Category Archives: Devon

The Lighthouse Tour

I have been thinking of doing a cycle tour to all the lighthouses in the South West for a few years and when my cycling buddy Jo expressed an interest in joining me I was galvanised into action. I decided arbitrarily to only include the lighthouses that are on the mainland and those that are working. Once I got into the planning it seemed reasonable to also include iconic lighthouse hotspots as well – like Smeatons Tower on Plymouth Hoe and Lands End with a view of Long Ships for example.

Longships Lighthouse

It is always good to have a theme for a cycling adventure: it adds direction and purpose. I live on the South Coast of England in Dorset and I have walked the South West Coast Path and kayaked around the South West coast over the last twenty years or so. The sea kayaking took us out to places like Lundy Island and Long Ships off lands End which were definitely not possible on the cycling tour.

Lighthouse on Lundy Island

A lighthouse is a structure, usually a tower or other type of structure, built as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea. Back in the day people used to light fires on hills to aid navigation but the modern era of lighthouses began in the eighteenth century with advances in structural engineering and new efficient lighting equipment allowing the creation of larger and more powerful lighthouses including ones exposed to the sea. The function of lighthouses is to provide a visible and, in poor visibility, audible warning against shipping hazards such as rocks or reefs.

Today Trinity House maintains over 60 lighthouses in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. These highly visual aids to navigation range from isolated offshore towers like the Eddystone to shore based locations like the Lizard.

In 2010 I took part in the Eddystone Challenge which involved paddling from Plymouth to the Eddystone lighthouse and back again. The race is intended for gigs but kayaks are allowed to join in. I was paddling a sea kayak not a gig. Although it was fabulous to paddle out to the Eddystone, I didn’t have the urge to do it again!

Paddling to the Eddystone Lighthouse

While lighthouse buildings differ depending on the location and purpose, they tend to have common components.

A light station comprises the lighthouse tower and all outbuildings, such as the keeper’s living quarters, fuel house, boathouse, and fog-signalling building. The lighthouse itself consists of a tower structure supporting the lantern room where the light operates.

The Lantern Room is the glassed-in housing at the top of a lighthouse tower containing the lamp and lens. Its glass storm panes are supported by metal bars running vertically or diagonally. At the top of the lantern room is a storm-proof ventilator designed to remove the smoke of the lamps and the heat that builds in the glass enclosure. A lightning rod and grounding system connected to the metal cupola roof provides a safe conduit for any lightning strikes.

Immediately beneath the lantern room is usually a Watch Room or Service Room where fuel and other supplies were kept and where the keeper prepared the lanterns for the night and often stood watch. The clockworks (for rotating the lenses) were also located there. On a lighthouse tower, an open platform called the gallery is often located outside the watch room (called the Main Gallery) or Lantern Room (Lantern Gallery). This was mainly used for cleaning the outside of the windows of the Lantern Room.

Lighthouses near to each other that are similar in shape are often painted in a unique pattern so they can easily be recognized during daylight,

Today all the lighthouses are automated and the accommodation has been converted for use as holiday lettings.

The list of lighthouses on the south west peninsula for our cycling tour were, in order:

  • Anvil Point
  • Portland Bill

    Portland Bill Lighthouse

  • Teignmouth
  • Berry Head
  • Start Point

    Start Point Lighthouse

  • St Antony
  • Lizard

    Lizard Point

  • Tater Du

    Tater Du

  • Pendeen
  • Trevose Head
  • Hartland Point
  • Crow Point
  • Bull Point
  • Lynmouth Foreland

I decided to start on the south coast with the lighthouse furthest to the east which is Anvil Point in Dorset. From there the route went to Portland Bill and then down the coast through Devon and Cornwall following the coast all the way down to Lands end. From Lands End the route went to St Ives and then followed the north Cornwall and Devon coast up to Lynmouth. The last lighthouse on the tour was Lynmouth Foreland.

The total distance planned was 900 kilometres (550 miles) but with over 11,000 metres of climb (36,000 feet). We were planning to camp if the weather permitted so we had about 11kg of luggage each. I allowed 7 days for the ride but if all went well we could probably complete it in 6 days.

The first lighthouse in the tour was Anvil Point which is near Swanage. This is to the east of where we live so I decided to do this section as a day ride and stay at home the first night.

