Saturday 11th August – CTC Cornwall long summer ride, Liskeard to Barnstaple – eleven enjoy quite a cycle adventure with stoats, storms, steam trains, supper and sea views.

Our route:  60 miles (98 km); 1270 m climbed.  (Although, as you can see from the Strava screen shot below, Susie and I might have joined the group a bit later for a very comfortable 38 miles (61.5 k) and considerably less climbing!)

My confident note that the forecast was “good”  looked less likely by Saturday morning but our group set off in a bit of drizzle optimistic as ever that the downpour might be less severe than promised and would not spoil our annual summer outing.  A very big thank you to Mary for delivering a crate of beer and wine to the beginning to top up our picnic for the end of the ride.

It was lovely to have Kaja with us, trying out a longer ride after a nasty accident in the spring. Mike was geared up for the weather with the latest version of a retro cycle cape; and John had had an unlucky encounter with a pothole on his way in from Callington  which meant a couple of punctures and a bit of a delay with the start.

 

Any weather issues were forgotten on the road up from Rilla Mill to Coads Green as the group stopped to watch a mother stoat and her babies eating another small mammal on the side of the road – quite a rare sight for these normally secretive animals.  A welcome break for coffee at Number Eight Cycle Café in Launceston and then down the hill and north on the A386 to meet Ann and Susie at St. Giles on the Heath – 20 miles from the start.

 

Now the heavens opened and we all began to wonder what it might be like to be at home with a mug of hot chocolate.  However, a good warming roll along the ridgeway to Halwill Junction was a boost to our spirits and by the time we reached The Junction PH (30 miles from start) the rain had petered out and, in fact, it would then stay dry to the end of the ride.

After our pub  lunch we headed north again towards Sheepwash – mostly level straight road with a final down and up into this very traditional and pretty north Devon market village.  Here Ann W-B had her van waiting and we waved her off so she could get home for a social engagement  (would like to know where she gets her energy from!).  More gently undulating roads and then a downhill to Petrockstowe where we met up with both the Tarka Trail and Neil for the final 20 miles along to Fremington Quay, just this side of Barnstaple.  I always find cycling along railway line tiring and so was pleased to reach our tea stop at The Puffing Billy (50 miles from the start).  From here to the end, the Tarka Trail had a welcome smooth tarmac surface and we could enjoy the waterside views and incredible evening light (staggeringly beautiful) as we headed with the estuary on our left through Bideford and then past the beautiful beach cafes of Instow(pics to follow, I hope).  Finally,  we could see the lorry parked up in the coastal car park at Fremington Quay.  A change of clothes, a beer and a hot supper (a big thank you to Geoff, Ann W-B and to Rose, as usual) and we all felt a bit more normal.  Long drive home in very heavy rain for all of us (thank you to Geoff and to Neil) except David and John who, of course, planned to cycle back the next day,  and I bet we all got a very good night’s sleep.

Another great cycle adventure for our group and a big thank you to David for organising it for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday 8th August, 2018 – Wednesday evening social ride to Victoria Inn – gentle stroll round the lanes with plenty of catching up; and a bit of bike fixing.

For our route click here           20 miles; 340 m climbed

It was good to catch up with eight of our Liskeard Velo and Liskeard Ladies members and to hear all about their summer cycle adventures yesterday evening.  All looking forward to our long ride on Saturday  to Barnstaple too.  A nice route taking in Tilland Mill, Blunts, St. Ive and Pensilva, where we stopped for our drink before rolling back down the main road. A big thank you to Mark who not only spotted several issues with my bike but also put them right!

 

 

Saturday 4th August, 2018 – Liskeard Ladies opt for gentle summer pedal along Camel Trail and even a spot of retail therapy!

Our route:  Camel trail from Dunmere Arms, Dunmere to Padstow via Wadebridge and back.  24 miles; 50m climbed.

With so many people being away, this was a very relaxed summer outing for our Liskeard ladies.  Hybrids and mountain bikes dusted off and seven of us set off from the Dunmere Arms car park to enjoy a comfortable social ride.  Many congratulations to Gail, who felt her knee had improved enough for her to leave her e bike behind and do the trip on her hybrid and it was lovely to have Jill join us for the first time.

At Wadebridge, Ann K said goodbye to the group (panicking about a running event the following day) and peeled off to do some research at Relish, the café recommended by Amanda.  And indeed, well worth a visit.  The café is located in a quiet courtyard with plenty of formal and informal cycle parking and seating both inside and out.  Also a great range of snacks and drinks.

The rest of the group, meanwhile, had other ideas and headed into Padstow for  activities ranging from enjoying some Rick Stein fish and chips to picking up a new pair of flip flops before visiting the pub for a pint!  A lovely day out as always.

