We started today in Tavistock, the Premier Inn to be exact. We had a good night last night with the inaugural Outil D’Or. The recipient John was sporting some impressive war wounds this morning where he’d been knocked off his bike by a van.
Still he says he will heal and the police will investigate!
Tavistock’s most famous son was of course Sir Francis Drake who refused to leave for war until he’d finished his game of bowls. He was apparently carrying three spares and four strikes and had high hopes for a turkey in the final frame…
Rosie Huntington-Whitely apparently also grew up here on a farm along with Pete Quaife bass player with the Kinks…
Tavistock was voted best Market Town and Best Food Town in England, a McDonalds once opened and was shunned so much so by the residents that it was forced to close…(not sure the Premier Inn is in the foodie league but the food was filling enough).
Every year there is an Event called the Abbots Way Walk. It starts from Buckfast Abbey and people walk 24 miles to finish at Tavistock. I’m told most of this is fuelled on Old Bucky Tonic Wine with points being awarded for the number of punch ups instigated on the way. Traditional garb is the Burberry Cap.
We headed off to Tavistock and immediately found George half a mile from the hotel with a broken chain…he wanted to know the recovery phone number (unkind people suggested that this was merely a ruse to get a lift in the van to the first stop but I believed him). We pointed out it was on the back of the label that DA insisted on tying to everyone’s bike…something to remember next time!
We also came across a group of fast riders (James ‘the legs’ Legg, Craig Randall and Michael Burland) scratching their heads over a puncture…quite frankly they are riding about £10k of carbon bikes between them and Mike works in a bike shop so it was surprising that managed to fit the wrong tube and get delayed so long!
We crossed into Devon and posed for the obligatory sign photo…
We rode to Tavistock quite quickly and settled in a pasty shop to recharge before the big climb….we’d had two stiff climbs on the way and I think some people were worrying about the climb up to Dartmoor. Mike Durham joined us having bought the most enormous bunch of bananas in the Spar before realising he had a fundamental problem carrying them!
In the end the climb was not so bad (I have a very low gear on my bike so I guess I may not be the most objective witness) and got up onto Dartmoor in apparently untypical weather – fine dry and a little hazy. Apparently most times the discover adventure crew do this the rain is going horizontal and the tors and other features of interest are obscured by mist!
Dartmoor was lovely – it was very beautiful and very rugged – a bit like me I guess.
At the top we hit our first 100 mile milestone of the ride – was a good feeling. Jono and Simon Fisher joined us at the summit – Simon had been swearing all the way up to the top, honestly his language would make a brickie blush!
We are supposed to be spelling out 100 with our hands but it sadly looks like I’m spoiling for a fight!
We rode past the turning to Princetown and the infamous Prison. Echo’s of the Hound of the Baskervilles here – I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and in the book the prisoner Seldon (brother of Henry Baskervilles housekeeper) escapes from Princetown only to fall victim to the monstrous hound because he was wearing Henry’s cast off clothes. Will keep an eye out for the Great Grimpen mire!
Baskerville Hall is reputedly based on Clyro Court in Hay on Wye Wales or another property in Buckfastleigh in Devon..sadly our route does not take us past them.
Dartmoor is known as ‘The Great Swamp’ as the terrain is very unpredictable (Great Grimpen Mire again, apparently the Fox Tor Mires was the inspiration) and is famous for its Granite Tors – hills topped by bedrock in boulder like formations.
The image shows them from a distance – not a normal experience I’m told, usually much mistier! Ponies are here too!
There is a story of a man who was making his way through Aune Mire at the head of the River Avon when he came upon a top-hat brim down on the surface of the mire. He kicked it, whereupon a voice called out:
“What be you a-doin’ to my ‘at?” The man replied,
“Be there now a chap under’n?”
“Ees, I reckon,” was the reply,
“and a hoss under me likewise.”
Pure Comedy Gold! Sadly our route did not take us past Aune Mire…
We did however have a water stop at Postbridge! Yes! Postbridge! Did we see the world famous Clapper bridge I hear you ask? Well yes we did.
The Clapper bridge is ancient – and looked fab, for some reason the rest of the team were not as blown away by the experience as I was… I know! Some people have no idea…
We stopped for lunch in Silverton – lovely little village. Population of 1800 and three pubs! Obviously drives a man to drink living there…apparently there is a giant oak tree reputed to be 1000 years old there, sadly our route did not take us past it.
We then hit the A38 and pushed onto the evening hotel. We skirted Tiverton – Home to Diggertown! Tiverton used to be a famous ‘rotten borough’ and had two MPs for a town of 7000 people of which only 400 were franchised to vote.
JD Salinger spent three months here waiting for D-Day, obviously developing his famous aversion to ‘phonies’. Bobby G, the singer with the Eurovision winning 80’s pop group Bucks Fizz was born here too, no doubt upsetting Mr Salinger further…
Finally we got to Taunton having passed into our third county of the day!
Taunton – Home of Cider! And to 40 Commando…don’t think we will be drinking to excess and picking fights with any young men with short hair tonight…Cafe Nero on the High Street dates from 1578.
Taunton is also famous for a teleportation experiment sponsored by Taunton Cider that Bill Bailey alleges he took part in (details however remain surprisingly hazy!).
Jenny Agutter was notably born in Taunton. The young people today know her as the kindly Mother Superior from ‘Call the Midwife’. Myself, James and others of our generation know her much better as the most attractive young lady who couldn’t keep her clothes on in any film she appeared in! The Railway Children was of course a notable exception.
Yes Ms Agutter, you gave a young man ALOT to think about in the 1980’s and we salute you! I’m told if the script absolutely called for it and it was artistically necessary she would agree to keep her clothes on in later films..James H gave appropriate homage..
Noted composer William Crotch was also born here…probably amusing a generation of adolescent local historians.
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