Ten of us booked in for our 4/5 night stay at one of Britain's most popular hostels, which had originally been planned for June 2020 but had to be postponed due to COVID-19. We duly took advantage of the only 5 nights which they had available in September.
We had planned a short ride for Wednesday afternoon in order to sample the area around the upper Dove valley but due heavy traffic and accidents on the M5 Niccy and I did not arrive until just before 3 pm with Mike a couple of hours later. Thus, as the weather had become rather dull and chilly, we decided to scrub around the ride and sat in the member's kitchen eating Niccy's cake until reception opened. Graham (Winkie), an old friend from my hostelling days, came up from Derby to accompany Niccy on walks whilst the rest of us are cycling.(nasty tandem accident for those who had forgotten). Now Trev, Sue and Graham B having arrived earlier from differing destinations took the opportunity of sampling the local hostelry, the Devonshire arms, discovered that they were operating a limited menu, so it was unanimously decided to eat in the hostel this first night.
After the usual first night problems of sleeping in strange bed and shared accommodation we awoke to the same rather dull weather, so it was decided to explore the wonders of Dovedale and the best way of doing this is on foot! So, with the availability of the Ashbourne bound bus passing through Hartington at 0930 we duly took the opportunity and alighted at Tissington gates where Trevor led us to the famous stepping stones via, at almost every turn numerous pleasant field paths and a delightful short valley known locally as Lin Dale. The first section of the valley from here to the hamlet of Milldale is one of the most iconic walks in Britain and, as one would expect, very busy. At almost every turn there are numerous limestone outcrops, buttresses and shallow caves having strange names such as 'Jacob's ladder' and 'the twelve apostles'. In places, boardwalks have been inserted where the river abuts the sheer 'cliffs' of the valley sides. Milldale was duly reached just before midday where we encountered a contented John, who had decided to get in some miles on the bike, enthusing over the refreshments on offer - he was not wrong!!
After the wooded loveliness of lower Dovedale the valley suddenly appeared rather barren but had a beauty of its own. After passing 5 stiles in about one and a half miles, we entered the gorge of Wolfscote Dale where the valley regains its 'V' shape character until reaching the heavily wooded Beresford Dale with its association with those famous fly-fishing characters, Charles Cotton and Isaac Walton. The last bit of the walk was a pleasant, undulating stroll away from the river back to the delightful village of Hartington. A largely flat walk, but a tad short of 10 miles. Karla and Neil arrived from Cumbria shortly after us, followed by another 6 of my family, who had taken the opportunity of seeing Karla and me for the evening. A very lively evening ensued. Hartington Hall seems to have moved on from those rather sombre memories of our old hostelling days!
Friday was our first real cycling day and, unfortunately, the weather was a little disappointing especially after our recent dry spell being rather damp due to low cloud. It did not bother us too much up the picturesque Long Dale to rendezvous with Graham's brother, Malcolm, who had driven up from Loughborough. We meet him at Parsley Hay coffee & bike hire stop on the High Peak Trail & then we headed south-east on the High Peak Trail and soon became rather damp and then, consequently, cold. When rather suddenly happened upon a rather surprising 'watering hole' adjacent to the trail near Pikehall and after coffee & cake became somewhat revived. This trail was once a high-level mineral line across the limestone plateau and had much to interest us - especially the impressive embankments and cuttings, the inclines as well as the fantastically shaped Harboro Rocks. I planned a short detour to the once renowned (as a child growing up in the nearby town of Derby) 'Black Rocks', which was an attraction with its unusually named climbs such as 'Queen's Parlour' and 'Fat Man's Chimney'. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn't even see the actual out crop owing to the dense vegetation cover!! All Trev could say was "What do you expect after 50 years!" Neil saved my complete embarrassment by zooming up to the top on his bike to take a picture to show that they actually existed!