Anvil Point

The lighthouse was completed in 1881. Anvil Point Lighthouse was fully automated in 1991 and is now monitored and controlled from Trinity House Operations at Harwich.

Our route took us through the Lulworth Ranges (open on a Sunday) and along the coast to Weymouth. We rode along the sea front and the Rodwell trail to the causeway which took us out onto Portland and down to the Lighthouse at Portland Bill.

Portland Bill

The present lighthouse is the third to be built at Portland Bill. The two original lighthouses now known as Old Higher Lighthouse and Old Lower Lighthouse operated as a pair of leading lights to guide ships between Portland Race and the Shambles Sandbank. The present lighthouse was completed in 1916. It was de-manned in 1996 and control transferred to the Trinity House Operations.

From Portland Bill we rode back to Bridport. With 11,000 metres of elevation in this tour there were obviously going to be some proper hills. One of these was the climb out of Abbotsbury which is a long sustained climb.

Relieved to have survived Abbotsbury Hill

The next day we set off on our touring bikes heading down to the South West of England.

Setting off

Each of us carrying about 11kg of luggage carried mainly in Ortileb panniers.

Our route took us through Exeter and down the River Exe to Dawlish then along the coast to Teignmouth. We dropped down to visit the lighthouse there, which is a grade 2 listed building.
In the early 1840s Teignmouth Harbour Commissioners decided to erect a lighthouse as an aid to shipping, and a tower was built of blocks of local limestone during the years 1844 to 1845 with the light being shone for the first time in 1845.

The lighthouse has never had a keeper, resident or otherwise; never been open to the public, and because of its size, has mistakenly been referred to in Guides as a toy lighthouse. However it is not; it is a real navigational aid.

In Powderham Terrace and close to the Lynton House Hotel, some 200 feet behind the lighthouse is the second leading light, which is a tall pole with a red navigational lamp fixed on the top.

Today the lighthouse is kept clean and maintained by the Harbour Master. It shows a fixed red light visible for 3 miles and when lined up with the leading light behind it provides a safe passage across the sand bars at the mouth of the Teign.

Teignmouth Lighthouse

Our target destination for the day was Berry Head above Brixham where there is a vertically challenged lighthouse. Berry Head is reputedly the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain but also one of the highest. It is only 5 metres tall but 58 metres above sea level.

It was built in 1906.

Berry Head

Berry Head

We camped at Berry Head and the next morning with fresh legs zipped over to Kingswear for the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth.

On the ferry to Dartmouth

In my zealous effort to avoid riding on main roads we found ourselves on a hill too steep to ride which degenerated into a bridleway. So we had a longer walk than we would have liked.

Too steep to ride with loaded bikes

It would have been better to have taken the A379 out of the town.

As it was we joined the A379 and followed it along the coast to Slapton where we visited the Exercise Tiger Memorial.

Excercise Tiger memorial.

From Slapton we headed out to Start Point.

Start Point

Start Point lighthouse was built in 1836 to protect shipping off Start Point in south Devon. For us it involved an undulating ride along narrow lanes. It was worth it as Start Point is exactly what you expect from a lighthouse. A tall white tower built on a rocky promontory with a raging sea below. This being May, the wild thrift and bluebells were magnificent.

Eye candy

We were able to pick up fuel in the form of cheese and onion pasties (neither of us eat meat) and doughnuts before continuing to Kingsbridge. The road through the South Hams to Plymouth is scenic and undulating. The cyclists among you will recognise these word as euphemisms for very hilly.

We diverted to Plymouth Hoe where the centrepiece is Smeaton’s Tower. The lighthouse was originally built on the Eddystone reef in 1759. It was take down in the 1810’s when it was discovered the sea was undermining the rock it was standing on. The tower was dismantled and erected at Plymouth Hoe.

Smeaton’s Tower on Plymouth Hoe

It was a beautiful clear day and we were able to see the Eddystone Lighthouse. The Eddystone is an extensive reef about 20km SSW off Plymouth Sound and midway between Start Point and Lizard Point. The reef is submerged at HW springs and very much feared by mariners. The present lighthouse was built in 1882 and is still in use.

We cycled through Plymouth and along the Tamar to the Torpoint ferry where we crossed into Cornwall.

On the Torpoint Ferry


We rode, hugging the coast, to Looe. On this the third day of the tour had now ridden over 100km with over 2000m of climbing so another pasty was called for to fuel the last 20km – with a monster hill – to Fowey.