 

 

Saturday 21st July, 2018 – Liskeard Ladies Ride for Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival of Cycling. Gentle country lanes, golden corn fields, trout lakes and quite a lot of chat :)

Our route:  20 miles; 572 m climbing:

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Eight of our Liskeard Ladies met together for this special Women’s Festival of Cycling summer ride and were delighted to welcome a new member, Laura, to try out one of our rides.  We were also very pleased to have Gail on her e-bike, putting us all to shame as she pedalled effortlessly past us up the hills.

Cornwall is not flat and our ride today certainly has a couple of testing hills.  In our Ladies group, however, we take each hill very slowly and make sure we distract ourselves with plenty of conversation as we progress towards the top.  After a quick stop to admire progress on Megan’s new allotment, we tackled our first hill, into Pengover Green.  Then we were safely on the ridgeway and  could enjoy a comfortable ride for the 8 miles to Trerulefoot and Bake, where we stopped for the first time in the history of our group at the Bake Lakes Café and sat overlooking one of the lakes for our coffee and, in my case, bacon bap.

 

From Bake Lakes we set off past the corn fields, almost ready now for harvesting, and back into the lanes towards St. Germans.  Down the hill with the amazing landscape unfolding before us, past Heskyn Mill, into Tideford Mill and up to Tideford Cross and then along to the very pretty Tilland Mill.  Up the second major hill then to Doddycross and then back home along the ridgeway again, this time taking an easier route back into Liskeard via Trembraze.  Our next ride will be on Saturday 4th August – look forward to cycling together again then.

 

 

 

30th June, 2018 – 1st July, 2018 CTC Cornwall Camping Week End to Bridestowe, Okehampton; great company; melting roads; Dartmoor Classic; and a bit of a downpour!

For our routes click:  here and here

Another memorable week end for our jaunty group of seven (missing our girls who were taking part in the Dartmoor Classic but wishing them all the best of luck).  As usual, we handed our camping gear over to Geoff before heading up the hill to Upton Cross, left to Rilla Mill and along that lovely ridgeway to Pulsa and our first coffee stop at Subway.  From here along the old A30, a surprisingly comfortable route, to Launceston and delightful lunch at No. 8 – the welcoming cycle café in Westgate Street. (narrative continues below pictures)

 

Now continuing along the former A30 to Sourton Cross – the temperature was soaring (David issued a warning about avoiding melting tar)  and I personally found this section difficult, mostly through lack of training miles – although the trip was made a little lighter by a welcome stop for a chat with the comedian, Jethro, who lives there.  I was very grateful to my companions for waiting and encouraging and delighted when we finally turned right and dropped down onto the Granite Trail.  From here an easy ride along to The Fox and Hounds at Bridestowe above Mary Tavy – and relieved to see Geoff waiting with his traditional cream tea in their campsite behind the pub.  Tents up; showers and then supper at the pub – very welcome.(narrative continues below pictures)

 

Next morning, Geoff and I took a stroll up the hill – beautiful views before breakfast, where there was plenty to say about the goings on through the night – an interesting experience staying in a pub camp site!  An hour later we were grateful for the gazebo as a menacing cloud dumped its contents on the campsite and let us know in no uncertain terms that rain was definitely settling in.  So, waterproofs on and we set off, again down the Camel trail to Lydford; into the village and then right at the war memorial and down the hill towards Chillaton.  Very dark and wet and hundreds of Dartmoor Classic cyclists battling the weather in the opposite direction, many of them wearing only their cycle shirts.  From Chillaton, up the other side and along to Horsebridge for the most welcome and delicious coffee break.  The stop coincided with the rain drying up and the sun coming out so that we could continue happily along to Stoke Climsland, up to the main road and left along to Kelly Bray for our lunch stop at The Engine House in brilliant sunshine.  The last stretch was our ride down through Golberdon and up the very steep hill to Pensilva punctuated by many stops for a fleet of treasure hunters (personally, I was quite relieved to have to stop for them!).  From Pensilva, back home via Crows Nest and St. Cleer.

Thank you to David for organising a fascinating route with interesting weather; to my lovely companions for so much fun and support; and to Geoff for the food and taking the tents.

 

 

Thursday 31st May to Thursday 7th June, 2018 – Pete and Ann attempt a few days cycling in Northern Ireland – well worth a visit!

For our NI cycling routes click here and here and here and here and here.

I am guessing that the main reason people don’t flock with their bicycles from Cornwall to N Ireland  is the length of time it takes to get there.  Pete and I were not able to work out a route which took less than two day’s travelling to get to Newry and two days to get back from Belfast.  Still we really wanted to go, partly because we hadn’t been there before and we also wanted to meet up again with the family of my son in law, Keith.  And it was well worth the effort.  Our cycle ride up the East coast was, we thought, the most beautiful we had ever ridden. (More narrative below the first set of pics).

