South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 4 September 2015
1900-2150
Evening ride: Ashburton (13 mi)Warm and dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Our ride took us along the old Ashburton road, down the old railway line and then along the narrow path beside the swimming pool. Skirting behind Ashburton School we then took the lane up to Rew, down to Holne Cross and then down towards Holne Bridge.

The youngsters chose the River Dart / Holne Woods route rather than the Holne Chase road alternative, but things didn't go totally to plan. First we stopped in the games room at River Dart for a game of Air Hockey, but after putting in the money we discovered there was no puck! Michael went to try to get one from the café but was told it was lost and was given a refund.

Joining the Holne Woods track things went well until Michael went past the required right turn which took us partway towards the Galant le Bower footpath. He made the decision to continue on along the path rather than backtrack to the woodland track, but this proved slightly problematic as the path had been re-routed behind a fence that was overgrown with nettles and long grass. The "shortcut" ended up taking twice as long as the track we had intended to use, but it was certainly an adventure of sorts.

We returned quickly via Hembury hill for a short social that involved some upgrade and repair work on Dillan's and George's PCs.

Sunday 6 September 2015
1015-1625
Day ride: Widecombe in the Moor (21 mi)Sunny and warm
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
The Aylsebury ducks at their luxury home in Leusdon (15:00)
Dillan and John on the track from Bonehill to Natsworthy (12:33)
Dillan on the riverside track from Spitchwick to New Bridge (15:24)
The weather was as warm as a mid-summer day today so we made the most of the conditions with a ride to Widecombe via Ashburton and Ausewell hill. As we reached the open moor we saw numerous AA vans placing signs everywhere for Widecombe Fair. We thought there was a good chance it was on today as we rode the track from Bonehill to Natsworthy, but as we entered the village it was clear that these were advance preparations for the event on Tuesday. It's traditional that it always takes place on the second Tuesday of September, but we couldn't help thinking they would get a lot more visitors if they had it on over the weekend.

The recently-refurbished Green restaurant seemed the obvious place to go for lunch, but today we were stunned to find that the already high prices had been bumped up even further to new heights of ridiculousness. We decided to make a hasty exit and enjoyed refreshments for half the price at the Wayside café.

We spent a little time buying ice creams and searching the churchyard for gravestones for some of Michael's very distant relatives, then headed back via Ponsworthy. Michael's favourite Aylesbury ducks were taking it easy by the pool today when we arrived, but kindly obliged by taking a swim for us before we moved on.

Spitchwick was not too busy today now that the tourist season is coming to an end. We rode the track to New Bridge, bought an ice cream or two and then returned home via Hembury Woods for around 4.25. This had been an excellent ride that made us think that autumn was still a long way off.

Thursday 10 September 2015
1930-2145
Social: Cinema Night: Agents of Shield
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
This week's Cinema Night, only open to those who cycled with us last weekend, was a video presentation of two episodes of Agents of Shield.

Friday 11 September 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to SocialRain
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
With heavy rain starting at 7.15 we abandoned the ride in favour of a social that included a visit to Sainsburys Superstore in Plymouth and a Blackadder video.

Sunday 13 September 2015
1015-1400
Morning ride: Holne (11 mi)Sunny and warm, cloudy later
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Nat Salt (13, Buckfastleigh)
Dillan, George, Nat and John at River Dart Country Park, Ashburton (12:56)
We had planned a relatively easy ride for new member Nat, taking us up Silver Street and through Scoriton and Michelcombe to Holne. He turned out to be a great cyclist so by 12.00 we had nearly finished our hot snacks in the café.

Michael suggested extending the route home via Buckland but our regular members had already set their mind on a shorter ride. We took the track to River Dart, spent a little time on the snake slide and then explored a footpath that led down to the river near Queen of the Dart. It didn't lead anywhere else, so when we had returned to the road and waited for George to go back for his water bottle we headed home along the old Ashburton road.

Congratulations to Nat on an excellent first ride.

Wednesday 16 September 2015
1800-2200
Social: Cinema Night: Maze Runner 2
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
Our Cinema Night this week, open only to those who cycled with us last weekend, was a trip to Plymouth to watch the new film Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. It was a great sequel to the first film that we saw last week, making a great evening out for all of us.

