Plymouth Cycling Club Christmas Lunch 2023

  Another new venue this year deep in the South Hams at "The Church House Inn" Rattery. 19 of us gathered for this festive occasion with a couple of absentees for one reason or another. Glad Julie & Mike made it up from Looe, nice to see them at least once a year. We all finally assembled in this lovely garden room of the pub, a couple of late arrivals as usual, Bonny on her long trek from Meavy & Andy E. who could not get out of bed in time for a midday lunch. It was rather noisy at first as we were sharing the room with other diners, but we managed to finally drive them away. We eventually got down to eating what turned out to be a wonderful & tasty meal if not a little filling for those of us who had three courses, I suppose the pints of beer didn`t help.

  I got up to give a little chat & reflect on the events of the year ie; the name change of the club + our summer tour in the Welsh Brecons which we were blessed with wonderful weather. Also looking back at our day on the beach & dip in the sea fully clothed for some of us, forgot to mention my Sue`s excitement of the frolic only to discover when stepping back on to the beach realised she still had her mobile phone in her pocket, expensive swim. Bonny not satisfied with the shallows decided to head out in to the Bristol channel heading for North Devon, + we will never forget the sight of Graham B. in his underpants.

   Anyway a very successful Christmas lunch which everyone enjoyed.


           PLYMOUTH CC WELSH & BRECONS TOUR     10-17 JUNE 2023   


     After so many tours sleeping in bunk beds it was decided that our ageing bones needed to be treated with a little more respect. Consequently Trevor and Sue scoured the internet for a 'large cottage' in a 'cycling region'. The only suitable one size-wise at a reasonable price happened to be at the south-east of the Brecon Beacon's National Park and when they offered us 7 nights for the price of 5 it became a 'no- brainer'! This lovely looking cottage which could accommodate up to 20 persons would be comfortable for, say 15. I must admit that at first sight I thought that be being situated at the edge of the coalfield and only just outside the boundary of 'Industrial South Wales' we would need to either cycle north into the Carmarthenshire Vanns and the Brecon Beacons on main roads or make every ride car-assisted. However, and it's a big however Trev managed to find us via Ordnance Survey and
Plotaroute four excellent rides partly within the old industrial area. Also of course it is almost two hundred years since the region's industrial heyday, and with the help of Sustrans and nature the scenery had become attractive once more. Furthermore the routes were certainly challenging enough for the majority and were extremely interesting. We also planned two carefully spaced days of walking to give our rears a chance to heal. We all arrived safely at Pen-yr-Heol around 4pm on Saturday although Neil, Karla and Bonnie arrived a little later. Trevor had carefully allocated rooms whilst Sue was busy with housekeeping duties. Thus we had ample time to acclimatize and be ready for our evening meal at The Aubrey Arms in nearby Ystradgynlais (3 miles).
This was an excellent idea and made a perfect start to our holiday. 

This was our first ride of the 'Tour' and was not only from the cottage but we didn't even drop down to the village but stayed amongst the lanes and tracks as far as the Aman Valley where we picked up a delightful Sustrans route through to our first coffee stop at Ammanford. After a relatively easy morning we had a long hard climb up to an interfluvial moorland with extensive views before plunging down to a nice pub by the lower Clydach river. The
journey back along the disused Swansea canal was very interesting and we were soon climbing up past the Golf Course to our cottage once more.


Our first car assisted ride began at a free car park in the village of Defynnog just south of Sennybridge. the route through the myriad of traffic -free lanes gave us wonderful views of the Brecon Beacons until we met the Monmouth and Brecon Canal and enjoyed chatting with tourists as they negotiated the many locks. We lunched at the canal basin right in the heart of Brecon at one of the many 'watering holes'. The return journey to our vehicles was quite thrilling as the thunder clouds gathered menacingly over the hills to the south but we upped our pace as we continued through the lanes along the edge of the national park boundary as far as Sennybridge where we sheltered in the pub for an hour. We survived the threatened rain apart from some drizzle as we approached the car park. Our BBQ was delayed for a day!