We dropped very steeply down to Polruan to catch the ferry to Fowey. There were several steps down to the small boat and fortunately there were 4 strong men – 2 to each bike – to help us.

Aboard the ferry from Polruan to Fowey.

We bought food in Fowey and climbed steeply out from the river up to our destination for the night at Penhale Farm.

Camping at Penhale Farm near Fowey.

After a great nights sleep we set off for our next lighthouse which was on the Roseland Peninsula. St Anthony’s Lighthouse is at St Anthony’s Head on the eastern side of the entrance to Falmouth Harbour which is one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

St Anthony’s Lighthouse

We then rode round to St Mawes –  and bought some pasty fuel at the pier while waiting for the ferry to Falmouth.

Looking back to St Anthony’s lighthouse from the ferry to Falmouth.

We skirted around the Helford River and crossed it at Gweek before climbing onto the Lizard.

The name Lizard is probably a corruption of the Cornish name ‘Lys Ardh’ meaning ‘high court’. It is a coincidence that much of the peninsula is composed of serpentinite bearing rock.

There are several nature sites on the Lizard Peninsula; Predannack Nature reserve, Mullion Island, Goonhilly Downs, and the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek. Much of the Lizard is a national nature reserve because of its coastal grasslands and inland heaths. The area is also home to one of England’s rarest breeding birds, the Cornish Chough.

We rode to the lighthouse – which has the brightest light of all and can be seen 100 miles away on a clear night.

Lizard Lighthouse

Lizard point beckoned to finish the job off and we were treated to some relaxation in the sun watching the antics of seals surrounded by beautiful wild coastal flowers.

Lizard Point

We cycled back up the Lizard to Helston and then continued to Mounts Bay and spent the night at Penzance Youth Hostel.

St Michael’s Mount.

We started the next day by riding along the coast through Newlyn. We paid our respects at the Penlee Lifeboat Station’s Solomon Browne Memorial.

Our first lighthouse of the day was Tater Du. Access involved some low grade trespassing but it had to be done. Tater Du Lighthouse is Cornwall’s most recently built lighthouse and was constructed after the Juan Ferrer tragedy in 1963 on nearby Boscawen Point.

Tater Du lighthouse.

The next bit of the ride through St Buryan to Lands End was fabulous and virtually flat – a welcome relief and some recovery ready for what was to come after Lands End.

We were at Lands End before 10am when it officially opens so it was mercifully quiet and free of tourists. We just rode out to the view point and took a picture as if we were ‘end to enders’!

Lands End viewpoint

We waved at the Longships lighthouse which is situated 2 kilometres off shore but couldn’t get any closer on this occasion.

Longships lighthouse 2km offshore at Land’s End

The next section of the tour from Sennen to St Ives is magnificent and was fuelled by an excellent pasty stop at St Just. The route follows the B3306 which has a couple of proper hills on it but the coastal scenery is fabulous throughout. In contrast to the sea views is the wild moor and heath inland. We diverted to Pendeen Watch Lighthouse.

Pendeen Watch Lighthouse

Pendeen Watch Lighthouse

We dropped down into St Ives for the sake of completeness and enjoyed the picturesque harbour and the historic Smeaton’s pier.

St Ives

The next lighthouse on this stretch of coast is on Godrevy Island so outside our remit.

Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance

We continued our journey along the North Cornwall coast to Newquay and camped at Porth.

We enjoyed a beautiful evening close to the beach at Porth.

Fresh legs were required for the scenic undulating B3276 to Trevose Head. This is a magnificent lighthouse – another tall tower on a rocky headland with beautiful wild flowers in the environs.

Trevose Head

Wild flowers at their best at Trevose Head

We continued to Padstow where we were able to refuel on fantastic pasties before catching the ferry across the River Camel to Rock.

The last ferry of the tour crossing the River Camel from Padstow to Rock

We were unlucky to miss the last ferry from the harbour and had to walk down to the Lower beach as the tide was rapidly ebbing. The ferry took us across the river but left us with a half mile walk along the beach to the slipway.

A long walk on the beach

Aghhhhhh – it rained! So far we had enjoyed dry weather- quite chilly and breezy but no rain. The forecast was terrible and we hastened to Hartland Point to get ahead of the weather. We were lucky and the promised hours of heavy rain only amounted to a few showers.

