Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Fast flowing rivers, craggy outcrops, ancient woodlands and plentiful wildlife make the backdrop for my cycle rides around Southern Dartmoor. Looking towards the coast are livestock rich pastures where farmers supply our local shops with fresh meat, vegetables, milk and cream. Cycling in this environment is special and means being at one with nature.

So, when Sustrans invited our volunteer group early in 2011 to help plan a new cycle route through this countryside, I was eager to share my part of Dartmoor with others.

Highlights of my year ranged from cycling the Pennines and Lake District in the Spring to an Autumn ride through the gentle rolling hills of Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. 

My journey in June from Santander in Spain to Roscoff in Brittany was my longest at 750 miles.  This will become one of Europe's Eurovelo cycle routes. It was a mixture of spectacular scenery, fascinating wetlands and less interesting cityscape.  I am not over keen on big towns but the Guigenheim Museum at Bilbao proved to be an architectual gem. I found however the sculptures exhibited not to my taste.

My most challenging ride was on the Hebridean island of Mull.  There is a ride of just under 100 miles around the island that forms a figure of eight.  I have done it before in the summer 4 years ago. It takes you around the coast, up into the hills and around several lochs. It is as close to wilderness cycling as can be found in Britain.  Sea eagles, Europe's largest bird, fly above you, deer come close, hen harriers dive for their prey in front of your eyes.  It is a truly spectacular journey.  This time however the weather was against me.  The winds howled and squalls hit me with full force every now and again. My legs wobbled early and at 43 miles I called it a day totally exhausted.  What these rides all had in common had taken me into environments where nature still rules and I love it.

 Next year is a new challenge. There is to be a 50/50 cycle challenge for Devon Wildlife Trust so please keep watching. I plan another long distance ride in Europe and want to help Sustrans with more routes in Devon.