I have always been a better cycling domestique than domestic goddess and thought some may find these great routes cycling round Devon of interest!
Dartmoor to Dartmouth and the English Riviera 68 miles and 1600m climbing
Ride London is 100 miles and 1200m of climbing so as Devon miles count double, this must be good for training. For those arriving by train, this ride starts in Newton Abbot.
Turn left out of the station and keep left following the road around until the traffic lights where you turn left again into Brunel Rd and then pick up the cycle route to Kingsteignton. The path crosses an elegant new cycle bridge and follows the edge of the racecourse. Keep following the Kingsteignton signs then turn left past the church and keep right at the roundabout. Take third left on the B3193 and continue on this road past the quarries and then take Clay lane on the left. This crosses a narrow bridge and then the A38. Turn left onto the B3344 and head into Bovey Tracey. Past the new doctors surgery turn left and then cross the road into Mill Marsh Park. Follow the cycle path and cross under the road to join the delightful off road path along the dismantled railway line to the end. Keep left then first right along the river. Look out for the lane towards Manaton on the left which passes down a short steep hill under a railway bridge, bear left and then cross over two bridges. Keep following the lane up a short steep hill and then at the cross roads turn right towards Manaton. The road climbs up Trendlebeer Down for nearly one mile past Becky Falls then continue through Manaton village. Follow the road around to the left until you reach a cross roads. Turn left and continue on the road stopping to leave a flower at Jays Grave.
On past lovely Hound Tor where a tiny detour left into the car park may reward with proper tea in a real mug from the friendly kiosk. Back onto the road for a wonderful roll out in the direction of Haytor turning right beforehand to Ashburton. The descent is fabulous. Just before the garage turn right to Buckfastleigh and then on through Dean Prior before keeping an eye out for the left turning onto the cycle route to Rattery. Then follow the off road path at Staverton which heads into Totnes. Pass the Riverside Bistro or stop for lunch; you will be spoilt for choice then head along the plains and follow the off road cycle route enjoying lovely river views as far as Sharpham. Rejoin the lane into Ashprington then take the back lanes via Tuckenhay and Dittisham to Dartmouth. Cross by either ferry depending on whether you have time to stop off in town then continue up the long hill to Hillhead. Then down through Churston to Paignton, along the coast as far as the Grand Hotel on the English Riviera. Stop to admire the view then head left following the signs back to Newton Abbot.
Exeter, Crediton and across Dartmoor. 56 miles and 1500m climbing. Ride 10
For those arriving by train, this route starts at Exeter St Davids Station and takes in the rural Devon lanes around Crediton before heading across Dartmoor and an extra hill training loop to Lustleigh. Keep left out of the station then follow the road left again, crossing the railway line via Station Rd. Turn right at the T junction into Exwick Rd. At Cowley the road briefly joins the A377 then take the first lane on the right following signs to Upton Pyne, head North to Efford and from there follow signs to Shobrooke and from there to Crediton. At the junction with the A3072 turn left but turn first right off this main road after a short distance to keep high above the top of Crediton on Old Tiverton Rd. Turn second right into Stonewall Lane and then keep straight on into Higher Rd. At the A377 turn right for a busy stretch of road to Copplestone then turn left to Down St Mary and from there to Zeal Monochorum before heading South to Bow. Take the A3072 and then the A3124 to Whiddon Down. From there follow the signs to Moretonhampstead via the A382.
There are plenty of cafés in this Moorland town, or head further South and turn off the road right to Lustleigh for a punishing extra loop rewarded by cake at the Primrose tearooms. From here turn left in front of the village shop, keep right and head right again by the Baptist chapel for Lustleigh's steepest climb past Ellimore farm. Turn right at the T junction and prepare for another mile of climbing or stop to admire the bluebells at nearby Heaven's Gate.
Once you pass North Harton farm you are nearly done. Turn first left and follow the long lane until turning right when sign posted back to Moretonhampstead. At this point follow the long climb out towards Exeter.The descent from the top to Steps Bridge is one of Devon's best. There are just a couple more climbs to the outskirts of the city. At the traffic lights turn left into Buddle Lane. This continues into Exwick Rd and then look out for the right turn back to Station Rd and Exeter St Davids.
45 miles around the Quantocks, Blackdown Hills and Somerset Levels (870m climb) Ride 9
Somerset isn't all level; this lovely 45 miles tour takes in 2 moderate climbs across the Quantocks and Blackdown Hills before a relaxing stretch along Sustrans route 33 beside the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.
