It was lucky the weather was so nice! Riding around Devon is just hard without adding wind and rain to the challenge. As it was, there was glorious sunshine. The hottest week of the summer so far!
Staying in a rustic little yurt just on the outskirts of Liverton, we had perfect and immediate access to Dartmoor National Park.
The yurt itself was cosy and had everything we could ever need. The open fire pit was the perfect excuse to have a BBQ each night under the summer sky, keeping us warm long into the evening. Fully equipped with a bed, kettle and oil lamp it was a welcome retreat, setting us up perfectly for our tour of Dartmoor.
After rising early and scoffing a hearty bowl of porridge we set off. The roads are a rollercoaster, winding through open fields and cutting through secluded woodlands. They are relentless; if you hope for a flat ride you will be very disappointed. The views are stunning. The English countryside does not fail to impress. With various pubs and cafes on the way you can pull up anywhere that takes your fancy. You are in the middle of nowhere, a perfect mix of calm roads and eye-catching beauty. After riding through traditional villages, sheltered woods, exposed moors, vast green fields scattered with farm tracks, we found ourselves in Bovey Tracey and at the foot of Haytor. Notorious in the region as one of the must do climbs. It will be the summit finish in this year’s Tour of Britain, but today, it was our summit. As we began to climb we wondered what all of the fuss is about, ‘It’s tough’ people had said. The road gradually winds out of town and up towards moorland. Heading left at the fork and onwards to the next bend, and the next and the next each one taking a little bit more effort. At this point, I realised I was not even half way as the road pitched up again. Simon and his superior muscles dropped me and as I watched him sail off into the distance I tried to find a rhythm. If you have the chance to climb Haytor, don’t be fooled by the cattle grid, that is the half way point! I advise to just look at the view, enjoy the pain and just keep pedalling. After awhile I crested onto the moor and start to pass ponies and walkers. When I saw the infamous rocks I realised I could breathe easy knowing that I had made it. It was at this point that I notice Simon lying next to his bike on the grassy verge, catching his breath whilst he waits for me. Surprisingly I’m not feeling too bad. He is, he pushed hard! It is a mentally taxing climb that tests your will power. After a quick bite to eat and some photographs, we head off down the steep winding descent that will return us back to our welcoming yurt.
The area is great for coastal rides so make sure you include at least one during your stay. In the days that followed we explore the coastline on foot and by bike. There is a small little seaside café in Teignmouth I recommend as a refreshment stop. If you have time, make sure you grab a traditional cream tea in one of the harbour cafes and watch the ocean do its thing in Torquay.
The wild lands of Dartmoor are a must when it comes to cycling, just make sure you take the time to check out the views as you pant your way up those climbs!