green Lane and then on to Higher Penn from where we took the bridleway that descends through four fields to Landscove. George had found a miniature tennis ball on the way out of Buckfastleigh, so we called in to Landscove school playing field for some ball and Frisbee games.

With darkness falling we had to abandon plans for an extended ride, heading home to Buckfastleigh by the shortest route.

Sunday 2 August 2015
1015-1605
Day ride: Goodrington Sands (30 mi)Sunny and warm with a breeze
4 present: Tom Batten, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Roundham Gardens, Paignton (12:28)
Paignton sea front (12:16)
George on Goodrington Sands (13:08)
A flying carpet at Roundham Gardens (12:28)
Dillan and George on the Totnes Cyclepath near Dartington (15:09)
Today was our most adventurous ride since the Easter Tour. Everyone had agreed on a longer ride today, preferably to a beach, partly as practice for our upcoming Lake District tour and partly to start increasing distances of Sunday rides. To Michael's surprise everyone was raring to go at the start, so we set off along the main Totnes road to Charlie's Cross. Tom, who is a relative newcomer, only came as far as Austin's Bridge, but by doing that he earned his ticket to the cinema trip on Wednesday.

The youngsters impressed with a relentless speed through Staverton and Red Post, reaching Marldon by 11.55 and Paignton sea front shortly after mid-day. The whole area was swarming with tourists today, but what was more surprising was that every single parking space along the sea wall was occupied by a VW camper van!

Food was expensive here so we pressed on via Belle Vue Road and the delightful Roundham Gardens cycle path to Goodrington Sands, resisting the temptation to spend £5 on a bumper boat ride but failing to avoid the need to spend £2.75 on a barely adequate burger lunch from the takeaway by the beach. After a few hot doughnuts we wandered around the rock pools before setting off once again in a homeward direction.

We took a route that Michael had only researched last night - a track around Torbay Caravan Park and then the surprisingly quiet Grange Road up to South Devon College. We stopped to refill water bottles at the Long Road garden centre, then continued at speed for the descent of Parliament Hill. The Parliament Stone in the cottages near the bottom says that William Prince of Orange held his first parliament here in November 1688.

Totnes offered the chance of buying milkshakes at Morrisons, then as we were in plenty of time we took the cycle path through to Dartington and Colston Road back to Buckfastleigh. I think the youngsters were as surprised as Michael how fast they completed this ride - and how energetic they felt when they reached home. They asked for longer rides every Sunday from now on, so we will write that into the runs list for when we return from the Lakes.

Saturday 8 August 2015
0700-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 1 Home to Hawkshead YH (7 mi)Sunny and hot
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Returning to Bowness Marina on Lake Windermere (18:19)
Boat fun on Lake Windermere (17:39)
Waiting for the Winderemere ferry at Bowness (18:49)
Lawrence, George, Dillan and John waiting for the Windermere ferry at Bowness (18:48)
St Peter's Church, Far Sawry (19:26)
The lane to Far Sawry (19:26)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

I was up at 5.30. Dillan got here 10 mins late at 6.00 but was bright eyed and bushy tailed. We got away at around 6.20 as planned, leaving Ash asleep. We got to Neil’s around 6.35, got to station at 6.45 as planned. Lawrence was late of course! We took our bikes in bags to Platform 3, then Lawrence came. He had only packed his bike that morning despite my requests that he did it the night before … all he did was take off the wheels, so it didn’t fit and most of it was hanging out! Useless. Train was on time at 7.03, Crosscountry train, only 2 bikes spaces, but we got all the bikes and bags in the area.

Our seats were not totally together, but we arranged things with another passenger so we had a table. No coffee on the train until Bristol, which was very poor as we were all looking forward to it. At Bristol I hopped off and got one from the Pumpkin café, rest got them from the end of the Voyager train. Had to move seats at Cheltenham, not as much together.

Arrived a few minutes late at Birmingham so we had a lot of work to do, around 15 minutes to change train. We used the lift three times to take everything up, then took it all down on the nearby platform where our train was leaving. Got to the platform with around 4-5 minutes to spare. Got the bikes up to the far end where the bike space was, found the door was locked! I asked the nearby official to unlock it, he asked for my reservations, I showed him my res number, he refused to accept it saying I needed a ticket! Apparently you get them from upstairs! But after I complained it would make the train late he said I could ask the train manager. He was down the OTHER end! I ran down there while kids loaded luggage, very hot today. He said of course we could load the bikes and radioed through to the other chap to open it up. When I got there they had started loading the bikes. It was all a rush, the train was 2 mins late leaving, the stupid bloke looked at me as he walked past and said he wasn’t trying to be difficult, he was just following procedures or something. I said nothing.

Train was packed and this journey was difficult, with two changes of seats because of our late booking. So we weren’t really sitting together much. It took me a while to cool down.

Got to Oxenholme several minutes late, almost after the Windermere train should have left, but it always waits. We had to rush our stuff down to that train, but the staff helped load bikes and bags which was really helpful of them. Northern chap chatted with us on the train to Windermere. Short journey.

So we got there around 12.45 as planned. We had to reassemble 4 bikes. Then I had to take the bags to the taxi place at the bottom of town where they accepted them in one pack for £8 for 4 days. Then while still reassembling bikes I rang the boat hire places. I don’t think I could have booked them earlier, as we could have missed any of those trains, and you have to pay in advance. Well the best place was fully booked until 5pm, so I checked with everyone and rang them back, then it was 5.30! I had hoped for a 3.30 boat trip, so it was all messed up a bit, but I paid the £28 and allowed time to pass slowly. We bought lunch and supper in Booths supermarket on the station, really big and nice. Northern only I guess. Around 30 stores in the North West. High end, like Waitrose.

We had the option of riding to the visitor centre and then back to the boat hire, but it was hot so we just rolled down the hill quite late and sat on tables outside Bowness marina. Some wandered off to look at the fair but spent nothing. Some used the nearby toilets.

So in the end we got on our boat for around 5.30 and had an hour on the water, taking it in turns to drive. I just did the first few minutes, then let everyone else have 2 goes. It wasn’t that fast, so Lawrence and Will did loops to try to get some fun out of it, and several enjoyed rocking the boat from side to side. Lovely weather and a nice trip though. Boat was called Tarryn I think.

Got back around 6.30, then rode the path to the ferry and then the road route to the hostel. This was way later than I would have wanted to arrive. To make things worse, Lawrence, Dillan and George rode a long way past the left turn that we needed. It was at the corner just before. John had stopped at the back somewhere to look at Will’s gear problem, as Will was getting frustrated, I came up to the others at the corner, they asked how much further, I said 2.6 miles or whatever it was, but as I was finishing the sentence “..but don’t go on until John gets here” they were setting off around the corner. I waited, then went around the corner and found there was a left turn we needed but they had gone on. So I waited. And waited. Eventually John and Will got there, but the others did not come back. John kindly offered to go and get them back. I had a look at Will’s gears and established the problem was the new chain on old cassette. It was still taking ages, so in the end I thought if they had gone all the way to Hawkshead it would be quicker to go on than to go back, to go around the other way, so we went off too but soon met them coming back up. Lawrence denied responsibility, saying he had been chasing them to stop them, and finally caught them near the lake, so they had stopped to skim stones! That of course turned out to be all a lie later when it was discussed! We had wasted half an hour.

So we got to the hostel way later than I had planned, around 8.10 I would say. Nice hostel. Self-catering kitchen was outside, so we all showered and ate at different times.

It was quite late of course, so we dind’nt have time to get Bomberman out. We did get wi-fi in the reception area. Some tried to play Table Tennis in the games room but ended up just going upstairs. We were in room 8, upstairs and through some twisty corridors and doors. Lights out around 11.

Sunday 9 August 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 2 Hawkshead to Wasdale Hall YH (25 mi)Damp start, mainly dry with sunny spells from 11.30
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Hawkshead village square, on a very wet morning (11:08)
Hawkshead Youth Hostel (10:04)
Tarn Hows shrouded in mist (12:15)
The Minstrels Gallery, home of great coffee (11:08)
Joining the Cumbria Way just below Tarn Hows (12:43)
The road past Tarn Hows (12:15)
View to Stone Chair Intake from the Cumbria Way (12:52)
The Cumbria Way looking north (12:43)
Dillan, Lawrence and Will on the Cumbria Way (12:52)
John "enjoys" the offroad riding (12:52)
Slater's Bridge over the Greenburn Beck in Little Langdale (13:28)
View to Griddle How on the Cumbria Way (12:52)
Slater's Bridge, Little Langdale (13:37)
Lunch on Slater's Bridge (13:37)
The rough track from Slater's Bridge to Fell Foot Bridge, Little Langdale (14:28)
View back towards Slater's Bridge with Little Langdale Tarn on the left (14:28)
View to Langdale Pikes from Fell Foot Bridge, Little Langdale (14:44)
The track towards Fell Foot Bridge, Little Langdale (14:28)
Looking back (east) from the top of Wrynose Pass (15:52)
View onwards (west) towards Hardknott Pass, from the top of Wrynose Pass (280m climb, or 2.5x Dartmeet hill) (15:52)
View onwards (west) from the top of Hardknott Pass (179m climb, or 1.5x Dartmeet hill) (16:43)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

We awoke at 7.50 to rain outside. This was as forecast of course, although we did not expect it to be actual rain, only occasional drizzle. We had to run outside through the rain to have breakfast. I had hoped to leave not too late as this was our hardest day, but when we were almost ready to leave around 10 Will disappeared for ages. So I set off with rest while John waited, to do the short distance to Hawkshead. Light rain now.

