With a surprising early spring weekend Becky and I decided to get back on our bikes by jumping in the deep end and cycle touring the Devon coast to coast. The route was from Ilfracombe to Plymouth via sustrans route 27, which is mostly off road due to old railway lines and follows the Tarka trail, Granite way and Drake’s Trail.
After the initial shock at how heavy the bikes were when loaded up with our gear the initial climb out of Ilfracombe went surprisingly well. We were soon well on our way and made reasonable time to Barnstable where we stopped at a bike shop for some warmer gloves!
The rest of the first day was mostly enjoyable cycling on good cycle paths, with some road at the end of the day. We didn’t quite make it as far as we had planned but managed to find a good spot to wild camp before Okehampton. In the end this turned out to be an excellent idea as it meant we were sheltered from the wind which was fairly brutal the next morning.
The next morning we woke up to a cool but clear morning which made the initial descent a bit unpleasant, but thankfully the climb out of Okehampton soon warmed us up. We then had a very enjoyable day cycling around Dartmoor on the Granite way, before having a brilliant early lunch in Tavistock.
The final part of the route involved climbing back up onto Dartmoor and thanks to a series of tunnels and bridges was very pleasant. I was certainly glad not to have to climb every hill and descend into every valley. The route down to Plymouth has been refurbished recently, and is now excellent so we made really good time to the outskirts of Plymouth.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the cycling in Plymouth, due to bad signs, closed sections and terrible drivers. Despite this we still made it to the end smiling and very pleased with our first cycle tour.