This was a scheduled 'walking day' around Rhossili Downs and also to allow Karla and Kelly to use their paddle boards. Although we missed the opportunity to walk the causeway to Worms Head due to false tide information Trev had planned an excellent 5 mile walk with magnificent coastal scenery and from the higher points inland views of the Gower Peninsula as well as out to sea. After a quick pint at the busy pub we all descended to the long
beach to join the girls to assist them with their boards etc. but the sea was so warm and inviting that we ended up bathing or, at least, paddling! A wonderful day which was only marginally spoiled by hitting rush-hour traffic on the return journey. The BBQ was very successful and half-way through a rousing cheer rang out with the safe arrival of Graham John who had sadly been on funeral duties.


Another ride from our cottage took us down to Ystradgynlais and then along tracks and lanes which followed the
national park via a couple of steep hills to the celebrated Hendrhyd Falls where we unanimously decided to have our first caffeine break. Some of us took the opportunity to walk down and view the falls but were slightly disappointed by the mere trickle from the usually swollen Nant Llech Pellaf! However, the exercise proved useful and, when assembled, we set off through the lanes to join the Neath Canal and followed it's tow-path. We did have to ride on a short section of main road but at least we were treated to a real coal mine in full view. We were soon back on unclassified roads which lead us pleasantly back to the Ynys-Cedwyn Arms by the Tawe River near Ystradgynlais. We sat in the garden where we heard the joyous shouts of the adjacent bathers! The refreshments certainly helped with the arduous climb back up to the cottage. An excellent circuit.


Our last car-assisted ride and final ride of the holiday was from small car-park from the northern suburbs of Merthyr Tydfil. Substantial roadworks in this part of South Wales made progress difficult at the start but Trev soon had us pedaling up towards the first of our 3 reservoirs at Pontsticill. After the second we climbed steeply up to reach the edge the Brecon Beacons before taking an off-road route along the southern side of Talybont Reservoir
passing a naval outdoor training centre and leading us to our lunch stop at Talybont-on-Usk. We were just in time to witness the lifting of the bridge to allow a party of young canoeists to pass under the road!

Unusually for this day and age we witnessed two punctures which hindered our otherwise rapid
progress along the 'B' road which closely followed the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. When we reached Llangynidr we knew we were in for a climb but I for one had not realised just how much! We actually climbed 400 metres in just over 3 miles. Neil informed us later that it was officially one of Britain's top 100  climbs! the descent was only about 120 metres as we followed a 'Sustrans' route back to our vehicles which, essentially, by a clever mixture of small roads and tracks skirted the busy 'Heads of the Valleys 'Road. Well done Trev for unearthing it! A tough and exhilarating ride of just under 40 miles.


Our last full day was, fittingly, a walk up Pen-y-fan being the highest point in the Brecon Beacons at 886 metres. With the two Grahams opting to cycle (they chose Monday's ride in reverse) and Bonnie's sister, Fran, choosing to join us, 10 of us set off from the National Trust Car-park up the designated path. we were accompanied by a host of others including a large group of young school children who were, apparently, helping a less fortunate
classmate. In the heat of mid-day progress was fairly slow and 10 of us ate our packed-lunch on the eastern edge of the summit looking over the reservoirs of the previous days' ride and the more distant Black Mountains. Interestingly, we were constantly being bothered by huge flies which we thought were the dreaded horse flies! (see accomp. photos).  While having our sandwiches we where treated to an aerial display by a "Red Kite", what a beautiful sight. The journey down was fairly uneventful apart from meeting Sue and Fran, who was recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, just below the summit and Larry running alongside the second of two runners out training for a forthcoming event. We dipped our feet in the stream whilst we waited for everyone to return and then set off to find a pub. At the second attempt we alighted upon the 'Ancient Briton', a pleasant looking hostelry with outside burger bar and campsite. After enjoying some decent ale Trev wondered whether it might serve us better than Saturday's pub in Ystradgynlais - so after sampling the menu and discovering that they could fit us in at 7pm the 'last supper' was to be at the 'AB' since we had to drive anyway! There was just enough time a short kip and a bit of packing(or both) and at 7.15 Trev was tapping his fingers. It proved to be an excellent choice with everyone enjoying their meal and a nice way to finish such a good week away.

