South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 12 March 2017
1015-1755
Day ride: Torcross (38 mi)Dry with sunny spells, chilly
6 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, Will Rogers
Lawrence at Slapton Ley (13:26)
Slapton Ley (13:25)
Michael at the Boathouse Restaurant, Torcross (14:02)
George, Dillan and Lawrence in the Boathouse Restaurant, Torcross (13:59)
Dillan and George get wet on the beach at Torcross (14:31)
The Chicken Burgers finally arrive (14:07)
The tank memorial at Torcross (14:46)
Lawrence skims stones at Torcross (14:36)
HD video footage from today's ride
We've been planning to do a longer ride for some time now, and we've also been wanting to do a ride to Slapton for just as long. Today the weather was good and everyone was prepared so we decided to go for it, following the easiest route via Rattery and Moreleigh. Will had to turn back at Red Post for a family commitment but the rest of us made excellent progress and arrived at Torcross at 1.05.

The Boathouse Restaurant reopened last year after its devastating fire and both George and Dillan were intent on eating there. First, however, we had to visit the local stores so the rest of us could buy some slightly cheaper snacks to eat by the Ley, the usual array of wildfowl keeping a close eye on us. Back at the Boathouse we had to wait a while for the chicken breast burgers to arrive but they turned out to be excellent quality. The rest of us either had coffee and cake or just enjoyed the warm environment, offering useful respite from the chilly wind that had been building throughout the morning.

Lawrence had joined us today for his first ride since last summer’s tour, and he used his time on the beach to demonstrate his skimming skills. After a quick look around the memorial tank we started on the long road home, following a similar route but hampered this time by a chilly headwind and some unfriendly climbs. All this took its toll and after a couple of snack breaks we finally arrived home just before 6pm.

Today's ride included a total climb of 753m.

Friday 17 March 2017
1900-2215
Social: Plymouth Life Centre
4 present: Lawrence Buttress, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers
At some point during the past few weeks we realised that there is actually a Costa in the area that stays open until 10pm, at Marsh Mills, Plymouth. So today we combined two of our favourite activities, calling to the Costa for hot chocolates and the continuing to Plymouth Life Centre for badminton. This new sports centre was only completed a few years ago and boasts a sports hall so large it can hold 16 badminton courts! We had a great time there, made especially enjoyable by the fact that Lawrence joined us for his last event before his five-week trip to London.

Sunday 19 March 2017
1015-1330
Morning ride: Holne (10 mi)Cloudy but mainly dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Michael and Leo at Scoriton (11:45)
John and Leo at Scoriton (11:44)
Michael at Scoriton (11:46)
Jude was ill today, the weather was not particularly inviting and John needed to be back by lunchtime, so we decided on a short ride up to Cross Furzes, down through Combe and on the Scoriton where Leo surprised us all by being outside. After a few photos we continued on through Michelcombe to the café at Holne where we stopped for a very enjoyable range of soups and toasties.

The youngsters were not particularly keen on off-road riding today so we returned via Hembury Hill.

Today's ride included a total climb of 371m.

Friday 24 March 2017
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Our youngsters chose to spend the evening on the Playstation 4 and PCs this evening, and as usual enjoyed every minute.

Sunday 26 March 2017
1015-1330
Morning ride: Liverton (19 mi)Sunny spells with a chilly east wind
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, John Rogers
Preparing to leave Ilsington village shop after coffee and cakes (13:35)
Jude, John and Dillan at Cummings Cross, Liverton (12:18)
With a plan in mind of a 24-mile ride via Bovey Tracey and Haytor we set out along the old Ashburton road, meeting Gavin on his way back from a training ride. He decided to ride with us out to Caton before heading back for a Mother’s Day meal, but now Jude was feeling a bit ill and needed a rest. After ten minutes he said he was fine again, so we pressed on through Bickington and Blackpool, offering him a couple of options for shortening the ride which he repeatedly rejected.

By the time we reached Cummings Cross at Liverton he was feeling ill again, and after a long rest on the bench he decided it would be best to divert the ride back through his home town of Ilsington. This gave us an opportunity to ride lanes we rarely use, although the steep climb through the woods to the village was challenging. John stopped on the way up for a call of nature, and when he took more than ten minutes to re-join us at the top Dillan surmised, cheekily, that it was probably due to his age! The truth, of course, was far less colourful – a phone call from home about a certain son not pulling his weight on Mother’s Day!

We arrived at Ilsington village shop just before 1pm as Jude’s mother was about to close the store. The shop offers coffee and cakes as well as the usual provisions, and Sue very kindly took pity on us and kept the shop open so we could buy some very tasty refreshments and eat them on the table outside.

Jude went home to recover while the rest of us continued on through the village and down through the delightful lanes of Sigford to Ashburton and home.

