Day 1 Ilfracombe to Bideford
It was all about coffee and cake. We did do a bit of cycling in between but overall there was a lot of sitting in the sunshine and eating. Eleven of us, from the three Bideford Rotary Clubs, met up at Ilfracombe Harbour and after the obligatory group photo set off gingerly up the steep hill through Ilfracombe on NCN27. A quick push up up through the churchyard then we were on the traffic free trail to the top of the hill. We all stopped halfway up for the first coffee and biscuit break of the day, and lounged around in the sunshine next to the reservoir. Everyone was in their stride after this so in no time we were undulating our way towards Braunton looking at the hazy views out to see. On the way day we passed Henry Williamson’s summerhouse, where he wrote Tarka the Otter. (Special mention for Caroline Burrows if you are reading this, there is a picture of it!) We stopped in Braunton for a long lunch, still in lovely sunshine then dragged ourselves away to tackle the detour hill up around Ashford to avoid the closed Tarka Trail. Everyone made it to the top without too much trouble and we were rewarded with wonderful river and countryside views all the way to Barnstaple. The light wind was behind us as we pedalled NCN3 beside the river towards Bideford. We stopped at Yelland for our last tea and cake of the day then home to relax before we head off to Okehampton tomorrow.
It was the first time we had lead a group ride. Bernie went up front and I was tail marker. It all went very well considering that the 11 of us have a combined age of 761!
The second day of our Rotary Group Adventure saw us meeting up in the glorious early morning sunshine on the Tarka Trail in Bideford. There were 12 of us today which was our full compliment and we were heading for Okehampton.
We started off slowly, easing in those aching joints but before long we were rolling along amid much chatter. It seemed no time at all before we arrived at the Yarde Cafe just as they opened at 10. So an hour was passed sitting in the sunshine drinking coffee and eating cake, wonderful! Then we rolled down the Trail to the Devon Wildlife Nature Reserve at Meeth Quarry. There we turned off to visit the lakes and look at any water fowl that might be around. I think they heard us coming but it was all very pretty.
After leaving the trail at Meeth we split into smaller groups for the short section on main road to the Made Well Cafe at Hatherleigh where we sat in the sun eating a great lunch before looking around the centre which is a Community Interest Enterprise Company working with people who have special needs. A fascinating place.
We had to get our legs going after lunch as there was a bit of a climb out of Hatherleigh to the Gallipoli Monument we stopped to find out more and take in the wonderful views of Dartmoor. Then down the prettiest lane of the trip, although full of potholes. The edges were verdant and full of wild daffodils, primroses and wild garlic leaves topped by large old oaks. It was undulating a fair bit and everyone was a little weary so we stopped in Abbeyford Woods for an emergency snack of flapjack before dropping down steeply into Okehampton and our hotel for the night. On to Tavistock tomorrow.
Found our intrepid Rotary adventurers setting off up the steep hill to Okehampton Station and the start of the Granite Way. We had promised the trail would be flat but for some reason none of them believed us anymore. It was another glorious day with blue sky and hazy views of Dartmoor with just the touch of a cold breeze from time to time. We stopped at Meldon Viaduct for the views and a little later at Lake Viaduct for the biscuits!
Soon we were heading down towards Lydford. We had noticed this morning that Lydford Gorge and Cafe were shut, hence the biscuits, but as we stopped to admire Lydford Castle and Church we notice the Castle Inn was open for coffee. So more sitting around in the sun ensued. Lovely old pub, full of character. We had also just remembered it was Mother’s Day so everywhere was going to be packed for lunch.
Off again, it was now more undulating, sometimes more steeply than others. We were on lanes but always with lovely moorland views. We puffed up the hill just below Brentor to look at the church perched high above us, St. Michael de Rupe Church. Then we turned off down a small lane lined with beautiful trees as we started a gradual descent into Tavistock.
Once in Tavistock we headed off to buy a picnic lunch which we ate in the park by the river before heading for our hotel. Another good day.
Congratulations to all 12 who completed the Rotary Coast 2 Coast cycle from Ilfracombe to Plymouth. Day 4 was the last day for the 12 who, after weaving around small lanes in Tavistock to avoid the traffic, started the steady climb up to Yelverton. Much to see on the way up and we stopped first on the new Viaduct on the Drakes trail across the river Tavy. It was built especially to open the Drakes Trail for cyclists and walkers in the early 2000's. From there on up through beautiful old woodland, all very different to yesterday. We continued over 3 more viaducts each with lovely views. A final hard pedal up the steepest part got us to Yelverton and a bakery for well earned coffee and cake.
From there life was easy. We coasted along the flat at the start of the Plym Valley Trail, passing the old Dartmoor leat built in the 16thcentury. Then dropped down for miles through more woodland and one long tunnel towards Plymouth. This part of the trail was busy with fast cyclists so we had to be on our best behaviour.
We arrived in Plymouth through the grounds of Saltram, at the start of the estuary, then wound our way through the Dock area to the Barbican were we stopped for our final celebratory lunch. We were joined by Sally Drakeford who had kindly moved everyone’s luggage from hotel to hotel. A big Thank You to Sally, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Then a quick dash up to Smeaton’s Tower on the Hoe for the photo. We finished the ride with all 12 cyclists! And more amazing, I am pretty sure everyone enjoyed it! Then most of the group got on a coach back to Bideford.
Three of us set off to camp on Dartmoor via an exciting off-road route, and into a very strong headwind over the moors. Good Times!
Well done everyone.
'What We Do' Main Pages: