Saturday, 5 March 2011


There is such a cool ride in Devon that I have just found out about. It starts in Plymouth and ends at Salcombe. There are no main roads, just an unspoilt coastline, stunning countryside, plenty of pubs and cream teas. You must take flip flops and a tide timetable

Start at Plymouth's historic Barbican by catching a water taxi to Mountbatten and cycle along the coast before being stopped in your tracks by the River Yealm. There are superb views along the coast. Behind you Dartmoor looks over as if to say come here next. Wind back inland to the villages of Brixton and Yealmpton where pasties and pints of your choice await

Peddle back to rejoin the coast going past the thatched cottages of Holbeton to the estuary of the River Erme at Mothecombe. It is here that a tide timetable and flip flops are needed as this most beautiful of all estuaries can only be crossed at low tide. When I cycled across the enormous stretch of sand earlier today to reach the river crossing, I realised that the only thing I could see that was less than 200 years old was my bicycle. On my left, a horse rider galloped up the estuary disappearing into the distance. Straight ahead was an ancient ramp surrounded by woodland and this was my destination. The fast flowing river was between me and the ramp. To my right, the sun was beaming down over the ocean. It was cold and the water was freezing but this was special. This was no ordinary river crossing.
It is not possible to cycle anywhere in Devon without finding a Green Lane. Today was no different. This one was in good shape with hedges cut and I was on firm ground. There are times when Green Lanes offer cyclists special challenges. In the winter the drainage sometimes stop working and they fill up with water. One lane near me is often up to 60cm deep and my challenge is to cycle through it without putting my feet down. More often, it will be horse riders who share the Green Lanes with you.

A tidal road took me into Aveton Gifford and it is here that wading birds such as the egret allow you to get close. Today, I came within 5 metres of an egret that carried on fishing while I cycled by. Egrets have made a surprise return to Devon having disappeared about 100 years ago as a result of excessive shooting. My photo above is Mother Hubbards Cottage in Yealmpton of nursery rhyme fame.
The River Avon is crossed and the cycle route now takes a winding route back to the coast where cream teas await. If Salcombe can be reached in one day without stopping at all the distractions on route, this will be as a result of much will power.


  1. I don't suppose you have a map, or perhaps a .GPX file of the route? Sounds really good, and seeing as I'm a Plymothian, it's on my doorstep!

  2. Hi William. Are you a member of Sustrans? This is part of a proposed new route starting in the Barbican and hugging the coast to Salcombe. It avoids main roads. Ultimately it will carry on to Okehampton via east fringe of Dartmoor. I am a volunteer with Sustrans where a few of us are actively working to improve our cycle network locally. Another route already started is completion of the Dartmoor Way, 100 mile cicular route.