Page    



Sunday 19 July 1981
1000
Day ride: Hunter's Path
12 present: Colin Brierly, Valerie Farrell, Mark Filham, Michael Jones, Jackie Lofty (Adult, Totnes), Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Andrew Presland, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson
My younger brother Andrew came out for his first day run on 19th July. Mike also came out, now partially recovered, but he told us he wanted to get back for lunch and left us at the top of a massive hill above Lustleigh.

We stopped for lunch when we were nearing Drewsteignton, only to find that Colin and Richard were not with us. John went back to look, closely followed by Val. Shortly afterwards, Colin, Richard and John appeared, but Valerie never returned.

We all found it pleasurable riding along the Hunter’s Path. The stretch between Fingle Bridge and Stepps Bridge, however, was not so enjoyable, and we returned via the Teign Valley, completely shattered.

(Kevin Presland, 16)

[2 points: Michael Jones, Val Farrell]
[3 points: everyone else]

Wednesday 22 July 1981
1900-2200
Evening ride: Various
0 present:
I am told that Wednesday evening rides are growing in popularity, with an average of nine riders out each week. On one occasion there were eleven riders at the start and two more youngsters from Ipplepen were picked up during the evening! The Marldon brigade of Glenn Powling, Justin Landon and Andrew Kitchen are now regular riders, together with young Simon Haly from Kingskerswell. Newcomers during the month have included Jackie and Frances Lofty from Totnes.

(Kevin Presland, 16)

Sunday 26 July 1981
1000
Day ride: Week Ford Blowing House
17 present: Peter Adams, Colin Brierly, Valerie Farrell, Mark Filham, Martin Filham, Antony House, Michael Jones, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, Simon Reep (Adult, North Bovey), Tim Reep (Adult, North Bovey), John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson, Philip Wrigley
Kevin Presland, Tim Reep, Simon Reep, Mark Moreton, Matt Tewson, John Stuart and Colin Brierly at the Week Ford Blowing House
Matthew and Colin watch John use the pestle on the mortar stone at Week Ford Blowing House
Kevin, Mark, John, Matt and Michael
Kevin, Mark, John and Matt by the Mould Stone at Week Ford Blowing House
Week Ford Blowing House
View of the Blowing House from the top, with the mortar stone near Kevein's feet and the mould stone on the left. The stepping stones over the river are to the left.
John, Mark, Kevin and Matthew
Kevin, Mark, Matthew and John at Week Ford Blowing House
The stepping stones at Week Ford
The stepping stones crossing the East Dart River at Week Ford
The beautiful weather encouraged fourteen riders out for the 26th July ride, including Tim Reep and his son Simon from North Bovey. We were going to Week Ford Blowing House, and Mike seemed to be the only one who knew where it was. We took a new route (to me anyway) via Cold East Cross to Bellever, and from there took the tracks to Dunnabridge.

The Blowing House was on Holne Moor, at the bottom of the hill to Combestone Tor and about 400 metres downstream from Saddle Bridge. Some of the riders were too tired to walk to the Blowing House so they waited for us on the grass by the bridge. The rest of us saw the Mould Stone, pestles and mortar stone with its three cleanly-cut holes. A little further on were the famous stepping stones across the river. I hear that Michael was briefed about the destination by Claude Warren before the ride, which explains why he knew so much about it – thanks Claude for your help.

To conclude a fabulous day we took a speedy ride to Holne for tea at the Old Forge café, and there met three lazy cyclists who had only come for tea! Still, it was nice to see them, especially Peter Adams who is recovering from a chainsaw accident.

(Kevin Presland, 16)

[2 points: Peter Adams, Antony House, Philip Wrigley]
[3 points: Val Farrell]
[4 points: everyone else]

Sunday 2 August 1981
1415-1800
Afternoon ride: RatterySunny and warm
13 present: Frank Boyes, Colin Brierly, Dave Eyre, Richard Eyre, Mark Filham, Simon Haly, Michael Jones, Mark Morton, Kevin Presland, Darren Sharp, John Stuart, Nigel Wilson, Philip Wrigley
Richard Eyre
Colin Brierly, Darren Sharp, Simon Haly, Mark Moreton, Nigel Wilson, Frank Boyes and John Stuart, repairing Kevin's punctures in the lanes near Harberton
Simon Haly and Nigel Wilson soaking up the tranquility at Staverton Bridge
Dave Eyre, the Marldon Postmaster, with his son Richard
The traditional English holiday season finally seems to have spring upon us, and it has brought plenty of traffic with it. This did not, however, deter a grand total of thirteen riders from meeting at Marldon in glorious sunshine for our August afternoon ride. A welcomed return was made by Darren Sharp after a long repast, and Simon Haly also joined us for his second Sunday ride. Dave Eyre came along, accompanied by his young son Richard, riding pillion so to speak on a rear-mounted child’s seat.