It was a good week and I should like to thank Trevor and Sue for finding such suitable accommodation and the former for plotting such good routes. I should also like to thank Neil personally for driving my friends and I around during the week. Karla and Neil have now accompanied us on four consecutive trips which I hope you feel they have enhanced them. Likewise, I would think that Trev and Sue would wish the same for their daughter, Kelly, who was a credit to them with pleasantness and good humour. finally, it was nice that Fran was able to aid her recovery amongst good company and also catch-up with Bonnie. Trev and Sue worked tirelessly on Saturday morning to ensure that the place was left spotless and I hope it was appreciated by the owner.

David Newman

  Plymouth CTC          Christmas Lunch       2022

   A new venue for this years Christmas get together The "Elfordleigh hotel & Golf club at Plympton. Initially we had a grand total of 26 members down to come, but due to the current and past situation Plus the time of year. We had the last minute cancellations, first was Julie & Mike up from Looe, Mike had Covid, & Julie thought it best not to come. Then Jean Harris emailed me to say her & John were down with heavy colds. The rest of us assembled in the bar area getting pre lunch liquid refreshments & trying to get over the shock at the price of drinks, Larry felt quite faint when he had paid £5 for a pint of Cider.
   We got called in for our meal in the lovely setting of the dining area, the staff had been busy taking away the 4 cancelled settings, which cocked- up my seating plan, but `Hey Ho`. Graham J. & Sue E. were late to arrive, Graham said he had chicken problems - that's a new excuse I have never heard before. Graham B. had decided in the mean time to scoff his starters, waste not - want not, luckily they had another one at hand. After exchanging Christmas cards & pulling of crackers to put on our Christmas hats, we got down to the meal. This turned out to be excellent, with the odd gripe of why has he got Brussel Sprouts and not me, but this was remedied with bowls of extras, also we had one complaint of why is there no Carrots. But we can't please everyone. The general census of opinion was the food was very good and tasty plus well presented, + the waiting staff were first class.
   Sitting back and enjoying our coffee, for some tea, I got up to say a few words and reflect on the passed year & to introduce some of our new members. We now have another "Dave", they are starting to breed like "Grahams" now we have - 3 Dave's, 3 Grahams, 2 Andy's, 2 Sues. Still I'm sure we will get our head round it. Dave N. then got up and gave us a quiz on this years Swanage Tour, much to our amusement, I think we got most of the answers right.
  Time to depart saying our last Merry Christmas & Happy new year, and another successful Christmas Lunch, looking forward to a happy cycling 2023.




         plymouth section Summer tour of  Swanage  & dorset        14- 19 Aug 2022


Attendees: Trevor & Sue B, Dave & Niccy, Andy P, Graham B, Larry, Mike, Bonny, Karla & Neil, Jean & John Harris, Graham Kirkley ( Winkie) , John Durham                      + 2 Dogs Bueno & Tango

