South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 20 March 2016
1120-1600
Day ride: Totnes HEP Station (15 mi)Chilly but cloudy but dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
The new hydro power station by the weir at Totnes with its two archimedes screws generating up to 350kW of electricity (12:52)
The new River Dart hydro power station at Totnes is now fully operational (12:50)
Totnes Rare Breeds centre employee shows off their long-eared owl (13:16)
The Totnes HEP station is just awaiting final landscaping (12:54)
The owl attracts a lot of attention in Totnes main street (13:16)
George was late up this morning, so by the time we had finished coffee at the Crofters café it was 11.20 when we finally set off along Colston Road and up the cycle path to Dartington. At the Cider Press Centre we noticed that the Tog 24 shop was now in the main building, and since Michael recommended their gloves for cycling we popped in to look around. It was an impressive shop and it didn’t take long for George and John to decide that they wanted the Russia ski gloves, which were the closest equivalent to Michael’s gloves.

Continuing along the cycle path we couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of a large black dog with an enormous plastic cone around its neck: his twin brother looked amused as well.

When we arrived at the weir we discovered that the controversial HEP station that had been under construction for over a year was now working and virtually complete apart from some landscaping tasks. The two enormous Archimedes screws generate up to 35kW of electricity which could supply 700 homes, although this particular installation will be used to power the school and industrial estate. The only problem was that so much water was going into the generator that there was virtually nothing left for the weir, which looked abandoned and forlorn. We were assured by a local that the weir does flow after spells of rain, but it looks like it could remain totally dried up over a hot summer.

We continued along the path to Brutus Bridge and then headed up the main street, stopping below the arch to admire a magnificent and friendly long-eared owl that was being displayed by someone from the Rare Breeds Trust.

The food market was in full swing as it was the third Sunday of the month. We spent considerable time wandering around before we settled on some hot food to buy – Dillan got a venison pie and George had a Thai stir-fry. George was all for riding on to the Ashprington path to eat it, like we did last time, but it was chilly today and Michael had plans for a hot drink afterwards so we ate it on a convenient bench nearby.

After hot chocolates in one of the deliciously-warm cafés below the arch we took the path past the Guildhall, rode down Castle Hill and then climbed Barracks Hill to Dartington. The youngsters were given a choice of the usual route or the “slight climb” to Rattery and chose the latter, although John couldn’t help chuckling at Michael’s description which he felt sure made it sound a good deal less arduous than it actually was. He was right of course, but everyone was fast today and anxious to keep warm, so after a bit of bike swapping on the way up we were soon heading down Pennywell hill to Buckfastleigh. If only Michael had remembered to zip up his fleece pocket his phone might not have jumped out onto the road; fortunately it only suffered damage to the glass.

We got home soon after 4pm and finished the afternoon with a game of Supreme against a tough computer-controlled opponent.

Today's ride involved a total climb of 337m.

Friday 25 March 2016
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
It was Good Friday but George thought it was a Saturday since yesterday was the last day of school. He finally came up at 8.45, as did Lawrence who had other reasons for being late, but we still found time for a long movie quiz which Dillan narrowly won.

Sunday 27 March 2016
1000-1800
Day ride (Car-assisted): Tarka Trail (39 mi)Windy with sunny spells and occasional showers
5 present: Tao Burgess, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
George and Dillan admire the mosaic sculpture on the Tarka Trail, which incldes quotes from the book Tarka the Otter (11:44)
Unloading the bikes at Meeth car park (11:01)
View along the river Torridge towards Bideford from the railway bridge on the Tarka Trail (13:19)
Tao on the Tarka Trail by Beam Weir, river Torridge (13:00)
Dillan and George at Johns' Bakery, Instow (13:57)
The Tarka Trail between Bidefod and Instow (13:37)
View across the Torridge estuary to Appledore (14:25)
Lunch overlooing a very windy Instow Beach (14:25)
Bench sculptures on the Tarka Trail (16:25)
Tao, Dillan and George sit with the bench sculptures on the Tarka Trail (16:24)
Our Easter Day special got off to a flying start at 10.10 when we drove the cars to Meeth in North Devon for our first ever excursion along the southern part of the Tarka Trail. The forecast was for a windy day with occasional showers, so we felt that the shelter afforded by the hedges and trees along the route would make this a preferable ride to the other alternatives we had considered.