Start near the West India pub at Durleigh and head away from Bridgwater towards Enmore then start the climb up into the beautiful wooded Quantocks. Follow the signs and descend to Bishops Lydeard before crossing the A385 to Cotford St Luke and then on to Bradford on Tone. At this point just head for the imposing ridge of the Blackdown Hills, the lane crosses the M5 just after West Buckland and then climbs up to the top of the ridge. At this point turn left and enjoy a long stretch staying high to roll along the top of the ridge to Staple Hill. Carry straight on at the B3170 and turn downhill before Castle Neroche signposted to Staple Fitzpaine. It's a lovely descent then the road passes through some beautiful undulating countryside with high hedgerows, takes these back lanes to Creech St Michael. At this point look out for the signs to Sustrans route 33 and turn right off the road onto the Bridgewater and Taunton canal towpath. This delightful and tranquil path takes you past nesting swans and a series of lovely bridges. It will feel a wrench to leave at North Newton where you then follow the signs to North Petherton, re crossing the M5 and heading back through the hedgerows to Durleigh.
It's great to be on the tandem again and back in training for RideLondon. Thank you to all the NHS staff who fixed my broken arm.
This is a wonderful 46 mile loop from Exeter to Dartmoor taking in several flat off road sections as well as two challenging climbs (960m total) a good way to work off the Easter eggs.
Starting at the Quay in Exeter, head out downstream on the combined cycle/footpath past the Double Locks pub and out along the banks of the Exe Estuary. Continue straight on along the short narrow section atop the embankment next to the railway track before crossing this at the level crossing and continuing on the cycle path until Starcross.
Just past the station turn right and head inland, initially just a gentle rise but prepare for the long haul up Mamhead Hill. The views back over Exeter are well worth the climb before heading through Haldon woods bearing right at the top and crossing over the A380 and A38 past the side of Exeter racecourse.
Stick on the minor road to enjoy the decent into Chudleigh. From there turn left and then follow the signs to Chudleigh Knighton and onwards from there to Bovey Tracey. Turn left and at the roundabout take the third exit to Moretonhampstead. After 200m look out for the entrance to the cycle path which follows the dismantled railway line as far as Lustleigh. At the end of the track turn left and first right then continue to the end of the lane and eventually head onwards to rejoin the main Moretonhampstead road. Just before the town turn right towards Exeter to join the B3212 for the second moderately challenging climb of the day.
From the top of the hill enjoy a fabulous descent which takes you through Doccombe and over Steps Bridge. There is one more short climb before you cross under the A30 and up hill again into Exeter. At the cross roads turn left into Buddle Lane then continue straight on along Exwick road before turning right at Station road to rejoin the cycle path into the centre of Exeter. The amazing cakes from Bar Venezia sitting outside in the sunshine on the Quay should not be missed.
Hill training! Widecombe, Buckland, Holne, Dartmeet, Poundsgate & Ponsworthy
This ride takes in 5 proper thigh-burning Dartmoor climbs. At 20 miles, what it lacks in mileage it makes up for with a thousand metres of climbing. Great for hill training.
Start in the centre of Widecombe and take the lane sign posted to the Rugglestone Inn. Deceptively level until after the riding stables it then turns into a challenging climb up Pudsham Down. Turn right at the T junction and then first left following the signs to Buckland-in-the-Moor. Pass through this beautiful village and enjoy a great descent almost as far as Ashburton but looking out for the signs on the right to Holne.
The road crosses the Dart at the lovely Holne bridge then climbs steeply through the woods. Keep following the signs to Holne where it is well worth stopping for a drink at the Church House Inn or the wonderful village shop and tea rooms, still serving hot tea or chocolate even though their main tea room doesn't open until Easter.
Keep heading up the hill and cross the dam at Venford Reservoir before a further climb and wonderful views from the top at Combestone Tor.
Enjoy the descent past the Forest Inn to Hexworthy bridge. After Huccaby Farm turn right at the T-junction and enjoy another descent past all the pixies to Dartmeet. Prepare for a challenging climb followed by another descent. After Poundsgate look out for a lane on your left towards Leusdon...more climbing then continue to Ponsworthy. Prepare for a final long climb of the trip before a gentle drop back into Widecombe.
