South Dartmoor CTC


Friday 12 May 2017
Evening ride: Converted to SocialHeavy showers
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The weather was unsettled this evening so we decided to celebrate Jude's birthday earlier this week with a trip to Pizza Hut and Costa in Plymouth. We also had time for a couple of games of Pool at Tenpin, with Jude and Michael emerging victorious.

Sunday 14 May 2017
Day ride: Lustleigh Cleave (31 mi)Mainly sunny & warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The Wrey Valley trail from Bovey Tracey to Lustleigh (13:41)
Mill Marsh Park play area, Bovey Tracey (13:34)
Lunch near North Harton (14:40)
George, Jude and Dillan at Ellimore, Lustleigh (14:17)
The Clapper Bridge over the River Bovey near Neadon (14:57)
Dillan and George at the Clapper Bridge over the River Bovey near Neadon (14:57)
Bowerman's Nose, Hayne Down (15:27)
The entrance to Hayne Down (15:19)
Houndtor Down (16:04)
Our plans for an easy introductory ride for two prospective new members had to be abandoned when they were forced to cancel at the last minute, so after some discussion we decided to make the most of the good weather with a longer ride to Bovey Tracey. On arrival the youngsters wanted a café stop but the Brookside Tearooms seemed to have increased its prices yet again, making them virtually unaffordable. We relocated to the Craft tearooms down the road and found things much more reasonable there, although there was still a large bill at the end as the food was so tempting.

We popped into the local Spar to get some sandwiches for lunch, then rode through the park to the old railway cycle path known now as the Wrey Valley Trail. Here Michael was surprised to discover that the bridge at the far end that had been missing for years had now been replaced so that the path could continue much further towards Lustleigh. This was apparently only completed last year.

Riding along the path into Lustleigh village we found ourselves being told off by an irate woman with a dog. Apparently she had seen us coming and had brought her dog under control for us as we rode past: none of us had noticed this, but apparently we were very rude for not thanking her and she wasn’t going to accept that we genuinely hadn’t seen her do anything. Oh well, there are some people you just cannot please.

Google Maps really wanted us to take a different route home but Michael had his mind set on the very steep climb through Lustleigh Cleave so that is the way we went. We stopped on a grassy verge near the top to eat our sandwiches, then continued on past the clapper bridge over the River Bovey where some trial bikes had left a lot of mud on the road. After some steep climbs we then took the Hayne Down road past Bowerman’s Nose, a stack of granite rocks that looks remarkably like a man’s face.

After some ice creams at Hound Tor we continued home via Cold East Cross, saying farewell to Jude at Hemsworthy Gate as he returned to his own home at Ilsington via Haytor.

We hope Jake and Tom will be able to join us on a ride soon.

Today's ride included a total climb of 719m.

Friday 19 May 2017
Evening ride: Converted to SocialMainly dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Jude was unable to bring his bike down for this evening's ride, and anyway he had a new badminton racket to try out. Meanwhile George was convinced it was going to rain, so we booked two badminton courts at Ashmoor for an hour of very energetic games.

Sunday 21 May 2017
Day ride: Stoke Gabriel (24 mi)Sunny and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
George, Dillan and Jude at Fleet Mill Lane, Bridgetown (11:44)
The start of the Fleet Mill Lane 'shortcut' near Bridgetown, Totnes (11:44)
Fleet Mill Lane (11:59)
Fleet Mill Lane as it passes through Fulls Weatheracre Plantation (11:59)
Snacks at the Rivershack Café, Stoke Gabriel, with Mill Pool behind (13:09)
George on a rather wet section of Fleet Mill Lane (12:07)
Dillan, Jude and George at Mill Pool, Stoke Gabriel (13:12)
View to Mill Pool and Stoke Gabriel from the causeway (13:12)
The Rivershack Café and Mill Pool, Stoke Gabriel (13:15)
Having taken the main road to Dartington we followed the cycle path past the weir and the train station and then tried the ‘shortcut’ from Bridgetown to Stoke Gabriel known as Fleet Mill Lane. It was a scenic route, taking us through some unspoiled woodland areas, but some parts were rough, muddy or steep and our youngsters didn’t rate it very highly even though it was popular with the club in the 1980s. The main road alternative via Longcombe is actually a little shorter, has a little less climbing and is a good deal quicker, so we will probably take that route next time around.