Hartland Point with Lundy Island in the distance

Hartland Point is in Devon and marks the western limit of the Bristol Channel with the Atlantic Ocean continuing to the West

We had already ridden 100km for the day but decided to continue towards Bideford on the Torridge. The route was lovely and  followed quiet lanes which undulated more gently as the streams became more organised towards the River Torridge. We dropped down into the Taw/Torridge estuary area riding on the Tarka Trail and started to look for somewhere to eat and somewhere to stay. We finished up riding 174km all the way to Braunton. We had supper in a pub and then camped on Velator Quay on the Braunton Canal – unofficially.

I really wanted to find Crow Point lighthouse. Crow Point is a sandy beach backed by low dunes at the southern end of Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve. The beach looks south east across the River Taw and south west to Appledore. The point is a sand spit formed near the confluence of the Taw and Torridge Rivers. In reality it is little more than a finger of sand and mud protected by groynes.

The solar powered Crow Point Lighthouse also called Braunton Sands Lighthouse lies at the southern extremity of the spit. It stands just 7.6 metres above high water.

Crow Point Lighthouse

After visiting Crow Point we returned to the B3231 and detoured around Saunton and Croyde – finding much needed coffee and breakfast.

We continued to Mortehoe and then on the access road out to Bull Point lighthouse.

Bull Point

The lighthouse provides a visual aid to the villages of Mortehoe, Woolacombe and Ilfracombe and warns of the rocky coast in this area. Back in the kayaking days it was also a useful point to aim at on the mainland when paddling back from Lundy.

Bull point lighthouse

From Mortehoe we followed National Cycle Route 27. This was the easiest 5 kilometres of the tour. The route follows the London and South Western Railway Ilfracombe branch line from Morthoe and we freewheeled all the way. Bliss!

After a visit to the bakery in Ilfracombe we dropped down to the harbour to see Verity. Verity is a stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst which has been loaned to the town for 20 years. It depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books. Half of the sculpture shows the internal anatomy of the pregnant woman with the foetus clearly visible.


We climbed out of Ilfracombe, dropped to sea level again at Hele, climbed again and dropped to sea level at Watermouth Castle, climbed again and dropped into Coombe Martin. From Coombe Martin to Lynmouth it is hilly. We could have made life a little easier for ourselves by going up to Blackmoor Gate and then on the A39 but we took the scenic route up Buzzacott Lane, (walked some of this) then down to Trentishoe and down to the Hunters Inn. The climb out of the Hunters Inn was just too steep on our loaded touring bikes and we had to walk.

Looking back to Holdstone Hill after we had climbed up from the Hunters Inn (walking quite a lot of it)

We were able enjoy the magnificent scenery of Woody Bay.

Woody Bay

We continued up (again) past Lee Abbey Christian Retreat and on to the scenic Valley of the Rocks.

Valley of the rocks.

The route climbed up out of the Valley of the Rocks to Lynton and then dropped steeply down again to sea level at Lynmouth. We had done so much climbing as we neared the end of the tour that I had phoned ahead and arranged for our panniers to be taken by car up Countisbury Hill. With a maximum grade of 27.4% over the 4km hill we needed all the help we could get! We made it up to Foreland at an elevation of 300m. The last lighthouse Lynmouth Foreland was at sea level. Jo chose to ride all the way down to it –and back again. I didn’t!

Lynmouth Foreland

Phew! It was a great tour. The way we did it in just 6 days carrying all our camping gear required a good level of fitness and an ability to ride with tired legs. We really enjoyed the ferries and the lighthouses and enjoyed the magnificent coastal scenery. May was a lovely time of year to ride as it is before the main holiday season so the roads were quiet and the wild flowers were at their best. We were lucky with the weather. It was mainly dry, cool and sunny with just a few showers near Hartland in North Devon.


Tour de Manche: the English section

The official route

Just as in France the English Tour de Manche uses a combination of small roads and greenways. From the ferry port at Poole the route takes to a cycle path through Baiter park and then alongside Poole Harbour to Sandbanks.

Poole Harbour

The Sandbanks chain ferry crosses to Studland and then the route goes to Corfe Castle.

Cyclists on the Sandbanks chain ferry

The route is not flat and after Corfe Castle, Creech hill is climbed before a descent to join Cycle Route 2 just east of Wool.