  Half of the group arrived at this "microcosm of Old England" just after mid-day on Sunday. Although well acquainted with the Google Earth image and maps of the site it was quite a shock when we turned off the High Street and headed steeply upwards and upwards until we encountered the Cumulus site and bungalow. We were clearly situated on the edge of the limestone plateau and even the walk from the car park felt healthy! The bungalow itself was a little cramped for such a large group but the facilities were adequate for our needs. The view to the north was stunning with Ballard and Nine Barrow Downs looking magnificent in the sunshine.
 Five of us planned to take part in a short afternoon ride but unfortunately John H had difficulty sorting out his revolving parts, so it was just Trev, Larry and I who set off towards the afore mentioned ridges. Although incredibly dry, following the drought the lanes were very pretty and undulating. We were in fact running parallel to the chalk downs until we reached the eastern ramparts of Corfe Castle. From here we followed the Heritage railway line and crossed it near it's terminus at Norden, which boasts an interesting mining museum visited later in the week by Mike, Graham K and Niccy. We now entered the distinctive heathlands which dominate the landscape between the high ridge and Poole Harbour. We were soon cycling on rideable tracks (NCR 2) heading in an arc towards Studland Bay and getting frequent glimpses of Poole and Sandbanks. This route proved popular as we met a number of cyclists with similar ideas. When we finally joined the ferry road to encounter the fire damage heathland of yesterday widely reported on the news, with fire engine in attendance still damping down, then we headed south towards Studland- but not before showing Larry that great expanse of brackish water known as Little Sea. Trev found us a nice pub (Banks Arms) with views across Bournemouth Bay to the Isle of Wight where we shared an outside table with a pleasant young cyclist from Lymington and passed a convivial half an hour discussing cycling and sailing.
 After refreshment we headed out towards the Foreland on a very popular bridle path. We paused to admire the view of Old harry Rocks the Isle of Wight etc.and almost left Larry behind as he became fascinated with a young man who was flying a drone. The path towards Ballard point was quite easy whereas the decent from the ridge was far from it, a small navigational error. I think the three of us received a number of cuts and grazes mainly from the gorse. I at one point decide to fall over rolling down the hill, much to Trev & Larry`s amusement Once we reached Whitecliff Farm the return was easy. Back at the bungalow Graham B and Andy were well ensconced but Neil, Karla and Winkie (Graham K) were still very much on the road. Mike was next to arrive so there was only Bonny still to be accounted for. Half the group went down to the nearby Black Swan to suss out the food situation, but Niccy and I waited for the others. Some of the remainder wandered down later and although too late for food enjoyed a jolly introduction to our little holiday.
 Day 2
 Most of the group woke early as was to be expected after a night in bunk beds. After a little reorganization of the kitchen/classroom it soon became an animated hub with various cooking smells permeating the building. Mike, myself and my family were usually the last to be ready, but Trevor managed to get us all moving by 9.30 rather than 10 o'clock.
Well, thirteen of us set off on bikes (Graham K, Niccy and Tango walking to Ballard Down) along the main road west before making the long steady climb on the B road through Langton Matravers to the Purbeck stone-built village of Kingston- no sign of Jerry the builder here! and then out on a beautiful lane to the car park for the local ramblers. Trevor moved Bueno & the dog trailer to his bike from Sues for the next bit of rough stuff. Here we followed a roughish track along the ridge to the stunning viewpoint above Swyre Head where we turned 90 degrees to follow another ridge down to the road near Kimmeridge. The final descent was quite challenging in fact, technical, with the result a number of us walked. The euphoria - for some of us - of being back on tarmac was soon forgotten as we climbed up onto the high chalk ridge. When we finally assembled at the top coffee was being talked of so Trev led us speedily to a really nice pub just to the north of West Lulworth where we had a nice lunch. Owing to the proximity of the firing range there is only one road into the scenic honeypot, but Trev felt that Lulworth cove was worth a visit and anyway not everyone had visited before. After viewing and taking photos we retraced our steps and were soon cycling through quiet lanes on the clays and sands which lie to the north of the dominant ridge. This tract of land afforded us an hour of very pleasant and undemanding cycling until we arrived at what seemed like magic, at the pretty village of East Creech & a nice cafe. After being full of cake- the Dorset apple cake was to die for- we suddenly had to climb back onto the ridge of the Purbeck Hills and this time followed a lovely track over Knowle Hill with great views to the east. The descent this time was much easier, and we were soon riding along a lane with yet another view of Corfe Castle. We skirted the village and returned to Swanage on the pretty but challenging route which runs along the southern edge of Nine Barrow Down. We seemed to be quite strung out along this section due mainly to electrical assistance and of course, Trev and Bonny! The last two and a half miles into Swanage were quite easy by comparison, and we were soon climbing the hill back to the bungalow, with 36 miles on the clock. It would have been quite nice for us all to have had a meal together in a local pub or restaurant, but Swanage was absolutely packed with holiday makers, and it was difficult to get a booking for such a large group thus during the week we made separate arrangements which included fish'n'chips, pizza, ready meals from the local Coop and Spar shop and even Chinese with a few healthier options thrown in!