Once we reached tarmac at Aish we made good speed to Stoke Gabriel, eagerly awaiting a tasty lunch at the Rivershack Café by the river Dart. When we arrived at 12:40, however, there was no food on display despite there being several members of staff on duty. Enquiries revealed that food was off because they were running a barbecue with live music at 2.30 and they “couldn’t do everything”. Michael pressed a little further and was told that cakes and drinks were available, but she wasn’t going to bring the cakes out for us to look at as they all look like what they are – cake! As there are no other cafes in the area we made the best of the situation and ordered what we thought sounded like good cakes. As it happened they turned out to be exceptional, so we were happy in the end.

There was time to walk along the causeway by Mill Pool, where Michael managed to graze his knee after stepping on some very slippery green seaweed, then we headed homewards via Longcombe, Berry Pomeroy, Littlehempston, Staverton and Caddaford at a good speed.

Today's ride included a total climb of 580m

Friday 26 May 2017
Evening ride: Chalk Ford (9 mi)Warm and sunny
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
George, Dillan and Jude near Lud Gate (20:27)
View from the open moor near Lud Gate (20:26)
Joining the Two Moors Way to Scoriton at Scoriton Down (20:45)
The steep descent from Lud Gate to Chalk Ford (20:37)
On a hot and sunny evening we rode up Wallaford Road and then decided to ride the track to Lud Gate and the moorland descent to Chalk Ford. As usual the views across South Devon were spectacular and the descent challenging.

For many years there used to be a family of pigs and piglets in the field near Chalk Ford and deer on the higher fields, but today there was nothing. At least there was nothing until we had finished descending the track to Scoriton: here George found a family of lambs looking through a garden gate that seemed very pleased to see him.

Sunday 28 May 2017
Morning ride: Landscove (10 mi)Cloudy morning, rain later
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
Hill House nursery, Landscove (12:27)
Hill House nursery, Landscove (12:25)
The forecast of rain after 1pm encouraged us to organise a morning-only ride to Landscove. After climbing Green Lane we followed the lanes past Baddaford, Penn and Parkfield before looping back to the Hill House nursery at Landscove for coffee.

There was time for some photos by the fountain, but then we had to speed home by the shortest route to avoid the predicted rain. As we were all booked for our summer tour of Norway we used part of the afternoon to make some plans for a glacier walk excursion mid-tour. The rain actually arrived at 2pm.

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

Friday 2 June 2017
Evening ride: Hembury Woods (6 mi)Light cloud
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The weather wasn’t exactly fabulous this evening so we ran a short ride up Silver Street, down to the bottom of Hembury and up the road through the woods to the top. Here we diverted back along the track to the fort, where once again we couldn’t help but comment on how the “management” of the fort by the National Trust in chopping down the four mature trees and laying the trunks around the edge had really desecrated the site.

We concluded the evening by riding down the Slalom track through the woods.

Sunday 4 June 2017
Morning ride: Converted to SocialHeavy rain
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
We were greeted this morning by heavy rain, so after coffee and catching up with the tragic news from London we headed off to Ashmoor Leisure Centre for a session of badminton from 12.10. There was a social at Crofters after the ride until 3.20.

Friday 9 June 2017
Evening ride: Rattery Mill (9 mi)Cloudy start, rain later
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The weather looked cloudy and threatening but there was no real rain in the forecast so we rode up the hill past Pennywell Farm and on through Rattery to the viaduct at Rattery Mill.

