Day 3 – Taunton to Taunton Coast to Coast

Left Yarde Orchard at about 9:45am, was going to be earlier but one of the mild side effects of eating at a place ran by a nice, slightly absentminded, old hippie is that the service was a little slow. I pootled down the Tarka trail stopping and taking photos of the various sculptures…

P1010441

…along the way when it happened. I snapped 3 spokes on my back wheel. In the middle of a cycle trail, in a wood.

P1010445

Luckily it was on 1 miles walk to Torrington and Torrington Cycle hire who were after 45 minutes able to hire me a back wheel (“I have no idea what to charge you for this, 10 quid?”) and get me going again. This does mean I have to go back at some point and pick up my wheel. This should have been a sign. I should have got on the train at Barnstaple and gone home. I did not. Anyway back to the ride and…

Stop 1. Fremington Quay Cafe, Fremington.

P1010453

A purpose build cafe made to look like the old station building (which were actually originally on the other side of the tracks!) 1 piece of carrot cake, 1 coffee, 1 sprite. The cafe itself was nice, well presented, and clean, the cake was a bit dry and the service was just ok. 6/10

The final leg of the Tarka trail takes you along the estuary and into Barnstaple. It was really busy. There we cyclists, fat people, families, dog walkers, old people, motorised scooters, all of which are seemingly incapable of going above a snail’s pace. I finally escaped in Barnstaple and made a break for the hills. OK, call me stupid but I had not realised exactly how hilly north Devon is. It’s very. It took a long time to get to South Molton. The puncture I got that sapped another 20 minutes did not help here either.

Stop 2. Corn Dolly Cafe, South Molton. Tuna mayo jacket potato, tea, bakewell tart. Really nice tea rooms were they actually give you a decent amount of tea and milk rather than the smallest amount they can get away with. Also the slice of cake was the biggest I have ever been served. Worth going just to get that! 8/10

P1010454

The final leg, more hills. I finally called in the support wagon about 15 miles outside of Taunton 2 hours late. I’d had enough and it would have been 8 at least if I’d carried on under my own power. As it was I got home and had a Papa John’s pizza with Amy. Result.

Lessons learnt

  • Always carry change.
  • You don’t need to pack spare shoes.
  • You can’t prepare for every failure.
  • Be realistic about distances

Statistics

  • Total miles – 165.36
  • Total feet ascended – 14,918
  • Total extra calories burnt – 13,124
  • Total weight gained – 3lbs!!

Full photo gallery can be found here

Day 2 – Taunton to Taunton Coast to Coast

Got up and set out early after a decent cooked breakfast from the YHA canteen. £4.99 well spent.

P1010356

My first goal was Yelverton 14 miles away and at the bottom of the moors, including a fantastic downhill from Princetown. I managed to hit 43 mph here, even loaded up with panniers. The sudden appearance of a cattle grid halfway down the hill was a little off putting though!

Stop 1. Vieira’s cafe, Yelverton. 1 piece of Victoria sponge, 1 cappuccino. Nice moist sponge but butter icing rather than cream. 7/10

At Yelverton I started on the official Devon coast to coast route, which at Yelverton it follows Drakes Trail. Drakes trail is an off road cycle route that follows one of the many disused railway lines around there (thank you Mr. Beeching). It’s also, and this is worth remembering if you are ever interested in doing this, all downhill from Yelverton to Tavistock. I don’t think I pedalled at all. 2 attractions of the route here are the Gem bridge ( a £2 million new cycling bridge to replace one pulled down decades ago) and the Grenofen tunnel were impressive and dark (so as not to disturb the bats) in turn.

P1010374

From Tavistock it was across country, past Brentor church – a church on Bren Tor surprisingly – and down to the National Trust property at Lydford gorge for lunch.

Stop 2. Lydford Gorge, lydford. Homity pie, lemonade, and a large piece of flapjack. Pie was nice, lemonade was cold, wet, and sweet, and the flapjack was fruity. Service was a bit slow, but the cafe was lovely. 8/10

P1010391

The gorge itself I did not walk around fully, just the short route down to the Devils Cauldron and back up again, but was beautiful even so. I can see you could definitely spend a few hours there if you wanted to walk the whole gorge.

P1010393

Setting off from the gorge the nasty surprise is the 15% hill up to the village, but I stopped almost immediately at the top anyway as the castle is right there. It’s not big it is nice and worth the 10 minutes to wander around.

P1010399

From Lydford I went on the second of the off road cycle trails of the weekend, The Granite Way. Another closed railway line, this time tarmaced rather than gravel. Again very worth doing if you are interested and pretty easy to boot.

P1010410

A brief stop at Okehampton castle for a white Magnum and a Oasis and it was back on country lanes to Hatherleigh. Another 16% climb out of Okehampton would have been nice to have some forewarning of, but other than that very easy and no traffic.

At Hatherleigh the official C2C route diverts round and loops through Sheepwash. This is to keep cyclist away from those nasty cars, bless them. I ignored this and went up the A386 to Meeth and the start of the Tarka trail. The Tarka trail was the 3rd and final off road cycle trail I would follow and is named after the otter from the book that I have never bothered to read. Anyway, the route itself (Apart from a slight diversion around a quarry) follows yet another disused railway line all the way into Barnstaple.

I stopped about half way along the trail at Yarde Orchard, a sort of cross between an independent hostel, cafe, and slightly odd Goodlife style hippie dropout and bicycle shed.

P1010432

P1010434

The food was fantastic, the atmosphere was great, and the Vango tent I slept in was uncomfy.

P1010437

Definitely recommend staying there, definitely recommend taking a bed in the bunkhouse! One thing I did find out though is they don’t take cards, information it would have been useful to have on their website, but David (the proprietor) let me leave with just a sticky note with his bank details on so I could transfer him the money when I got home.