Still light rain in village. Only one decent café, so after walking around a bit we went in there. Nice coffee and teacake. Tall lady looked like Beatrix Potter, sat on a table by herself with her bag. Lawrence and Will sadly chose not to come in, instead going to the coop to get food. They then had to wait for us while we went to the coop. Silly. George had a coffee too, and Dillan tried some of mine.

We followed the planned route up to Tarn Hows despite the weather, but at least the rain had stopped as we left Hawkshead. Quite steep climbs. Stopped on way up to remove coats. At top the lake and area were shrouded in mist, but we could see some of it at least. We followed the planned path around the lake, with me using Google Maps without route planning to make sure we stayed on the cycle route. Fine around lake, but then a bit rougher and wetter going down the link path – John and Will were not too impressed with that, but recognised we needed to include some limited off-road to keep everyone happy. Hard work taking bikes over gate onto main path.

Main path was wider but still a bit rough in places, although now Will was up front. Lovely views. Down to road, then followed route using TomTom first to the wooden bridge, then along to Slaters Bridge. Now it was sunny and we all settled on the bridge for lunch. A dragonfly kept circling around our little island, then later was joined by two others. Perfect spot, everyone loved it.

Next was not ideal, as we continued along the path which then went steeply and roughly uphill and then down a rough track to re-join the road. Woman in rent cottage at top could not believe we were actually planning to climb two passes today. John needed help taking his bike up some bits, then took a while going down the other side. Road alternative would have been longer but probably preferable.

So we started the climb of Wrynose Pass almost immediately. Dillan and I were up front, Will and John at the back as Will had stopped for a call of nature. Stupidly I took no photos up here, as I was more concerned with tackling the hill it seems. Dillan was powering ahead well, and was first to the top. George was second. Will caught me halfway up and asked me to wait with his Dad as he was really struggling up the hill and Will wanted to get ahead. So I waited for John, had a chat, offered him the chance to return for a taxi but he preferred to continue and catch us up when he could, so I agreed we would go on and leave our bikes at Eskdale by the road so he would know where to stop.

So I then went on, got to 25% in places which was very steep, but I was able to just about ride it all in stages with plenty of rests. It was hard though with my gears and heavy luggage. I saw Lawrence and Will a little ahead, then they came down .. I thought they had been to the top and were showing off their skills, but they had not. I told them not to waste energy as there was lots of climbing ahead, they thought that was funny, presumably thinking they were ahead of me so that was not going to be a problem. Well they did what I said and went on up, I kept close behind them and arrived at the top around one minute after them. George had wondered if this hill would be bigger than Dartmeet – I think we agreed it was several Dartmeets! We checked after the tour and it was two and a half Dartmeets.

(Dartmeet goes from 238m at the bottom to 360m at the top, a climb of 122m. Wrynose from 112m bottom to 392m top, a climb of 280m .. so actually it was 2.5 Dartmeets. Hardknott went from 222m bottom to 401m top, a climb of 179m .. so 1.5 Dartmeets.)

Will did find that hill hard and said so later. So did Lawrence. When I explained the deal with John, Will and Lawrence decided they would wait for John and hence join the “slow group”. So I went on with Dillan and George, descending a great hill. Near the bottom we stopped so they could answer another call of nature, then when we were ready to go George thought he would rather wait for the others – maybe he didn’t like the look of Hardknott Pass! So Dillan and I went on, Dillan at the front. I stopped near the first part of the climb to look back and make sure the others had found George, and soon they did. I climbed the hill, but this was 30% so I had to push several sections of this one. I saw the others approaching the bottom as I was around halfway up. I kept on. Dillan was at the top first of course, he seemed a little surprised that I was pushing . . I explained the 30% was just too steep to climb with my weight and my gears, which are not as low as his.

It was misty at the top, so not great views, but finally I took some video of the downhill. We set off almost immediately as I knew the cafes would shut soon. Downhill was long with some steep sections that were a bit tricky. We got to the Eskdale Mill at around 5.15, but I knew that shut at 5.30 so would be no good to the others. We went on to the railway, I got some video of the train that was in the station. The café there was open until 5.50, so we went in there and had a drink and a cake .. well Dillan didn’t have a drink. Went out later and videoed a train turning on the turntable. No sign of the others, so at 5.48 we bought 4 hot chocolates and 4 cakes for the others, around £12.50, and took them outside to a table as they locked the doors. They couldn’t do coffee as the machine had been cleaned! Within 2 minutes the others came into view – they had stopped at a youth hostel and somewhere else in case we had gone there, clearly unaware of the arrangement I had made with John to leave the bikes by the road. So that had wasted quite a bit of time. Should I have waited at the top? Probably. But we would then have missed the train.