Colin had planned a winding route towards Totnes using the peaceful lanes rather than the busy main road. After a leisurely wander, climaxed by a brisk sweep down into the town centre, we took to the back streets. A stop was made above the town to admire the sun-soaked scenery before we joined the main Kingsbridge road. On turning left for Harbertonford we found that Phil had beaten us to the base of the hill – perhaps he was rekindling his vital energy for the steep climb into the woods!

Rather than dropping down to Harbertonford, we made a sharp right-hand turn, intending to head out towards Rattery. The lane had recently been gritted and it was not too long before we were struck by the dreaded puncture bug. It was Kevin who had received the unwelcomed air leakage, caused not by one of the sharp stones as we had thought, but by a nasty thorn which took plenty of hefty prising to release from the tyre. A spare tube was speedily inserted and the great inflation commenced. Spirits were, however, dampened when the hiss of escaping air made its return. The spare tube had apparently already been punctured and it was I who had the pleasure of laying the patch that solved the problem. The offending tube replaced and blown up we resumed our course to Rattery.

Time was now getting on and so a slight change of route was undertaken. We decided to search out a different destination, branching off towards Ashridge and traversing the lovely countryside to Week. It was a happy bunch of cyclists that finally descended to Staverton where the station had recently been voted the best-kept railway station in Britain – a plaque was unveiled during the week by Monty Python actor Michael Palin. One of our favourite cycling venues must surely be Staverton Bridge and we took a tranquil rest there in order to savour the beauties of the Dart Valley. Meanwhile a suspicious discussion was brewing in one parapet as to the properties of home-made bombs! I am not certain what the plot was even though I was one of the scoundrels in question, but Frank appeared to be rather enthusiastic!

It was at Staverton that we parted our ways, dreaming I suppose of the great ride we had just had.

(John Stuart)

Sunday 9 August 1981
1000-1900
Day ride: Fernworthy ReservoirChilly start, sunny later
19 present: Iris Buckler, Valerie Farrell, Simon Haly, Don Hassall, Michael Jones, Andrew Kitchen, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, Alexander Reep (Junior, North Bovey), Tim Reep, Robert Spence, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Mike Ward, Nigel Wilson, Philip Wrigley
Lunch at Fernworthy with Mark, Matthew, Alexander, Andrew Kitchen, Glenn, Tim and Nigel
Tim Reep with son Alexander at Fernworthy Reservoir
Richard Read, Nigel Wilson, Phil Wrigley, Mike Ward, Rob Spence, Mr Presland, John Stuart and Simon Haly enjoying Kevin's pool at Silver Birches, Ilsington
Mark, Kevin, Andrew Kitchen, Glenn, Andrew Presland and Simon Haly at Kevin's pool, Silver Birches, Ilsington
The weather was a little chillier on the following Sunday, but the pickup point at Bovey Tracey was not deserted when Michael, Nigel and myself arrived there at 11.00. Iris had pedalled up from Plympton to join us. We trouped into the Brookside Tearooms and herded ourselves around a vacant table for refreshments, during which time we were invaded by the rest of our cycling companions.

Coffee over, it was Robert and Michael who took the title of “leaders” for the day as Colin was away on holiday for two weeks. The elevenses came in very handy for the long climb up towards Manaton, and we met Tim Reep and son Alexander riding a tandem at the summit of the hill, as arranged. Our latest young rider, Andrew Kitchen, coped very well with all the hills despite the fact that the pangs of hunger were beginning to make us ask ourselves “When is it lunchtime?”

A little more up and down – more correctly steep down and steep up – and we had reached the main driveway to Fernworthy reservoir, our intended lunch spot. The banks of the reservoir are well patronised by the summertime tourists but we had little trouble in finding a peaceful lunch spot overlooking the calm waters. Having eaten our fill the more energetic performed the usual lunchtime jollifications before we took to the road again.

The sun had brightened up considerably, and it was obvious that a beautiful afternoon was in store. The map was soon consulted and our minds went to work on the big decision: should we climb Widecombe Hill or Bonehill? After much speculation the votes seemed to veer towards the former, and so to Widecombe it was. On wandering up to the main Postbridge to Moretonhampstead road Tim’s tandem had gear problems, and so the few of us in front had a short stop whilst the necessary repairs were carried out.

We bid farewell to Iris at this point and then tracks were made for Widecombe. To make up for all the steep climbing done during the day a terrific downhill swoop presented itself. It was the kind of hill that could make you take off and feel that the world was your own. But enough fantasizing, Stuart lad; we had mechanical troubles. Nigel’s chain had slipped down between freewheel and frame. Robert managed to prise it out with a tyre lever and Nigel’s cycle was ready for the road again. Not that he or anyone else needed to pedal anyway – it was nearly all downhill to Widecombe.