After some indecision we decided on the short return via Marley Head, which proved fortunate as light drizzle began within minutes of setting off. It was a little heavier as we rode down Dean Hill, and just after we arrived home at 8.55 it turned to real rain. We concluded the evening with a games social at Crofters.

Today's ride included a total climb of 258m.

Sunday 11 June 2017
Day ride: Dartmeet (18 mi)Dry with increasing sunny spells; breezy
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers
Badgers Holt café, Dartmeet (13:43)
Combestone Tor, near Hexworthy (12:07)
John needed to be back before 4pm so we chose Dartmeet as a destination, taking us up Silver Street, through Scoriton and Holne and then up onto the moor past Venford. The cloudy start was giving way to increasing spells of sunshine but the light breeze we felt at Buckfastleigh was rather more powerful on the moor.

Arriving at the Badgers Holt café we were greeted by a large sign telling us that new owners had been in residence since last month. Gone were the cats. Gone was the enormous and varied menu. A very limited range was available now, with soup at £5.95 and the cheapest meals starting from around £6.95. Apparently they wanted to focus on fresh food now, but we wondered how some of the previous snacks such as baked beans on toast could be any fresher than a newly-opened tin and fresh bread. Michael asked for a cheese and onion pasty with salad garnish that wasn’t on the menu and got it for £4 but the rest had to buy more expensive fare. We then discovered another consequence of “fresh food”: a half hour delay before our food arrived. Hopefully things will improve when they have settled in, otherwise we may be avoiding Badgers Holt in future.

Finally setting off at 1.45 we rode up Dartmeet Hill with a tail wind and then took the main road route home via New Bridge and Hembury, getting us back for 3.20.

Today's ride included a total climb of 719m.

Friday 16 June 2017
Evening ride: Skerraton Down (7 mi)Hot and sunny
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Skerraton Down (20:38)
The start of the open moor at Skerraton Down (20:16)
The ford at Cross Furzes (21:01)
View over Buckfastleigh to towards Newton Abbot and Teignmouth from Skerraton Down (20:40)
On what must have been the warmest evening of the year so far we headed up Nurston hill and along the rather overgrown track that leads Skerraton Down. Ascending the open moorland to the high moor was made more difficult by the long grass and gorse, but once we reached the top we were rewarded with extensive views over Buckfastleigh and beyond to Teignmouth and much of South Devon.

The youngsters stopped to climb a fallen tree on the way down to Cross Furzes, then we sped down Wallaford Road on a cooling descent as darkness began to fall.

Sunday 18 June 2017
Day ride: South Dartmoor CTC Reunion Ride (17 mi)Vert hot and sunny
9 present: Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers, John Rogers, John Stuart
The group at Dartington Hall, photo taken by Michael (11:41)
Preparing to leave Crofters (10:25)
The group at Dartington Hall, photo taken by John S (11:44)
The group at Dartington Hall, photo taken by Michael (11:41)
John and Tao examine the new HEP station at Totnes weir (11:54)
Totnes weir (11:53)
Julian enjoys his Bratwurst at Totnes food market (12:21)
Julian at Totnes food market (12:21)
Julian and Tao at the Cider Press Centre, Dartington (13:21)
The group at Totnes food market (12:53)
Tao, Gavin and John S at Staverton Bridge (14:26)
The group on Staverton Bridge (14:25)
Michael awarded the Colin Brierly Shield by Kevin Presland (15:30)
Our summer reunion ride, proposed by John Stuart and others at the Christmas get-together, provided a chance for old and new club riders to meet up on a fabulous summer day. We would also have had Oliver if he had known we had moved the date back a week from the original proposal of 25th June, but apparently he will be here next week for those who can come again.

After drinks and a chat at Crofters from 9.30 we set off at around 10.30 with the aim of riding to Totnes food market, which takes place on the third Sunday of each month. It’s been a while since we had so many out on a ride, and everyone had plenty to talk about as we proceeded along Colston Road and along the cycle path to Dartington.

