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.

All the time there is wildlife.  It is one of the few places in Devon where you can almost be sure of hearing a cuckoo in Spring.  Today on my ride, birds were in abundance and it was a special treat to see five buzzards hovering overhead. 

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