The village was, as usual, packed out to bursting point, but we managed to mingle amongst the traffic and begin the greatest ascent of the day – you’ve guessed it, Widecombe Hill. The summit was conquered at a leisurely pace by the fitter members, and by the time we had begun to reassemble, a few of us had decided to head on early as we wanted time for a swim in Kevin’s pool. A nice long, relaxing freewheel down past Haytor and on to the Ilsington road brought us eventually to Silver Birches, where Mr and Mrs Presland were busily indulged in the preparations for a most scrumptious tea. Don, Mike Ward, Phil and Simon had ridden out to the Presland household just for tea.

After a cool dip in the pool, we weary cyclists were gladly rewarded with a marvellous selection of food and drinks – thanks very much indeed to the Preslands for providing us with a very enjoyable end to the day. Our inner selves satisfied we said goodbye to Silver Birches and descended to Caton Cross, where Torbay and Buckfastleigh riders separated for home.

(John Stuart)

[1 point: Val Farrell]
[2 points: Simon Haly, Don Hassall, Michael Ward, Philip Wrigley]
[3 points: Iris Buckler]
[4 points: everyone else]

Sunday 16 August 1981
1000
Day ride: Ugborough BeaconSunny and warm
15 present: Iris Buckler, Dave Eyre, Samantha Green, Michael Jones, Justin Landen, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, Darren Sharp, Robert Spence, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
Darre, Samantha, Dave Eyre, John Stuart, Richard, Matthew, Rob and someone unknown, on Ugborough Beacon
Mark, Richard, Rob and Samantha after lunch on Ugborough Beacon
Nigel leads the way across the River Avon near Huntingdon Cross, followed by Richard Read, Rob Spence, Glen Powling and Justin Landon
A fabulous lunch spot on a fabulous day - on Ugborough Beacon. It's not surprising that Matthew looks so happy.
Rob, Glen and Justin struggle to cross the Avon without getting wet feet
A most adventurous ride was the one destined for Ugborough Beacon – little did we Buckfastleigh regulars know what we were letting ourselves in for when we arrived at Avonwick during mid-morning! Iris greeted us, followed by the Torbay folk led by Robert. Two Wednesday evening riders, Samantha Green and Justin Landon, were amongst the party for their first full day run.

We intrepid fifteen left Avonwick, performed a brief tour of Ugborough and then turned left down a dead-end road! After numerous yells directed at the leaders we climbed up to Wrangaton golf course. Luckily we were not pelted with golf balls, but safely pushed up the zig-zag path to the summit of Ugborough Beacon. The sun was brilliant, beaming down on the most majestic of views, at which we marvelled whilst munching through our packed lunches.

Our taste for adventure really came out after lunch: having plotted deviously on the map, the leaders decided to head for the Avon Dam and then to divert to Shipley Bridge. As you will see, our plans didn’t quite go as we had hoped, but the experience was well worth it! A path took us past Spurrell’s Cross and on to the Bittaford to Redlake track, the stony properties of which served to pinch my rear tube. Whilst the front gang sped on I replaced it with due haste.

A couple of miles later we crossed the tall grass to Petre’s Cross – the time had come for good brakes and plenty of wits. We were descending to Huntingdon Cross, using ground pickled with large grassy bundles separated by ruts. Fortunately everyone managed it without too many accidents, only to step-stone the bikes across the river Avon!

A section of the Abbots Way took us to a viewpoint over the Avon Dam, which was extremely low today. Alas it was voting time, and the choice was either to Shipley Bridge for ice-creams or to continue on the track to Cross Furzes. The latter came out a clear winner, and so we fought the natural irregularities to Cross Furzes whilst Sam, Robert and Nigel decided to go for Shipley Bridge (they met us later at Mike’s house).

Our shattered selves finally managed to freewheel to Buckfastleigh for a refreshing “cuppa” at Redmount; thanks to Mike and his parents for the tea, we really needed it! Thoroughly happy and sunburnt, the Torbay riders set off for the last few miles home.

(John Stuart)

Sunday 23 August 1981
1000
Day ride: Buckland-tout-SaintsCloudy but hot
11 present: Colin Brierly, Iris Buckler, Michael Jones, Frances Lofty (Adult, Totnes), Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
Despite the cloud cover on 23rd August it was still very hot and sticky in the South Hams when eleven cyclists congregated at Totnes for our Buckland-tout-Saints ride. Frances Loft joined us for her first day run, having attended several evening rides. Our usual route was taken to Tuckenhay, where the old mill nestles amongst the trees – a pleasant, unspoilt spot is this. Deciding not to use our old favourite “Corkscrew Hill” we continued on the tarmac to the great metropolis of Tideford, albeit about three cottages. Our destination was not far away, and with a little climbing and dropping we had sorted out a lunch spot just outside the lodge at Buckland-tour-Saints house.

After battling the persistent gnats we finished our siesta and ascended the hill into the hamlet, recognisable as such only by its stone church. We meandered to Coveton, heading in the Kingsbridge direction, and after mechanical “tightenings up” made for Loddiswell.