 

If we were going again,  Pete and I would probably fly to Belfast and hire bikes.  For this trip, however, we wanted to take our own bikes (and to pack them up for a flight was too expensive) so for the journey there, we took a series of trains to Holyhead  – this took all day and so we spent the night there; then the ferry to Dublin where we had lunch; and a very modern train to Newry – with a large number of proper hanging spaces for the bicycles.  Then we cycled to Rostrevor where we were meeting Rebecca, my daughter, and her husband and his family and spending a couple of nights.  Immediately it became obvious we were in an amazing landscape – with the Mourne Mountains towering above the villages and the beautiful coastline of Carlingford Lough running alongside.  After a day of climbing in the mountains and a couple of evenings of live Irish music, a quantity of Guiness and a delicious meal in Carlingford itself, Pete and I set off again travelling north along the East coast to Strangford (on the southern edge of Strangford Lough).

 

Given that the mountains were so high, I was hugely relieved that the cycling was almost flat – it was very easy indeed to cycle along  the little coastal lanes and to take in the amazing views at the same time.  Stopping at Newcastle for lunch and then another more isolated beach for an afternoon rest, and another café for tea, Pete and I found ourselves in the beautiful town of Strangford and having completed 50 miles before we knew it.  That night we stayed in a gorgeous almshouse on the edge of Strangford.  Next morning we cycled the 35 miles into Belfast, this time using a route that visited the lough edge from time to time but also wound its way through various hamlets – again very easy cycling – until we reached the town of  Comber.  After lunch here in the square we moved onto a former railtrack called the Comber Greenway – perfectly smooth surface and bicycle repair stations – all the way for the ten miles into the centre of Belfast.

 

 

And finally I do just need to say how impressed we were with Belfast as a city – it felt safe (Pete and I were out walking around after 11 pm), comfortable, modern, friendly, lovely restaurants.  We spent a whole day there and took the black cab tour explaining the political history of the city (approx. two hours and a real must) and also went to Titanic – housed on the site where the hull was built and then fitted out.  There was a proper cycle scheme too like the Boris Bikes in London.  On the morning we left our accommodation and cycled to the ferry they were out washing the cycle lanes.  Very impressive.  We then took the long ferry ride back to Birkenhead (eight hours) – worth booking a cabin and using the first class lounge to make it a comfortable journey – and, of course, lots of interesting people to chat to.  Arriving in Liverpool in the evening, we had supper and spent the night there before getting a train back to London Euston.  Pete then accompanied me across London to Paddington where we said goodbye and I came home on the train with my bike.  It had been a really good adventure!

 

 

 

 

Thursday 17th May – Sunday 20th May, 2018 – 100 miles of sunny flat Brittany roads for Liskeard Ladies on their first visit to France

For our three routes click here and here and here.

Seven Liskeard Ladies, efficiently organised by Megan, took the Brittany ferry  last Thursday evening and crossed the Channel on a calm sea to arrive in Roscoff.  We  awoke refreshed after a good night’s sleep in our two cabins, a quick cup of coffee and ready for our adventure.

Breakfast was the priority, in a café in Roscoff village overlooking the sea – and then a delightful journey, wending our way along the coast (amazing that it is so much flatter than Cornwall) taking in incredible views, white sandy beaches and a scattering of incredible artefacts.  Lunch at Plouescat and then on again until we arrived mid afternoon at our destination of Brignogan-plages, a pretty seaside village.  (narrative continues after pics, which are in no particular order,  below).

 

Our home for the next two nights would be un gite d’etape (a small hostel used by walkers on the coast path) and managed by Guy, who also runs a successful cycle hire business in the village.  That first evening we walked along the beach for pre supper drinks and then ate at the village Italian restaurant.  Next day, after checking our legs were still working, we agreed we would attempt a 40 mile circular route, heading further west along the coast.  Cycling without our luggage made this day a real delight with frequent stops for coffee  (and a peak at the royal wedding on the café TV); a beach picnic with a lovely swim for those in the group brave enough; and an ice cream break. That evening our supper was at a delightful French restaurant down near the beach. (narrative continues below next block of pics).

 

The next morning, after another of Guy’s breakfasts, including his homemade jam, we set off back towards Roskoff, this time taking a more inland route with our coffee break allowing us to have a good look round a Sunday market at Plouescat.  Then a wonderful lunch break at Saint Pol de Leon before heading back to a very comfortable and almost empty ferry for our six hour journey back to Plymouth.  An idyllic break – huge thanks to Megan – and already looking forward to the next!