This wonderful 26 mile round trip starts in Totnes, taking mostly quiet back lanes to Dartmouth, before crossing by the lower ferry to Kingswear and returning via Stoke Gabriel. It can be shortened by crossing at Dittisham instead of Dartmouth; taking in a trip to Agatha Christie's former home at Greenway
The best way to join the first section of this route is via the cycle path to Sharpham which begins from near the Plains, at the far end of New Walk. Alternatively, cycle up the High Street, turn left at the Bay Horse Inn then right into Leechwell Street keeping uphill and joining a short stretch of the A381. Take the first lane on the left, which takes you all the way to Ashprington. Bear right in the centre and pass the village hall following the lane down hill towards the bridge over the Harbourne at The Waterman's Arms, follow the signs to Tuckenhay and then on to East Cornworthy. Expect hills but also some wonderful views over the Dart.
At this point follow the signs to Dittisham and, at the Red Lion, decide whether to cut your route short by heading straight on and then down the lane to the Greenway Ferry or to follow the very steep lane out of Dittisham to Dartmouth. (It's well worth heading down to the the FBI, the Ferry Boat Inn or the Anchorstone Cafe even if you don't want to ring the bell by the jetty to summon the ferry).
At the top of the long climb it is a relief to finally join the A3122 for a relatively level ride to the top of Dartmouth before the wonderful long downhill, past the naval college to the town centre. I prefer the lower ferry simply because I love the cycle through the town and more than once I've watched dolphins as I've crossed the Dart. Before leaving Dartmouth you will be spoilt for choice for fish restaurants and cafés.
The views back across Dartmouth as you climb the long hill to Hillhead from Kingswear are spectacular and at the top as you head towards Paignton, so too are the views across Torbay. Immediately after the railway bridge, turn left into Galmpton then bear right following the signs to Waddeton. Pass through this hamlet and then turn left after the stream to Mill Pool in Stoke Gabriel where there is a lovely spot to relax and watch the crabbing or stop at the cafe in season. Head back up the steep hill into the centre of Stoke Gabriel then follow the signs to Aish. The lane continues deceptively level before the steep climb up to the A385 at Longcombe Cross. Turn left and keep climbing all the way to the top of Bridgetown Hill before enjoying the wonderful descent back to Totnes, famous for its fantastic independent coffee shops and cafés.
Widecombe, Bone Hill, Haytor, Bovey, Lustleigh,Trendlebere Down and Manaton
One of my favourite moorland rides; 28 miles with some proper Dartmoor hills and 900m climbing
Start at Widecombe-in-the-Moor and take the road towards Haytor. Immediately after the 20% gradient sign take the unmarked lane on the left. You won't be spared the very steep climb but it takes a far more scenic route to the top (with less traffic) via the lovely hamlet of Bone Hill. There are wonderful views from the top of Bone Hill Rocks. Keep straight ahead, rejoining the road to Haytor which is visible in the distance. Keep left then continue on the road past Saddle Tor and Haytor for the fabulous long descent all the way down to Bovey Tracey. At the roundabout (with what looks like a giant game of granite Jenga), turn left towards Moretonhampstead and after about 200m look out on your left for the entrance to the cycle path to Lustleigh. Follow this beautiful off-road route along the dismantled railway line all the way to the end then exit through the gate and turn left, passing between the remains of a granite railway bridge. Take first right and follow the lane alongside the river. Immediately after the Lustleigh sign, turn left between two thatched cottages, it is not a 'no through road' for cyclists. Carry on through the thatched hamlet of Wreyland, past one of the loveliest cricket pitches in England and come out into the village centre. Well worth a stop-off at the Cleave Inn (or Primrose Tea Rooms in season). Keep left at the village shop then first left again where the Lane runs alongside a Leat. Keep left at the end of the lane then after a short steep descent turn right at the T junction and cross Drakesford Bridge. Continue on this lane which becomes a short steep climb to Reddaford Water. At the T junction turn sharp right for the long climb up Trendlebere Down then continue past Becky Falls to Manaton. Continue straight on through the village to Langstone Cross. Turn left then keep left as far as Heatree Cross. At this crossroads, turn right and follow the long lane all the way to the B3212 and then turn left following the signs to Postbridge. Keep climbing until Challacombe Cross where you take the lane on your left. The road continues to climb but look out for the remains of tin workings on your right and pass Headland Warren Farm. From here enjoy the descent on well signposted lanes all the way back to Widecombe.
Short, sharp and scenic with one flat stretch.