“Next stop California Cross” was the cry; most of us needed a rest and cool ice-creams, and this we did by the petrol station before flying along to Avonwick. From here the going was fairly easy along the speedy road to Totnes, where we diverted either to Torbay or to Buckfastleigh. A sticky but most enjoyable adventure.

(John Stuart)

Saturday 29 August 1981Tour: Wales Day 1: Home to St Briavels Castle YH
10 present: Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
A hazy but spectacular view of the Wye valley from the Wynd Cliff viewpoint
Chepstow Castle, viewed from the other side of the Wye - Castleford Hill, Tutshill
Our extremely long and difficult "short-cut" through the woods. John, Glenn, Frances, Nigel and Jackie
View back to Chepstow Castle from the Wynd Cliff viewpoint
Inside the ruins of Tintern Abbey - the East window
Tintern Abbey, from the A466
Getting "up close and personal" with the Tintern Abbey Infirmary and Kitchens
Matthew, Kevin, Mark, John, Frances and Jackie enjoying some of the drains under the abbey that led into the River Wye
Last year’s trip to South Wales was so good that we couldn’t resist going again. This time the tour was designed especially for Junior members, and so it was that Frances Lofty (16), Jackie Lofty (18), Mark Morton (15), Glenn Powling (11), Kevin Presland (16), Richard Read (13), John Stuart (16), Matthew Tewson (13), Nigel Wilson (15) and myself set off for an August Bank Holiday that we’ll never forget! Frances takes up the story.

(Michael Jones)

Apart from Jackie’s cut hand, we all reached Newton Abbot Station on Saturday 29th virtually unscathed. The train journey was pretty quiet until we neared our destination, Severn Tunnel Junction – riding in a guard’s van through a very long tunnel with all the windows open isn’t the most peaceful way to travel!

A fairly gentle ride from the station took us past Chepstow Castle and on to Wynd Cliff woods for lunch, a beautiful area with extensive views across the River Wye. The walk to the view point was somewhat longer than we had expected, but it was well worth it even though the air was hazy.

Food consumed and saddle-bags packed we continued our walk through the woods, intending to pick up the main road again at the bottom. The going got harder as we went on, with tree trunks strewn across the path - presumably to discourage cyclists. When we finally reached the open road two hours later we were surprisingly near Tintern Abbey, and we didn’t need much encouragement to stop for a rest and a well-earned cup of coffee.

Apart from a long climb up to St Briavels Castle hostel that evening the remainder of the ride up the Wye Valley was quite easy. It was the first time that most of us had spent the night in a castle, with or without ghosts! The boys slept in the East Tower, above the dungeons, whilst Jackie and I took the Chapel. Just so that everyone was in the right mood by 10.30, a short evening walk traversed the darker outskirts of the village.

(Frances Lofty, 16)

Sunday 30 August 1981Tour: Wales Day 2: St Briavels to Capel-y-Ffin YH
10 present: Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
The grand entrance to St Briavels
Matt and others in the courtyard of St Briavels Castle youth hostel
View back down the Wye Valley towards Llandogo, from Cinder Hill, St Briavels
Kevin outside St Briavels Castle youth hostel, just before our big BBC film moment
St Dingat church, Dingestow
A delightful residence at Whitebrook, on our route out of the Wye Valley
Richard, Nigel, Jackie, Frances, Mark and Kevin on one of the round towers of White Castle
Frances in the grounds of White Castle, the best-preserved of the Three Castles, near Llantilio Crossenny
The moat at White Castle
The group on the wooden bridge to the inner gatehouse at White Castle
Cwmyoy church and hamlet, with Mark Moreton
View to the Vale of Ewyas from Cwmyoy, in the Black Mountains
Central view from Capel-y-Ffin youth hostel, showing the desolate hills of the Black Mountains
View to the left, up the Afon Honddu valley, from Capel-y-Ffin youth hostel
View to the right, down the valley, from Capel-y-Ffin youth hostel
We left in style the next morning, being filmed by a BBC Bristol film crew as we rode out of the castle entrance. Thus began a day of hard riding in the heat. Leaving the varied and woody scenery of the Wye Valley behind us we continued through the lanes to White Castle for lunch and a tour of the battlements. We stopped again at the edge of the Black Mountains, gasping for a drink; it took Mike some time to get us back on our bikes, only to find that we’d taken a wrong turning along a new road that wasn’t marked on the map.

Finally we reached Capel-y-Ffin hostel, relieved to find that it wasn’t at the top of too big a hill. I think everybody will agree that this was the best hostel we stayed at in every way. The evening meal was delicious, and after doing the washing up we set out to climb the mountain behind the hostel. This, undoubtedly, was also the best evening walk of the tour, and was certainly something to remember.

The climb began quite steadily when it was still daylight, but we soon found that the only way to get up was on all fours. Gradually foot and hand holds diminished until we were sliding and grabbing handfuls of bracken, heather and gorse. Mark reached the top first, although Jackie still claims she could have beaten him if she had tried hard enough, and shortly afterwards the rest of us puffed to the summit. Scratched and battered we flopped down for a rest. If we thought the ascent was hard enough it was nothing compared with the descent, as we later found!

