Thursday, 22 September 2011


The secrets of the Puffing Billy trail, a redundant tramway into the heart of Dartmoor, will only unfold themselves in at least two trips.  It starts near Ivybridge and meanders to a former clay quarry about 6 miles north.  Few people visit this area of moorland.  It is inhabited by sheep, moorland cattle, birds and wildlife.  It is ideal for a mountain bike or on foot.


My favourite time is to arrive at Redlake Quarry, the end of the trail to see the sunset, then cycle back as fast as possible in the dusk.  My adrenylin accelerates on the return journey.

The secrets that this trail holds will be missed unless this ride is taken slow and easy.  Far below on the River Erme is Piles Copse, the remains of a forest 10,000 years old where oak trees cling for life between the rocks. There is a great swimming spot here and another trail sits on the other bank. 

The evidence of stone age man is seen close to the track with stone rows and ancient tin workings.  The views extend to Bodmin Moor, Plymouth Sound, South and East Devon.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Beretown is the name on the sign opposite the Old Plough, the most southerly pub on the Bere Alston Peninsula.  The easiest way to travel here is by train as the road from Plymouth was designed for horses and, except for adding tarmac, is not much better now.  The other way is by bike via a ford over Lopwell Dam.


I went here by train last week with my friend, Alice.  It took 2.5 hours to do our first mile.  When we arrived, we discovered two enthusiasts working on their historic trains at the rail station.  They had a buffet and heritage centre.  We found it so interesting that it took us an hour before we left the railway.

The Old Plough was just one mile and now it was time for lunch.  This had now become my slowest cycle ride ever.  Feeling guilty about going straight into the pub, we stopped to look at the River Tavy.  The view across the estuary was breathetaking.

There was some serious cycling after lunch where we covered 2 miles and crossed a hill only reach the River Tamar where we just had to stop again.  If the Tavy is breathetaking, the Tamar is magical.  We are in a SSSI where avocets come in winter.  It took another 6 miles and 1.5 hours to complete our loop back to Bere Ferrers station, such that we savoured our journey.  As the train came in, our host from this morning came up and asked we had enjoyed the day.  "Yes" we said in harmony, "we have had a great day".