Friday 31 March 2017
1830-2215
Social: Pizza Hut and Badminton
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The youngsters had already decided the agenda for our final social of the season, so after meeting at the earlier time of 6.30 we drove to Pizza Hut at Plymouth for a great deal on pizza and dessert for £10 each. Next stop was the Plymouth Life Centre where we had booked a court from 9pm. By the end of the hour everyone was thoroughly tired out, but this has been a great evening in every way.

Sunday 2 April 2017
1015-1420
Morning ride: Staverton (13 mi)Sunny, dry and warm
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
The River Dart from Staverton Bridge, looking towards Totnes (11:31)
George, Dillan, Jude and John on Staverton Bridge (11:30)
Lunch in the gardens of Hill House Nursery, Landscove (12:46)
The group on the riverside path near Staverton Island (11:38)
Hill House Nursery, Landscove (12:47)
Hill House Nursery, Landscove (12:46)
George leads the way across the fields (13:38)
Start of the rather muddy bridleway from Higher Penn to Lower Combe (13:35)
The woodland track to Lower Combe - not quite so muddy (13:41)
The bridleway heads towards the woodland track (13:38)
On a wonderful sunny morning five of us rode along Colston Road to Staverton Bridge where the river was high and spring was bursting out everywhere. The riverside path towards the island was busy with walkers today so we only stopped long enough for a photo before crossing the steam railway line and heading back to the Hill House nursery at Landscove. Here Neil and Phil (Michael’s cousin) had arranged to meet us for refreshments, and they had already secured the sunniest spot in the garden.

We whiled away a very enjoyable hour chatting over our drinks and food, with nothing spoiling the idyllic surroundings except perhaps a few too many rooks in the enormous fir trees. When all had been said that had to be said Jude decided we should follow Michael’s optional detour on the way home via the track from Higher Penn. The first part, down the edge of the field, turned out to be very muddy in places, and whilst the woodland section was tranquil and scenic John decided Michael’s name should still be Mud for the afternoon.

We returned home by 2.20 and ended the ride there as Michael was busy with his relative during the afternoon.

Friday 7 April 2017
1900-2120
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Sunny and dry
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers, John Rogers
For this evening’s ride we rode out along Colston Road to Staverton Bridge and then took the riverside path to Staverton Park. Michael was testing out his new Volt 1200 LED front light this evening: it was very impressive, and shows just how far light technology has come in recent years.

We returned along our usual route past Hole Farm and Caddaford.

Today's ride included a total climb of 189m.

Sunday 9 April 2017
1015-1445
Day ride: Fermoys Garden Centre, Ipplepen (21 mi)Hot and sunny
5 present: Tao Burgess, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Dillan, George and John in the play area at Fermoys Garden Centre (13:13)
Tao checks out the seed display at Fermoys Garden Centre, Ipplepen (13:12)
Thirty four manhole covers at Bramble Oak Cross, Denbury (13:45)
Fermoys Garden Centre (13:14)
Pylon repairs near the Rising Sun, Woodland (13:57)
Bramble Oak Cross, Denbury (13:45)
Today was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching 24 degrees at one point. With Tao joining us it seemed like a great day to visit Fermoys garden centre at Ipplepen, so we headed out via Caddaford and Staverton. Tao came up with what he thought was a clever detour as we rode through Ipplepen, via Dornafield Road, but it just added half a mile and a few extra metres of climb!

Arriving at 12.10 we settled in the garden area outside to enjoy good drinks and tuna Paninis which George rated nine out of ten. Then when Tao had finished checking out the herb seeds we left at 13.10 and returned along Tao’s preferred route, via the Rising Sun and Ashburton. Along the way we came across a junction that boasted no fewer than 34 manhole covers, at Bramble Oak Cross near Denbury.

To conclude an excellent ride we returned along the railway path and the old Ashburton road, getting home for 2.45. This suited John just fine as he had to be back for 3pm to prepare fish and chips for a special train from Buckfastleigh station.

Today's ride included a total climb of 367m.

Thursday 13 April 2017
0945-2300
Tour: North Cornwall Coast Day 1: Home to Tintagel YH (29 mi)Dry with sunny spells and a chilly wind
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
Liskeard station (11:07)
Jude, George and Dillan on the 10:07 train from Totnes to Liskeard (10:35)
The River Fowey near Furswain, Bodmin Moor (12:25)
Golitha Falls Nature Reserve, Draynes Bridge, near St Cleer (12:07)
Darts after an excellent lunch at the famous Jamaica Inn, Bolventor (14:16)
Approaching Harrowbridge, Bodmin Moor (12:41)
The group on the bridge at Altarnun (15:14)
The bridge at Altarnun (15:13)
The RAF Memorial Museum on Davidstow Moor (16:45)
An impressive treehouse almost escaped our attention at Trekennick (15:25)
Cathedral City tankers at the Dairy Crest factory, Davidstow Moor (16:49)
Jude and George at the RAF Memorial Museum, Davidstow Moor (16:45)
Approaching Tintagel youth hostel (18:21)
Granny Wobbly's Fudge Pantry, Tintagel (17:49)
Michael's cousin Helen with family and friends, meeting us at Tintagel youth hostel (20:42)
HD video footage from today's ride
Our 2017 Easter Tour began at Totnes station at 9.30. The train was on time at 10.07 and the bikes spaces were available as booked, so the journey to Liskeard went without a hitch. The Stoke area of Plymouth looked rather depressing from the train but the Tamar Bridge made up for that with impressive views up and down the river. From our vantage point on the train we could see just how dangerous it was for the people working on the road bridge.