We stayed at the top until it was dark, at which point somebody spotted a light moving up through the bracken towards us on the other side. After several suggestions as to what it was, which stretched from a ghost to a search party, we decided to go down for a closer look. I’m not sure whether we found out what it was, but I still think it was a cyclist.

It was now so dark that we couldn’t see our feet, and the prospect of climbing down a steep slope without a path was pretty daunting. As we edged downwards the silence was frequently disturbed by shouts and yells as people slipped and landed squarely in gorse bushes. We found that laughing was the best way to handle the agony – Mike went so far as falling over with hysterics when Jackie stuck her hand in a gorse bush he had just warned her to avoid!

Finally we caught sight of the hostel light in the valley, and a great sigh of relief was heaved by us all. But we still had a long and eventful downward journey. When we had nearly reached the hostel we sat down, numbed and full of thorns, for a rest. For just a few moments there was silence, and we became aware of just how remote we were from civilisation. The laughter and yells then continued until we reached the hostel gate – back to sanity at last. At the end of that evening walk I had certainly come to the conclusion that Mike wasn’t quite the sensible person he at first appears to be – still, it’s fun to be idiots some of the time!

(Frances Lofty, 16)

Sunday 30 August 1981
1000
Day ride: Dowrich Bridge
2 present: Colin Brierly, Jean Brierly
There was a final August ride, destination Dowrich Bridge, but the Welsh Tour left only Colin and Jean to carry out the run. I understand that all went according to schedule until a bush of juicy blackberries was spotted!

(John Stuart)

Monday 31 August 1981Tour: Wales Day 3: Capel-y-Ffin to Tyn-y-Caeu YH
10 present: Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
Another group photo on the bridge at Hay-on-Wye, looking south
The group at the entrance to Capel-y-Ffin youth hostel, showing the hostel and the hill beyond that we climbed last night. Richard, Glenn, Kevin, Mark, Nigel, Jackie, Frances, Matthew and John
John and Jackie on Cockit Hill, with Mynydd Troed beyond
John and Jackie take in the view to Llangors Lake from Mynydd Llangorse, after walking up Cockit Hill from the road
Mist prevented us from climbing the mountain again in the morning, and we began the chilly descent out of the Black Mountains. We reached Hay-on-Wye by about 12.00 along with two other cyclists who had come with us from the hostel. We stopped for coffee (some had beans on toast) and then rode on to our lunch stop after a rather long but enjoyable detour secretly devised by the map readers.

We arrived at Tyn-y-Caeu early that evening, Kevin a little the worse for wear after trying to climb a hedge on his bike (luckily no damage done). That night saw our first attempt at self-catering, and it was really quite successful. Our evening walk took us around a dark field in which cows had left their mark, as some of us unfortunately found! We returned quite early for an ecological discussion in the hostel common-room while the younger members played table tennis.

(Frances Lofty, 16)

Tuesday 1 September 1981Tour: Wales Day 4: Tyn-y-Caeu to Ystradfellte YH
10 present: Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
Riding over Mynydd Illtud, near Blaencamlais, with the Brecon Beacons looming in the distance
John takes pole position on the ride over Mynydd Illtud from Brecon. This photo was taken near Blaencamlais, about 5 miles beyond Brecon
The group near Maeswalter, Heol Senni
View to our hairpin climb over Bryn Melyn, from near Maeswalter, Heol Senni
The group near Maeswalter, looking towards Pant-y-Ffordd, Heol Senni
Another group photo (Photo: Kevin Presland)
Jackie and Frances lead the final ascent to the Bryn Melyn hairpin climb. Taken from the ruined house just beyond the cattle grid
View of the hairpin climb from just a mile away, near Blaen-Senni farm
Starting the climb of Bryn Melyn from the Senni valley
Matthew, Richard, Kevin and John follow the leaders to the "interesting" hill, Bryn Melyn
The climb continues past the first hairpin bend
Preparing for the big climb (Photo: Kevin Presland)
View from the top (Photo: Kevin Presland)
Kevin nears the top
The Afon Llia waterfall, situated in its own private grotto
The Afon Llia waterfall, on the way down the hill towards the hostel - a fabulous introduction to the Waterfall Country around Ystradfellte
The Afon Llia waterfall (Photo: Kevin Presland)
Next morning Nigel walked out of the hostel leaving his jumper in the games room. Of course we didn’t know that at the time – he remembered when he got home! A short ride and we were in Brecon itself, which provided us with numerous cans of baked beans, creamed rice and fruit which were all stashed away somewhere. Funnily enough, our film was showing in the Brecon Odeon – home from home!

Thus began the assault of the Brecon Beacons. Once into the National Park the surface scenery looked quite like Dartmoor, although the giant mountains most certainly did not. We ate our Brecon-baked pies and cakes at the mountain centre on the lawn, and supplemented our meal with delicious coffee from the café. The information centre showed us, in relief, the hills we had yet to climb and it was at this point that great gasps were heard from all members of the group (especially Matthew and Richard); to reach the final hostel, an impenetrable ridge had to be traversed – right over the top!

