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From Somerset to North Devon

Took me six days to arrive in Saint Ives, (north west Cornwall), but before talking about that,  let´s go back in time and start from the beginning!!!

Clevedon to Lynmouth

It was a warm morning and from London to Bristol there´s not much to say… I got caught in the usual congestion on the M25, followed by the boring 50 mph average speed control on the M4 until Slough as the smart motorway is being built, and then all the way west towards the M5 that goes to Exeter.

I had never been to Clevedon and as my brother had just moved there, it was a good opportunity to visit him and this coastal old town. It is quite picturesque and scenic with excellent views over Wales on the other side of the Severn river estuary. Clevedon has the second biggest tidal rise and fall in the world, where the water  can go down to 14.5 meters, and therefore strong river currents are common. The coast line is quite pretty with big extensions of sand/soft mud during the low tide.

We went for a swim by the river at a pool/lake on the estuary, the water is quite brownish due to its muddy bottom, however the quality is good despite its aspect. I recommend sandals if you are to enter the water, or you might feel a disgusting spongy bottom. Still,  it is safe, as long as you are careful.

Felt great to be out of London and away from my daily routine.

Selfie
Relaxed mode on!!!

 

CBR600F4
“Sophia” and my brother´s bike.  Honda CBR 600 f4, 1999/2000.
Clevedon
Clevedon seafront and old pier, the estuary and the lake/swimming pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clevedon
The stunning view from Clevedon hill to the estuary towards south and it´s great low tide.

 

Clevedon
St. Andrews church in Clevedon, quite rustic and pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clevedon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clevedon
View over the Severn muddy water estuary, Wales on the other side and Clevedon Pier on the bottom. Stunning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later my brother and I did a little barbecue on a little cove beach just by were he lives, which was great! In a way I envy him to be living by the sea away from the city chaos, but I am happy for him as he loves it!

I woke up next morning with Saint Ives in my mind, everybody kept on tell me it is a fantastic town. It was a bit cloudy and warm, which makes the riding pleasant, so after breakfast I left Clevedon and headed towards North Devon. The A39 seemed to be quite scenic on the map, I started following it. Such a disappointment, it was all uninteresting, busy and nothing especial until Minehead, then it all changed. Less traffic density, more rural  with the coast not far at all. The road also became more interesting, hilly and twisted.

A39
After Minehead, no more cement trees, no more heavy traffic and no more polluted air!!!

My first stop was Porlock Weir, a small old settlement in west Somerset around a harbor. It is a pretty spot for a stop to appreciate the coast and the old harbor. There is a little museum, a hotel and a few restaurants. Probably a few interesting foot paths as well but I did not explore these.

 

Dunster
Before Porlock I passed this little nice village, Dunster. There´s a castle you can visit.
Porlock Weir
A bit of history about Porlock Weir
Porlock
Porlock Weir harbour side and the little museum. You can´t say it doesn´t have its beauty.
Porlock Weir
Porlock Weir harbor at tide out.
Porlock Weir
I believe this might have been a ww2 bunker, not sure, could not find anything related to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porlock Weir
Restaurant bar in Porlock Weir and the little settlement. Pretty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porlock Weir
This is Porlock Weir and its harbor!

 

I left Porlock Wier and re joined the A39, it was beautiful all around, but the road required some skill (If you are inexperienced I do not recommend you to take this route). Had to deal with a very steep section and a couple tight hairpins whilst going up hill, but once on the top the view was spectacular!!!  I was then in the North Devon district and Exmoor! One word to describe it, AWESOME! (I did not take pictures of the hairpins or recorded them as sadly I had no battery on my GoPro camera.)

 

North Devon
North Devon welcoming me with this great view. Porlock Weir is on the other side of the green mount at the far end.

 

 

North Devon
Exmoor National Park, miles and miles of excellent footpaths. Great place to do hiking and to enjoy the nature.
North Devon
The information center, pretty but it´s empty inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Devon
For someone who is used to spend most of the time in London you may not believe it but this is in England!!!

This was just the beginning and I was loving it, “Sophia” has an appetite for bends, hairpins and good tarmac… I was just delighted with the sight seeings and enjoying the road like nothing else matters in life… what a good feeling, all seemed to make sense, in harmony, and all that together means, therapy to me!!!!