Tour de Manche on Route 2 in Dorset

Flat riding through quiet lanes on Cycle Route 2 brings you to Dorchester and onto Martinstown. There now comes an unavoidable Cat 4 climb over Hardy’s Monument.

Hardy’s Monument

Hardy’s Monument

The lovely Bride valley follows, still following Route 2 to bypass Bridport and start a series of steep climbs to Axminster.

Route 2 near Bridport

The route continues West along the Jurassic coast of Dorset and into Devon.

We found a lovely traffic free route through the city of Exeter emerging at Haldon, well on our way to Moretonhampstead and Dartmoor

Now we were in Devon who could resist a cream tea?

Cream tea

We chose to go across the middle of Dartmoor on the B3212. There are a few steep ramps on the climb onto the moor out of Moretonhampstead but it was very scenic and memorable.

The B3212 across Dartmoor

Beautiful view from Dartmoor down to the coast at Plymouth

On arrival at Plymouth there was time for a small celebration before catching the ferry to Roscoff.

Well deserved.

What is Ironman?


An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a subsidiary of the Chinese Wanda Group, consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.16 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one day sporting events in the world.

Wanda bought Ironman Races for $650 million dollars in August 2015 and estimates it will bring in $185 a year. Ironman hosts 200 events in 27 countries and has approximately 250,000 registered athletes.

Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race. Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon within these timings becomes an Ironman.

Athletes range from 18 to over 80 and from all different walks of life and athletic backgrounds. The mind is a powerful element of triathlon and mental strength is vital. An Ironman triathlon is arguably the most difficult one-day sporting event in the world, but if you have an open mind and the drive, you can do it. Anything is possible!

The name “Ironman Triathlon” is also associated with the original Ironman triathlon which is now the Ironman World Championship. Held in Kailua-Kona, the world championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982) and is preceded by a series of qualifying Ironman events. The Ironman World Championships have become known for their gruelling length and harsh race conditions,

Other races exist that are of the same distance as an Ironman triathlon but are not produced, owned, or licensed by the World Triathlon Corporation. Such races include The Challenge Family series, Challenge Roth and many other long course events that are now established as part of the racing calendar such as Race New Forest, Brutal Triathlons, Castle Triathlon, The Outlaw and Xtreme. The main rival to Ironman has been the Challenge Family. They organise 44 full and half distance triathlons worldwide. They are a smaller family company based in Roth, Germany.

So Ironman is a worldwide profit making company. It is an international brand. Your entry fee – (typically £240 for a 70.3 event and £450 for a full Ironman) is set at a commercial rate to make money for this company. Ironman also attracts sponsors. This year Sketchers are their shoe sponsor and Arena are their swim sponsor.

Nutrition is provided by PowerBar.

Powerbar are the nutrition sponsor

PowerBar are the nutrition sponsor

I think Fyffes must also be involved judging by the number of bananas that are given out.

So why is Ironman so successful? What does this brand do at their events that have athletes desperate to part with their hard earned cash to participate? Some popular events, which tend to be the easier flatter courses, sell out within 24 hours.

I have done quite a few triathlons mostly non Ironman events. The full distance event I did last September – i.e. Ironman distance in Weymouth was organised by Challenge. Compared to the experiences I have had as a competitor and spectator at Ironman events the Challenge Weymouth event was quite inferior in many ways. Ironman have now taken over the Weymouth full distance event so on September 11th 2016 it is Ironman Weymouth and Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. ( It will cost you £415 for the full Ironman and £249 for the 70.3. ) and I expect that the many problems with the 2015 event will be rectified.

So what do you get for your money? In short – a grand day out.

Ironman organisation is flawless. They are very experienced in putting on the events and have a depth of experienced personnel. Most employees are Ironmen! Many events have been going for several years so rolling it out every year is easier. Exmoor 70.3 in 2016 was it’s 11th year. All teething problems are long gone. There is attention to every detail to ensure that the athletes experience is as good as it can be. They aim to give every athlete a great day regardless of their time. At an Ironman event athletes can be fairly confident that basics like the courses being the correct distance are taken care of.

