4th October 2015 – Liskeard Velo takes off across Devon, a journey of canals, aqueducts and old railway lines, and the mysteries of sexing chickens!

Yes our big autumn trip to Bideford and back saw the launch of the new ‘Liskeard Velo look’ and somehow we managed to attract quite a bit of attention. Although I let the side down by NOT wearing my new gear, everyone else was in luminous green and had both the words ‘Liskeard’ and ‘Cornwall CTC’ emblazoned across their backs.  The corporate image definitely works because each time we stopped, someone commented and/or asked us about our group and seemed very impressed that we might have cycled all the way from Liskeard.

This was only true for David, of course.  The rest of us had driven or been given lifts (thank you, Ann) to Launceston, where we met and stoked up with fruit cake (thank you, Connie)  in the very pretty town square.  Our route took us north along the B3254 and then onto minor roads to Boyton, North Tamerton (where we crossed the Tamar and into Devon) and into Holsworthy for our coffee stop at the Waitrose café.  For some reason our conversation had turned to sexing chickens and Connie informed us that it would only take a three year course to learn how to do this reliably.

Holsworthy is again a very pretty and busy market town – well worth a visit.  On then on a gently undulating minor road to Chilsworthy (crossing a section of the former Bude Canal famous for its tide lock and tub boat inclines) and then into Bradworthy, another town with a proper town square and a lot of character.  (Finally, worked out that worthy’ had originally meant ‘one family hamlet’).  Here we met up with Chris, a cyclist from Bideford out on a Sunday loop but just back from some slightly more challenging cycling in the Alps.

From Bradworthy the route into Bideford was straightforward and really a very pleasant ride.  At Bideford (about 38 miles from the start) our lunch stop was at the Quayside café and here Connie said, ‘farewell’ opting to save her legs.  She and Steve decided to go and take an autumn look at RHS Rosemoor at Great Torrington.

Meanwhile the four of us took it easy and set off down the Tarka Trail – ten miles of flat former railway line.  The route crosses the Torridge, of course, and at Beam Bridge we stopped to look at Tarka’s birth place, also  an aqueduct for the former Rolle Canal (Bideford to Great Torrington).

From Great Torrington we were back on the road and a steep hill up to the road that would take us to Black Torrington.  This was probably the hardest part of our journey.  Then some undulations with spectacular views until Black Torrington after which our journey was straight forward and a lovely run along to Halwill Junction, site of a former railway station, a level crossing, and the junction of the former North Cornwall line and the Bude branch line.  Here we were delighted to see Connie and Steve again, now full of enthusiasm for ‘stepover’ apple trees after their visit to Rosemoor.  Connie helped me reinstall the sleeves on my jersey (thank you, Connie), we topped up with food, and set off for the final 12 or so miles to Launceston – an absolute delight of a journey all the way along to the A388 (completely flat for most of it) and then the final 3-4 miles back into Launceston and up the hill to the car park, arriving at 6.58pm (two minutes early!) and 74 miles completed!

This is such a great autumn ride.  Eating more regularly than we normally would was key to getting round comfortably but absolutely well worth it.  We very much hope it can become a regular outing for our group and thank you again to David for organising it.




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