We arrived on time at Liskeard just after 11am and then followed an interesting route to Golitha Falls that avoided the hills we had encountered on our last tour to the area. We stopped for a moment at Drayne’s Bridge, near the Falls, to explore the nature reserve by the river and to check out the new café in the car park – it looked very interesting, but we had already told ourselves not to stop until we reached Bolventor.

The quiet road to the centre of Bodmin Moor followed the River Fowey all the way to Bolventor, so it wasn’t too challenging. By the time we reached Bolventor at 1.05, however, we were all ready for lunch. But we had that covered, as lunch was waiting for us in the Jamaica Inn.

The Jamaica Inn, dating back to 1750, was made famous by the Daphne Du Maurier smuggling books and the subsequent Hitchcock movie. It’s not as remote as it used to be these days, with the A30 passing quite close, but it retains all the original character both inside and out. The food was exceptional, with large portions and as many vegetables as you could fit on your plate for £8.95. We made good use of the opportunity and finished with some games of darts.

We left soon after 2pm but had only gone a mile when Dillan realised he had left his new gloves at the Inn. We waited by the A30 while he rode back to get them in double quick time and we soon on our way again, eager to get off the busy dual carriageway as soon as possible.

Many place names in Cornwall begin with the letter Tre, and now we started seeing plenty of them in every direction. Approaching Altarnun there was Trewint, Tresmaine and Tredaule, then after photos on the bridge there was Trekennick, Trelawnym, Trelyn and Trecollas. We thought it must get quite confusing for those living here. We almost missed an impressive, well-camouflaged treehouse up in the trees at Trekennick.

Near Tresmeake we thought we would try out a promising-looking shortcut recommended by Google Maps. Unfortunately it turned very muddy and overgrown once we got around the first corner, so after bad experiences in the Lake District last year we decided to retrace our steps and take the road instead.

We continued the long, gradual climb on to Davidstow Moor, noticing wind farms in every direction that were taking advantage of the strong winds for which the area is famous. Once we reached the Moor itself the wind was very powerful and very chilling, making the ride past the old disused airfield rather unpleasant. At the far side we stopped briefly at the RAF museum, sadly closed until the coming weekend. Just a little farther along was the Dairy Crest factory with numerous Cathedral City lorries parked outside.

The last few miles to Tintagel were tiring after a long day, especially as we were racing against the clock to reach Granny Wobbly’s Fudge Pantry before it closed at 5.30. We arrived just after closing time but fortunately the proprietor was very willing to open his doors so we could buy a selection of fudges and ice creams.

Those who had not brought provisions for supper called in at the local supermarket, then we headed down the main street towards the hostel. Michael, who was looking out for his cousin who had arranged to meet us later at the hostel, was certain he saw her walking up the street, but when she looked at him blankly he assumed she must have just been a pretty good look-alike!

The hostel is situated a mile out of the village, nestled into the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. It really is a prime location and it was great to return again to what has to be one of our favourite hostels. The interior had been extensively refurbished since our last visit, including new washrooms and showers, but Michael and John were not too impressed with the hot water store which seemed to have only been sufficient for the youngsters’ showers!

Michael’s cousin and her friends arrived at 6.30 as planned, apologising for not recognising him earlier. They had brought some packed food and kept out of the kitchen area, but the volunteer warden still didn’t seem too happy about them being here. We had a good chat, then at 9.00 when they were ready to leave he seemed very pleased. We don’t often entertain visitors at hostels, but they really weren’t affecting anyone.

Sadly it was too late for a walk to Tintagel Castle, but John and George had already seen it on a previous visit to the area.

Today's ride included a total climb of 452m.

