Monday, 11 April 2011

Launceston to Great Torrington - Day Seven - Bristol to Cornwall round trip

We were late leaving Launceston as we dallied awhile drinking coffee with the lovely people at Launceston Cycles.

When we got on our way we took the main road to Holsworthy. We stopped for a break in the main square.
"Do you notice anything?" said Mick suddenly.
"No, like what?"
"No flowers," he said.
I looked around. he was right. It was the middle of April and yet all the flower tubs were empty. No hanging baskets either. Not a flower in sight anywhere.
"No money," said Mick dolefully. "Holsworthy might not be as poor as a northern town but it's still struggling."
After this bleak assessment we decided to get on our way. I decided to once again pick up Sustran's Route Three.

For a day out pottering around, Sustrans routes are great. However if you actually want to get anywhere then they should be used with caution. A Sustrans path will go to great lengths to avoid main roads. I can understand why, if you are out with your five and three year old, the last thing you want to do is suddenly find yourself next to lorries thundering past you at sixty miles an hour on the A30 or whatever. But sometimes a Sustrans path just feels like it is leading you on a merry dance. As we zigzagged our way out of Holsworthy we found ourselves, for a while, heading south. I have no sense of direction at all but Mick just sort of sticks his nose in the air and can tell more or less which direction we are headed. He did this now.

"Why are we heading south?" he said irritably.
"It's not for long," I retorted.
He then said something rude about Sustrans which I won't repeat.

I was relieved however when we turned left and started heading east. East was better than south although north-east would have been better still. We wandered around Devonshire lanes with Sustrans for a while through villages with lovely names: Cookbury Wick, Dippermill, Sheepwash before picking up the off-road Tarka Trail at Petrockstowe.

At Bude I had picked up a list of phone numbers for independent hostels and I knew that there was one at Great Torrington, Yarde Orchard. As we headed up the trail another ex-railway path, we saw signs for it. It wasn't in Torrington itself but in a village on the path a few miles outside. It was clearly a hippy-type eco place and was a bunkhouse rather than a hostel. The building was lovely, a recently built wooden structure, very light and airy....the place has won lots of awards for eco-tourism and apparently is "deep green".

Mick would have been in a bad mood anyway though, as the hostel was nowhere near a pub. He always gets crabby when we are away if he thinks he is not going to get a beer. I pointed out he was a total pisshead, to which he freely agreed.
"Anyway, we have to go into Great Torrington to do some shopping," he said, triumphantly.

We cycled along the road down a huge hill and then climbed up into Torrington.
"There's no way we're going back that route!" I yelled. "I'm not climbing up that hill."
Mick cheered up once we had sat ourselves in the pub. Across the room sat a very well dressed woman who must have been in her eighties at least. She was waggling her finger at us. I nudged Mick and we both looked across at her. Mick held up his hands in a gesture to ask what was wrong. She jabbed her finger at him again.
"Take your hat off!" she said severely. "Take your hat off indoors!"
Mick sheepishly removed his baseball cap and placed it on the seat next to him and the woman nodded approvingly before returning to her glass of sherry.

We returned to Yarde by heading out of Torrington in the opposite direction to the one by which we had entered, and picking up the Tarka Trail. It was rather eerie cycling along the wooded path in the dark but much, much better than tackling that hill.

Miles cycled today: 39
Total miles: 288

Our route is here

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