 Day 3
 With Mike, Winkie and Niccy going off to explore the history of Corfe castle on the heritage railway, and Karla and Neil up Ballard with Tango (their dog), there were 10 of us that belatedly set off past the station and the much-used Co-Op, towards Sandbanks ferry. What with the weather not looking too promising, and John H needing to wait for the cycle shop to open at 10 O'clock, for another problem with his bike, there didn't seem quite the rush to set off early. In fact, John's task wasn't straight forward and was referred to a hardware shop to fix his problem - so him, and Jean played catch up for the rest of the day. Eight of us were admitted on to the Sandbanks ferry by a rather grumpy loader who, apparently, had been under a considerable amount of stress. We alighted the other side the best of friends, but it involved considerable diplomacy! Sandbanks was amazing, with the country's most expensive real estate and Lilliput, a little further along the harbour was almost as exclusive. Our coffee/lunch stop was proposed at Poole Quay where Trevor knew a good watering hole from way back. Unfortunately, it had now been taken over by a chain and the service was poor with a long wait. However, we had plenty of time to watch the world go by, with the hustle & bustle of Poole Quay. There was still no definite word of John and Jean, but we guessed that they weren't too far away. We crossed the Poole lifting bridge towards Hamworthy, and followed a number of cycle route paths past Trevor and Sue's married quarters when he was first posted to Royal Marines Poole. Eventually, emerging from the edge of Poole to the village of Lytchett Minster. From here, we followed the main Wareham Road by means of a cycle path which was ok, but caused us difficulty at the frequent roundabouts. Trevor remarked on how much the traffic had increased since he lived there and was so pleased that he decided not to return. Eventually, we managed to arrive in Wareham unscathed and found a very nice pub and cafe alongside the river. On bikes again Trevor managed to find us a pleasant route across Stoborough and Middlebeare Heaths which avoided the main road to Corfe. Having seen the serious amount of traffic entering and departing this popular village we decided to take the B2351 ferry road and it turned out to be much easier than Monday's route. Once the fairly gentle incline had been negotiated it was plain sailing with great views over Poole Harbour and beyond to boot. The descent through Ulwell was exhilarating and we were soon in touch with the hordes of visitors.
 Day 4
Owing to Purbeck being relatively small (approx. 15x8 miles) we felt it necessary to include one car assisted ride. We decided to park by the now closed Milton Arms at Winterbourne White Church. This key-hole shaped loop ride takes in the quiet lanes with a number or views and the attractive small town of Sturminster Newton. A little earlier in the week, Wednesday was thought to be the worst day, weather wise, with the possibility of thunder and lightning. We arrived at the start at about 10.30 and set off up the fairly gentle climb up to the ridge above Milton Abbas. The village itself with its long row of thatched cottages looked splendid, (built by one man to accommodate the estate workers) despite the recent drought and bin collection day. The view back across the village via the abbey was even more stunning and we all stopped to take photos. We continued on through Hilton and Ansty Cross up to Dorset's highest point of Bulbarrow Hill where we caught sight of the hill fort and the distant hills around Cerne Abbas (the Long Man) From here there was an excellent mile and a half of ridge riding with amazing views across the spectacular Blackmoor Vale and then the sudden plunge onto the lowlands. The transition from chalk to clay was evident by the distinctive composition of the buildings (chalk with flints giving way to sandstone, brick and thatch) We were soon entering the town of Sturminster Newton, and I began to search for a suitable lunch stop. John and Larry dived into one cafe, Trev and I searched for something off the main street. In the end Karla, Neil, Andy, Mike and I settled for the "Stur of the Moment" cafe which I belatedly realised I had visited before where as Trev and the rest found "Poets Corner" a Turkish cafe off the main street. Bonny pointed out it was probably good to share our custom throughout the small town and we probably didn't have to wait too long to be served.
 After lunch we set off north- east through Manaton on a rare B road until turning south back into the lanes through Fontmell Parva, Child Okeford, Shillingstone and Okeford Fitzpaine before our last and toughest climb up to the fire beacon at the top of Okeford Hill. Next it was the long gentle descent through the Winterbournes- Stickland,  Clenston and back to Whitechurch and our cars. I felt that it was a successful ride with good weather and lanes and only a few spots of rain as we mounted our bikes on cars. It was a shame not to have been able to have a drink at what looked like a nice pub. I only wish I had thought about a pint three miles back up the road at W-Stickland. Twenty- nine miles on the clock.
 However, for Winkie, Tango and Niccy it was an entirely different story. Whilst walking back from Worth Matravers via the coast in the vicinity of Dancing Ledge the heavens opened accompanied by thunder and lightning and the three of them arrived back absolutely soaked to the skin!