Friday 14 April 2017
0800-2300
Tour: North Cornwall Coast Day 2: Tintagel to Treyarnon YH (20 mi)Cloudy with sunny spells
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
Tintagel youth hostel (9:52)
Ready to leave Tintagel youth hostel (9:51)
Would Ross Poldark have stayed here? (11:03)
Sometimes is seems that all place names in Cornwall begin with "Tre" (10:21)
Michael at Relish Food and Drink, Wadebridge (12:43)
Very tasty coffee and cakes at Relish Food and Drink, Wadebridge (12:32)
Jude at Relish Food and Drink (12:43)
Dillan at Relish Food and Drink (12:43)
Starting out along the Camel Trail from Wadebridge (13:11)
John at Relish Food and Drink (12:44)
Approaching Padstow on the very busy Camel Trail (13:42)
Continuing along the Camel Trail towards Padstow (13:25)
A beach stop at Harlyn Bay (15:33)
Lunch in Padstow (14:48)
The path from Constantine Bay towards Treyarnon Bay (16:50)
Constantine Bay (16:50)
Playing Atomic Bomberman in the dormitory (22:12)
HD video footage from today's ride
After a good sleep and a good breakfast (well Jude only had two cereal bars but it seemed to be all he wanted) the wardens allowed us a peek at the famous front dorm, partially sunk into the ground with windows overlooking the sea. In years gone by this was always allocated to our group, but now it has been divided into two smaller dorms and a larger washroom and is allocated, perhaps unfairly, exclusively to females. It still looks like a great place to sleep though.

After a final look over the cliff at the sea views we headed back up the track from the hostel, pausing only so that George could pump his tyre. We then allowed Google to find us a good cycling route to Wadebridge. It took us through Treven, Tregatta, Treknow and Trebarwith, only narrowly missing out on Trewarmett. The double-arrowed hill out of the valley was so steep that a car suffered major wheelspin at the bottom until he found the right angle. We, of course, all rode the hill with no difficulty.

After some more quiet lanes and gentle climbs the second part of the ride was nearly all downhill, to St Kew and on along the main road to Wadebridge. We were heading for a recommended coffee shop called Relish Food and Drink. It turned out to be very busy, which presumably is a good sign, so we settled on a table outside and ended up very impressed with the top quality coffees and cakes. This is the first tour that Michael has selected specific cafes in advance for each day of the tour – it certainly seems like a good idea so far.

The Camel Trail cycle path took is along the Camel Estuary to Padstow in speedy fashion, offering some great views and taking us past many hundreds of cyclists who had all hired bikes from the cycle hire shops at each end. At Padstow, Rick Stein’s fish and chips café had the usual long queues so we went into the village and bought pasties from one of the three pasty shops adjacent to each other on the main street. Michael was happy because they had an apple, rhubarb and custard one left. We ate our lunch on a bench overlooking the picturesque harbour, watching seagulls annoying the visitors. Some drizzle appeared while we popped into a bakers shop for some cakes, but it soon dried up again.

After getting some provisions from the local Co-op we headed on up the hill and over to Harlyn Bay. We had half an hour to spare so everyone got barefoot and had fun on the superb beach. John successfully negotiated a mini-rapids in the stream and we checked out a nearby cave.

When sand had eventually been removed from toes and feet we headed on to Constantine Bay and then followed the coast path the short distance to Treyarnon Bay. Arriving at the youth hostel the warden remembered Michael from previous visits and was eager to show us around his newly-refurbished hostel, opening today for the first day of the season. It really was all very new, the smell of fresh paint wafting around everywhere. He wanted us to give us our feedback when we left, so we made a point of marking everything carefully.

The rooms, corridors and toilets were great but the all-new showers had fixed shower heads which made the showering process much longer than it needed to be. The cubicles were good, but we’re not sure why YHA are still wasting good money installing inferior shower equipment for new refurbishments.

This hostel has a café open to the passing public, so we had coffee first and then went down again after showers for the meal. This was another disappointment. YHA have introduced standardised “Metro” menus that are rather limited. Pizzas turned out OK, but John ordered a Chicken Tikka salad and ended up with much smaller Chicken Tikka skewers, which was a starter. He pointed out the error and the warden went away, transferred the skewers to a bowl of salad and presented it back to him again. John was not happy, feeling that he should have had a lot more Chicken Tikka for the extra £2.75!

To conclude a good day we set up Atomic Bomberman on Michael’s laptop in the dorm and played several games before retiring to bed at 11. Overall we liked the hostel refurbishment, but we really hope YHA listen to us about the showers.

Today's ride included a total climb of 335m.

