In Okehampton: Day two - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

May 27, 2024

In Okehampton: Day two

The day begins with what will be our normal routine here at the White Hart: we head down to breakfast right at seven.  We’re held up at the bottom of the stairs though by a locked door to the dining area, and wait there for about two or three minutes with another guy who from his outfit is obviously a biker too, and then we’re ushered in.

We place our orders, fill our bottomless cups, and then sit down at a table waiting for our orders to arrive.  The biker that came in is sitting at the table next to us, and shortly his three mates straggle in one at a time.  Conversation ensues, and continues until our attention turns to our arriving meals.  They’re on a short weekend bike tour (it’s a three day weekend because of the Spring Bank Holiday), riding in two days from their homes in Ilfrecombe down to Plymouth before taking the train back to their wives and office jobs.  It’s a great conversation, with a lot of grilling about our chosen lifestyle and what it’s like back home.  Casual encounters like this are one of the things we’re really enjoying about England.

After breakfast Rachael heads up to the room while I refill my cup and get back to work at trying to catch up on the blog.  And then we sit around the room watching the weather, hoping it will turn in our favor in time to be useful.  It does somewhere around noon, and then we’re both out the door going our own ways for the afternoon again.

Rachael’s day: a Tale of Two Tors

After hearing about Scott’s walk in the Moors, I decided to take a hike in the same area.  Unfortunately, about 2 miles into the hike I realized I forgot my rain jacket and there were a lot of menacing looking storm clouds.  I decided to continue anyway but didn’t take any photos and chose a route that looked less likely to rain.  Along the way I saw wild horses, bunnies and lots of rams, ewes and lambs.  I am really glad I continued!  And it just kept getting better.  I finally spotted East Mill Tor.  I had to scramble over many large boulders but it was definitely was worth it!

Approaching East Mill Tor.
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Gregory GarceauOne thing I'd scramble over boulders for,
Would surely be to see East Mill Tor,
Even if it was cloudy, not sunny,
I'd go there for the rocks, the sheep, the bunny.
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4 weeks ago
A view of Yes Tor.
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Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauSome trivia, from Wikipedia: “Yes Tor was the original inspiration for the name of the Yes album Tormato and a picture of the Tor features on the album cover, and a topographic map on the inner sleeve. The planned name for the album was Yes Tor until Rick Wakeman, or more probably Hipgnosis designer Aubrey Powell, vandalised the prototype artwork using a ripe tomato.”
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4 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauTo Scott AndersonBack in the day, I had Yes' first three albums and really liked them. I didn't care for their next ones too much. A friend of mine stuck with Yes much longer than I did. He had the Tormato album. He put it on the turntable once, and, let me tell you, it did no justice to the actual Yes Tor.
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4 weeks ago
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Really dark clouds but no rain!
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Keith AdamsThey're just there to heighten the drama of the light.
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3 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Keith AdamsI’m just glad I didn’t get rained on!
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3 weeks ago

The following photos are of East Mill Tor.

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Now that I’ve mastered taking selfies, I had to take one here. Excuse the messy hair, the wind is very strong up here.
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Time to head back. What a great walking bridge. It passes over a busy highway.
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Scott’s day: a Tale of Two Lews

It was amazing going up into the moors yesterday, but with five or six decent hours available I decide it’s the best day for a ride out to the northwest.  The route I come up with is a last minute idea, changed as a result of finishing the post of our ride here from Tavistock this morning.  I decide I’d like to route past those two viaducts and look up from beneath them so I alter the out and back I’d had planned and turn it into a loop that circles past them both.  It’s a good decision, and an excellent ride.  And two good outings here!  We’ve been quite lucky with the weather so far.