After retracing our steps We climbed up onto Wirksworth Moor where the pub, the Malt Shovel, had fortunately just reopened for business so we naturally took full advantage. By the time we had left and cycled along the ridge (wonderful views of Wirksworth below) in the direction of Alport Height we had warmed up completely & the rain had stopped.This hill which was another of my teenage gems and was given by an anonymous donor to the NT and is the first hill one reaches from the south of over 1000 feet and has extensive views. Alport Stone, the peculiar monolith in the quarry just below the summit, has long been famous as a practice ground for would be climbers. All this was barred to us by a huge concrete structure. As there were now 4 radio masts up above Trev reckoned it was a 'secret squirrels! base After a steep descent we began the hilly part of the ride as we climbed out of the Ecclesbourne Valley to reach the southern shores of the fairly recently constructed Carsington Reservoir. Unfortunately, I missed a vital turn landing us on a busy road instead of a parallel track with a view of the water - sorry! After a few more ' chevrons' we eventually reached the Tissington Trail and, by now, rather laboriously pedaled up to the signal box and then swiftly down Hand Dale then back up Hall Bank to the hostel (43 miles).
Now, for the evening Trevor had booked us in to the Waterloo Inn, Biggin after having heard good reviews. Well, it certainly lived up to its reputation and we would have returned for a second night had they not been fully booked!
Saturday's ride had been planned by Trevor and what a good one it turned out to be. We headed up to Parsley Hay again to follow the northern section of the High Peak trail to its end (or beginning) and then north on a mixture of quiet lanes and tracks passing between the high plateau villages Chelmorton and Taddington before dropping down a series of paths to the top end of the famous Monsall Trail. We got magnificent views into Chee Dale with its lofty limestone tors where we watched a group of young scouts absailing off the viaduct! After a series of short tunnels we quickly arrived at the old Miller's Dale station which is now a popular meeting place for walkers, cyclists and climbers. This day, being Saturday, it was heaving. It was so good to see so many people of all ages out enjoying the countryside. This fabulous trail seemed to be passing by so quickly and in a flash we were crossing the famous viaduct overlooking Monsall Dale then into another tunnel to emerge at Great Longstone station. We exited the trail here as the final section to Bakewell is scenically inferior. Instead we passed Thornbridge Hall and dropped down to the pretty village Ashford-in-the water. We carefully crossed the busy A6 and began our longest climb of the day up the wooded Kirk Dale to finally meet the plateau top near the once thriving Magpie Mine (lead) and on to the compact village of Monyash where we had our second stop. The sun was now shining and the packed village with its green, cafe and pub looked resplendent,so we tasted the local brew. At the top of the hill out of Monyash we bade farewell to Mike, who decided to cut it short, and continued on the final loop of our route. We headed due east along the once heavily mined Long Rake towards Youlgreave before turning sharply south west to link up again with the southern section of High Peak Trail as far as the Minninglow ancient burial ground. Here we we turned west again on the much-awaited off-road section (Roystone Grange Trail and the unsurfaced Cardlemere Lane) towards Biggin. However, with the hostel almost in sight, we suddenly veered off (even to Graham's surprise) north for a mile or so before scrambling up a mini rock climb just so we could arrive back at the hostel on a traffic-calmed lane. A great day out!
This day happened to be my birthday, so as Niccy and Karla produced an assortments of cakes and John a couple of bottles of wine we duly decided to have our main meal in the bar of the hostel and repair to the kitchen and share the cake for dessert. It went down very well and we even ended the evening with a very lively sing-song. Thanks everyone for helping me celebrate a wonderful birthday!
Now, for various reasons the majority of the group needed to be home on Monday which meant that only Graham B, Niccy and I would be staying Sunday night. John left early to pick Jennifer up en route to Tavistock whereas Trev, Graham B, Neil, Karla, Mike and I decided to replicate the short ride we had planned for the Wednesday afternoon. Niccy, Sue and Winkie did a short walk to the head of Biggin Dale. Our ride which exited Hartington north via the gated road turned to be a little gem. the climb up on to the edge of the limestone plateau gave us panoramic views of Sheen Hill and the Staffordshire Moorlands beyond. The coffee stop at the tiny old market town of Longnor was excellent as was the return journey up on to the ridge just below Sheen Hill show-cased the spectacular range of limestone hills and ridges on the other side of the Dove valley. We quickly examined the YHA bunkhouse in Sheen village and then bade our fond farewells before the descent into Hartington where I was to meet up with some old pupils who I taught as long ago as 1967! I had a wonderful time reminiscing until the last three left at 6.30. Needless to say I had yet another night when I was too high to sleep.
I believe that the general consensus of opinion was that we had a most successful trip with good routes, happy memories and excellent banter.
Plymouth Section Tour
Our Peak District Tour this year was somewhat dogged by very poor weather! However, all of us managed some good rides, walks and a good helping of culture and nostalgia!