From the moment of registration Ironman takes care of everything. Once they have your money – they look after you and in my experience there are few problems. Information is accurate and available readily. They send you messages which have some individuality (computer generated I’m sure) but make you feel valued. Leading up to the event more information is sent and email from the race director is aimed to make the athlete feel involved. Car parking is taken care of (advance charge of £10 at Exmoor) and information is given to help your logistical planning on how to get to the venue and accommodation etc. Information on the bike and run routes and advice on the likely weather and road conditions together with the equipment you will need are given.

There is an online Athletes Guide, which contains many pages of information about the event. Everything you could possibly need to know is in there. There is also an extensive list of rules and the penalties that are incurred if the rules are broken. The rules are there to enhance safety and to make the race fair for everyone. Triathlon is an individual race and must be completed without any outside assistance.

In the sporting world the Ironman logo is immediately recognisable. At an Ironman event you enter a corporate world of red and black.

It's all about the brand.

It’s all about the brand.

The organisation is meticulous. Every minuscule detail has been thought about in advance and is sorted. The event schedule tells you clearly what you need to do on the day and when it has to be done. By 4pm on the day before Exmoor 70.3 every athlete had to have their bike racked in transition and their red run bag and blue bike bag on the numbered racks in the transition tent. You are encouraged to attend a race briefing. There is a separate more detailed briefing for 70.3 Ironman virgins.

To keep the party rolling, Ironman for the first time this year at Exmoor, organised IronKids races. There are races which range in length from 2km for Year 9 to 500m for the under 5’s. This takes place on Saturday afternoon and with all the music and razzmatazz that goes with Ironman. The IronKids event was fabulous and I’m sure it will continue and grow. The children had the experience of racing in front of a crowd and ran down the red carpet to finish just like the grown- ups. Cost £12 per child – rewards – t shirt, medal and a great experience.

As in all organised events the bottom line is everyone must be kept safe – athletes and spectators.Security is also very important.  Each athlete will bring with them thousands of pounds worth of kit. My bike is down towards the lower end of the range and is worth £2k. So security is vital.  Ironman have very strict security. Athletes can feel confident that their stuff is safe.

Transition – you won’t get past this guy without your wrist band!

Transition – you won’t get past this guy without your wrist band!

Many of the strict rules that athletes have to follow enhance  safety. Ironman are strict about their rules and disqualification is a real threat if rules are infringed. At Exmoor 70.3 in 2016, 7 athletes were disqualified – all for dangerous bike riding.

There is some tangible stuff that each athlete receives for their entry fee. All items strongly reinforce the Ironman brand. On registration each athlete gets a rucksack and their swim cap.

Race goodies

Race goodies

On completion each athlete gets a medal

Finisher's medal

Finisher’s medal

and a rather good finisher t shirt which is sponsored by Craft.

Finisher's t-shirt

Finisher’s t-shirt

Food and drink is copious at the aid stations on the bike and run and there is also lots of food after the finish – unlimited. For those who win their category there is a trophy –  25cm of plastic – re-emphasising the Ironman Brand.

Category winner's trophy

Category winner’s trophy

Overall my experience of Ironman is that although it is expensive – if I going to spend months training for an event, I would rather pay more money and participate in an event which is a safe as it can be with flawless organisation and lots of fun .

For non-athletes I can see why there is some incredulity that people pay £400 to suffer for a day.

Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor

My result. Click or tap the picture for more detail (Bib number 385)

My result. Click or tap the picture for more detail (Bib number 385)

I entered the Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor event not long after I had completed the Challenge Weymouth ironman last September. The last 9 months of my life have been focused on training for this event. I did the London Marathon, some Audax rides and other events in between but the 26th June 2016 is the date I have been training for. Most weeks my training log shows about 17 hours. This is just the training time – I spend a lot of time faffing about doing at stuff to do with training. I enjoy the training mostly. I have a training plan which I invent based mostly on my own experience but sometimes I do what I fancy whether it is on the plan or not. Usually I end up doing more than the plan suggests. I’m not very good at rest days. My bottom line is that it has to be fun. If it is not fun it is not sustainable. I am very fortunate that by training sensibly and listening to my body when bits inevitably start niggling, that I have not developed any injuries that have stopped me from training during this 9 month period.
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Exmoor – Rivers and Sea

Day 1

In preparation (training is a difficult concept for Ian) for a much longer walk we have planned later in the year, we walked 100k from Dulverton to Minehead last week over 4 days. We carried everything we needed but stayed in guest accommodation and ate in pubs. Archie our Border Terrier came too, as he also need some multi day walking preparation.



