Then there were five….
As it turned out the “hilly route” out of Bridestowe was pretty much one big hill, at the top of which we switched back to a railway path although this was on the same line as yesterday the two sections do not connect. This was pleasantly level and led to some more roadwork through the village of Lydford.
Before we reached the village we were given some good advice by a local cyclist, firstly to keep out in the centre of the road on the next steep descent into Lydford Gorge to avoid some potholes near the kerb and secondly to ignore the signposted route (The Devon C2C follows National Cycle Network 27) and follow the road all the way to Tavistock avoiding some bad hills near Mary Tavy.
We followed his first advice, which was spot on but on the second point we took a variation, as we didn’t want to go into the centre of Tavistock. We ignored a turn left on NCN27 as instructed and then shortly after a very steep climb round Brent Torr (but at least it was only one) instead of continuing straight on into Tavistock, we took another left onto NCN 327, a route that descends a minor country lane to join NCN 27 just outside the town. This gave us the option to cut straight through the town at high level on the old viaduct avoiding a climb out on the far side.
Yes this is the view from the viaduct right in the middle of Tavistock
And this only a few hundred metres along the track
The route then got a bit convoluted diving around industrial areas, retail parks and housing estates before re-joining a railway path on the far side of town. After a short detour off the route for food, we joined the path and what a path it turned out to be!
The tunnels were cold, wet and very dark!
The Viaducts were incredible
A series of tunnels and viaducts took us on a nice level route as far as Yelverton where we were forced to climb again to detour round the town, after crossing the main A386 we joined a pleasant and fairly level track that led through woodland then out onto open moorland. This was followed by a steep descent into the village of Clearbrook.
Our disappointment at losing a lot of height so quickly was soon tempered by the realisation that the route continued downhill from here, and indeed as we discovered was now downhill all the way to Plymouth. A gradually descending railway path took us over more spectacular viaducts and through another amazingly long and dark tunnel , eventually descending through Plympton Wood to the outskirts of Plymouth.
Route finding got a little tricky now but we eventually picked up the correct one alongside the River Plym as far as the Laira Bridge where we crossed into Plymouth itself. The route now followed back streets as far as the Sutton Harbour Marina, where the route crosses over the lock gates… or rather it doesn’t!
We were greeted with a sign informing us the crossing was closed until further notice, there had been no prior warning or diversion signposted so we had to backtrack a distance and ride on busy city roads with a final sharp climb to Plymouth Hoe, where we rejoined Grainne at the Pub on the Hoe (yes that’s its name).
As far as we could ascertain this was the end of the route as unlike the C2C “up north” the Devon route is not individually signposted, nor does it have specific landmarks to designate the ends and the OS map showed the route as finishing ambiguously somewhere near the far side of the lock gates (that we couldn’t cross)?
Tim and Andrea decided to go off in search of the “dipping the front wheel in the sea” picture but the rest of us decided to stay at the pub! After all we had all cycled down to sea level at the closed lock gates and certainly for me that was close enough! Of course students of Geography will know that Plymouth Hoe is on “The Sound” which is the estuary of the Rivers Tamar and Plymm and the true coast is about three miles further south! But I guess to suggest the Coast 2 Coast doesn’t actually reach the coast is being a little pedantic!
Stay tuned until the next adventure….