1st July 2013
The blurb says today is one of the toughest of the trip. I hope so! However the sheer joy of the day, the views, the magnificent countryside, the pure ‘Englishness’ of it all left us all breathless & forgiving the pain
We left our respective accommodations at 08.15 after a great breakfast at our particular digs & likewise comments from the other lads. A short, bumpy ride down to the port & onto the ferry ride to the ‘other side’ & immediately into a very steep climb out of that lovely town (favourite so far). We then spent hours on wonderful lanes – the sort that have grass down the & where ferns grow in profusion. The odd car or truck was a bit of a drama, but all were polite & gave us plenty of leeway.
We hit the coast at a place called Seaton & the descent, past the huge pines was simply breathtaking. On the steep route down we also met a guy walking around 350 miles for Teenage Cancer Trust (along with big rucksack & flag). We gave him a donation from the kitty, he took our photo & we took his. We expected a coastal ride at the bottom, but no such luck – long, steep, slow hills followed the coast through Downberry & on towards Plymouth where we ooh’d & aah’d about all the lovely houses, perched high & with glorious sea views. The lunch stop, right at the side of the Cremyl Ferry, was very welcome & we all enjoyed the excellent pork/beef carvery & a view of the estuary, some wonderful leisure sailing vessels & the historic naval buildings of Plymouth. We chatted with the ferry crew on the way over & again were delighted to get such a warm reception into our second county of the trip.
Plymouth was a delight & we wandered a little as we had to queue to get over the swing bridge where we were accused of being ‘girls’ by someone who had twice done Lejog, self supported. However he was only joking (I think) & did say that our afternoon, albeit tough & with lots of climbing, would be fun as we would enjoy the wonderful sights of Dartmoor on what was a remarkably pleasant day. By the end of the day, we all appreciated how lucky we were to have had such good conditions to climb & cross that beautiful but oh so exposed landscape.
We left glorious Plymouth by its Industrial parks & via a series of Sustrans bike routes which went on for miles & miles. These gravel surfaces are not what road bikes or their rides prefer but the views of the river, the glorious trees, the happy walkers & their dogs & the slow pace, all lead to the sort of atmosphere of feeling life is good, so sod the schedule & the grit in the cogs & just enjoy it. However they do also take a bit of navigating & as we ducked & dived under bridges & into Industrial areas & inevitably (shock horror) a busy road section. Eventually (& after following the route to the point of ‘do we put the bikes on shoulders & climb’), we backtracked to climb a section of road that was so steep, only two riders (modesty prevents me naming them) managed to stay on their bikes & lo & behold here was the Downs as we know it – ponies, sheep & millions of acres of wide open spaces laced with undulating roads. Those undulations were to be the curse of our lives as we followed them for miles & miles on those exposed plains, with tired legs & an ever growing appreciation that it would be 7.00 at best when we got to our digs. However there were some glorious down bits too which made your teeth rattle & your helmet threaten to leave your head. Our Guest House at Moretonhampton, albeit not the finest hostelry in the world & with a shower in our room that makes you want to slit your wrists, was a very welcome site. A pint of local brew & a decent meal at the Union Inn, bed for 10.00 & dreams of a saddle free life was all that was left of a day full of the very heights of all the emotions, most of them memorable & good.
Awards of the Day
None – too tired !!
Philosophical thought of the day
‘You’ll know you’re at the top when you’re at the top’ Well I know what I mean!
Vital stats for the day;
Distance 65.41 miles
Average Speed 10.00 mph (that’s the price of using Sustrans routes & paper maps)
Time in saddle 6 hours 33 minutes
Climbing 5,587 feet