On day 1 (5/6/19) ten of us arrived at Hartington Hall YHA in time to have a short but picturesque introduction to the limestone scenery. We managed a sizeable chunk of the Manifold Valley and a shorter section of the Tissington Trail with some steep hills in between. The Tudor/ Jacobean Hostel, formerly a Manor House was large and lively (3 school parties!) with superb facilities. Ok, communal sleeping was perhaps a little more problematic at our age! but this was more than offset by the choice of communal sitting rooms, the setting, well equipped kitchen where we liked to gather for a brew, the friendly bar and restaurant and the easy access to open countryside.
Day 2 dawned reasonably brightly and 10 cyclists set off on a circular 42 mile route through a mixture of limestone dales, high gritstone moors with amazing views over the Cheshire Plain and an 8 mile ridge to bring us back to the limestone country. Sadly as the weather appeared to be deteriorating we returned to the hostel via the entire length of the Manifold Trail. Sue and Niccy elected to explore on foot the famous Dove Valley with it’s caves, rock formations and Stepping Stones.
As we feared Day 3 was very wet! And the majority of us decided to seek an alternative in the form of a National Trust property with The Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall providing us with a happy hour or two of nostalgia. Hardier members of our party were not to be deterred by mere weather forecasts and set off to explore Buxton by bike (bravo to Mike, John and Larry!) At this point things became slightly more complicated eg. bikes at Hartington, new dorms and on-street parking awaiting us at Youlgrave and group members spread to the four winds! The former Village COOP building which served as the Yougrave hostel was quirky but lacked the facilities of Hartington. Eventually the majority of us enjoyed a excellent meal at The George Pub in the Village, we booked for 14 to eat there again at 6.30 the following night.
With a worse forecast for Saturday, Day 4 , 6 cyclists hit the road, 2 went on a hike through Lathkill Dale with Graham (‘Winkie’) Dave’s friend, and 5 ( those with National Trust membership) investigated the life and loves of Bess of Hardwick after sampling tarts at Bakewell. On this day at least 2 Wetherspoons were located to add to the tally. Our two younger members got rather muddy and were spotted with copious quantities of water dousing bikes and themselves!! (that will teach them not to have mudguards!) We enjoyed the evening at The George followed by a convivial coffee in the well-equipped member’s kitchen. We hit the sack fairly early in anticipation of a short ride before setting off home the next day.
Day 5, saw 8 of the group head north out of the village through Over Haddon and Taddington before descending into Miller’s Dale where they cycled along the beautiful Water-cum-Jolly Dale, which proved to be very muddy. As we climbed up to Monsal Head we encountered a bunch of racing cyclists speeding in the opposite direction. As time was pressing some headed back to their cars whilst others had one last coffee break. ‘Winkie led a short walk into Bradford Dale and Graham Black was pleased to be able to take part, he is recovering well from his op.
In conclusion on this year’s tour we had no food poisoning or heat exhaustion, not much sleep or cycling (well, for some) but lots of good company and bonhomie!
Cornish coastal cycle Odyssey anti-clockwise on my own. Sun16th Sept to Thu20th Sept2018.
Report by Larry Clarke.
Day one Sunday 16th Sept.
Cycling went without a hitch apart from one of my rear mudguard stays breaking. This I managed to get mended the next day, on route at a bike shop. He said a pound so I gave him two, only right as he had baled me out. Day one was an easy 61.3 miles, from home to Treyarnon bay Y- Hostel. But I ended up with a broken stay whilst traveling along the Camelford cycle trail. Luckily after I had removed the broken half, & made a slight adjustment, I managed to continue on my way. On route I took in Davidstow moor, Bodmin moor, Camelford cycle trail & finally the North Cornwall coastal route to Treyarnon Y-Hostel. I called in the co-op in Wadebridge for coffee & toast. Weather was rather cloudy but mild all day. So no fantastic views out to sea like on a clear day. Hostel was nice & clean & food was adequate. I enjoyed a nice bottle of Betty Stogs, Brazen Cornish Bitter. So apart from the Dutchman snoring in the dormitory it was a nice stop over.