Saturday 15 April 2017
0800-2300
Tour: North Cornwall Coast Day 3: Treyarnon to Perranporth YH (20 mi)Mainly sunny and warm, chilly and breezy later
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
The entrance to Treyarnon Bay youth hostel (10:05)
Treyarnon Bay youth hostel (10:04)
Ready to leave Treyarnon Bay youth hostel (10:12)
George, Dillan, John, Jude and Michael at Treyarnon Bay youth hostel (10:07)
Treyarnon Bay beach (10:12)
Treyarnon Bay (10:12)
The Bedruthan Steps café (11:15)
John, George and Dillan in the Bedruthan Steps café (11:15)
The Bedruthan Steps (11:49)
View from the top of the Bedruthan Steps (11:48)
Redcove Island, on the beach near Bedruthan Steps (11:58)
The Bedruthan Steps from the beach, showing the stabilisation work carried out in the 1990s (11:55)
George by Redcove Island at Bedruthan (12:06)
Dillan and Jude on the beach at Bedruthan (12:05)
The café at Bedruthan Steps (12:22)
The beach near Bedruthan (12:06)
George at Watergate Bay (13:03)
Watergate Bay (13:03)
Newquay Beach (13:35)
Watergate Bay (13:05)
Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park, Newquay (13:50)
Arriving at the Lakeside café, Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park, Newquay (13:49)
Refreshments in Chrissy's Tearoom, Perranporth (17:12)
The Lakeside Café, Trenance Gardens, Newquay (14:17)
The group on Chapel Rock, Perranporth beach (17:46)
Perranporth beach, with the youth hostel on the cliff at top right (17:38)
Perranporth youth hostel at Droskyn Point, from Chapel Rock (17:46)
Perranporth beach (17:46)
HD video footage from today's ride
When John had fixed George’s puncture and we had taken our group photos around the hostel we spent a little time watching the surfers on Treyarnon Bay. It was a cloudy and rather chilly start to the day and we didn't think it looked a lot of fun. We then set off towards Newquay. As usual Michael had thoughtfully planned morning coffee at the Bedruthan Steps café, and after a route that involved only one minor climb we arrived on time at 11.00.

When the excellent cakes and drinks had been consumed we discovered that access to the Bedruthan Steps was free even though the site is owned by the National Trust. Without further ado we dressed up warmly and headed along the headland, noticing several inaccessible beaches at the bottom of the cliffs, to the steep stone steps that lead down to Bedruthan beach. John decided to watch from the top while the rest of us descended the steps.

The steps have suffered coastal erosion at various times in the past, so on some previous tours they were closed to the public. Now, expensive thick netting has been installed to prevent the rocks from falling away either side of the steep steps. The beach at the bottom was fabulous, situated in a secluded cove. The tide was half in, preventing us from reaching the second series of beaches, but we were able to walk as far as Redcove Island. Here the sun came out making the whole scene perfect – John missed out on one of the most enjoyable locations of the tour.

Returning to the bikes we continued to Newquay, stopping briefly to admire the breath-taking expanse of Watergate Bay. Google took us up a path short-cut that brought us to Newquay Seafront, from where we rode along the main tourist street that was packed with cheap-looking trinkets shops. Dropping down the back of Newquay brought us quickly to Trenance Park and Gardens which, as on all previous tours, is definitely the best part of the town.

Sadly the pedal boats were not open for the new season yet so we parked out bikes under the cherry blossoms and headed into the Lakeside Café, our planned lunch stop. This turned out to be the best café of the tour, offering excellent value meals - several had enormous jacket potatoes with loads of fillings and salad for an excellent price.

Feeling very full we rode out of the park, scattering pigeons in all directions as we went, and after a short section of main road and a right turn towards Crantock we followed an interesting Google route through some delightful lanes and cottages. George’s tyre needed another pump near the Smugglers Den Inn but there was no phone signal to tell Michael who had gone on to the next hill, but eventually we were all reunited for the last few hills to Perranporth.

On many previous tours to the area we visited an attraction called Goonhavern World in Miniature, boasting outdoor scale models of many of the world’s most famous buildings. Today it was not on the itinerary as it closed several years ago, probably for being too boring!

We went straight down to the seafront where we discovered conditions were now cloudy, chilly and very windy. It didn’t take long to decide that café should come first, so we rode back to Chrissy’s Café, recommended on Google. She was about to close but stayed open for us to enjoy hot drinks and cakes, making it a very enjoyable stop.

Returning to the beach we parked our bikes and walked the very long distance across the beach to the sea, which was already lapping up to the rocky island in the middle of the beach. We watched some people kite-surfing, being pulled along by the very strong winds. We thought it looked fun, although it must be very difficult to control the kite. We climbed to the top of the island for some good views of the beach, coastline and hostel (located at the top of a cliff overlooking the beach). It was very windy, however, so we didn’t hang around for more than a few minutes.

As usual there was a long hill to climb to get to the hostel. As this is a very small hostel we had been allocated to a shared dorm for the first time in many years. Room 2 has been the male dorm at this hostel since it first opened, so it was no surprise that we were in there today. Only three other people were sharing it with us, so it wasn’t as bad as the youngsters expected. In fact one of them was a friendly young chap from Nottingham who was staying here to do some fishing.

Showers were OK here, the kitchen was a little cramped for cooking our meals but the common room overlooking the sea was spacious and cozy. Some families were staying at the hostel with young children which added to the happy atmosphere of the place. After playing some games of Bomberman in the dorm we headed for bed early as tomorrow would be an early start.

Today's ride included a total climb of 482m.