We left our car at Dulverton and set off along the River Barle heading North. There is a good path that keeps close to the river for about 5 km to Castle Bridge. There is then a gentle ascent to Hawkridge where the path meets the Two Moors Way.

Hawkridge is one of the oldest communities on Exmoor. It lies on the track that crosses the River Barle at Tarr Steps and in sight of the barrows on Anstey Common. The church has Saxon origins.

The Two Moors Way is a long distance footpath between Ivybridge on the Southern edge of Dartmoor and Lynmouth on the North coast of Somerset. We have previously walked the Dartmoor section. This walk is within the Exmoor National Park and passes through landscapes of exceptionally high quality. Not only does this include the high moorland but also the deep and wooded valleys of the moor.

The Two Moors Way

The Two Moors Way

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The Grizzly 2016 – ‘Grin and Bear It’

The Grizzly is a race organised by Axe Valley Runners. It takes place in March every year and starts and finishes on Seaton sea front in Devon which is on the South coast of England.

Seaton sea front

Seaton sea front

The race is very popular and entry is gained by taking part in a ballot held in September where approximately 1500 places are allocated. About 400 women take part. The Grizzly has been happening every year since 1988. Not including 2016, the race has raised £305k for local charities. Every year the race has a name. The 2016 race was the 29th and was named ‘Grin and Bear It.’
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The Dartmoor Devil

The Dartmoor Devil is a 111km bicycle ride which reaches parts of Dartmoor other events do not reach. It is organised by CTC Devon. The event is an Audax ‘gold grimpeur’ Calendar Event. This means that the ride is worth 2 AAA points.

Finishers badge

Finishers badge

The Dartmoor Devil 2015 is ‘the 23rd Thrash’ and took place on Sunday 25th October. Unexpectedly for the time of year, the weather was dry, warm(ish), sunny with light winds. Most undevil like.
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Summer Solstice micro-adventure

We headed down to Dartmoor for the Summer Solstice weekend. We are fortunate in having this last great wilderness in England just an hour’s drive from home. It is a huge, largely uninhabited lonely area of moorland of some 365 square miles. On the North Moor near Cut Hill and Fur Tor it is over 5 km to a road. I love this wild, lonely remote area of uplands. The rolling, sweeping horizon with its huge skies is fabulous. You are never shut in on the moor, there is always a feeling of distance and vast open spaces.

Vast open spaces on Dartmoor

Vast open spaces on Dartmoor

The landscape has been much changed by man. Man has lived hunted and worked on Dartmoor since pre-historic times and has left his mark from hut circles, stone rows, megaliths and stone circles to tinners spoil tips and blowing houses, forestry and dams.
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Glastonbury 100 Miler Audax Event

This event is long standing in the Audax Calendar and is organised by Ian Hennessey. Ian varies the route from year to year. This year he also varied the date, moving it about 6 weeks later in the year to try to avoid floods on the levels and frost on the roads. Last year’s February date encountered both.

The control at Honiton

The control at Honiton

This ride is purely for fun. There are no points to be had for distance or elevation and the ride does not count towards qualification for any other event (PBP). The field seemed to be predominately made up of folk on road bikes – sans mudguards and luggage – and almost everyone was wearing a helmet. There were even 5 women riding!

Mainly carbon bikes for this event

Mainly carbon bikes for this event

April 5th 2015 – Easter Sunday – promised to be dry, frost free with light winds and even some sunshine. It had been a drier than average winter and there had been very little flooding on the levels, so Ian had no restrictions on the route and no last minute modifications to make.
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Peaceful Lanes

After my various trips away over the summer I have once again turned my attention to riding locally. West Dorset is very rural and it is a great pleasure to ride from my home out into the countryside.

This year as we continue into September, Summer has forgotten to stop. The weather is very benign and perfect for long days out riding a bicycle. Most of the summer visitors have gone now so there is only a little local traffic on the lanes. As I ride along – often alone – I appreciate and enjoy the quiet calm of the countryside in the benign late summer weather. So when I came across the sign to Peaceful Lane near Holwell in Dorset I thought that this was a perfect title for a blog post about a couple of longer rides I’ve been on in the last week or so.

Perfect for a blog post title

Perfect for a blog post title

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