 A lighthouse was marked in the map as point of interest, but had no idea how to get there, so after entering a private farm and being politely kicked out,  I was directed correctly to the “Foreland Point Lighthouse”.  The road to get there, if you can call it a road, was scary… asphalted but very narrow and incredibly steep with tight hairpins, and as if it wasn´t enough, with gravel on bends. (Not for the inexperienced for sure or you could end up at the bottom, in the sea).

It was worth it!!! what a beautiful place!!!

Foreland Point Lighthouse
Looking at this picture, makes it seem it is an easy road, however, don´t be fooled by its beauty, it is really hard to get to the lighthouse.

 

foreland Point Lighthouse
Potholes and chippings, it doesn´t look like it, but it is very steep.
Foreland Point Lighthouse
The lighthouse!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Foreland Point Lighthouse
Part of the view from the lighthouse. ( pictures that don´t make justice at all to the beauty of the spot)

Saint Ives was still on my mind and I wasn´t doing progress at all. All around was pretty and the road just intense making me to stop  all the time just to enjoy the views. I was on the A39 again getting close to Lynmouth. In my mind it was just another town I was about to pass, however the moment I started going down Countisbury Hill, I had to stop again as it was too beautiful to keep on going.

Countisbury Hill
This is the one of the views from Countisbury Hill. Amazing coast, dramatic and unique, however the only access to the beach is from Lynmouth and during low tide only.
Countisbury Hill
Countisbury Hill and Lynmouth at the bottom. Great spot!!!
Coountisbury Hill
The A39 in Countisbury Hill, what a great road!!! Doesn´t even feel like you are in England!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moment I arrived in Lynmouth I decided, I would spend at least a day around a day just to enjoy the place. It is too beautiful to be ignored.

Lynmouth
Lynmouth, one of the most amazing towns in North Devon.

First things first, I was hungry! I went to a coffee shop (The Bake House Cafe) to have a snack and met Hayley, the nicest waitress you can come across. Very friendly and smiley all the time. The food was great too. She told me all the places I should visit in Lynmouth, such as the Watersmeet, the Glen Lyn Gorge, the footpaths around, the beach and the sunset, and especially she insisted that I should visit The Valley Of Rocks. (thank you Hayley!) All in all Lynmouth is a great place to spend a couple days or holidays. 

Lynmouth
The bake house cafe, great friendly staff, great pastries and delicious smoothies.

It was time to find a camping to pitch the tent, so after a little research at the information center I ended up going to the Chanel View Caravan and Camping Park, a couple miles away from Lynmouth. I read in some reviews that this campsite is a bit pricey and the terrain not so good. Well, I can´t complain, I paid £7 per night for a tent and motorbike. It has good clean facilities (however toilets could benefit some updating), loads of electricity access points and tap water. The terrain was good and easy to pitch the tent, in a quiet location and away from the noise, there is a pub just next to it if you want to enjoy a pint and a little mini market at the entrance in case you need some essentials. Overall, it is a good spacious campsite offering great views over Lynmouth and the Bristol Channel, ideal for a couple nights.

 

Lynmouth
Arriving at Channel View Caravan Park

 

Lynmouth
Channel View reception and shop.. after the check in, time to pitch the tent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynmouth
Lynmouth view, stunning!!!!
Lynmouth
Lynmouth waterfront and the Lyn river estuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynmouth
Lyn River , stunning!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190701_203541.jpg
Lynmouth street
IMG_20190703_123053.jpg
This is Lynmouth 
IMG_20190701_203510.jpg
Next to a restaurant in Lynmouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190702_123011.jpg
Not sure if it´s a house or something else, but I liked it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was recommended, I had to check Valley of the Rocks just after Lynton. It´s one of the most amazing places I ever seen in the South West. Basically it´s a valley that runs parallel to the dramatic Devon coast, it is quite popular but not crowded and it is famous also for the existence of wild goats in the area. Definitely I recommend you to visit it independently if you are by motorbike or car.It is such a spectacular spot, either to walk the footpaths or just to enjoy the nature and scenery around, not forgetting the twisty roads around able to put a grin in every biker out there.