We set off along the path at 11.20. It follows the course of an old railway line so it’s quite flat for the most part and very scenic. We stopped for refreshments at the first café at East Yarde, seven miles along the path, which had a distinctly Totnes feel to its décor. Tao preferred to drink his own coffee outside in the cold but the rest of us enjoyed excellent drinks and one of the tastiest and moistest cherry and almond cakes we had ever tasted.

Continuing on past the interesting-looking café near Great Torrington we were soon at Bideford station in bright sunshine. We had covered 16 miles but everyone was keen to continue to Instow. Here the Trail was more exposed, running alongside the Torridge estuary, but in this direction we had a strong tailwind that sped us along to Instow in just a few minutes.

Arriving at 2pm we bought lunch from a very well-stocked café called Johns that sold hot home-made soup as well as some delicious-looking cakes. Today’s route had been suggested by Tao and we had so far given him ten out of ten for the route and a bonus point for the café. When it came to selecting a sheltered spot for lunch, however, he failed miserably and lost his bonus: we had great views over the beach and across the estuary to Appledore and the sunshine was brilliant, but the wind was in our face and frequently blew sand onto our food. Nobody complained much though as it was good to have completed the intended ride.

The return section to Bideford was very tough against the headwind, but after that it was more sheltered again and soon became quite easy.

Approaching Great Torrington we encountered our first shower of the day. Tao blamed this on Michael for loudly tempting fate on the outward journey (two hours earlier) with his comments about how lucky we were with the weather. Michael wondered why there would have been such a delay, he said the rain was probably busy making other people wet before it could deal with us. We took shelter in the café on the right near Great Torrington that we hadn’t noticed on the outward journey which offered us a wood-burning stove and a multitude of pictures of dogs in various poses all around the room. Michael wasn’t too impressed with the dogs, but the Easter biscuits and hot chocolates were excellent.

The sun was out again when we set off. Unfortunately the showers soon returned but we still stopped to chat with some of the strange wooden people sitting on the seats by the side of the Trail. The long drag back up to the first café (which was closed) was followed by a good descent back towards the car. We completed our 39-mile ride – the longest we have done for quite a while - by 5.50, and we all felt the effects.

Tao took the shorter but slower moorland return through Bovey Tracey in the rain but Michael beat him home by eight minutes which annoyed him a little. As it was 7pm we all returned home for hot showers and well-deserved food.

Today’s ride included a total climb of 316m.

Monday 28 March 2016
1000-1800
Day ride (Car-assisted): Exe Estuary Cyclepath (24 mi)Mainly sunny but chilly and breezy
5 present: Tao Burgess, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
A brave BMW driver decides to try his luck through the flood (10:52)
Floods between the Exminster car park and the canal path mean we have to take the road to Countess Wear (10:52)
View to Exmouth from the Exe Trail (12:30)
Lympstone on the Exe Trail (12:24)
Exmouth (13:49)
Exmouth (13:48)
Exmouth (13:50)
Exmouth beach (13:49)
Exmouth Beach (13:51)
Tao chats with Will at Exmouth Beach (13:50)
This footpath under the M5 appears to be closed today (15:31)
The path along the Exeter Ship Canal near Countess Wear (15:25)
The flood waters are still here, so we'll just have to ride through (15:49)
The Exeter Ship Canal near Exminster (15:37)
Barefoot George emerges from the flood (15:55)
Tao takes the plunge (15:50)
Just after we set off for Exminster at 10.05 Michael got a text from Lawrence saying he had planned to come with us but hadn’t noticed the earlier start time. We could have just about squeezed him in, but in the end he decided to stay in bed.