Friday 18 September 2015
1900-2215
Evening ride: Staverton (10 mi)Warm and dry
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Dillan was keen to squeeze as much as possible into this evening's event, so we set off promptly at 7.05 and completed a super-fast ride along Colston Road to Staverton and then home via Abham and Caddaford. As usual we had a few bats flying with us near Staverton as twilight faded.

Incredibly we got back by 8.20 - all part of Dillan's plan - so there was time for an extended after-ride social that included a trip to Tesco and a Fawlty Towers video.

Sunday 20 September 2015
1015-1525
Day ride: Lee Mill (29 mi)Dry with sunny spells
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
John and Dillan at Tesco's Lee Mill superstore (13:03)
Lee Mill sounded like a great challenge to Dillan so we took the fastest route there via Harbourneford, South Brent, Wrangaton and Bittaford. The journey took us just 90 minutes, so we all felt we had earned our refreshments in the Tesco café.

There was time to buy a few items of food and drink from the store before we set off again for the return journey, this time via Ermington. Dillan, who had perhaps eaten a little too much at the café, discovered that climbing hills on a full stomach can be a little unpleasant, so we stopped at the Sign of the Owl bird centre near Wrangaton for a parrot break. They really do have some amazing birds there, many walking freely around the shop and happily climbing on visitors' shoulders.

We headed home directly via South Brent, completing an ambitious ride in record time.

Thursday 24 September 2015
1945-2145
Social: Cinema Night: Agents of Shield
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
The reward for those who rode with us last weekend was two episodes of the superb Agents of Shield TV series. Tonight we watched episodes 17 and 18 from season 2.

Friday 25 September 2015
1830-2200
Evening ride: Pizza Hut, Plymouth (9 mi)Dry but chilly
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
This was our last evening ride of the season, so to mark the occasion we organised a brand new and rather special ride. We took the bikes to Coypool car park in Plympton and then rode the first part of the Plym Valley Cycleway. This was new to Dillan who had somehow missed our last visit in 2014.

On the way up the dark wooded lane from Plym Bridge Michael was just explaining that the Wrigley’s chewing gum factory would soon come into view when suddenly there was an overpowering smell of - chewing gum! We could see why it was located well away from residential areas.

We followed the main road up to Tavistock road (because Michael hadn't properly checked out the cycle short-cut in advance) and then rode down to the Crownhill Pizza Hut. We had a 2 for 1 voucher so were able to get more pizza than we could eat for just £5 each.

Returning along the same route we were surprised to spot a small herd of deer galloping around the grassy verges of the industrial estate. As soon as they saw us they headed back towards the woods. We enjoyed the long descent back to the car and then called in to Tesco on the way home to finish a memorable evening.

Sunday 27 September 2015
1015-1515
Day ride: Berry Pomeroy Castle (22 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Dartington's Cider Press Centre was alive with music and visitors (14:32)
The group at Berry Pomeroy Castle (12:52)
Dillan and George leaving the Cider Press Centre (14:34)
High pressure was settled over the UK this weekend so we had glorious weather all day. Unsure of our destination at first we rode along Colston Road, then through Staverton and along the higher road to Littlehempston for the first time. Michael wanted everyone to see the view of Totnes from Grattans, but this turned out to involve a detour towards the water treatment works so we contented ourselves with what we could see over the hedge before descending past some rather expensive-looking gated properties into the village.

Berry Pomeroy castle had always been an option, and now everyone felt up for the climb so we took the road through the woods to Berry Pomeroy and then up the B-road to the castle track itself. When we arrived the little café was bursting with cyclists - Plymouth CTC in fact, who had ridden up from Plympton this morning. Our youngsters had their heart set on Morrisons café so weren't interested in this one even though there was a strong smell of bacon everywhere. Castle entry would have been £3.20 each, and again that did not appeal. We contented ourselves with taking a few photos and chatting with the Plymouth CTC members - one of them had a battery upgrade that seemed to be of particular interest to John for some reason!

The road to Totnes was nearly all downhill so we were soon in Morrisons enjoying hot snacks and drinks at bargain prices. The cycle path along the river Dart was bustling with walkers today and full of colour in the brilliant sunshine. Dartington's Cider Press Centre was even more interesting than usual with their Apple and Cider weekend in full swing - there were magic shows, pottery classes, stalls and a live Irish band that created an uplifting atmosphere.