John Stuart suggested a detour through Dartington Hall, and what better place for a group photo than in the gardens by the entrance. It’s a shame Michael had learned how to set the timer on his new camera, but two photos provided a suitable alternative.

Riding along the cycle path to Totnes we stopped at the new Totnes Weir Hydro station as none of our older members had seen it. Only one of the twin Archimedes Screws was in operation today as the river flow was lower than usual. It can supply electricity for up to 400 homes, but at present it is used to power King Edwards VI College and a local aluminium foundry.

We continued along the path to Coronation Park and then up the main street to the market. There seemed to be even more stalls than usual today, selling just about every kind of food and drink you can imagine. Julian said he wasn’t hungry for anything here, until he saw a bratwurst stall. Gavin got one too, and Tao just couldn’t resist an expensive cheesecake with nutty base. Everyone found something to their liking so it was a good while later that we finally set off again, with many vowing to return again on a future date.

Proceeding down the hill past the castle we re-joined the cycle path and followed it back to the Cider Press centre, now renamed The Shops at Dartington. Dillan and Julian couldn’t resist playing on a pair of spring rides that we passed on the way in. We stopped in the Venus café for air-conditioned hot and cold refreshments, although Tao preferred to sit outside on the only shaded seat.

We returned home via Staverton Bridge, narrowly squeezing past the level crossing before the station controller closed the gates for a steam train. We got back to Crofters just after 3pm to find Kevin Presland waiting for us on Michael’s lawn. Neil joined us later, and we all enjoyed iced drinks and fresh strawberries with ice-cream, clotted cream and Elmlea cream, making a perfect end to a very enjoyable day. To top it off, Kevin produced the Colin Brierly Memorial Shield from his pannier which he duly presented to Michael as a token of thanks for his contribution to the club over the years, which left Michael rather speechless.

Today's ride included a total climb of 306m.

Friday 23 June 2017
Evening ride: Belford Mill, Ashburton (11 mi)Cloudy but mainly dry
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
Dillan and George at the end of the woodland track from Belford Mill towards Ashburton (20:24)
There was a hint of light drizzle in the air so we settled on a fairly short ride along the old Ashburton road, down the railway track and out to Belford Mill, the wedge-shaped building that we have all come to know and love!

The woodland track back to Ashburton followed the river Ashburn all the way, so on the way home we traced its route along the A38 and tried to see where it joined the Dart. Unfortunately we couldn't see that from Dart Bridge and nobody felt like taking the A38 just to look over the edge of the dual carriageway bridge, so we headed home and decided to check it out on Google Earth.

Today's ride included a total climb of 178m.

Sunday 25 June 2017
Day ride: Dartmeet (19 mi)Dry with increasing sunny spells
7 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Oliver Lindley, Jude Norris, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers, John Rogers
The lane from New Bridge to Poundsgate, above Hannaford Manor, that we had never ridden before (11:42)
Dillan, George, John, Gavin, Oliver and Jude at Humphreys Cross at the top of Hembury Woods (11:13)
Cow and calves by the road leading up to Combestone Tor (13:47)
Brimpts Farm café (13:24)
Oliver didn't get the message about the rescheduling of our Reunion ride to last week, but he turned up today as promised for an excellent moorland ride to Dartmeet. As we rode there only a couple of weeks ago we decided to take ride the usual route in reverse, climbing Hembury Hill and the dropping down to New Bridge. John had to get back for 1pm so he left us at the Holne turnoff.

Google had come up with a new route along a lane past Hannaford Farm that none of us knew existed, so we couldn't resist giving it a try. It was strange to discover a new route so close to home, and it turned out to be a much easier and quieter ride than the main road, boasting cattle roaming free, delightful country houses and some fabulous views over the Dart valley.