Sunday 16 April 2017
0800-2300
Tour: North Cornwall Coast Day 4: Perranporth to Lands End YH (42 mi)Sunny and dry
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
View to Perranporth beach from the hostel driveway (9:17)
Perranporth youth hostel (9:10)
The Hub, Portreath (11:31)
Refreshment stop at The Hub, Portreath (11:09)
Portreath, from Tregea Hill (11:40)
The Hub, Portreath (11:31)
Cycle route along The Saltings, Lelant (13:42)
Lunch at Warren's Bakery, Hayle (13:09)
View back to St Ives from Rosewall Hill (16:01)
Afternoon refreshments at The Scoff Troff café, St Ives (15:10)
Carn Galver disused tin mine, Rosmergy (17:07)
Treen (16:48)
Levant mine, Trewellard (18:11)
Higher Bal beam engine house, Levant Road, Trewellard (17:57)
Approaching Botallack mines, on the track from Levant mine (18:29)
The track between Levant and Botallack (18:23)
Arsenic calciners at Botallack (18:37)
Wheal Owles and Wheal Edwards beam engine houses, Botallack (18:36)
The Crown mines, Botallack, from where shafts were dug under the sea (18:46)
Some of the ruins at Botallack mine (18:38)
HD video footage from today's ride
On Easter morning we had an early breakfast so that we could leave by 9am for our longest ride of the tour. As we were getting ready to leave the young children were running excitedly around the hostel on an Easter Egg hunt. Michael was amused to hear the warden explaining to them that their excitement was a result of too much chocolate.

On previous tours we have followed the hilly coastal route to Portreath, but on those occasions we didn’t have to ride all the way to Lands End. So today we took the easiest route as recommended by Google, which included the interesting track shortcut from Trevellas to Mithian. There was plenty of fine country scenery and a great downhill to finish, bringing us into Portreath by around 11 as planned.

The Portreath Bakery was the first food establishment we saw. It was not really a café so we didn’t stop there, but it turned out to be the best bakery of the tour, selling large slices of hot tasty pizza for just £1.50 and some fine-tasting Danish Pastries. We pressed on to the sea front area, checked out the two possible cafes on Michael’s list and settled on The Hub, a very modern-looking café that sold excellent Lattes and delicious cakes.

There were lots of local cyclists by the sea front, apparently waiting for some event to start. When we started up the hill several set off after us and overtook us, including some youngsters, so evidently they were doing some kind of hill climb event. They had no panniers of course and we did give them a good run for their money.

We continued along the coast road to Hayle, passing another great-looking refreshment stop called the Hells Mouth café near Gwithian along the way. By now the weather was very hot and sunny, so it was a relief to pull into Warrens Bakery in Hayle for our planned lunch stop. This turned out to have indoor seating so we sat down to enjoy our very large pasties in comfort.

Our plan to buy lunch at the enormous new Asda superstore opposite the bakery fell flat when we realised it had to stay closed on Easter Day because of trading regulations, so we continued around the Hayle estuary towards St Ives. We had planned to follow the main road but the boys noticed a cycle path that turned out to be quiet and attractive even though it was nearly a mile longer.

The youngsters were desperate to visit a Costa café for some reason, so we let Google lead us to one that was located in Carbis Bay. Sadly it turned out to be inside a Tesco superstore, so it too was closed. Instead we rode down the hill to the busy town of St Ives with is narrow, bustling streets and many cafes. After checking out a few we ended up at the Scoff Troff café which offered good value refreshments in a pleasant environment. George, while heading for the washrooms, somehow managed to get Michael to order him a Latte when he actually wanted a different drink, so we ended up spending a little more than we had intended.

The afternoon was wearing on and we still had 14 miles to go so there was no time to explore the harbour. We pressed on up the steep hill out of St Ives in sweltering heat for the final stage of the day, following the coast through mining country. The road had a lot of ups and downs to start with but had plenty of interesting twists and turns. Gorse featured heavily in the landscape and cameras came out when we came across our first real tin mine, Carn Galver.

We were getting quite tired now and should really have stopped for another break, but even when we saw a delightful looking café, Rosemergy cream teas, we didn’t stop because we thought we should not have three café stops in a day! Well a few miles further along we ran out of energy and had to stop by the Yew Tree gallery, just past Morvah, and since its café was now closed we ended up eating chocolate on the roadside.

Eventually we arrived at Pendeen and Trewellard and decided, even though it was approaching 6.00, to do our optional detour to the mines used in the filming of Poldark. The first beam engine house we came to was Higher Bal, which was impressive enough. Further down the lane however we came to a whole series of engine houses, chimneys and workings, including the famous Levant Mine: it had just closed for the evening so we couldn’t look inside, but there was plenty to see outside. This building was used as Tressiders Rolling Mill in the TV series.

We now followed the track along the coast to Botallack where we found many more derelict buildings and chimneys as well as the Botallack Mines themselves by the sea, used for Wheal Leisure in the series. The whole area looked like a different world, a piece of history from Cornwall’s past preserved for ever. The rich evening sunshine bathed the scene in surreal lighting making this one of the most interesting places we visited on the tour.

