Bickleigh to Liskeard – 65 miles – 1,800m (5,400 ft) climbed!
939 miles completed – approximately 100 to go!
The plan for today was to use the newly re-opened A3072 from Bickleigh to Crediton (avoiding Exeter) then on via Copplestone and North Tawton to Okehampton, Tavistock, Gunnislake, Callington and Liskeard. We knew this would be a day of significant climbing but at least this would save us a good 6-8 miles and the route would be relatively safe, traffic-wise.
Please note: we had just heard back from the McJogle team who had completed – many congratulations to them! They had used the A30 from Exeter through Cornwall and had said this had been a hugely scary experience. So many cyclists are killed on this road, we would ALWAYS advise avoiding it – especially in the holiday season.
Having enjoyed the breakfast that the Fisherman’s Cot team had prepared for us in our room, Pete and I somehow managed to leave at about 6.20, although I found it incredibly difficult to get going. Both of us now had the KT tape liberally applied, me to my ankle (to which I had also attached my ice pack during the night) and Pete to his knee but I noticed immediately that my ankle was now much less painful.
One of the biggest climbs of the day was as we left the Fisherman’s Cot and headed up along the A3072 to Crediton. However, because this was early in the morning, it did not feel so bad and the hill was followed by a long “down” into Crediton, which we reached by 7.30 am – and the road had been relatively quiet. A gel and a drink and on then to North Tawton – such a pretty working rural town. As soon as Kirsty’s Kitchen opened (much recommended) we were in there with our orders for egg, bacon and black pudding and Mocha drinks. All wonderful. Wifi had been more or less non existent at the Fisherman’s Cot (and Pete had had no signal on his phone) so we used the opportunity of the better wifi at Kirsty’s kitchen to upload the blog and check e mails etc.
We also checked the map for a better route on into Okehampton – the main road route we had used on our practice run a few weeks earlier had involved a huge amount of climbing. This time we returned to the A3072 as far as Sampford Courtney and then took the next left. This took us down (with a good road surface) to the B3215 which took us straight and fairly painlessly into Okehampton (much better).
As it was a Friday, the buffet was open at the revamped Okehampton Station – another welcome cup of tea. Good weather until then but as we left and set off down the Granite Trail (the old railway line between Okehampton and Lydford) the rain started and it felt pretty miserable with the strong headwind.
At Lydford we came off the trail and onto an unmarked road which passes through the village. This rises from Lydford Gorge onto a ridge where we found the rain was made much worse with completely dense fog. To make it easier for drivers, Pete and I had all our lights on and stuck together, pulling over to let cars pass.
Once we dropped down to Tavistock, the fog cleared. I had hoped for another cup of tea but we settled for standing outside the Spar Shop (sadly sold out of chocolate donuts) and consuming a Snickers.
Then on towards Gunnislake where we called into the Beeches Café at Tamar Trails (tree surfing and tree leaping on the site of the former copper mines) for an excellent freshly made sandwich and pie.
Over the border into Cornwall – now we just had to complete the climb out of Gunnislake (I walked the second half but Pete zipped up as normal), cycle on slowly and carefully to Callington where the fog and the rain and the drain covers made the road treacherous. We reached New Bridge after Callington and stopped for a loo break. I noticed that all my clothes were soaking wet but relatively warm when on so presumed they must have been working like a wet suit. Here we had a nice chat with a couple walking their dog – who said, inspite of the very bad weather that they envied our adventure!
On again carefully along the 7 miles or so of the hugely busy A390 (Friday evening in holiday season) and finally we turned into the lane which would lead up to Looedown. We arrived at Homestead and fell into hot baths before sharing a lovely supper with Geoff (who took all our clothes to wash) and Charlie and Susie who had been staying in Liskeard all week but were just about to head back to Portishead.
This all felt so nice, it was hard to imagine that we could get back into the routine of a very early start the next morning for our longest day’s ride and a very wet weather forecast.