This was to be the toughest of the five days, with 60.85 miles to cover. & the granite coast to finish with. Again it started cloudy & misty, or is that mizzle. Cornish for drizzle. Yes as predicted it was lovely going down to one bay after another, but always a steep climb out. With occasional views of cliffs & open sea it added to my days journey. I found the Green Parrot, Wetherspoon pub in Perranporth. So had the usual coffee & toast. Then off again I passed around Hayle, then St Ives & on up to the Granite coast with Tors inland & open sea to my right. Now it was nice not to be going down to one bay & then up & on to the next. I finally arrived dead on opening time at Lands End, Y-hostel (St Just). Probably my favourite hostel of the trip. Nice food, good company, friendly staff, lovely views out to sea. Oh & no snoring.
This was another easy day? With only 50.94 miles to cover & cloudy/windy weather. I was under way shortly after 9am so after passing Lands End airport I found myself heading down the straight road to the land`s End Experience. I soon found the sign post & a Royal Navy bomb disposal man took my photo. Then it was underway again & heading towards Penzance on national cycle route3. At a place called Lamorna I missed a left turn & ended up at a lovely cove full of North Americans. So quickly retracing my tracks I soon located the turning I had missed. So soon after another very steep climb found myself descending into the Picturesque village of Mousehole full of very narrow streets & tourists. Now all the way to Penzance was on level roads following the coast with lovely views out to sea. On arrival in Penzance I managed to locate the Tremenheere, Wetherspoons pub after stopping & getting directions from locals. Soon suitably refreshed I continued out of town & on pass St Michael`s Mount, Marazion & on to Godolphin Cross. Here I turned right & headed cross country for my second stop at the cafe in Sithney. Run by an elderly couple. All home made stuff, yummy. Next part of my journey took me round Helston, & on pass Culdrose(Royal navy air station) to the sound of helicopters flying around. Soon off the main road & heading down to the beach at a golf club. Now doing a nice spot of rough stuff I climbed up away from the beach to the entrance road to the club. Back on tarmac I passed through Mullion on very level roads heading down to Lizard & the evening meal in the Regent cafe. Eating for the first time Cornish mackerel with a lovely salad, which included celery. They directed me to the Youth hostel. A converted hotel right on the tip of Lizard Point. Run by volunteer staff. But what views out to sea. Did not manage much sleep as in the dorm we had a loud snorer.
Day four .
This was another tough day of cloudy/windy weather, & 56.13 miles with plenty of climbing after leaving the Lizard area. I soon found myself in Falmouth, inside the Packet Station, Wetherspoons pub getting info from some of the locals on busy roads etc. Suitably refreshed & underway again I soon had a short stretch of the A39 to do before leaving it for a minor road to Penpol. I spotted a bird watcher so asked him what he was watching. Ospreys he said on migration to Africa. Seems the Fal estuary is a good spot in mid to late September. Soon I bad farewell & continued on my way to catch the next ferry at Trelissick. After the ferry it was undulating all the way to Portloe. Then a steady climb up to a ridge road across to a steep downhill to the coast & passed Caerhays castle. Then a climb up & a few more right turns saw me at a caravan site shop getting a bottle of cider ready for the Youth hostel down the hill. Arrived well before opening so sat myself down on a wooden chair. Managed a good nights sleep so should be alright for tomorrows ride home.
Day five Thursday 20th Sept.
Last day & shortest in distance, only 48.96 miles & yes cloudy/windy weather. Boswinger to Saltash. It wasn't long before I rolled into Mevagissey. Another picturesque coastal village. I was soon on a steady climb out on a B road, then to descend & turn right into a lane through Pentewan. Suddenly there was this sign 20% climb out which actually must have been 25% or steeper in parts. This got the gold star for being the steepest climb in the hole trip. Then fairly flat going around the St Austell, Par area. Then on the main road to Fowey for a very expensive tea & cake stop. Soon after this I was crossing the river Fowey by ferry & on up to Pelynt. Birthplace of Jonathan Trelawney. After here it was pretty much going over familiar roads to Torpoint, & then home to Saltash. Just got in before the heavens opened up.
Total distance 278.18 miles over five days, averaging 55.636 miles a day. Would I do it again? Probably when my memory of it has faded.
