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…


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


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.


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


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


  • 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