Storm Katie passed overnight leaving sunny but breezy conditions this morning, although we did get a shower on the way up. More showers were forecast for mid-afternoon so we planned to get back to the car for around 4pm. As we were unloading the bikes at Exminster wildlife car park a passing cyclist told us that the lane to the cycle path was flooded. We had to ride down there to find out of course, and his information proved to be accurate: Tao rode to the first corner and found out that it was very deep and continued for a long way around the corner. It seemed sensible to find an alternative outward route and perhaps tackle the flood on the way back.

We rode back through Exminster town and tried the next path to the canal from the BP garage. Unfortunately that was flooded too, so we stuck to the road over the swing bridges and then took the cycle route through Topsham – Dillan and George both remembered this from the last time we were here in October 2014.

In Topsham there was a nice-looking bakery/café called Shaul’s, so everyone except Tao popped in for a hot drink and a cake – the coffee turned out to be some of the best Michael had tasted in a long time. Will saw the Easter biscuits and thought the dark bits were chocolate pieces – he swapped it when he got back to his table and realised they were raisins.

We continued along the Exe trail past Lympstone, getting some great views across the estuary. When we arrived at Exmouth at 12.45 Tao agreed with Michael that it was perhaps not the best day to extend the ride to Budleigh, so we bought lunch from various shops and ate it in the town square. Michael made the mistake of getting his from the bakery and ended up with dry pizza and a flavourless dry cheese and onion pasty.

We planned to take the 1.40 ferry to Starcross, so got there for 1.30. Unfortunately we had to change our plans. First, the ferryman wanted to charge us full price of £24.95 for the five of us and would not consider even one penny of discount. Then we met some cyclists getting off the ferry who advised us that the Powderham road on the other side was completely flooded. Nobody wanted to pay that much money just to get wet feet, so when he refused our final offer of £20 we decided to return the way we had come.
We rode to the beach for some photos, then took the cycle path back into the town. After reading an amusing advertisement in the public lavatories Tao wondered what might happen if we popped into the co-op and asked if Jake was available.

There were some showers on the way back to Topsham but nothing really heavy. We skipped the shops this time and decided to take the canal path from the swing bridges, taking a chance on the flood. The flooding was very evident from the canal: a footpath leading under the M5 was completely submerged in floodwater. The canal looked fabulous in the unusual lighting.

When we got to the flooded lane near the car it was just as deep as before, especially on the corner near the middle. Those of us who took off shoes and socks before splashing through the water definitely came out best at the other end.

There was rain on the way home in the car, so when we got back at 4.40 everyone came into Crofters for an hour and a half of hot drinks, great conversation and some fascinating photos from the club’s 30-year archive.

Today’s ride involved a total climb of just 106m.