It was now approaching 7pm so we headed off, rather late, for the final two-mile ride to the hostel. Google once again found us an interesting route that took us through St Just and then down a lane that seemed to be going the wrong way. Then we found there was a concealed path that took us through some woods and came out just below the hostel.

We had a nice room in the hostel but it was a kind of attached annexe to the main hostel with a rather poor shower. We needed a passcode to get into the main hostel, but several of us did so to use the better showers upstairs, so powerful it would take off a layer of skin if you gave it the chance. The pizzas available from the YHA menu were fairly good here, but after supper we didn’t take long to get to bed after such a long and tiring day.

Today's ride included a total climb of 714m.

Monday 17 April 2017
0800-1830
Tour: North Cornwall Coast Day 5: Lands End to Home (19 mi)Sunny and dry
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
Lands End youth hostel (9:45)
Lands End youth hostel (9:44)
Lands End (10:31)
John, Jude, Dillan and George at Lands End youth hostel (9:46)
Lands End (10:43)
View to the First and Last House, Lands End (10:34)
Expensive luxury mochas at the Apple Tree café, Trevescan, near Lands End (11:21)
Lands End (10:43)
Descending into Mousehole (13:05)
The Apple Tree Café, Trevescan (11:47)
Mousehole harbour, east view (13:09)
Mousehole harbour, west view (13:09)
Leaving Mousehole (13:56)
Leaving Jessie's Dairy, Mousehole, after lunch (13:53)
Newlyn harbour (14:12)
HD video footage from today's ride
After a leisurely start we left the hostel at around 9.50 and took the fairly easy route to Lands End itself, a journey of around five miles. The whole site was commercialised a few years ago, but entry was free for cyclists so we wandered down to the First and Last house for some photos and videos. There were cafes on the site but they were more like canteens so we decided to ride the half mile to the Apple Tree café, leaving John to get a funny photo taken by the Lands End sign. This was a small farm café that offered exceptional coffees and cakes, so everyone was more than happy. Dillan and George bough expensive luxury mochas with infusions of vanilla and caramel that cost more than £4 each!

Continuing we took the fairly flat route to Mousehole, avoiding our usual steep route through Lamorna but still entering Mousehole from the coast road direction. Michael had identified four cafes that may serve for lunch, and after ruling out some on cost grounds the youngsters eventually selected Jessie’s Dairy. They had good value Paninis but no washroom, so George had to make a half mile trek through the town. Still, it was a pleasant stop and the food was good.

The route to Newlyn along the coast was flat and easy, including a section of coast path, and the harbour there was large and bustling. We had plans for a final café stop before catching the train, however, so we didn’t hang around. Cycling onwards along the Promenade to Penzance we got some good views of St Michael’s Mount.

Now, at last, George got his wish of a Costa café when we visited the one in the Wharfside Shopping Centre. The great thing about Costa is that you get very large coffees for your money, but by the time we had finished the youngsters had to admit that actually some of the independent cafes we had visited during the tour were a lot better. They live and learn!

After a short ride to the station we loaded our bikes easily onto the 1530 train and took our seats. Seeing a first class carriage in position B where usually there would be second class carriage confused us a little, but we proceeded to our reserved seats in Coach D. Only later did we discover that the first class coach B was being used as second class today: by then, however, all the table seats had been taken, so only Jude and George settled there.

There was time for a few games of Bomberman on the train before we arrived back at Totnes on time at 1758. Michael, who had not planned ahead with the car parking, ended up paying £24 to park in the station car park for five days! He’ll be checking Parkopedia in future to find somewhere cheaper.

This turned out to be another great tour with some very memorable moments and perfect cycling weather throughout. There are plans for an adventurous tour to Norway this summer, so watch this space to find out how we get on.

Today's ride included a total climb of 217m.

Friday 21 April 2017
1900-2215
Evening ride: Converted to socialDry but chilly
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Michael was recovering from a virus this evening so we organised a session of badminton at Ashmoor followed by a Music Quiz at Crofters. Dillan was the undisputed winner of the quiz.

Sunday 23 April 2017
1015-1645
Day ride (Car-assisted): Princetown & the Plym Valley (34 mi)Sunny, dry and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Jude and Dillan at the Foxtor Café, Princetown (13:18)
George and Jude tuck into lunch at the Foxtor Café, Princetown (13:13)
Approaching Burrator on the cycle path from Princetown (14:17)
Walkhampton Common, between Princetown and Burrator (14:05)
Start of the Plym Valley cycle path at Clearbrook (14:53)
Approaching Burrator on the cycle path from Princetown (14:17)
Michael was suffering from a bad cold but the youngsters still wanted to do the Princetown ride they had planned on the tour, so Michael led the ride from his car. We took the easiest route via Holne and Hexworthy but the youngsters went so fast that we arrived at 12.30.