They didn’t seem too keen on the drinks, I had to give one away to Lawrence and Dillan, but they seemed appreciative of the gesture and liked the cakes. Eventually we set off for the final 9 miles or so to the hostel, mainly downhill for the first part, then several bits of uphill nearer Wastwater. TomTom did the route fine though, so no errors. I was leading at the end, up the hills, with Dillan second, so I think the others were a little tired. We finally pulled into Wasdale Hall hostel earlier than last night at around 7.20 I think.

Very welcoming at reception, and the motto here seemed to be “Yes we can” to every question we asked. Yes they could do hot food for us. There was a great menu. Yes we could have just starters or desserts. Yes we could have a dessert from the children’s menu even if we were over 10. John and family ordered loads of starters and sides, although George had a children’s pizza meal. All would be served around 8.30. I really wanted one of the 5 vegetarian dishes on offer, but Dillan had set his heart on us having pasta n sauce tonight and looked as though he would be hurt if I spent that much on a meal that he couldn’t afford (£8.50 for a main). Well we should have taken this opportunity for a good meal and saved the emergency rations, but I caved in and agreed to have pasta n sauce with him, although we did buy desserts of the best sticky toffee pudding around for £2.95 each.

We took bikes around the back to the shed, Lawrence tricked Dillan into thinking he didn’t have the key when Dillan knew he had given him the key around the front, so Dillan actually started going back to look for it! Waste of our precious time though. We all had showers and then came down for the meal around 8.30.

Dining room had great views across Wastwater to the mountains shrouded in mist. Candles on the table. Really nice place. Dillan and I asked for a carton of juice, the answer was “yes we can” and it was only £1.55. We brought in our pasta n sauces that were really tasty (the last two of Creamy Tomato Onion and Herb) and we had bread and butter with it. The others had garlic bread and cheesy chips and things like that, they were all very happy. Then when Dillan saw my dessert (which had been served early, before I started my main, so the ice-cream was nearly melted) he wanted one. We asked after our meal, around 9.05, he had to go and check if it was too late, but the answer came back yet again “Yes we can”. So he had one. Very tasty. We left our yoghurts. We all want to go up there for a social one day – great food, great place, wonderful!

We did set up Bomberman tonight for the first time, had a few games but had some difficulty with one of the adaptors that was not working. So we ended up with 4 people playing. Had a couple of good games.

Will was talking after dark about rubbish and Lawrence was laughing at it for ages, took a while to settle them down. Dorm was large and spacious, well worth the £107 we paid for it. Had to charge phone battery out in the hall as only one socket in the dorm.

Monday 10 August 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 3 Wasdale Hall to Buttermere YH (32 mi)Showery start, then sunny spells all day
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
View across Wastwater to Whin Rigg from Wasdale Hall YH (10:09)
The incredible Wasdale Hall YH (10:09)
Joining the railway line path near Cleator (14:47)
View of Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing facility, from Beckermet (13:32)
View towards Ennerdale from the lunch stop on the railway path (15:39)
Lunch on the railway path near Frizington (15:39)
Lawrence wanders lonely as a cloud on the banks of Loweswater (17:15)
Lawrence on the road past Loweswater (17:08)
Crummock Water at Hawes Point (18:25)
Crummock Water from Brackenthwaite (18:15)
View to the Buttermere end of Crummock Water (18:39)
The group at Hawes Point, Crummock Water (18:30)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

Alarm around 7.50. This was to be quite a long day. Nice breakfast in the dining room, made ourselves. But it was raining. Only forecast was the one from the hostel on the wall, printed off. It said rain getting heavier with thundery outbreaks, deteriorating from the west! It looked a dreadful forecast.

An unfortunate incident in the dorm left Dillan with a self-inflicted knuckle bruise, which threatened to cause us a few problems on the ride.

It was nasty rain, dismal, and Dillan could not even place his hand on his handlebar, so it seemed he would be unsafe if he was to ride like that all day. I hoped it would get better and would not need medical attention, but that would take time. I was concerned about everyone getting wet all day, so spent 45 minutes with the wardens trying to arrange vans and taxis. It all failed though.. Enterprise would rent us a van from 4.30 delivered to Wasdale Hall, but it would have only 3 seats, would cost £80 and they would want a £100 surcharge for collecting it from a different place. Gosforth Taxis could only take people, not bikes. And a place up at Eskdale was similar. So all a waste of time, and nowhere else to ask. I tried to see BBC weather but wardens insisted on checking the same forecast they pin to the wall! It turned out to be plain wrong.