Saturday 2 April 2016
0900-2300
Tour: Somerset Levels and Bath Day 1: Home to Street YH
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Cycle path along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal (11:19)
Ready to leave Taunton rail station (10:40)
The Willows and Wetlands Centre, Stoke St Gregory (13:40)
A shop stop in North Curry (12:10)
George tries out a wicker hanging egg chair (13:27)
Enjoying cakes outside the café at the Willows and Wetlands Centre (13:15)
Some of the many wicker items on display at the Willow and Wetlands Centre (13:34)
George is trapped in a wicker something (13:28)
Dillan and George climbing Burrow Mump (14:05)
A wicker crocodile snaps at John while a wicker fish eats Will's arm (13:39)
Clarks Village, Street (17:44)
Lawrence, Will, Dillan and George on the ruins of Burrow Mump church (14:19)
Michael's very large Easter Egg outside Sainsburys, Street (18:29)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Sunday 3 April 2016
0800-2300
Tour: Somerset Levels and Bath Day 2: Street to Cheddar YH
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
John, Lawrence and George at the top of Glastonbury Tor (11:00)
Street Youth Hostel from near the cycle shed (9:46)
George and Dillan on the cycle path near Wells (12:53)
St Michael's Tower at the top of Glastonbury Tor (11:00)
Lunch in the grounds of Wells Cathedral (13:42)
The moat around the Bishops Palace, Wells (13:02)
The exit from Wookey Hole caves (15:36)
Leaving Wells via the High Street (14:09)
Lawrence and John in the clutches of King Kong at Wookey Hole (15:40)
King Kong at Wookey Hole (15:39)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Monday 4 April 2016
0800-2300
Tour: Somerset Levels and Bath Day 3: Cheddar to Bath YH
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Climbing Cheddar Gorge (10:59)
Preparing to leave Cheddar Youth Hostel (9:47)
The cycle path between Radstock and Wellow (16:39)
Leaving Farrington's farm shop, our lunch stop, at Farrington Gurney (15:17)
The Dundas aqueduct near Monkton Combe (18:14)
Friendly sheep at Stony Littleton (16:57)
The Dundas aqueduct (18:14)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Tuesday 5 April 2016
0800-2100
Tour: Somerset Levels and Bath Day 4: Bath to Home
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Bath Youth Hostel (10:15)
The group at Bath Youth Hostel (10:14)
View of the weir from Pulteney Bridge, Bath (11:08)
Café stop on Pulteney Bridge, Bath (10:48)
The Roman Baths, Bath (11:45)
A bear lends a hand at a shop near Pulteney Bridge, Bath (11:10)
The Royal Crescent, Bath (13:04)
Bath Abbey, Bath (12:49)
First refreshment stop on the Bristol & Bath railway path (14:01)
Joining the Bristol & Bath railway path at Bath (13:32)
Café stop at Bitton station, on the Bristol & Bath railway path (14:58)
Café stop at Bitton station, on the Bristol & Bath railway path (14:47)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to follow

Friday 8 April 2016
1900-2215
Social: Games EveningCloudy
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
For tonight's social the group split between looking at video and photos from last week's tour and playing computer games.

We also agreed a plan for Friday evening events up to the end of September. Every Friday when the weather is good we will run an evening ride aiming to return before 9.30 with a social after the ride until 10.30. Whenever the weather is not good we will run a social that will often include an indoor sport. The aim will be to run at least 13 evening rides over the season of 26 Fridays.

So far we have had 0 rides and 2 socials in the first 2 Fridays of the season.

Sunday 10 April 2016
1015-1255
Morning ride: HolneCloudy and breezy
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Will Rogers
With rain forecast to spread over the area during the morning we set off on a cautious ride to the lower Hembury track, always ready to turn back once the rain started. But it hadn't started by the time we had climbed Shuttaford Hill and reached Holne, so we took a chance and went into the café for a drink. They have a new coffee machine there which makes much improved coffees.

We didn't push our luck by staying too long and managed to return via Scoriton before the rain finally started in the early afternoon.

Friday 15 April 2016
1900-2215
Evening ride: Staverton (12 mi)Sunny
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
For our first evening ride of the season we rode along Colston Road to Staverton and took the riverside path towards the island. We couldn’t cross the stepping stones to the island itself as the river was too high, so we headed back through the park and past Hole Farm. Will and Dillan were talking so much that they turned right on the Caddaford turn before Michael and John got there, so they each took a different route back to Austin’s Bridge in order to sweep up the miscreants.

We got home for 9.25 and finished the evening with a general knowledge quiz until 10.30.

Today's ride included a total climb of 191m.

