Devon Pathfinder – 19th May 2024

It seemed like the stars were aligned. The forecast was good, Gill and I had earned our weekend away and Fred had arranged dinner at the quirky Highwayman pub in Sourton in exchange for free camping in the field behind.

We set off on Saturday afternoon expecting to reach Sourton around 5:30. We’d really been looking forward to this sunny break, the rain of the last few months now a distant memory. And then the heavens opened as we crossed Bodmin Moor! It was like a tropical monsoon and it came from nowhere – and I had brought no wet weather clothing!

Our spirits dropped as we slogged mile after mile through torrential rain. But ahead the skies lightened – just a little. Gradually it dried up as we approached Launceston and by the time we reached our destination the sun was once more shining!

Behind the Highwayman Inn was a lovely small field now already with four motor homes parked up, two of them belonging to Wheelers Fred and Don. By the time we’d set up our camper van the pub had opened and we wandered over for a pre dinner drink. If you’ve never been to the Highwayman Inn it’s really worth a visit. It is owned by Sally and Bruce and was the inspiration of Sally’s father, Buster Jones in the late 1950’s/1960’s  ( )

An atmospheric evening is guaranteed! After a few beers and a tasty supper we retired to our vans and a peaceful nights sleep.

We woke to glorious sunshine and shortly after nine Don, Fred and myself took the Dartmoor Way bike path the short distance to the Bike Hire Cafe to meet those who were driving up from Falmouth.

Yes, it was a fair way to drive for a short, hilly Pathfinder, but it is undoubtedly worth the effort. The scenery was just stunning.

Kath and Clive were first to arrive shortly followed by Phil, Ruth and Dean. And that was it – just the eight of us. Sadly Margaret and Martyn had decided they were spreading themselves a little thin ( I know the feeling ) and thought it wiser to skip the ride on this occasion.

After a short downhill stretch on the unusually busy ‘Old’ A30 we took a right turn into a small lane and suddenly it was blissfully quiet with little sound other than birds singing in the trees, the dappled light piercing through their fresh green foliage. If hills are hard you’re riding too fast – we slowed and chatted and drew breathes of fresh summer air. It has been a long wait.

I pride myself on finding interesting routes but this was even a cut above my best. Devon in all its glory!

During the days ride we encountered few vehicles and then only on the short stretches of the busier roads we occasionally crossed. We were plunged into a place that time had forgot, lush green pastures and dense mixed woodland with the occasional glimpse of a distant moorland landmark and the isolated church on Brent Tor.

I suppose in Pathfinder terms eight is a disappointing turnout but in reality it’s an ideal number – small enough to very sociable and easily manageable as two groups of four on the busier roads.

We stopped frequently to chat, take photos and quench thirsts and in no time arrived at our designated lunch stop, The Castle Inn, in Lydford. And who should be already there with pint in hand but our esteemed chairman, Ian! Checking up on us no doubt. The food and service was excellent and the beer, Jail Ale, one of my favourites. I had the wild mushroom pizza. Delicious.

After lunch a few looked around the castle ruins before setting off on the now near level section of the Dartmoor Way cycle path that returned us to Sourton. Perfect after a more than substantial lunch!

I pulled off at Sourton to see Gill who’d been enjoying the sun all day with Carol in the “campsite”, but the others carried on with the promise of ice creams at the cafe.

All in all one of the best days out on a bike in a long while.

Thanks to Kath and Fred for organising.

PS. I had to be in Bodmin on Monday morning so it seemed pointless driving home. Clive had rated highly a campsite on Bodmin Moor close to where I had to be the following day. Both he and Kath said it was amazing. We’d find out.

We turned off the A30 at Temple and drove north to South Penquite an organic farm and campsite nestled between St Breward and Blisland. It exceeded our expectations! So peaceful, well organised, clean, friendly and well equipped. And they have a field of Yurts to rent – a Falmouth Wheelers weekend away for the future?

We walked the two or so miles to the wonderful Blisland Inn for a pint and something to eat. But alas , they weren’t doing food this Sunday! Luckily they had just two very large beef and tomato tiger rolls left and, with horseradish sauce and plain crisps, sitting in the evening sun, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

A perfect end to a fabulous weekend

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