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!