So with no choices we set off in the rain, although it was lighter now. Dillan gradually got to be able to rest a hand on the bar. Most of this journey to Gosforth was downhill. I had planned to see the taxi firm in person while we were there. Found the supermarket with a café on top that we had used on a previous tour when it was wet, going the other way. Now the café was closed, since Christmas, but there was a very nice coffee machine in there that made me a nice latte. I was weak and shaky for some reason, so got my coffee and a whole cherry cake and ate it outside on the seat. Then went back in for another coffee. Everyone got something, but it ended up taking way longer than I had planned, John was buying things and took ages to get ready to leave. I was anxious, feeling we would not get to the hostel until very late, but in fact I needn’t have worried as things improved. It was dry when we left, we got a very heavy shower up by the main road which got us turning back for shelter under the trees and got me thinking once again about the taxis, but that stopped and then it was dry and sunny for the rest of the day! What a useless forecast it had been.

I decided to stick to the planned route for now and see how the time went, so we followed the main road for a while. Along here John’s rear derailleur cable snapped at the back with Will, but by the time I went back from the left turn (when Will told me), he had fixed it into a low gear and was able to cope. We did pretty well following the cycle route, and it was pretty easy. Slight difficulty finding the right path to Ebrington though, had to ask a couple of people.

In Ebrington there were several shops but I was still anxious about the time. I suggested they bought stuff for lunch only and we would stop later in Cleator Moor. But John first went to ask about a bike shop and it was some time before we had all bought what we needed.

We set off again and the satnav now had the route to Buttermere YHA stored since there was internet here. It worked perfectly as a satnav, taking us on all the cycle paths and giving me a constant readout of distance to go. Bright sunshine. Path went around Cleator Moor so we never actually went there. Had lunch on a seat – photos give timing – nice view. John understandably found the long flat route hard with his fixed low gear, so we had to wait for him at every stopping point.

Nearing Buttermere valley my battery went flat, and then it forgot the route with no internet signal able to recalculate it. So I went back to TomTom which brought us nicely to the hostel. Along the way we were clearly in good time so stopped beside LowesWater to walk by the lake side, then again at Crummock Water where I took pictures. Very nice spot, lovely weather. Unfortunately I told everyone at the time that it was Buttermere! We finally arrived at Buttermere YHA around 6.40 I would say. They do meals, but in old YHA style. Here the motto was “No we can’t” … no they couldn’t do us meals as it was past 6.30. No they couldn’t’ do separate puddings. They called it Supper Club or something, sitting around telling stories of their travels! Oh well.

Good showers, had showers first, then Dillan and I had to make do with whatever food we could find, as I had not bought the ready meals. Calor gas ran out in the kitchen, but we moved to electric hob while warden fixed that. I had a spare pasta n sauce, which I did. Dillan bought a spare stew meal from Lawrence. We then bought a pudding each for £3.50 or so, which was supplied – the chef apologised for earlier, saying they were all a bit stressed with the large number of meals. So we were fine in the end. John however was out in the shed until dark replacing his gear cable with a spare one I had – I would have had shower and food first, but he wanted to get it done. George did his own meal, John had pasta for him and Will. Will has a special diet. We sat with them while they ate late.

No time for Bomberman tonight, but had a nice chat in the dorm about several things. I felt Lawrence, Dillan and George valued my comments and were treating me as a respected friend, which was nice. Bed around 11. Not so hot tonight as nice breeze coming in the window.

Tuesday 11 August 2015
0800-2300
Tour: Lake District Day 4 Buttermere to Thorney How Independent Hostel (31 mi)Dry with sunny spells
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Lawrence and Dillan at Buttermere YH (9:56)
Preparing to leave Buttermere YH (9:55)
Dillan tries to wake up by Buttermere lake (10:11)
The Buttermere Pines at the eastern end of Buttermere lake (10:08)
One of the rare Herdwick sheep roaming the Lake District (10:19)
George and the Buttermere Pines (10:11)
Dillan, George and Will on the 250m climb to Honister Pass (2x Dartmeet hill) (10:32)
The start of the climb to Honister Pass (10:19)
Honister Slate Mine (12:07)
View back (westwards) from the top of Honister Pass (12:07)
The fun descent eastwards from the top of Honister Pass, towards Borrowdale (12:16)
Preparing to leave Honister Slate Mine (12:07)
View back towards Honister Pass from the bridleway shortcut (12:22)
The bridleway "shortcut" to Grange that we quickly decided was unsuitable for bikes with panniers (12:22)
The group by Derwent Water (13:29)
Dillan and George admire Derwent Water (13:17)
Lunch in Keswick Park and cricket ground (15:46)
The group by Derwent Water (13:30)
Dillan enjoys the view of tranquil Thirlmere (17:54)
Thirlmere from the cycle path at the northern end (17:35)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

8.50 alarm. Dillan came down with me for breakfast first as usual. Others followed. Got away a bit later than planned, but not too bad .. exactly 9.59 and 45 seconds! I forgot to return the hostel key to dorm 9.