It was good to return to the Foxtor café after a seven-year break. A huge group of cyclists occupied all the outdoor seats at the back, but inside the café was as cheap and cheerful as ever, with generally average food at generally average prices.

The youngsters were keen to make the ride into a full circuit by returning south of the moor with some car assistance. We went to the start of the cycle path to Burrator but it was not clearly marked and Michael wasn’t totally certain it had been completed all the way. Because of the uncertainty we returned to the main road and joined the path at the bottom where we could see the new bridge had been erected.

We met up again at the reservoir, followed the lanes to Clearbrook and then separated, the cyclist taking the Plym Valley cycleway and Michael taking a rather long road detour. He only reached Plymbridge two minutes before the youngsters, but then the path is downhill all the way.

We continued to Plympton and took Cycle Route 2 through to the northern end of the town. Here we started the car assistance, with Michael taking Jude on to South Brent while Dillan and George continued along the cycle route to Tesco at Lee Mill. From here Michael collected them both and we all met back at Crofters after an adventurous and extremely enjoyable ride.

Today's ride included a total climb of 876m.

Friday 28 April 2017
1900-2120
Evening ride: South Brent (11 mi)Dry and not too cold
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Splatton, near Lydia Bridge (20:14)
Jude, Dillan and George take a rest at Splatton, near Lydia Bridge, South Brent (20:14)
View to South Brent from Splatton (20:14)
Our evening ride today took us up Dean Hill, around the Harbourneford circle lane and then down towards South Brent. We turned right along the Splatton lane and stopped for photos on the conveniently-located bench, offering great views across South Brent. Michael was pleased that his new camera could take such good photos when the light was so poor.

We bought a few snacks from the Co-op – the first time we have ever done that on an evening ride – and then returned home via Marley Head and Harbourneford for 9.20. After the ride we looked at some of the video footage from our recent tour.

Today's ride included a total climb of 287m.

Sunday 30 April 2017
1015-1600
Morning ride: Converted to SocialRain all day
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
With rain forecast all day we first played badminton for an hour at Ashmoor on two courts, then went to Costa at Kingsteignton for coffee and lunch. It was a good morning but ended up rather expensive! We finished with a games social at Crofters.

Friday 5 May 2017
1900-2130
Evening ride: Totnes (16 mi)Light cloud with sunny spells
6 present: Julian Duquemin, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers
Jude, Dillan, Julian, George and Gavin near Dorsley Barton, Totnes (20:27)
Julian and Gavin joined us today for a brisk ride along Colston Road to Dartington. Riding through Dartington village we joined the Totnes bypass and followed it right to the top before diverting homewards via Rattery. It was a tiring ride and some were quite chilly by the end, but it made a pleasant change to do a more energetic ride.

Today's ride included a total climb of 373m.

Sunday 7 May 2017
1015-1604
Day ride: Cockington (30 mi)Dry & fairly warm with sunny spells
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Lunch at Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe, Cockington (12:31)
The new visitor centre at Cockington Court, opened two years ago (12:31)
Either today is one of Cockington's Dog Days, or else it's the weekly meeting of the Torbay Dog-Lover's Club (13:01)
We think these two exceptional dogs are Newfoundlands, just two of the many dogs at Cockington today (12:53)
Torquay harbour (13:34)
Cockington Court and Country Park (13:11)
Perfect cycling weather prompted Jude and Dillan to take up Michael’s planned 27-mile ride to Cockington. An outward route that took us via Green Lane and Marldon brought us to Marldon in just seventy five minutes, and it was just a few more minutes before we arrived in the picturesque village of our destination.

When we had taken a quick look at the new visitor centre that was put up two years ago we checked out some of the cafes, one of which boasted a live pianist in the garden, and settled on the Weavers café for lunch as the prices were more attractive. The food was good value and the courtyard setting of our outside seats ideal.

Dillan and Jude bought ice-creams, then we wandered up to Cockington Park. We couldn’t resist taking a photo of a pair of enormous Newfoundland dogs on the way, but when we reached the park there was a very large group of doggy people, all with dogs. Cockington Court does organise dog events from time to time but we couldn’t see one advertised today – perhaps it has just become known as a doggy kind of place, for dog lovers to meet and chat! We sat on the grassy lawn above and watched the proceedings with interest.

The shire horses for some reason hadn’t yet started their trap-pulling excursions from Torquay yet so the journey to the sea front was unremarkable today. We rode along the harbour – a new experience for both Dillan and Jude who had not really been to Torquay before – and then doubled back for scones and coffee at a large Costa we had seen.

It was definitely time to be heading home now, so we rode out to Kingskerswell and then home via Two Mile Oak and Broadhempston, which Google reliably informed us was the best cycling route home. We arrived back at 16:04 and had a games social at Crofters until 5pm.

Today's ride included a total climb of 629m.

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