Day 14—Whiddon Down to Lanlivery

The road to Dartmoor

The penultimate day! Whiddon Down proved not to be the best place for meals, because breakfast, scheduled for 07:30, was delayed until 08:00 because the diner opened half an hour later on Sundays. (Fair enough, actually.) Les and I toddled over to the nearby garage to get coffee, and I bought two Boost bars, which rapidly turned into four Boost bars when the guy behind the till charged me for a Red Bull by accident, and it just seemed easier to buy two more Boosts than to get a refund. I gave one to Carl (who says he likes them), put one in my pocket, and saved two until tomorrow.


Once the diner had opened, breakfast was quick and efficient, although not terribly tasty—how can you mess up a bacon sandwich, that’s what I want to know. Anyway, we were soon out of Whiddon Down and on the road to Dartmoor. It was a road that after about four miles started to climb, quite steeply, and after passing a few baleful-looking cows, in my lowest gear of 34/32, we were on the moor. (Next time it’s a 34 in the rear cassette for me.)

The threshold to the National Park was marked by a cattle grid and a sign exhorting us not to exceed 40 mph. I was going to say fat chance, but it would have been quite easy to exceed that going downhill on the other side, had I been so minded. I didn’t, however, because there were more cows on the road, as well as sheep and ponies, and I didn’t want to kill or be killed. The ponies were, I must say, quite attractive, although one wanted to eat my rear brake lever.

The threshold to the moor

The ride over the moor was another occasion when my school physical geography lessons kept coming back to me, and of course I was irresistibly reminded of The Hound of the Baskervilles as I cycled along. (I seem to make so many references to Holmes—I wonder if Arthur Conan Doyle ever cycled LEJOG or JOGLE.)

We came down from Dartmoor and into Tavistock, where we had coffee and cake at an excellent cyclists’ café in Church Lane. Talk turned to Eddington numbers (I think I have referred to these already) and Carl and I were delighted that (i) we had the same number, 52, and (ii) by the time we got to Land’s End we’d probably be up to 53. Here we are celebrating, with a bemused Amardeep between us.

I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours

Then we were into Cornwall, with yet more hills and what I think must have been tin mines.

We then skirted Bodmin Moor and had lunch (my first cheese and ham toastie of the trip) at a café in Minions—famous as a film, apparently, and as a portable DNA/RNA sequencing platform. On the way down the hill from Bodmin Moor we passed King Doniert’s stone, the only surviving examples of 9th-century stone crosses in Cornwall. Amazing.

And then it was into Lanlivery, and the 12th-century Crown Inn. This was one of the best hotels of the trip, with good food, a kindly landlord, and nicely quirky rooms. I had dinner with Amardeep, Carl, Jamie, John and Les. The conversation was about The End of a Holiday, as Fairport Convention would have it. It’ll be an interesting day tomorrow. What was particularly nice this evening was not having to wash my clothes on this last night! Instead I organised myself such that everything I would need to take home went in my main bag, and everything I could wait for, including bike bits and so on, went in my day bag. At the end of the ride this would go in my bike box, along with my shoes and helmet, lightening the load for the journey home.

Statistics: 55.1 miles, five hours 16 minutes moving time, and 6,115 feet of climbing. Average power was higher than usual at 121 Watts, average speed was 10.4 mph and maximum speed was 36.4 mph. I used 1,709 calories. And I get the slight sense that I am getting fitter. At last!

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