Leg 1. Torpoint to Boswinger 45.6 miles
Leg 2. Boswinger to Coverack 44.2 miles
Leg 3. Coverack to Lands End 47.3 miles
Leg 4. Lands end to Treyarnon Bay 61.4 miles
Leg 5. Treyarnon Bay to Saltash/Plymouth 62.9 miles
Participants: Dave Newman, Trevor Bradshaw, Graham Black, Andy Prideaux, Graham Reed, Neil Smith, Larry Clarke, Mike Willacy, John Durham, Neil Crowley, Richard Jenkins
It was proposed at section AGM to opt for an old fashioned moving on tour using youth hostels rather than relative comfort of a Premier Inn or Travel Lodge. Fixed point centres have their attractions-no luggage ect. but in my experience it is easy not to cycle for the whole duration . Also, there is a sense of achievement it completing 250+ miles in five days of challenging terrain. Of course the Cornish peninsula lends itself to such a coastal randonnée and many of the hostels are still open. We are extremely fortunate to be able to complete such a tour from our own town without the use of vehicles. The 4 hostels chosen were Boswinger, Coverack, Lands End & Treyarnon Bay the latter giving us an interesting ride back via the whole length of the Camel Trail and the scenic NC3 across the western edge of Bodmin Moor to Davidstow.
Eight of us alighted the 9.00am ferry at Torpoint (Mike had to work the morning so took the train to St Austell ) and set of around the creek with a close eye on the weather. After a long settled period the BBC were predicting a sudden change with the expectation of some rain during the day. We managed a trouble free ride to Looe for coffee and, despite it being noticeably cooler of late, spirits were high as we sipped our coffee overlooking the beach. The next stage through the lanes south of Pelynt was pleasant and we arrived at the Ferry Inn (Bodinnick) at 1220am.
After a pleasant and rather lengthy lunch over looking Fowey we crossed the ferry to meet an old friend, Richard Jenkins, who is now living in Tywardreath, to substitute for the injured Graham John. We were soon up and over and riding the China clay route from Par to Charlestown, rain began to fall. We managed to shelter by taking afternoon tea and avoiding a more persistent shower and arrived at Boswinger early. (Just short of 50 miles but, surprisingly, almost 1500metres of climbing- even more for team Trevor! Boswinger hasn’t changed much although with brand new beds and spotless facilities it seemed somewhat nicer than the B&Bs I`ve recently stayed in. It is in a quite remote hamlet with only a shop at the nearby acclaimed campsite to provide liquid refreshment of the alcoholic type. The meals were basic but ample and as I had only limited contact with the brusque German assistant I thought the staff to be the most pleasant of the tour.
After a hearty breakfast we set off in sunshine past Caerhays Castle we where strung out due to the steep Roseland hills. Passing Veryan, with its famous round houses, we encountered a foursome who had hired E.Bikes for the day and they didn’t half zoom past us up the steep hill towards Ruan High Lanes. (It certainly gives us old ones hope for the future) The progress from here to coffee via the King Harry Ferry was quite slow due to the many inclines but we eventually arrived at the Old Quay Inn , Devoran to rendezvous with my daughter. (My son-in law, Neil was part of our group). Some of us decided to partake in an early lunch whilst others enjoyed the more traditional facilities of this particularly pleasant hostelry.
Shortly after setting off again we said good bye to Neil C who was needed at home. We were rather envious as he trundled along the Mineral Trail in the direction of his train at Truro whereas we had to begin the long climb past Perranwell Station and Stithians. We were rewarded however with a fabulous decent to Gweek where we found an equally fabulous lunch stop in the boat yard. From here we set off towards our over night at Coverack via Trelowarren Park land and some pretty lanes. I could only marvel at Trevor’s navigational skills as I spent many a sleepless nights wondering how as I was going to negotiate the myriad of lanes without taking the group up unnecessary hills! We eventually arrived at the hostel at the stroke of 5.00pm.The Hostel was adequate but in a magnificent location overlooking Coverack Bay and further more it provided us with the opportunity of eating out.
On a sunny Saturday morning we retraced our steps through the lanes and headed south towards the Lizard where instead of dropping down to the pretty coastal village of Cadgwith we turned right through some delightful lanes towards Mullion (there is a limit on a tour to how many times one can drop down to sea level with the inevitable climb back up again). After another such climb we suddenly descended on a rough track across the golf course down to Church Cove. This was a necessary deviation to link up with the only lane in this part of the peninsula otherwise it would have meant the busy main road onto Helston. We took a chance that the lovely old cafe at Sithney was still trading because the last time I was here was back in the days of the “Lizard Loop” 14 years ago. This was a worthwhile stop as the proprietors were very welcoming and they even had a replica model railway lay out to Mike`s delight! and with a mug of tea and a huge piece of cake for £3! what more could one wish for? Onwards to Marazion through more pretty lanes with the Mount looking magnificent. The village as usual was over crowded but we soon picked up the Mounts bay cycle path taking us through Penzance, Newlyn to the popular village of Mousehole where we had more refreshments. Then it was up the mega climb towards Lamorna and across the corner of the Penwith peninsula to the hostel situated in the secluded Cott valley. Mike, Larry & John decided they wanted to visit Lands End as they had never been and joined us later at the hostel. The majority of us spent the evening in the nearby village of St Just.
