Friday, 16 March 2012


I discovered the Cobbly Way while out in the beautiful South Hams of Devon.  It is an ancient cobble track beside the River Avon near South Brent.  It is so bumpy that cycling it requires much care, especially when wet.  The river flows fast between deep pools while mature trees span over it.  I peered into its pools and imagined giant salmon just waiting to be caught.  Hanging from a branch was a rope obviously used by children in the summer to swing into these pools. 

South Hams is rich farmland south of Dartmoor spanning to the sea.  The fields are filled with dairy cattle known for producing high quality milk and clotted cream.  Field boundaries have high banks with wild hedges and trees.   Several rivers run fast off Dartmoor and cross this landscape on their way to the sea.  As a consequence wildlife and food production seem to be in harmony.  I followed a figure of eight loop to the sea and back on little lanes and on route discovered a few hidden gems.  My next was a pub which required only a short detour at Slapton and well worth checking for a longer visit at another time.

Just two miles further on, I arrive at Slapton Lea, well known to local people and easier to find for visitors.  This freshwater lake just a stone's throw from the sea is a magnificent nature reserve where hoards of birds, many of which are unusual happily feed from crumbs thrown to them by children. 

East Prawle is the Devon's most southerly village.  I pedal here then follow a loop back to my home.

Friday, 2 March 2012


I first met Jaana and Bill exactly 10 years ago on a cycle ride in Cuba.  Last weekend, we met up to explore the Cotswolds by bike.

Meeting regularly, we always cycle bye-lanes to explore the countryside and find great pubs.  Often we see somewhere special in some way and plans for the day are changed while we stop to have a look. 

Our previous rides have been a mixture of challenges from hard to easy.  Bill accompanied me on Lon Las Cymru, 250 miles across Wales on what some say is the most challenging road ride in Britain while Jaana has been with me across Scotland and Norway. 

The Cotswolds in late February in brilliant sunshine are hard to beat.  We started at Princes Risborough, cycled to Oxford and on to Witney where we stopped overnight.  As we rode, a flock of 15 red kites gave a stunning display swooping down into the furrows as a farmer was ploughing his fields.

The next night found us in a pub just outside Stroud.  We followed a route on the National Cycle Network that was a mixture of canal paths, quiet roads, gentle hills and small towns.

At Frampton on Severn on the following day, we parted company.  Jaana and Bill cycled to Gloucester to meet a train home while I pedalled south to Bristol.  Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire are well worth exploring and as always cars leave us alone while we are on the National Cycle Network.

Our next ride is already planned.  We resume at Gloucester to head north close to the River Severn.