Once we had negotiated the steep climb through Poundsgate we were soon descending Dartmeet Hill to Badgers Holt where Oliver left us to join his family for a lunch. Gavin pressed on home for lunch while the rest of us tried Brimpts Farm café. There was no savoury food here and a limited range of cakes and drinks, but the filter coffee and cakes were quite good value and provided us with a welcome break.

Setting off again at 1.25 we rode through Hexworthy and up Combestone hill, passing a friendly cow and calves halfway up. The descent through Venford and Holne to Scoriton was then rapid and enjoyable. Leo's owner, who was outside at Scoriton, told us Leo had been busy all morning but she brought him out for us to give him our usual greeting before we headed on homewards for 2.30.

Today's ride included a total climb of 707m.

Friday 30 June 2017
Evening ride: Converted to SocialGrey
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
The weather wasn't great this evening and our youngsters preferred a badminton session, so we did that at Ashmoor and followed up with some PC games at Crofters.

Sunday 2 July 2017
Morning ride: Avon Dam (12 mi)Mainly sunny and warm
3 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
The path from Shipley Bridge to the reservoir (12:04)
Dillan and Jude on the Avon between Shipley Bridge and the Avon reservoir (11:58)
The Avon reservoir (12:29)
The Avon reservoir (12:29)
Heading towards the Abbots Way bridleway from the reservoir (12:44)
Heading towards the Abbots Way bridleway from the reservoir (12:42)
The final overgrown section of the Abbots Way on the approach to Cross Furzes (13:10)
View from above Water Oak Corenr to Cross Furzes and South Devon (12:56)
With John away today seemed like the perfect opportunity for some serious off-road, so the Avon Dam was selected in record time. We were all feeling the heat by the time we had ridden around Harbourneford and up to Bloody Pool.

The rhododendrons along the path from Shipley Bridge to the reservoir were beginning to grow back at last following their heavy pruning last year. When we got to the reservoir we sat down to enjoy the scenery and Michael was asked by another visitor to work out the distance back to Shipley: it turned out to be 1.8 miles, which was perhaps surprising.

We followed the moorland path behind the reservoir, passing, unusually, a family who were fishing in the lake. Joining the Abbots Way we pushed to the top of the hill where the views across South Devon opened up before us. This was a new experience for Jude, and there was no doubt that he thoroughly enjoyed the long moorland downhill to Cross Furzes despite the final section being somewhat overgrown with gorse.

We got home as planned by 1.30.

Friday 7 July 2017
Evening ride: Broadhempston (11 mi)Sunny and warm
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, Gavin Pearson, George Rogers
Gavin and Dillan cherry-picking near Barkingdon (19:59)
Gavin helps himself to some wild cherries near Barkingdon (19:58)
Broadhempston play park (20:33)
George rides the bar at Broadhempston play park (20:31)
Gavin joined us this evening for what turned out to be ride of revelations for Michael. While riding on the lane to Barkingdon Gavin suggested that we had just passed under a cherry tree that was loaded with cherries. Now Michael, who hadn’t seen a real cherry until he was in his twenties and even that was only on a tour to Norway, had no idea that cherries grew wild in the UK. To discover real cherries on a road he has ridden hundreds of times made him think he had just transferred to a parallel universe.

Most of the cherries were way too high for us to reach, but we managed to pull down one of the lower branches and got quite a feast from it before pressing on to Broadhempston. Here there was some new equipment in the play park that provided some entertainment and photo opportunities.

Returning home via Ron Greet we passed a cultivated cherry tree loaded with red cherries and another wild cherry, as if to make certain Michael had caught up with reality.

Today's ride included a total climb of 292m.

Sunday 9 July 2017
Day ride: Ilsington (19 mi)Hot and sunny
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
Michael had to be back soon after lunch and Jude couldn’t get a lift home to Ilsington so we quickly decided that Ilsington Village Stores would be a good destination. We rode up via Ashburton and Bickington and arrived in plenty of time to be served coffee and cakes by Jude’s Mum, who works there as a volunteer. The shop was air conditioned and John kindly bought biscuits to share, so it was an excellent refreshment stop.