The penultimate day was probably our most difficult but scenic one. The coastal scenery, with the added remnants of a bygone age of Cornish tin mining, was especially magnificent. After skirting St Ives we stopped for coffee in a garden centre just before Hayle where we were given a voucher for free plants! Progress was hard along the edge of the Towans round Godreathy lighthouse and Hellsmouth to Portreath where we had lunch. Off again parallel to the Miners trail but unfortunately had to start climbing again through Porthtowan , taking in St Agnes and Perrancoombe into the bustling resort of Perranporth. From here it was a combination of quiet lanes and busy main roads to negotiate Newquay and its environs on a busy Sunday in June. Now on the last 10miles to the hostel it began to rain and the terrain was at its most difficult as we plummeted and climbed through Porth, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth and Porthcothan before turning left just before the top of the last hill through the lanes to the hostel at Treyarnon Bay. Unfortunately with our relief and excitement at seeing the hostel sign we failed to wait at the junction as per normal-consequently Andy failed to see the sign and rode straight past. We were mortified to discover his non arrival. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that there was no mobile signal in the vicinity but to our immense relief he eventually arrived. The hostel was situated in a beautiful location overlooking the sea.
The final day back to Saltash/Plymouth afforded us the opportunity to take in a couple of classic Cornish cycle routes beginning with the entire length of the Camel Trail and National Cycle Router 3 along the western edge of Bodmin Moor. After Crowdy reservoir it was fairly routine cycling on familiar territory through Plusha, Callington, and onto Saltash. During the tour we had a sickness bug which started with Andy as early as Friday morning and followed by Graham Black on Saturday evening. The rest of us, with the exception of two, succumbed on the final day. Unfortunately this just took the edge off what had been a very successful and pleasant tour.
The much awaited section mini-tour to Exford and Beer Hostels finally arrived with an unfortunate downturn in the weather. David and Larry set off from Yelverton just after 0900 for coffee at Oakhampton Waitrose where John would be waiting. Progress through Horrabridge and Mary Tavy was steady but but average speed increased on reaching the main road. The constant drizzle seemed to justify this more direct route and we arrived before the allocated 1100 to find that John had already supped. The rain became heavier so we did not rush over our departure towards Winkleigh.. There were occasions when the rain abated between Eggesford and Nympton but was soon wetting our backs up the Mole Valley to South Molton where we had lunch. The hour seemed to make all the difference as we headed NE toward the 'roof'of Exmoor in near sunshine. This was a long hard climb via The Sportman's Inn and then a pleasant detour NW climbing almost 1700ft above Kinsford Gate where Bideford Bay and Lundy were visible. The descent to Simonsbath was stunning. From here it was just 6 miles up and over to Exford - arriving approx 1730 (69 miles). The hostel is now run by the Hotel opposite and, unlike Cholderton, it seems a very successful partnership.
After a hearty breakfast in the hostel we set off towards Beer up the hill outside the hostel which joins the B3223 to Dulverton. Weatherwise we were fearing the worst and by Winsford Hill it did not disappoint! It is a lovely road through the heart of Exmoor but visability began to deteriorate and by the final descent we began to feel cold ( mainly due to rain on cold legs) for the first time in months. We continued on the B road to Exbridge and, again due to the weather, opted for the main road into Tiverton where we had coffee e.t.c.