Undaunted, we set off again through the Brecons. It wasn’t long before the conspicuous zig-zag appeared in the distance, and a moment later we were riding up an “interesting” hill. The scenery was tremendous. Our younger members certainly showed the rest of us that they were now fit by climbing right to the top with scarcely a pause!

A few moments’ rest and we were on the last drop to the hostel – Ystradfellte. According to the guides I had read, Ystradfellte was situated in waterfall country, but I don’t think any of us realised the full meaning of that statement. Reference to the map lead us to stop for our first taste of what was to come – a small waterfall in a delightful grotto, close to the road but completely secluded from it. We were reluctant to move on, but milk had to be purchased before the shop shut.

Down, down, down through the woods, past the tiny village school and on into Ystradfellte itself. The hostel was described in the handbook as “Simple, Non-VAT, No Meals”, but it really wasn’t as primitive as it sounded. The warden was a pleasant old lady with a wonderful Welsh accent – just the type you’d imagine her to speak. The girls had a dorm in the main “cottage”, but we had a separate little house on the other side of the road, complete with common room and wash basin!

After a quick visit to the shop we set off for the track which led to the main river and waterfalls, hindered for the first few miles by a massive flock of sheep following their shepherd. A ten minute walk took us into the wooded valley, and soon we could hear the distant sound that we had been waiting for – the sound of crashing water. Dusk was almost nigh, but there was just enough light to fully explore the first incredible fall, with all its varied levels and vegetation. It’s the kind of experience that’s difficult to describe – one just has to be there. The sheer scale is breath taking. Then there’s the noise – such a noise that there’s not much point in trying to talk over it. It was darkness that finally forced us to return to the hostel at about 8.00; for once, food had taken second place to our enthusiasm. How grateful we were that we had left plenty of time next morning for further exploration. Contented and a little sad, the last night’s chatter died away into the depths of sleep.

(Kevin Presland, 16, and Michael Jones)

Wednesday 2 September 1981Tour: Wales Day 5: Ystradfellte to Home
10 present: Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Richard Read, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson
The Sgwd Clun-gwyn waterfall (Photo: Kevin Presland)
Approaching the first big waterfall on the River Mellte - the Sgwd Clun-gwyn, or Fall of the White Meadow
Nigel gets close and personal with the Fall of the White Meadow
John and Nigel on the breathtaking Sgwd Clun-gwyn waterfall
Jackie at the Sgwd Clun-gwyn waterfall (Photo: Kevin Presland)
Jackie at the Sgwd Clun-gwyn waterfall
Matthew, John, Mark, Kevin and Nigel under the Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn waterfall
The second waterfall - Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn, or Lower Fall of the White Meadow - with Matthew trying to stay dry
The third waterfall - Sgwd y Panwr, or Fall of the Woollen Washer
Capturing a little of the feeling of being under the Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwen waterfall. With Matt Tewson wading in the cool waters
The Sgwd y Panwr waterfall
The Sgwd y Panwr waterfall
A long walk brought us to the fifth waterfall, Sgwd yr Eira on the River Hepste, which translates to Fall of Snow
The fourth, unnamed, waterfall on the River Mellte
A final look back at the Hepste valley on our way back to the bikes
Jackie, John, Mark, Frances and Kevin experiencing the Sgwd yr Eira waterfall
One final timed group photo, using the last exposure on Michael's film.
A timed group photo on the way back to the bikes: Nigel, Michael, Frances, Kevin, Mark, Richard, John, Glenn, Jackie and Matt
It was an incredible stretch of river. There were about five waterfalls in all, each more amazing than the last. It was possible to crouch right under the second without getting too wet – a truly exhilarating experience – but the last had a path running right underneath with plenty of room for standing. The tracks along the gorge were difficult going; two people injured themselves along those very tracks the night before, and a few people get killed in the area every year. However, Mike made quite sure that there were no casualties in OUR group, apart from a few wet feet!

It was 12.30 before we set off again to meet our train. Soon we were into the industrial area and after a two-mile drag we reached Hirwaun. Lunch was purchased but kept in saddlebags until the four-mile mountain road had been tackled, with a zig-zag even more acute than that of the previous day. There, laid out before us, was the Treherbert valley. With the time at 3.30 there was just time for lunch before making the final descent to the station. Cycles had to be stripped of luggage to fit into the small guards van, but soon we were aboard and heading for home.

As our second connection rolled away from Bristol, darkness was falling fast. Plans were already being laid for next year’s tour. But really, this one will take a lot of beating. Special congratulations are due to Glenn, Matthew and Richard, who coped very well with their first “proper” tour.