Mainly dry with sunny spells today – no more rain to come. Followed road along Buttermere, I pointed out the Buttermere Pines that were on several pictures in the hostel. Lots of the grey sheep by the road. Kids and John stopped to reunite one sheep with its lambs through a gate. We then got on with the climb after Dillan and I waited for the others. This was another pass, but not as bad as the previous ones. We could see the Honnister slate mine café at the top. Honnister pass – look up the actual climbing distance for the report. Will went ahead so we let him get to the top first. George passed us and got to the top a few minutes before Dilan and I. I was having some difficulty near the top with my not so low gears and heavy baggage, but we got there soon after. Lawrence soon after us, John was last up. All up by around 11.15-11.20.

We went into the Slate Mine café, not great seating, most were like thin tables up against a wall, so sitting one side only, or high stools for 4, but soon moved to a decent table. Food was quite nice, so was coffee. Smell of bacon outside coming out of the vent. Several had bacon of course. I then took them out back to the shop and gallery where we all spent some time seeing what items could be made from slate. Lawrence thought the numbered slate squares were expensive at £20. Everyone liked the wine bottle holders that balanced impossibly. Saw the slate smoothing machine operating.

We set off after some photos which time our departure, went down to where the bridleway starts, looked a bit rough but we tried it a short distance as it went parallel to the road. Lawrence’s panniers jumped off quite quickly, so he didn’t like it. Will didn’t like it at all. I felt we should abandon, although Dillan thought it turned smoother. Well I made the decision so we got down to the road from wherever we were. Road was ALL downhill and MUCH easier .. the bridleway would have been a VERY poor decision, with some sections slightly uphill. Probably only took us 10-15 minutes to get to the end via the road, would have been an hour on the path with everyone annoyed. So it would have saved nothing, and Google Maps does NOT always choose the best cycling route.

We then followed the path on the left of Derwent Water, climbed a bit at the start, then some fabulous views over the lake from a viewpoint. Stopped there for a while, took some photos and video. Some reluctance to get everyone posing for a photo, but Will did as long as he could take some. Which he did. Then on and down to Keswick, using Google Maps to keep us on the cycle route, although it was fairly well marked.

It brought us into Keswick where we passed a bike shop on the way to the Lakes Coop, which I remembered from a previous tour. John wanted to go back to the bike shop to sort Will’s problems .. from Day 1 he had found his chain slipped on the smaller rear cogs, and I had found that John had a bike engineer (ex BigPeaks) who had changed the chain but not the cassette. So Will had been tied to larger sprockets only, which had been annoying him as he hadn’t really fully understood the problem. Well in the bike shop they had a replacement cassette for around £15, and fitted it for £5 or so, so ideal. I also bought a pair of unwanted pedals from the shop for £7 for the Trek, as one of Dillan’s pedals had broken off on Day 2 on the passes. Didn’t need to fit them until we got home though.

So we did our shopping for everything we needed, including lunch, although John was banking on cooked meals at the hostel. I rang them, they said that was fine but we needed to confirm by phone by 6.30. WeE followed the cycle route which took us past the park, so we sat in there to have lunch. A stupid little dog was jumping up to its owner and barking. I caught it on video when it was not jumping up, but quite funny. George was friendly.

Followed cycle route past leisure centre using Google Maps, although route not set. It was very useful to make sure we were on track. Nice route, quiet with bridges over the river in several places. Joined a main road, followed that a short distance. Will needed the toilets in the pub which delayed us a bit. While we waited at the start of the B-road a van stopped, driver got out and adjusted fastening on the back, then got back in and went. Lawrence modified the story to include a guy jumping out, being hit by the driver and shoved back in before leaving. Everyone half believed him for a while – even me who had been watching but had not seen that as I was talking about something.

B-road was easy and nice. We chose to take the cycle route to the west of Thirlmere lake which proved to be flat all the way and very easy, just 2 miles longer. Very quiet. George took some panoramic shots with his camera. We stopped at a viewpoint up some steps. Mainly we rode it separately, with George and John at the back, me and Dillan in the middle and Lawrence and Will at the front.

Re-joined main road, bit of a climb, then it was all downhill top the hostel, 2.4 miles, but it was 6.23. So I rang the hostel, got meal choices and we phoned them through as best we could. George was not too happy about his Cumberland Sausage choice, but we sped down the hill and got to the hostel around 6.35 and were able to modify the choices slightly, although everyone was happy – John and Will had platters, rest of us did our own food. But they charged £4.75 for a separate dessert “offering a substantial discount for those having the main meal, to encourage people to order the main meal”, so £3.30 with the £10.50 main meal.

Well we parked bikes down by the sheep shed, nice sheep there who wagged his tail when stroked. Reception was really nice, and there was a plate piled high with chocolate brownies freshly baked and hot, for £1.50 each. Nice extra, and the tastiest we had ever tried. Lawrence and I were very impressed. Dorm was upstairs, Dorm 6, had 4 cupboards but a bit cramped with 6 beds – not worth the premium price they charged - £156 compared with £107 and £47. There was a lavatory on our landing with a very narrow hand basin, but the main washroom was across reception, through the dining room and out the back. Here there were several toilets, 6 sinks and a single Mira shower in a stone-tiled enclosure. I asked about more showers, there was only one other, in the female shower block, but there was a female in so we couldn’t use that apparently. Great. Well I think Dillan rushed in and showered first. I let Dillan have bottom bunk tonight which he was pleased about I guess.