Here´s a little video about Lynmouth and Valley of the rocks :

 

Later on, I went back to Lynmouth to do a kind of picnic by the beach and relax while there was still some daylight before heading back to the camping. What a great day!!!!

Lynmouth
After the Valley of Rocks nothing better to lay down at the beach and to enjoy the freedom to roam wherever I wanted…
Lynmouth
… whilst enjoying a great sunset!!!
Lynmouth
Definitely the south west has has one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in the U.K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so that was my first day in North Devon… would I get to saint Ives the next day?

Well, you have to wait for the next post to find out!!!!

Thanks for reading!!!

 

Note:  Routes in the maps and routes section if you plan on doing a similar trip. 

 

 

Riding the West (U.K) Jul 2019

 

Introduction

 

July 2019

Summer is here (kind of) and It´s been a while since I last pitched the tent or did a road trip. I had two weeks off work ahead and the idea of  doing a road trip around Europe would not get out of my mind. At the same time I realized that U.K. still has loads of places unknown to me. I always heard that the Southwestern side of the U.K. is beautiful and it is the British home for surfers (not that I am one, although I like the ocean), so it could be a potential  great destination for my holidays.

Decision is taken!!! I´d ride west this time! Devon and Cornwall here I go!!!

I did not plan or did my usual research about which routes to take or thought about where I would be staying.  One stop in Clevedon (Bristol) to visit my brother for a couple days, then I would ride west without a particular route or destination. While visiting my brother, I simply bought a map and marked scenic routes on it before going. I was lucky, the weather was on my side, and hopefully I would find what I was after. Roads and scenery able to put a grin in my face, beach, picturesque towns and great people!!!

I just had one task to do before leaving Clevedon, “Sophia” (my bike´s name) was due for an oil change. So after that was done and with the luggage on the bike I was time to depart!!

Riding the West!!!                                                              The Journey begins!!!

 

 

 

P.S. There´s more to come within the next couple weeks but now you have to be patient! Work in progress!!! 

 

 

Peak District, U.K. 2018

A little peek in the Peak District

 

It´s been a while since I went out on a little trip. The fact I am working most of the time together with the British weather doesn´t leave much room to enjoy the pleasure of the country in two wheels until late March, mid April. A little escape was on my mind…
My other half´s birthday was coming soon, so I planned meticulously  a road trip to the Peak district without disclosing it to her. Luckily is was sunny and warm.  I did my usual research such as  finding scenic routes and activities in the area. Also had to book a hotel room which wasn´t easy, most were fully booked but after a few calls I found a room in Buxton town at the Buckingham Hotel.

The big day finally arrived. Marie still had no idea where were we going and thought I was pranking her with a ride around the M25. We left by 5.30pm Friday, stopping quickly by the motorcycle school where I work just to stretch Marie´s chain as it was a bit loose. We then went northbound on the M1. The usual boring motorway ride… long and uninteresting, good to get my tyres squared.
 Along the M1 there were some road works and road closure warning signs on routes I planned, so I had to find an alternative. The Donington service area seemed to be a good place for a little break and to check maps. There, I met the best traffic officers ever, who helped me out and searched the best routes to take as several accesses were closed. Marie was still in the dark, clueless about our destination.
Donington services
The best traffic officers I could ever find. I am really thankful to both!
We left the service area towards Derby and after Ashbourne the road became more interesting… more twisted and very hilly, adding to the fact that it was night and there was no street lights, just my headlight showing the road ahead… It wasn´t even cold at 10pm… just perfect!!! Anyway, we arrived in Buxton safe and sound.
  Our first impression about Buckingham Hotel on entry was that it was a little worn out, old fashioned and big. There was no one at the reception so I simply entered following the noise of people talking which took me to the hotel bar. As I spoke with the man behind the bar everyone around started laughing at me ( a bit odd). The barman (wearing an old T-shirt totally ripped off) then took me to the reception area and gave me the room key, number 15.  There is no lift, so it was quite a hike up to the 2nd floor. The heat hit us around the first floor, together with a smell of old furniture mixed with mold. Definitely this hotel had seen better days as it was possible to see that it needs restoration work. Our room was no exception, the walls  are covered with some garish wallpaper and the carpet is really old, decoration wise, pictures of Nicole Kidman were hanging all around the walls ( how weird). At least the bedsheets were clean and the bedroom fairly clean, comfortable and spacious. Well, it was just for a night really,  and for the price it wasn´t that bad!
Buxton
Buckingham Hotel
Before going to bed we decided to go to the town center to eat something. Buxton is small, but appears to have a good night life, lots of bars and night clubs and everyone around seemed to be happilly drunk ( or on magic mushrooms as Marie described). Anyway, we just wanted a snack and to go back to the hotel.
I had planned a full Saturday… A ride out thorough the famous Snake and Winnats passes and cavern visits in the town of Castleton. We left the hotel around 9.30 am to find a place to eat a proper breakfast. We went to Buxton town and ate at the “Eat @No. 5”. Staff was very friendly and warm, also the food was good too.
Buxton
Buxton town centre at 10am on a Saturday
Snake Pass;
It´s a road (A57) between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. Its name derives from a local Inn (Snake Inn) but also matches  the road as it has several bends. It is quite steep before it sinks in the Ladybower forest, however I don’t believe it is considered a U.K. dangerous road, a few blind bends but that is it. Snake Pass is quite popular among cyclists and bikers, specially when the weather is good. The summits are at about 520mts above the sea level. Piece of cake for the CBR´s.