(Kevin Presland, 16, and Michael Jones)

Sunday 6 September 1981
1415
Afternoon ride: Berry PomeroySunny and warm
12 present: Frank Boyes, Jean Brierly, Mark Filham, Simon Haly, Antony House, Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Kevin Presland, Nigel Wilson, Andrew Winstanley (13, Ipplepen)
The September Afternoon Run was well supported, partly due to the good weather no doubt. Andrew Winstanley, a 13-year-old from Abbotskerswell, joined us for his first CTC ride, and Antony House made a welcome if temporary return to club life. A brief tour of Berry Pomeroy castle was made, followed by a much longer investigation of the nearby tearooms and show centre.

The lanes through Red Post eventually led us to Ipplepen, where Torbay and Dartmoor contingents went their separate ways.

(Mark Morton, 15)

Sunday 13 September 1981
1000
Day ride: Gara Bridge
15 present: Colin Brierly, Jean Brierly, Colin Downie, Mark Filham, Antony House, Paul Jackson (Junior, Devon), Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Paul Mytton (Junior, Devon), Kevin Presland, Matthew Tewson, Nigel Wilson, Andrew Winstanley
There were fifteen of us at Totnes for the Gara Bridge run, including Paul and Paul (!) out for their first run. We set out to Harbertonford by the usual route, taking the lane past Luscombe Cross and dropping down behind the village to meet the main road.

From here we took a lane we seldom use to Rolster Bridge and then took a “white road” which was narrow with encroaching hedges but very quiet. The road ended at Crabbadon Cross and here we carried on to the main road from Moreleigh to Gara Bridge. We quickly turned off, however, and took a steep, twisting lane down to the bridge. One of our usual lunch spots was found, and everybody got down to munching. Mark Fillan’s round lunch box with a handle on top was christened his “slurry bucket” by Mike, who later said that it did look like very nice slurry!

During lunch a very dark cloud was anxiously watched, but as it was not yet depositing its load we thought we might be spared. No such luck! It was saving it for us, and boy did it let us have it – there was a torrential downpour for about half an hour! After this, though, it cleared up and everyone slogged up the steep hill away from the river to Coldharbour Cross, down to California Cross and then right into the lanes up to Diptford. The main road was followed from Avonwick to Fork Cross where we turned off to Tigley. Once more the main road to Dun Cross and then through Week to come out opposite Dartington Church. The Buckfastleigh contingent left us at Huxhams Cross and the Marldon Brigade forked off from Littlehempston.

(Mark Morton, 15)

Sunday 20 September 1981
1000
Day ride: North Bovey
14 present: Colin Brierly, Iris Buckler, Colin Downie, Mark Filham, Antony House, Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Jackie Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, John Stuart, Matthew Tewson, Andrew Winstanley
Mark, Antony and Colin exact revenge on Matthew in the water pump war, on the footbridge at North Bovey ford
Mark repairs his soft tyre for the second time at North Bovey ford
Next week was a joint run to North Bovey. We expected to see hordes of bikes and cyclists at Bovey Tracey, but when we arrived there was only the Dartmoor crowd, and there aren’t many of them! We took the main road for a while towards Manaton, but soon turned off and then began the long climb out from Lustleigh. At the top there was a debate as to whether to take a track to North Bovey or the road. Without any firm decision we went left and then right, passing a “No Through Road” sign – agghhh, the track!!

Bu then that soggy, bumping feeling made itself apparent – you’ve guessed it, puncture time! I stuck in a new tube and was off, but hadn’t got very far before the tyre was going soft again. A couple of us stopped for repairs while the rest continued a little further and sat down to lunch just below the church in North Bovey. When a couple of spots of rain were felt I was about to start repairing a tube, so we made for the trees carrying bike in one hand and front wheel in the other.

Luckily the rain did not arrive. That is to say that there was not some flying about, however. Lunch was finished and punctures repaired when one of the younger members let loose with a pump-full of water. So someone else (no names mentioned) also found a pump …. !

Ah, I forgot, we did find one Exeter member – Jean Luxton appeared for lunch. After a battle we delivered a form to Mr Reep at Yarde Farm, North Bovey, and then went around to Haytor via the Hound Tor road. Kevin Presland invited us back to Silver Birches for a cup of tea. After thanking Kevin and his parents we headed for home via Halshanger and Ashburton.

(Mark Morton, 15)

[1 point: John Stuart]
[3 points: everyone else]

Sunday 27 September 1981
1000
Day ride: 100km Ride
13 present: Phil Benstead (Adult, Devon), Colin Brierly, Colin Downie, Valerie Farrell, Antony House, Michael Jones, Frances Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, John Stuart, Nigel Wilson, Andrew Winstanley
The next week was the 100km event, starting at Ware Cross and this time successfully meeting up with the Exeter bunches who were doing the 100 miles. From the roundabout it was up to Bovey Tracey where some of us stopped for a coffee with the Exeter A-Section. Then on to Chudleigh Knighton, Chudleigh Bridge and up the Teign Valley to Longdown, where some of us had lunch. At Exeter we found the A-Section and the rest of the Torbay lot eating their lunch on the banks of the canal.

