It was the 4th cycle challenge for Devon Wildlife Trust last Saturday and every time the weather has been brilliant. I think that there were roughly 90 entries and three routes. The toughest was 75 miles with over 2,500m of climbing. Mine was 48 miles with the group lead ride and it had 1,550m climbing.
This year, our group started with 8 including Stuart Mee, fellow organiser, my buddy, Andy from Chester and myself. The first 16 miles were Dartmoor's fringes where we peddled alongside fast flowing rivers, through woodlands and watched the high moor tantalisingly close. Dartmoor is famous for its numerous crosses and we passed plenty of these.
Our route took us across the high moors past Vennford Resevoir (time for DWT snack stop), Hexworthy, where we watched the old Drover's Trail leave us and to Princetown. My picture is taken on an old railway track and looks over Burrator Resevoir with Sheepstor in the background. Most climbing was now done albeit there were two steep hills at Meavy and Cornwood. We were surrounded by torrs as we descended from Princetown and further south we could see the beautiful waters of Plymouth Sound looking inviting and, well, beautiful.
On Sunday, I took Andy on a cycle tour of the South Hams. Again the weather smiled benignly down on us and we headed along minor roads to Slapton and East Portlemouth following NCN28 where possible. Andy had never seen this area before and I think he was bowled over with the colour and beauty of it all. Our distance was 49 miles with another 1,400m of climbing, so it was no pushover. There is a small ferry from East Portlemouth to Salcombe which we took. Our ride back continued on NCN28 to Marlborough, Aveton Gifford, Ermington and home. Here are a few images
So, what makes the finest cycle route in the World? If ruggedness, colour and scenic beauty all count, surely Devon's country lanes must stake a claim for the shortlist?