 

 

We passed Banford, Hope and arrived at Castleton town. It is definitely a very scenic and a pretty route for a bike ride, also quite pleasant and fun. There are loads of points of interest in this region; Caverns, castles, and it´s a great area to hike and enjoy the sight seeings in between many other activities. We were there only for a day so I had planned caving. There are three major caverns: speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern (also known as the Devil´s arse), Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Unfortunately we didn´t have time to check out all of them.
Castleton
Welcome to Castleton!!!
The Speedwell Cavern;
Speedwell Cavern
The long straight white line shows the distance we covered by boat underneath the ground.
The only access you have is by boat… the entrance is quite interesting, you have to go down a long staircase to then jump on a little metal boat pulled by a small electric engine that takes you under the ground trough a narrow tunnel. The guide was very young,  pretty cool and fun and we had to use our hands on the rock to maneuvre the boat at a stage. That long small tunnel leads to a big limestone cavern. It´s an interesting experience and also its story such as the “bottomless pit”. Of course to explore it all in depth you must book a different guide and use appropriate equipment, such as torches, helmets and ropes. 
Note: I took way more pictures in the caverns, but they aren´t good at all to share with my little audience. These may give you a little idea of the places.

 

 

The Peak Cavern or the Devil´s arse;
Devil´s Arse entrance
Welcome to the Devil´s Arse!!!! ( A.K.A Peak Cavern)
It´s a natural cavern with an interesting story… apparently the cavern used to get flooded and when it sarted draining the water, loud sounds echoing similar to farts used to the heard in town, therefore it´s called the Devil´s Arse cavern. It´s a big cave that splits into 3 big caverns (open to the public), some points are so low that even children need to bend in order to pass. Its stories are interesting as well, such as how guided visits used to be in older times and also the Queen (Elisabeth the first) visited it twice.

 

 

 

There´s loads to do and see but time was running fast and we didn´t have time to visit other places, next time definitely I want to go caving with a guide. There are 13 mile long caves in the area, not all are open to the public but it is possible to explore them with a professional guide and appropriate equipment.
We were getting hungry and it was time to find a nice restaurant in town for a good meal. The town is busy and picturesque, crowded with visitors like us going on cavern tours or hiking… it´s a good atmosphere.
Castleton:

 

 

 

After we ate it was time to start thinking to get back to the old London, but, not forgetting to ride trough Winnats Pass, it´s not longer than a couple miles but it´s beauty and shape is unique. 
Winnats Pass
WINNATS PASS!!! View from the top. We didn´t resist and went up and down the road twice!!!

 

 

From there we passed some great country lanes, hilly, curvy and quite scenic until we crossed Chesterfield… and then back to the boring M1 again… We arrived home around 11 pm quite tired, not sure if because the ride or the amount of miles we spent walking, but, definitely it was a good little road ride.
Happy Birthday Marie!!!!!
Note:  For detailed routes about this post please click here !!!