After looking at Jude’s PC, whose graphics card appeared to have been fried by Jude’s attempts at overclocking it, the rest of us headed home via Sigford and Ashburton, arriving back by around 2.25.

Today's ride included a total climb of 439m.

Friday 14 July 2017
Evening ride: Avonwick (13 mi)Dry and warm
4 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers
North view of the River Avon between Avonwick and Beneknowle (20:37)
George, Jude and Dillan on the River Avon between Avonwick and Beneknowle (20:37)
South view of the River Avon (20:38)
Being a rather warm evening we decided to head for water by way of Pennywell Farm and Rattery. Crossing the main Totnes to Avonwick road near Blue Post we took the right turn at Kerswell Cross and then doubled back at Avonwick to a place near Beneknowle where there is easy access to the river.

It was cool and shady by the Avon and we spent a quarter of an hour having fun with sticks and stones. For our return home we followed the lane route to South Brent and then the old road through Harbourneford, with Michael spending much of the time wondering why he couldn’t get access to Google Maps. As he still couldn’t access it at home he presumed the service was temporarily offline.

This evening's ride included a total climb of 345m.

Sunday 16 July 2017
Day ride (Car-assisted): Exeter Ship Canal (21 mi)Dry & warm with sunny spells
5 present: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris, George Rogers, John Rogers
The Exeter Ship Canal path opposite Topsham (11:45)
Start of the cycle path near Powderham (11:27)
Swan and cygnets in the canal (11:57)
George on the canal path near Topsham (11:46)
George and the River Exe near St Davids Station (13:32)
John and Dillan on the canal path (11:57)
Exeter Quay (13:58)
Butts Ferry at Exeter Quay - easy money? (13:58)
Returning to Powerderham, including view from the "high bank" to Exmouth (15:38)
Café stop at The Welcome Café (14:46)
As George’s birthday was on Monday we let him choose the destination for today’s ride, and that turned out to be the Exeter Ship Canal, or more precisely the Pizza Hut at the end of it. We took two cars to Starcross and then rode past the Powderham estate, where they were clearing up after Thursday’s Bryan Adams concert. The new cycle bridge over the railway brought us quickly down to the very smooth cycle path, which was perfect in every way other than offering a view of the Exe estuary that we had come to see. Several unfriendly signs instructed us not to cycle on top of the bank, which is of course where the view was, and as there were several people walking up there we dutifully followed the instructions.

From the Turf Lock hotel the cycle path again continued out of sight of the canal, but this time there were no unfriendly signs and few pedestrians, so we rode part of the canal path. We were rewarded by the sight of a swan and cygnets who seemed unperturbed by our presence.

Exeter quayside was bustling with people as usual, but out path was diverted as a result of some works on the path near Exe Bridges. It wasn’t far to Pizza Hut, however, and as it was quiet in there today we were soon tucking in to some very tasty pizzas.

After a ride around the park and back along the Exe past the weir we stopped at Exeter Quay to watch the Butts Ferry carrying people across the river for 40p a time. The journey was so short that the ferry didn’t have a motor – the ferryman pulled the boat across by holding on to a cable that was stretched across the river. Quite why anybody would want to pay for the ferry when they could walk a few hundred metres and cross the footbridge we couldn’t understand, but counting the crossings while we were there he seemed to be making a fat profit.

Next stop was the Welcome café, now under new ownership but still serving the same good range of cakes and drinks. As it was rather hot we sat in the outdoor seating at the back and were impressed by the size of the three small cakes deal for just £2.

The ride back along the canal to Starcross was a little more interesting for Michael who was able to ride on a section of the “high bank” as there were no pedestrians around. We got back to the car by around 4pm at the end of a very enjoyable day, finally getting home for around 4.45.

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