Sunday 17 April 2016
1015-1330
Morning ride: Landscove (11 mi)Dry with Sunny periods
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers, Will Rogers
The crossroads near Well Farm looking up to the new solar farm (11:56)
Will was a little late arriving so we had a coffee before setting off at 11am. We rode to Ashburton and up Chuley Hill where we saw several riders of the Devon Dirt competition crossing the road to Ashburton. One of them didn’t seem to be appreciating the muddy tracks or the time constraints, and wondered why he had paid money for such misery - we encouraged him to take his time and enjoy the ride, for after all that is what leisure cycling is about.

We turned left at Parkfield Cross and followed the lane around to Well Farm where we could see the full extent of the new solar farm on the hill. Nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry today, so after a leisurely chat we meandered around to Landscove and settled down in the garden centre café for large slices of cake and not-so-large drinks and bowls of soup. We agreed to start longer rides from next Sunday if the weather was good.

We left at 1.30 and got home for around 2pm. Michael had his cousin staying so unfortunately there was no social after the ride today.

Today's ride included a total climb of 246m.

Friday 22 April 2016
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to Badminton SocialDrizzle and light rain
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Light rain was forecast all evening so we organised a badminton social at Ashmoor on two courts from 8.30-9.30, playing some games before we left and having a quiz when we got back.

Sunday 24 April 2016
1015-1525
Day ride: Dartmeet (20 mi)Sunny periods, turning warmer
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Huccaby Bridge (12:23)
Venford reservoir (12:01)
Peacocks at Badgers Holt (13:23)
Leaving Badgers Holt café, Dartmeet (13:23)
View of the secluded Dart Valley from Mel Tor on Dr Blackall's Drive (13:58)
The start of Dr Blackall's Drive (13:49)
George on the moorland path from Dr Blackall's to New Bridge (14:23)
When George pumped his tyre at the top of Silver Street the unfortunate result was a broken valve which necessitated a tube change, but we were soon on our way again. At Scoriton Leo the dog was relaxing in the shade while his friend the sheepdog kept bringing us a stick to throw for him.

We intended to complete the ride at a good pace so after riding through Michelcombe to Holne we continued straight on up the hill to Venford and Combestone Tor, pausing only so that Will could eat a Crème Egg by the reservoir. Huccaby Bridge looked delightful in the afternoon sunshine, but we continued at speed to Dartmeet where we arrived at the café at 12.35, just five minutes later than planned.

An enjoyable forty minutes was spent eating soups and pasties for lunch, then after admiring the peacocks we all climbed Dartmeet Hill in record time. Everyone was keen to ride Dr Blackall’s Drive so we tackled the stony track to Mel Tor and then relaxed on the stone for a few minutes lapping up the splendid view over the secluded Dart valley.

Will and George sped along the path, highlighting just how much they have come to enjoy off-road riding since their early days in the club. As usual we branched right onto the path down to New Bridge. John, who is still not a great fan of off-road, described it as “interesting”, and Michael managed to break a pedal on a protruding rock. It was all good fun though, and was undoubtedly the highlight of the ride.

From New Bridge we rode straight home via Hembury Woods, arriving back by 3.23. Today there was no social after the ride as Michael had to go out, but we are planning another longer ride next Sunday if the weather is suitable.

Today's ride included a total climb of 770m.

Friday 29 April 2016
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to Social
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
Will and George were running very late this evening with Will not arriving until 8.10, so we decided to do a badminton social at Newton Abbot from 8.45. This worked out well, starting with some doubles games and then moving on to lots of rapid 5-point singles games where everyone had at least one win..

Sunday 1 May 2016
1015-1515
Day ride: Broadridge Wood (23 mi)Mainly dry, patchy light rain later
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
Broadridge Wood, by the River Lemon (12:24)
The track through Broadridge Wood near Chercombe Bridge (12:16)
Lawrence crosses the leat (12:37)
Weir and leat in Broadridge Wood (12:36)
Baker's Park, Newton Abbot (12:43)
Our first advertised ride to a Costa coffee shop attracted just four members on a cloudy but dry morning that threatened rain showers during the afternoon. After a coffee at Crofters we set off at 10.50 and rode through Ashburton to the Dolbeare flyover where we followed Gale Road past Goodstone. The route had been selected by Google maps and turned out to be generally very easy cycling and very scenic. We had hardly ever ridden this way before so it was fascinating to discover the country lanes and wealthy properties that were hidden so perfectly from everyday view in the Combe Park area.