Dillan and I had bought a tray pasta dish with cheese from the coop, and I put it in the oven as soon as we arrived. So it was ready to eat by 7.20. We sat in the dining room next to the others and ate it there, very nice. We had a rhubarb drink that was a bit weird, yoghurts that we postponed. Others liked their platters, and amazingly George ate nearly all his Cumberland Sausage and liked it! Dillan and I ordered a desert to share, and John and Lawrence shared one – sticky toffee pudding. They actually brought out two half puddings that we thought were full size, so decided they could not be divided after all, then saw the full pudding so it was OK. It was nice, although not as nice as Wasdale pudding, and way more expensive at £4.75 or whatever it was. They really didn’t deserve to get the order - it was a surcharge on separate, not a discount on combined.

So then I got a shower: if it was set to be on the hot side it cycled from boiling to freezing every 45 seconds. Eventually I found I could set it to mid temp and it was fine. George waited outside and was in next, then I think Will and finally John. Lawrence probably went after Dillan. Some of us bought more chocolate brownies.

We played Bomberman in the dorm. Then at bedtime around 11 we went to do our teeth and found the dining room locked, so we could not get to the washrooms! That was the last straw for me, we had to do our teeth in the tiny cramped hand basin on our landing. Then the window would only open a crack and it was really hot in the room, so we were all lying on top of duvets for the first half of the night. Condensation on windows. We did recognise however that the couple were doing their best to make the place work well. We kindof slept ok.

Wednesday 12 August 2015
0800-2200
Tour: Lake District Day 5 Thorney How to Home (10 mi)Sunny and warm
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Thorney How independent hostel (10:23)
George renews his friendship with the tail-wagging Old English Southdown sheep at Thorney How hostel (10:22)
The group outside Thorney How independent hostel (10:28)
The group outside Thorney How independent hostel (10:27)
Grasmere lake from Faeryland boat hire (11:15)
Coffee at Faeryland boat hire on the banks of Grasmere lake (11:15)
Grasmere (11:35)
View of Grasmere from the start of the new shoreside cycle path at Dale End (11:25)
Stone skimming on the banks of Grasmere (11:45)
The new cycle path around Grasmere lake (11:35)
The beach at the southern end of Grasmere (11:50)
Dillan on the beach at the southern end of Grasmere (11:50)
The beach at the southern end of Grasmere (11:58)
Grasmere from the weir (11:58)
Bridge over the River Rothay near Ambleside (12:32)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

Alarm 7.45 as usual. It had been a hot night, but was cooler now and some had duvets on. Window was dripping with condensation. Dillan came down a minute after me for breakfast in the dining area. We found out we actually had a basic breakfast included, so we got fruit juice and toast, and some got cereal. Coffees were available too I think.

Lovely sunny day. Photos with the sheep, which still wagged its tail when stroked. Took group photos before leaving, which times our departure time, probably around 9.50.

Downhill short distance to village of Grasmere, rode around it, some nice cafes and shops there, but we didn’t have time to stop really. On to Faeryland, idyllic spot. We had already done the boat on Windermere, so compromise was to buy drinks there and sit on the table watching other rowers coming in. Lovely spot, soaked up the peace perfectly. I had a nice coffee, as did John. Boys had some special Italian drinks that were a bit like our lemonade.

We left eventually, but Dillan left his helmet on the picnic table. We were going on to the new cycle path which only opened in the last month. Found it after a mile or so, started down it, follows the lake side at Grasmere. Then Will went back to get the helmet while we skimmed stones for a while, then went on to main “beach” and skimmed some more. Absolutely beautiful, everyone enjoyed. Will caught us up there.

Went on along path all the way to Ambleside, turned out to be a very good route that avoided all traffic and took us path Rydal Lake, again idyllic. This was a perfect route to make a perfect ending to the tour. No time to browse Rohan shop etc in Ambleside, I wanted to use any time we had in the Visitor Centre. So we followed the main road to there, Go Ape thing going on, activity centre, but nobody wanted to go up the ramp to the visitor centre. We only had 15 mins there anyway, so I went up and took some video. I remembered the café from last time, with nice terrace area to eat. But we didn’t have time for that. I was happy to have had great cycling rather than café stops though. Lawrence was not too helpful though, saying he would rather wait on the station platform than go into the visitor centre!