When we were finally able to drag the youngsters away we took the cycle path to Huxham's Cross and then followed the main road for a high-speed return to Buckfastleigh.

Wednesday 30 September 2015
1800-2200
Social: Cinema Night: Martian
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
We went to Exeter Vue this evening because film times were better there. The screen was packed for this first night showing of the movie Martian, and the film itself was fully deserving of its many excellent reviews.

Friday 2 October 2015
1900-2215
Social: Shopping Expedition
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
The youngsters had already planned their evening when they arrived at 7pm, although things did not work exactly as planned when we got caught up in a 20-minute traffic queue on the way to Lee Mill.

Once they had bought all they wanted to eat we returned to Crofters for computer games.

Sunday 4 October 2015
1015-1300
Morning ride: Holne (9 mi)Dull but dry
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
With only two of us out and the weather not being particularly exciting we contented ourselves with a morning ride via Buckfast Abbey to the café at Holne, where today the chef was on holiday and the café was being managed by two friendly youngsters. The full range of food was not available today, but they had everything we needed.

We returned to Buckfastleigh via the lower Hembury Woods track, which whilst a little wet and muddy in places was downhill all the way.

Thursday 8 October 2015
1930-2145
Social: Cinema Night
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Three episodes of Agents of Shield Season 2 brought us to the penultimate episode of the season.

Friday 9 October 2015
1900-2215
Social: Supermarket, Games and Videos
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
The youngsters wanted a social rather similar to last week, so they enjoyed a mixture of computer games, supermarket shopping and videos.

Sunday 11 October 2015
1015-1600
Day ride: Loddiswell (29 mi)Cloudy but dry
2 present: Michael Jones, John Rogers
Geese on the river Avon eye up the spectators at Newmill Bridge (12:43)
Newmill Bridge, Loddiswell (12:41)
John carrying out a hygiene inspection on the apple press (13:21)
The "new" café at the Avon Mill garden centre, Loddiswell (13:20)
Entrance to the garden centre (13:27)
The weather was rather gloomy today so we decided on a reasonably fast ride to a destination that we haven't visited since 2003. We rode through Harbourneford to South Brent and Wrangaton, then took the road to California Cross. John always prefers to avoid off-road whenever possible, so we bypassed the Avon Railway track and headed straight for the café at Loddiswell. Along the way we couldn't help stopping at the picturesque Newmill Bridge where the geese, river, cottages and woodland made a delightful sight.

The café at the Avon Mill garden centre has been hugely expanded since our last visit, but so had the prices. Quality was excellent, however, and we managed to find some children's meals that were just the right size for cyclists with plenty of miles left to ride. It was Apple Day today at the garden centre: there were apples spiked onto every post along the entrance drive, and an apple press was in operation in the courtyard.

We knew we had some climbing to do, so we rode the hill past the old Loddiswell station and onwards through Woodleigh, Preston and Moreleigh, stopping only at Rattery for a short chocolate break. We felt very pleased with ourselves for making such an enjoyable ride out of rather drab weather.

Friday 16 October 2015
1900-2215
Social: Asda Plymouth
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Dillan wanted a variation on our usual Supermarket theme, so today we visited the large Asda store in Plymouth where there was plenty of Halloween merchandise on offer. There was time for the final episode of Blackadder 4 when we eventually returned to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 18 October 2015
1015-1400
Morning ride: Holne (12 mi)Cloudy but dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
There was a majority vote to visit Holne again, but this time with an extended route via the long hill to Cross Furzes. After an enjoyable round of vegetable soups we continued down the track through Holne Woods to River Dart Country Park where we spent a few minutes in the adventure playground.

To extend the ride a little further Michael suggested the Bowden Hill lane from Knowle Cross. It climbed a good deal further than he had anticipated and was little more than a grassy track in the middle portion, but it did bring us back into Ashburton exactly where Michael has expected. We then returned home at speed along the old Ashburton road.

Thursday 22 October 2015
1915-2145
Social: Cinema Night: Agents of Shield
2 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones
Tonight we completed Season 2 of Agents of Shield.

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