Monday, 11 April 2011

Devon Coast to Coast - Day Two - Great Torrington to Tavistock

Day two and we'd certainly landed lucky with our B and B, breakfast when it suited us, "no, no, whenever's best for you" we said but our hosts insisted and our pre-ordered cooked breakfast was nearly ready as we shovelled down cereal and hot drinks. With the help of our ever-so-helpful hosts we were out the door and panniered up ready to go. An enjoyable swift descent led us back to the Tarka Trail as we aimed to finish off the final miles of the trail pretty quickly before we headed off towards Dartmoor. Today was the day where our sea to sea cycle route wouldn't involve any sight of the sea but that didn't mean the scenery wasn't up to much.

It didn't seem 5 minutes since leaving the B & B before we were leaving the trail, topping up on snacks and hitting the start of more rolling hills. There had been a decision to make, Elaine, our host at the B and B had suggested we could stay on the trail to Meeth and then just ride a short distance before coming to Hatherleigh. She couldn't understand why it "took you all that way round, there's just one sharp bend on the road and that's it". Well there wasn't much discussion to be had, the trail to Meeth wasn't on the official route and so we weren't doing it, insisted Rich.

Coming away from the trail we passed two smartly dresses ladies riding horses down the steepish hill. Waiting for us to pass Jon and I pushed on yet it seemed a while before Neil and Rich caught us up. Surely the hill wasn't that steep, perhaps they were following the nicely dressed ladies? Of course it's never that simple, Neil's wheel had come off. Trying to get out of the way of the horses he'd wrenched on his pedal and his back wheel was having none of it. With no injuries that he cared to admit we stopped at the top refuelled and looked to push on to Hatherleigh for lunch.

Doing three sides of a square we came down in to Sheepwash. Well we could soon see why the route took you this way. An idyllic little village with a pub and corner shop (and not much else). Taking the opportunity to refuel I popped in to the shop to pick up a chocolate bar and lucozade. Coming out the boys were nowhere to be seen, well I just caught sight of Neil as they disappeared in to the pub.

The pub is used as a half way point for people who ride the trip in two days, what a great place to stop. It really was a lovely setting with the sun out and a pint of my favourite Doom Bar in my hand. Sadly it seems I can't handle my beer and I knocked it over covering myself and Rich. The rest of the team drank theirs and we were off, a nice downhill in to Hatherleigh. Arriving at the first pub with a team of builders in the beer garden we thought better of it and explored Hatherleigh some more. Finding a more suitable pub we rested up in the beer garden and discussed the age old deliberation. What exactly is in scampi?

With bellies full of real ale and deep fried (or breaded) langoustine tails we were off again and another chance to disagree with our map. We had to ignore the local helpfully giving us directions and follow the map in the correct direction. Eventually.

We really felt like we were making tracks and getting on, we were now heading towards Okehampton and would soon be skirting Dartmoor.  Now I thought railways were generally set in valleys and on the flat. Okehampton station which we were heading towards to rejoin the granite way was at the top of a never ending hill coming out of the town up to the what felt like the sky. By now we felt we deserved tea and cakes and we discussed the merits of cream teas in the neighbouring counties. Devon, of course, puts its clotted cream on its scone first and then its jam, while Cornwall puts jam and then cream. I decided to not offend anyone by having jam then cream then jam.

Filled with goodies and willing ourselves on we soon felt like we were on Dartmoor as we took a "short cut" shown on the map as being the actual route. The route took us over farm land and was definitely more suitable for Jon's thick mountain bike wheels rather than our "girly" wheels. Looking back now on the Sustrans site I can see an exclamation mark and a warning reading "very rough track", it certainly was. Still we pushed on and it wouldn't be long before we were racing downhill towards Tavistock.

The Adventure Centre awaited us, our bunk house for the night. After a brief diversion in to a girl's college (wishful thinking) we found that night's accommodation at the end of a long downhill A-road. Circling the car park so we could finally get past the 100 mile mark. Honking the horns on our bike we would have to wait a while tomorrow before we'd achieved 100 miles of the official route.

So amazingly day two had ended like day one, finished before dark and hitting the showers before The One Show had even started - the theme of which was also sung on our rides. I blame Rich for that one.

In to town we headed, walking which was a nice novelty, and we were going there with the promise of a nice Indian restaurant and a few beers. Tavistock is a beautiful town with gorgeous buildings and sadly the pubs we went in didn't quite live up to the surroundings. Still we had plenty of time to get ourselves acquainted with them as the restaurant was rammed and we couldn't get a table until 9.30.

A packet of mini cheddars, pork scratchings, bacon rashers and three pints later we were sat in the Indian restaurant a bit worse for wear but ready to devour a nice meal. We did just that and The Ganges (surely Tavistock Tandoori would have been a better name) served up a great meal. We were obviously feeling tired as we ordered a taxi and were soon in our bunk beds and ready for Zs. Well all of us apart from Neil who again laid wide awake with a racing heart.

Day Two Mile Covered: 50 miles plus a quick ride around a car park.

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