Towns can be difficult for cyclists to get out of if minor roads are sought and Tiverton proved no different. Instead of the unclassified road to Willand via Halberton we ended up on the main road to Crediton with its split to Exeter near Bickleigh. A lack of bridges across the Exe as well as a paucity of flattish roads leading off in an easterly direction meant that we stayed on this southerly course as far as Stoke Canon which meant the circuitous lanes through Poltimore and Whimpole 'till eventually crossing the M5 and A30 near Broadclyst. We soon hit Ottery St.Mary in torrential rain where we had late lunch in order to fortify us up the notorious Chineway. We were informed by the locals that it will be the first mountain stage when The Tour of Britain comes to Devon on Friday. It has been many years since I was last frowned upon for dripping on a Cafe floor! Chineway was tough but the final stretch from Putt's Corner to Beer, although still in rain, was so much easier. Beer Hostel was a welcome sight although I was soon given kitchen roll by a slip of a girl to wipe my wet footmarks from the hall floor! The stay at Beer was pleasant and there we were joined by Graham and Mike who had met up in Exmouth and followed some nice lanes of which the highlight was the thatched village of Branscombe.
The journey home had long been planned by Larry to negotiate Exeter and cross Dartmoor via Moretonhampstead and Princetown and since his car was at Yelverton and John's home at Tavistock it seemed to be the most sensible suggestion. Although only 58 miles it was not gong to be a stroll in the park! Especially with a headwind. We climbed out of Beer through a number of lanes before reaching the main road to Exeter and then, after a few miles making the deep descent to the Regency resort of Sidmouth with it's ford and impressive sea front. Incidentally the Devon stage of TheTour Britain will be departing from this very seafront on Friday and the preparation was very much in evidence. We climbed the massive Peak Hill and then through Otterton and Woodbury Common before joining the main road on the eastern outskirts of Exeter. Sunday lunch-time seemed very busy and the roads towards the City Centre seemed very scary. We eventually found a cycle route across the braided part of the Exe and an industrial estate in the direction of a large Sainsbury's Superstore (where we had lunch) and Ide. It was just before the latter where the smaller roads heads off the A30 roundabout to join the B road to Moretonhampstead just before the steepest part of Longdown which many of you will know from the Devon Delight is a very long drag only to drop down again to the Upper Teign Valley. The climb starts all over again and it goes up and up until it climbs above the tiny village of Doccombe- only to drop down again before a final 20% ascent into MH! Here we had a cup of tea joined by two Scottish lads who were on their second day of an end to end. The final push to the Warren House Inn was very tough and slow where the wind seemed to be at it's worst. We laboured on through Postbridge and Two Bridges, where John veered off home, and then Princetown. I left Mike and Larry in the Fox Tor Cafe as Niccy was waiting for me in Yelverton. All in all a good hard trip (185 miles)in spite of the weather – well done guys!! Thanks Larry for getting the show on the road!
Further to Grahams report on our trip to Brittany a few more photo`s from me. An Interesting trip illness spoilt it a bit for me. Final accommodation at St Sampson to be recommended, the last few photos are from there lovely outlook topped by a great sunset after a great meal.
For the best part of the week we were at the Camping d'Ys, near the Plage de Kervel about 5 miles from Plonévéz-Porzay. The mobile homes were very suitable for our purposes, but we would have liked to have a kettle to boil water rather than saucepans plus a full set of cleaning materials, which the owner could hardly expect us to buy in view of the shortness of our stay. Consequently a cleaning surcharge of €12.50 , which we would have considered very reasonable had we known about it in advance. The cost was £152 per week for each mobile home, which contributed to making it a very cheap holiday. Although I had worked out routes for each day of the stay, circumstances dictated that we more or less did our own thing. I was very pleased to visit the Menez-Hom again since my last visit in 2002 during the French equivalent of our birthday rides, La Semaine Fédérale. Andy Easton and I visited the education museum at Croaz Névéz near Tregarvan. It was rather like the one at Morwellham Quay. It was sad to read how evilly little Breton children were treated who could not speak French. Other trips of my own included a trip to Crozon, Chateaulin to see how far the railway station there was from where we were staying, a trip to Carreg ar Tan (a fire beacon), a visit to Locronan with John and Jennifer Durham, Andy E and Mike Willacy, a cycle ride up a cycle path from Le Juch to Plogonnec. The route back took us via Huelgoat, Barrien and the long descent into Morlaix. Everyone was delighted with the accommodation and service at the Maison de Kerdies. Maybe we should put a positive comment on Tripadvisor about that. Unfortunately we were not spoiled for weather, though we missed the horrendous floods which hit France that week, and along with Trevor Bradshaw and Mike Willacy I developed a very nasty cold about midweek which clipped my wings a bit. My total distance was about 440 miles at a basic cost of about £212.