It wouldn’t be England if the ride didn’t include a steep climb or three. This one comes just a mile out of town and gives me an excuse to stop and look back.
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And it probably wouldn’t be England in this season either without a risk of getting wet. This one comes right away also. Fortunately it passes quickly and there’s a nice hardwood hanging over the road to provide shelter while I wait it out.
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Jacobstowe has a collection of attractive thatch roof houses. I’ve wondered if I’d see them in this part of the country.
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In Jacobstowe.
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I’ve picked a good route for myself. Most of my miles are on peaceful lanes like this - paved enough for my needs but so little traveled that the centerline stripe isn’t worn off.
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It looks like there’s an abundance of roads like this in Devon. I could be a long time exploring them on a prolonged stay.
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Yellow iris, also apparently called a flag iris over here. Back home we’d call these water irises.
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Jacquie GaudetAnd my mother (from Alberta) would have called it a yellow flag.
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3 weeks ago
I’m only about eight or ten miles west of Okehampton but I’m far enough off that the high country above it is looking distant.
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#244: Eurasian Skylark. So am I ever going to get a decent shot of a new bird again, you’re probably wondering? So am I.
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Gregory GarceauI'm not wondering, because I KNOW you'll get more decent shots in the near future.
P.S. The second car the Feeshko & I ever owned was a Buick Skylark. We bought it after our first car went up in flames thanks to an electrical short. Despite a little fuzziness, now I know what our Skylark was named after.
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauThey get their name (the bird, not the car) because they fly high in the sky singing a melodious song. I’ll have to listen for one, but for now I’m just happy to be able to say I saw one.
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4 weeks ago
I think we’ll be seeing scenes like this often in the coming weeks.
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Hatherleigh has its share of thatched roofs also.
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In Hatherleigh.
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Here’s an especially bright grouping of them. Well done, Hatherleigh!
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The Lew River, Hatherleigh. I’m surprised by the direction the water’s flowing, because I thought the Lew originated in the moors like so many other local rivers. But that’s the other Lew River, the southernmost one that I crossed a few days ago on a day ride from Tavistock. This is the northern Lew, which rises just up ahead in the coming small highland I’m biking into soon. Odd that there are two Lew Rivers so close together but not connected - at their closest they flow within ten miles of each other.
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Pretty country up near the headwaters of the northernmost Lew. I liked the pairing of that colorful plowed field and the skeletal tree below it, but would have liked a bit more sun on it to bring out the colors. After waiting around for a few minutes I gave up and worked with what was available at the moment.
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In the highlands where one of the two Lews originates.
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Janice BranhamJust beautiful country. I'm glad you're getting dry weather so we can see it too.
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2 weeks ago
Cow parsnip? hogweed?
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Bill ShaneyfeltSeems cow parsnips are a species of hogweed... There are many, but apparently only a few in England. Likely common hogweed

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/53095-Heracleum/browse_photos?grouping=taxon_id&place_id=6858

Cow parsnips don't show up in inaturalist England observations.
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4 weeks ago
Looking east I get a nice unobstructed view of the high tors of northern Dartmoor. I think that highest one is Yes Tor, the one Rachael’s probably looking up at from the other side right about now.
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Leaving the northern Lew behind I drop toward the other one on another stretch of road I’m glad to be traveling in this direction - it drops at around 20% toward the bottom.
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Wheelbarrow planter, Bridestowe.
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Saint Bridget’s Church in Bridestowe has a colorful set of stones surrounding it. I should take a close-up of this mahogany-hued lichen sometime. A block or so earlier I crossed the other Lew for the second time, not knowing I should be snapping a photo there too.
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I’m on this unpaved bit of trail, the only one of the day, because I want to see the underside of the Lake Viaduct. It’s just up ahead.
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I’m not sure it was worth it though, as the viaduct is barely viewable through all the undergrowth.
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#245: Song thrush, my unexpected reward for routing beneath the viaduct.
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On the Lake Viaduct again, which we crossed yesterday. I imagine there’s often a crowd up here on a good day.
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Beneath the Meldon Viaduct. It took more of a detour to get to this point, so it’s nice that it presents better.
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The view east into the park from the Meldon Viaduct. There’s a paved road that ends just below, and several trails radiating up from it. It looks like it would be a good entry point into a different part of the park.
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I’m back at the room by 5:15, in plenty of time so that Rachael’s not stressed that we’ll be late for our six o’clock dinner reservation at the Fountain Inn.  She’s excited to share the details of her day with me - her wonderful hike, how beautiful the moors are, how lucky she was to have gotten by without the coat she forgot to take with her.  When that winds down though there’s still just enough time for me to unload and sift through my photos for the day so we can look over them together over dinner.

The Fountain Inn is a nice place - a simple pub, much smaller than the sprawling place at our hotel.  We enjoy the same meal: Atlantic salmon with veggies and boiled potatoes, and like it enough that we think we’ll go back and test out their chicken korma before we leave town.  And, they have a local amber I like.  I’m going to have to start collecting pint shots again for a gallery at the end of the tour like I did two years ago.

Presenting the Dartmoor Jail Ale, an amber from Princetown next to the prison. I was thinking I might stop for a pint and a snack there on my ride up there from Tavistock, but it didn’t seem prudent with a nine mile descent through the ponies coming up.
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Keith AdamsContinuing research...

Hope the glasses (specs) didn't stay on the table when you left.
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3 weeks ago
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Today's ride: 29 miles (47 km)
Total: 1,763 miles (2,837 km)

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