I had a flat rear tyre though, and had to fix it by the road and then catch up with the others. We rode at a good pace and got to Windermere station by 1.46, leaving us 58 minutes. I had to go down to the taxi place to collect the bags, then had to walk back as they would not balance on my rack without the panniers. We got all the bikes packed up and ready on the station, also bought lunch and snacks from Booths supermarket again, nice place. I was very thirsty, so bought plenty of drink.

We got everything on the train easily when it came at 2.44, although it was late leaving. I accidentally left panniers in the luggage rack at Oxenholme but was able to return to rhw train to retrieve them before it left. We had to take everything to the other platform, then right to the end of the platform. Bikes and bags in the bike area. Kids did well with the routine. Somewhere on previous train I think I lost a pack of tickets with the railcard in it, probably dropped out of my bar bag since the final zip broke on this tour. Could try repairing it.

Good seats on the Virgin train to Birmingham, although train quite crowded.

Had an hour and 10 at Birmingham New Street station, so moved all stuff up to passage area, bought some food – Dillan came with me to M&S and Costa. I bought a pasty. Then our platform was announced, right at the far end, so a lot of moving to do. We got all the bikes on the Crosscountry train in the bike area with no problem.

Nice tables home, set up the laptop and played Bomberman all the way home. Student teacher from Plymouth sat near us, although did not say too much. Home on time at 10.05. Neil was waiting, but it took us a while to get everything off the platform and out to the cars. We also waited while John finished strapping his stuff on his car. Lawrence rode to Neil’s, then we took him home as well. Home for around 11.10. We unpacked things, then I dropped Dillan home. He had really enjoyed his trip, and I believe now feels he is quite fast.

Friday 14 August 2015
1900-2130
Evening ride: Hembury WoodsSunny periods
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Report to follow

Sunday 16 August 2015
1015-1445
Morning ride: Ashprington (20 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
View of the River Dart from the Ashprington cycle path (12:49)
Lunch on the Ashprington cycle path (12:48)
The path nears Ashprington (13:07)
After sorting Michael's jammed chain we eventually set off at 10.40 along Colston Road, following the path through Dartington's Cider Press Centre and then breaking out at the station to join Castle Hill. Our first destination was the Totnes food market which takes place on the third Sunday of each month. We all bought a few tasty snacks and then carried them along the Ashprington cycle path until we found a seat with a view over the Dart. The river was at low tide but it was still an enjoyable lunch stop.

After climbing the steep track to Ashprington we allowed Google Maps to find the easiest route home. Along the way we discovered a purse full of cards and cash which turned out to belong to a person from Buckfastleigh. We decided to do a good turn and return it to them later.

A field of maize proved an irresistible invitation for fun near Dorsley, but Dillan made use of the distraction to steal Michael's last remaining drops of water from his bike!

The Google Maps route which avoided the worst of the Rattery climb by detouring via Bozdown, but it turned out to have a flaw when it dropped us onto the A38 at the Rattery turnoff. We couldn't remember if there was room for a cyclist on the side of the road but gave it a try nevertheless. It was indeed an easy return, but there was no space on the side to speak of so it did feel a little dangerous despite the light traffic. We'll stick to the lane route in future.

We had made good speed on the ride because John had to get back by 3. We dropped the purse down to the owner's daughter - her mother was out searching for it and was overjoyed that we had found it for her.

Wednesday 19 August 2015
1800-2145
Social: Cinema Night: Fantastic Four
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Cinema Nights are a new type of social, run on a Wednesday or Thursday, that offer either a reduced price trip to the cinema on a Wednesday or movies at Crofters on a Thursday. It is only open to people who cycled with us over the previous weekend.

Tonight we went to Plymouth to watch the new move Fantastic Four. It got mixed reviews from our group but generally offered a good entertaining evening out.

On the way back Michael noticed he didn't have his phone. Then Dillan realised he didn't have his either! We returned to the cinema and were relieved to find that the staff had found two phones on adjacent seats in our screen and had put them in a safe place for us!

Friday 21 August 2015
1900-2230
Evening ride: Converted to SocialRaining
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Rain all day just got worse by 7pm so we organised a social evening that included a trip to a local Supermarket.

Sunday 23 August 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Converted to SocialVery wet start
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Heavy rain once again persuaded us to abandon the ride in favour of a badminton social at Ashmoor.

Thursday 27 August 2015
1930-2145
Social: Cinema Night
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Our Cinema Night this week included another episode from Agents of Shield season 2.

Friday 28 August 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: CombeDry
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
We organised a short ride this evening that took us up Silver Street and past Hawson Court to Combe, then up the long climb to Cross Furzes. A strange sound drifted down from the top of the hill as we approached. It turned out to be a didgery-doo, being played at a new Cross Furzes event that visitors referred to as "The Gathering". The "music" was greeted with huge applause, so we decided it was best to hurry past on our way down Wallaford hill to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 30 August 2015
1015-1330
Morning ride: Converted to SocialRain
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Another wet morning persuaded us to arrange a badminton session at Ashmoor.

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