As we started off through Exeter again we found our latest recruit, Phil Benstead, with Andrew Winstanley, both of whom had gone astray somewhere and found their way to Exeter on their own. From Exeter it was out to Killerton House and then back through Stoke Canon and Exeter. We took the main road to the coast through Exminster and Kenton to Dawlish, where we were given tea and biscuits by Don and Grace Hassall. This made up a little bit for the fact that Don had marshalled for a Vespa event that day instead of riding with us! Thank you very much – we needed it! From Dawlish the coast road took us homeward via Teignmouth and Ware Cross.

(Mark Morton, 15)

Sunday 4 October 1981
1415
Afternoon ride: Broadhempston
6 present: Michael Jones, Paul Kerr, Frances Lofty, Margaret Maxtead, Mark Morton, Kevin Presland
Cold, cloudy weather and the previous week’s 100km rides reduced numbers to six for the October afternoon run. A short ride took us through new territory at Newhouse Barton and on to Staverton and Broadhempston before Torbay and Dartmoor members separated at Woodland under dull, grey sky. It was good to see Margaret Maxted out again after such a long break; we hope to see her more often.

(Michael Jones)

Sunday 11 October 1981
1000
Day ride: Bonehill Rocks
9 present: Colin Brierly, Colin Downie, Michael Jones, Paul Kerr, Frances Lofty, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, Matthew Tewson
The Bonehill ride mustered nine cyclists at the Bickington pick-up. It was still cold, but there was a reasonable amount of sunshine to cheer everyone up. We had always thought there was something funny about Kevin, but when he unzipped his training top partway up the hill towards Ilsington our worst fears were confirmed – he had a furry chest! On closer inspection we discovered that he was furry on the back as well. This was all of the gravest concern to us until he revealed that he was in fact wearing the top portion of his brother’s Womble suit! He must have been rather hot by the time we reached Ilsington Village for he returned to his lair to don more suitable clothing before tackling the ascent to Haytor rocks.

Soon we were at Bonehill Down, and we managed to find a couple of sheltered but sunny spots for lunch amongst the nearby rocks. The more energetic undertook a lengthy tour of all the climbable rocks on the tor. I seem to recall that there was a great deal of interest in Matthew’s woolly hat during the proceedings, and that Matthew spent a great deal of time chasing around to get it back – with a small measure of success. He did, however, succeed in wearing everyone out, and when Colin began to put his paper away there was a certain amount of reluctance to leave. Come the finish, we managed to get as far as Becky Falls before stopping for cheesecake. From there the homeward route was mainly downhill, impeded only by a couple of punctures. Well, there’s no point in working too hard on the week before your hundred miles event, is there?

(Michael Jones)

Sunday 18 October 1981
0800
Day ride: 100 miles Ride
9 present: Colin Brierly, Colin Downie, Valerie Farrell, Michael Jones, Mark Morton, Glenn Powling, Kevin Presland, John Stuart, Nigel Wilson
It was a little painful to get up so early on that chilly October morning. Eight o’clock starts for both Torbay and Dartmoor contingents brought us together at Drum Bridges for the beginning of what was to be a long and eventful day. The ride was supported by ten Torbay and three B-Section members – yes, you did hear right. Two of the Torbay youngsters, Colin Downie and Nigel Wilson, wanted to complete the course in eight hours for some obscure reason, so off they sped, never to be seen again.

The remainder of us continued through Bovey and Chudleigh Knighton to the Teign Valley, and then on up to Longdown. Some of the group had difficulty chasing Colin and Jean down the hill on their tandem – they went like a bat out of hell! Coffee and toast at Adrian’s was much appreciated before the stretch up to Willand, and there a few of us indulged in beans on toast and fruit pie instead of breaking into the sandwich boxes. A mile further along the road we came across the A-Section laid out on the grass, so another stop was called for in order to pass over the seventy-odd Highwaymans which had been weighing me down all morning, and to consume one or two more items of food.

Colin was anxious to move on, so off we went again to cover the Waterloo Cross / Tiverton loop back to Stoke Canon. Jean and the Bs, who had arrived before us, had prepared tea and toast for those of us who called in, and how good we felt when we finally got on the bikes again. The others had gone on, thinking that they were too late for tea, and we waiting at the end of the road for us, cold and hungry. I don’t think they were too pleased when they realised what they had been missing!

On again through Exeter for the last lap around the coast – not the easiest miles to finish on. At last a few faces showed signs of tiredness, and a final stop at Dawlish for coffee and cake was definitely the order of the day. Eleven-year-old Glenn Powling amazed us all yet again by completing the course without difficulty. Congratulations to all who rode with us – it’s not an easy ride. I was certainly glad I didn’t have to cycle back to Exeter that night!

(Michael Jones)

If you have enjoyed reading these reports or if you can contribute corrections, comments or additional information, please send us a comment using the form on our Contact page

Page