The Devon Coast to Coast runs from Illfracombe to Plymouth. One hundred miles to so through the ever changing Devon Countryside. The route is maintained by Sustrans who not only do a wonderful job in waymarking your journey, but also provide excellent printed guides and maps available here.
With a bit of research I decided to go from north to south, booking overnight accommodation at the Meadowlea Guest House in Okehampton. The difficulty with any linear route is getting back to the start to pick up the car. With this in mind I opted to start in Barnstaple where there is a station and where the overnight parking in the station car park was only £1.90 / day. I know it is cheating slightly, missing out the 10 or 15 miles from Illfracombe to Barnstaple, but bugger it - this will do. So having spent an hour on planning I was ready to go.
Sat Morning 9:30am - Barnstaple Station Car Park
With my overnight bag safely stowed at the B&B I set off on the Tarka Trail along the Taw Estuary. 20 miles or so of joyously flat ex railway line cycling. The estuary views were sweeping with an unusual soundtrack of wading birdsong.
After Bideford and Torrington the trail becomes more wooded. A few trouser worrying moments as wet leaves and slick tyres fail to mix.
At Petrockstowe the route leaves the Tarka Trail and moves onto gently rolling Devon roads. The climbs increase and more time is spent out of the saddle. Delightful villages like Sheepwash and Hatherleigh are visited and then left on the horizon before a fairly steep descent into the market town of Okehampton.
With some much of the first day spent on the Tarka Trail, a strategy must be employed to deal with the the multitude of walkers, dogs and other cyclists. My method is to kill them with kindness. A friendly 'Coming though' followed by an edge of obsequious 'that's tooooo kind' as I actually pass, tends to leave the recipient dumfounded, drowning is a sea of barely sincere platitudes. I am planning a similar approach tomorrow. With any luck I can escape abuse free - a result any cyclist will take I think you will agree.
So now I am ready to experience all that Okehampton has to offer (well an Indian and a trip to cinema). I bid you all adieu, a demain for the Devon C2C #2.