We turned left at Metley Cross and were soon at Chercombe Bridge, the start of the footpath through Broadridge Woods. Seasoned members of our club will remember we have had frequent run-ins with the middle-aged gentleman at Chercombe House who seemed to resent the fact that a footpath went right through his driveway. He always seemed to see us as we were manoeuvring our bikes through the side gate and would try to tell us we weren’t allowed through with bikes even if we were walking, which was of course nonsense. If he caught us opening his main gate to make it easier to get the bikes through he would tell us to close it and go through the side gate one by one. WE were understandably apprehensive as approached the property, but nobody came out today: either out stealthy movements won the day or the gentleman in question has moved on.

The path through Broadridge Woods was interesting, running as it does alongside the River Lemon all the way into Newton Abbot. There were a number of styles and kissing gates that often required the bikes to be lifted over the top, but there was plenty to see including a weir and leat. We finally emerged in Baker’s Park, Newton Abbot, and continued along the cycle path into the centre of the town.

As it was lunchtime we felt that a restaurant might be better than Costa. We were right next to Asda but Lawrence said he didn’t fancy the café in there, so we went on to the main street. We had almost settled on Wimpey when Lawrence announced he was going to Asda after all. When we followed him however it turned out he was going to buy things in the supermarket, not the café, so the rest of us got food in the café and made the best of it.

We set off at 1.40 for the return journey. Lawrence had requested the main road route as he had not ridden that before, so we rode through Bradley estate and then on to Ashburton. Almost imperceptible drizzle in Newton turned to light rain by the time we reached Bickington and proper rain by Ashburton. We got home by 3.12 and confirmed with Neil that it was still pretty much dry in Newton, confirming the Met Office rainfall maps which show significantly higher rainfall near Dartmoor than at Newton.

Today's ride involved a total climb of 340m.

Friday 6 May 2016
1900-2110
Evening ride: Chalk FordCloudy but dry
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Will Rogers
Dillan and Will starting the descent to Chalk Ford (20:17)
This was a surprisingly good ride with a lot of interesting conversation. We rode up the long hill to Cross Furzes, took the track past Hayford Hall to Lud Gate and then descended the track over the open moorland to Chalk Ford. We looked in vain for pigs and piglets but today there were none to be seen.

After taking the stony track to Scoriton we headed home for 9.10, rounding off the evening with some general knowledge, games and music quizzes until 10.30.

Sunday 8 May 2016
1015-1330
Morning ride: CancelledSunny and warm
0 present:
With Michael feeling a little under the weather and everyone else busy with other activities today's ride had to be cancelled.

Friday 13 May 2016
1900-2215
Evening ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Unfortunately nobody turned out for today's ride so it had to be cancelled.

Sunday 15 May 2016
1015-1330
Morning ride: Decided on the Day (8 mi)Warm and sunny
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, John Rogers
Dillan riding the path through Burchetts Wood (11:16)
This must have been the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures up to 18 degrees. The three of us rode up Silver Street and then, after a vote, through Burchetts Wood. This is always a slightly risky route as there are several sections that can be quite boggy if there has been any recent rain. Today the boggy sections were out in force, much to John’s delight, but there were plenty of compensations including a multitude of bluebells and the delightful babbling of the Holy Brook.

We took the steep hill to Ridgey Cross and then paid an overdue visit to the Holne Café, where we were welcomed with an excellent selection of soups and freshly baked scones. After an extended stay we returned home through Hembury for around 2pm as John needed to get back reasonably early.

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