 Day 5
Sue, Graham B and Andy decided to take a day off from cycling and accompanied by Bueno headed off towards Ballard Down and the much talked about Old Harry Rocks with a view to continuing on to the pub at Studland and then catching the bus back to Swanage. Meanwhile, Winkie, Niccy and Tango went off in the opposite direction to Anvil Point and then round by Durlston Head.
 Ten of cyclists set off from Cumulus at 9.30 and took the usual route eastwards via Langton Matravers and Kingston to Corfe. Here Karla and Neil set off left to do some off-road riding on their new gravel bikes. Mike agreed not to complete the whole ride but was not willing to give in just yet - in fact he didn't leave us until East Lulworth and managed 40 miles! on his own little tour. We had a really good ride out through Church Knowle and up over the Purbeck Hills. We were unfortunately delayed because we helped a rather under-prepared fellow cyclist mend a tricky pinch puncture.However it did give us an opportunity to take in the views over Kimmeridge and Worbarrow Bays with the Isle of Portland in the distance. The wooded lanes through the grounds of Lulworth Castle were particularly attractive and even the "B" road from Coombe Keynes to Wool was faily quiet. From here the route followed the railway along the valley of the River Frome to our coffee/lunch stop at Moreton. Well, it doesn't get much better than this! Situated within a sculpture garden containing an array of trees and shrubs we took our refreshments in the shade overlooking the hostas. Moreton is a typical estate village serving the nearby house and judging by the volume of visitors must be very popular. After our lunch we continued through the gardens and across a foot bridgewhich spanned a wide and shallow section of the river. This is in fact a ford but was too deep for even Trevor and Bonny to attempt! The route continued as a rough track known as Moreton Drive with the odd plantation interspersed with poorly drained heathland being unsuitable for any type of agriculture.Our next stop and the mid-point of the ride was Lawrence of Arabia's cottage at Cloud's Hill. Four of us entered the NT property and listened to the short lecture which we found interesting, Bonny, John D, and Trevor waited patiently for us and discovered something of the ownership of this rather sombre Hardyesque landscape.
The journey back to Wool was interesting as it passed a Tank Training Area, then through the camp with a little off road to relieve the boredom of Bovington Camp. From Wool we passed the remains of a Cistercian Abbey(1172) before entering the, by now, familiar heathland lying between the ever widening River Frome and military land. As the route turned due south, we realized that we were retracing part of Mondays ride and we faced a fairly strong SW wind. East Creech again was a sudden surprise although on this occasion the cafe was much busier.
 Onwards, instead of the track along the ridge were turned to Corfe Castle via the village of Church Knowle and as before returned to Swanage by the ferry road and Ulwell. I think that the general consensus was that this was probably the pick of the rides although that is not to demean the others. When we arrived back, we learned that the Sue party excursion had gone to plan and that Karla and Niccy had managed a swim, photographic evidence provided by Mike! The evening went quite quickly with the majority of the group using up food in the fridges or having a ready meal. Karla and Neil set off at about 6 o'clock to break their journey to the depths of Cornwall whilst John D decided to set off an hour later. Bonny went for her usual rural ramble and the rest chatted and packed. I don't think we were too late to bed that night!
 Last Day
 We were all up fairly early and the bungalow was spick and span by 9.30, Trevor introduced me to the lady in the office with whom I had spoken with on many occasions. Jean and John left first followed by Myself, Niccy, Winkie and the rest decided to walk around the headlands from the country park having a final coffee at the Globe.
All in all, we felt it had been a fabulous successful annual Tour.


Plymouth Section Trip to Hartington-Peak District   1-5 Sept 2021


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.

​David Newman

Tour to the Peak District  5/6/19  Dave Newman

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!


Larry`s Tour of Weatherspoon Pubs, Cornwall

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.
Day two
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.
Day three.
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.

Larry Clarke

Plymouth CTC Tour de Cornwall


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.
Dave Newman

'Round County Tour, 2nd, 3rd & 4th September 2016


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!

Section Tour to Brittany: Friday 27 May - Sunday 5 April


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.


Eifel - June 2015
Cholderton - May 2015
Graham John - Josselin, December 2014
Graham John - Stirling, August 2014
Harz - July 2014
Lüneburger Heide - July 2013
Somerset Levels - March/April 2013