Distance 12.5 miles
Park at Beesands (SX819405) and take the steep road up towards Stokenham ignoring the first turning to Beeson. At the roundabout in Stokenham carry straight on then at the fork in the road, bear right following the signs to Slapton. Pass through this beautiful village and continue past the Slapton Ley Field Centre and enjoy the great downhill to the sea. Turn left to enjoy a flat stretch along the Slapton line without the headwind. At the car park turn around and cycle the whole line with a wonderful view out towards Start Point lighthouse. It is worth pausing at the moving monument to those who lost their lives in Operation Tiger. Then it is up the hill to Stokenham and another fabulous downhill to Beesands, this time taking the route via the hamlet of Beeson.
Don't miss a short walking detour for a view over the ruined village of Hallsands
Medium with one category 3 Climb
17.5 miles 640m climb
Park in Bovey Tracey and take the B3387 towards Haytor. This is a category 3 climb but worth it for the fantastic views from the top. Carry straight on past Saddle Tor then fork right and right again following the signs to Manaton.
It's worth a detour to Hound Tor for hot chocolate in a real mug or a trek over the top to explore the ruined medieval village just over the other side.
Backtrack 50m to Swallerton Gate from the car park then continue on the Manaton Road. It is worth a pause at Jay's Grave just under 1km on your left. At Heatree Cross turn right towards Manaton and two further right turns until you pass through the village following the signs to Bovey Tracey. Enjoy one of Devon's loveliest downhills; Trendlebere Down but slow down past the lower cattle grid and look out for the signs to Lustleigh on the left. This is a very sharp left and easily missed. After a further steep descent to Drakeford Bridge, keep right passing under an old railway bridge and up a very short steep climb to Knowle Lane. Turn right and continue to the end where a quick left then right brings you to the start of a wonderful off road cycle path along the dismantled railway to return to Bovey Tracey.
Medium with one longish, mildly challenging climb but one of the best descents in Devon. One of my favourite rides.
24 miles 480m climb
This wonderful circular route starts from Bovey Tracey and takes the cycle path to Lustleigh. Access the route by parking in the town centre car park and taking the path opposite the entrance through Mill Marsh Park and then under the road bridge. Go through the gate and turn right up onto the beautiful off road path along the dismantled railway. Continue to the end, pass though the gate and then take a left and right in quick succession onto Knowle Lane. Look out for a cluster of thatched cottages and turn left at Wreyland, down the hill and then past the cricket field. The Cleave Inn is definitely worth a tiny detour or from Easter, the Primrose Cafe. Follow the signs out of the village towards Moretonhampstead, turning left on the A382. Just before the town and just past Budleigh Farm, fork right following the signs to Doccome and Exeter. This short lane joins the B3212 where you turn right for the slog up Hingstone Down. Hingstone Rocks are a good excuse to stop for a hike but otherwise continue to the top of the hill to enjoy one of Devon's loveliest downhill stretches all the way to Steps Bridge. The descent feels like it will go on forever and, as the road has recently been resurfaced, you can enjoy the fabulous view rather than the potholes. The stroll along the river from Steps Bridge is wonderful for daffodils in Spring. Passing Dunsford, take the first lane on the right, just as the main road veers left for the long cycle down the banks of the Teign. The lane joins the B3193 and continues to follow this beautiful river. At the junction with the B3344 turn right towards Chudleigh Knighton and then continue on the road back to Bovey Tracey.
The Devon Guild of Craftsmen at the Riverside Mill has a great upstairs cafe.
Okehampton to Brent Tor
A very easy, off- road cycle along the Granite Way adding in a few gentle hills to the hauntingly beautiful Brent Tor.
Distance 25.5 miles, climb 504m
There are few places on Dartmoor where you can cycle 16 miles completely off-road with barely 100m of climbing. The newly opened sections of the Granite Way along the old railway line now offer a safe (and beautifully surfaced) route all the way from Okehampton station to Lydford; a sixteen mile round trip with lovely views. It is well worth extending the trip by road to reach one of Dartmoor's best loved landmarks, Brent Tor.
Park at Okehampton Station and go straight across the cross roads at the station exit. The entrance to the cycle path is not well marked but the gate is around 20m further along on the left. After 8 miles exit the final gate and turn right and cycle down into Lydford. From March, its a wonderful walk out to the Devil's Cauldron from the National Trust tearooms
Carry on through the castle and past both entrances to Lydford Gorge keeping straight on towards Brent Tor, which appears over the hedgerows like Dartmoor's Glastonbury. For fabulous views climb to the top to visit England's highest working church, St Michael de Rupe.