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.

Day 1 – Taunton to Taunton Coast to Coast

This happened in July 2013. Im transferring it into WordPress and hopefully using this from now on.

Packing done and the bike loaded and ready to go at 10am, but I set off on Friday a little later than planned as we had Ellie’s Teacher of the Deaf around (and for some reason that title always makes me think of Thirteenth Warrior) so I didn’t get out of the door ‘til 11. Target and first stop was Culmstock, one of the many mildly humourous place names I encountered this weekend (Crapstone was the best). The route taken was very well known to me apart from the last mile as its the usual one I take when cycling to Exeter, only diverging at Nicholashayne, and is relatively flat, relatively quiet, and really easy to follow.

Stop 1. The Strand Stores, Culmstock. 1 hot chocolate and 1 piece of carrot cake, and because they only take cards for amounts over £10, 1 bag of filter coffee.

P1010326

Anyway, cake was moist and had raisins in it, always a benefit if you ask me in carrot cake, and the hot chocolate was fantastic. The stores themselves were a weird cross between village shop and small cafe. The lady serving couldn’t have been more helpful and the food was good. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. 8/10

Next stop Exeter. A slightly different route than usual as I had detoured into Culmstock, I ended up heading across country and cutting out both Willand and Cullumpton – not a great loss if you ask me. I still ended up cycling the crappy surfaced road into Broadclyst then on through Pinhoe and into the centre. Exeter centre is lovely and looked even better in the sun. With the new developments there is very much pick a trendy eatery but I have a soft spot for Carluccio’s so I headed straight there.

Stop 2. Carluccio’s, Exeter. Bruschetta, pasta, coke and a coffee. Great service and not to many sniggers about the silly cycling shorts. The outside seats were great in the sun and I got to rest and people watch for an hour or so. Pasta was a bit watery (not properly drained…) but still tasted nice. 7/10

P1010331

From there I had a quick cycle past the cathedral and then down the hill to Exe bridges and out of town along the Mortonhampstead road. This is where the climbing started. First you climb 530ft climbing out of Exeter (then go down a bit on the other side), then you climb 730ft through the woodland on the edge of Dartmoor park (then drop down a bit to Mortonhampstead on the other side), then you climb 890ft from Mortonhampstead on to the top of Dartmoor proper.

P1010339

It was a lot of climbing. I ended up walking up the last hill for a bit as it was an absolute killer. I didn’t stop then until my destination, Dartmoor YHA in Postbridge.

P1010340