GRAHAM’S GREAT BRITISH JAUNT - The lanes of Devon and Cornwall
We had an early start from Bridestowe donning shorts, cycling jerseys and sun cream which was a first since setting out from the north of Scotland. This is certainly a very beautiful part of our country and we soon reached Lydford Gorge, another main attraction which we had to miss visiting as our way was along the fringes of Dartmoor. Sheep, cattle, wild ponies and their foals kept us company as we rode on grass and a rough track to North Brent Tor where Hazel collected her second puncture from a gorze thorn. We were on metalled roads to Mary Tovy and the drop into Tavistock, which was busy with a Sunday market, after which we continued to Millhill and Chipshop (yes – on the map) for a pub lunch and a pint. Narrow, hilly and sunken lanes took us down to Horsebridge and Luckett where a monster climb demanded a steady plod uphill, which led to cottages beside an old railway cutting. Whilst admiring the views we pondered on the engineering skills of the Victorians in bringing the railway to a remote spot some 700 feet up in the moors to the nearby obsolete mineral mines. On more earthy matters we had to check the spelling of Luckett: it does not commence with an Anglo-Saxon F which may have more aptly summed up our feelings to this hill which was taking a heavy toll of our legs. Eventually we reached the summit with views of Plymouth miles away and to be rewarded with a good downhill section to Callington.
The River Lynher provided an idyllic few miles through woods, but then a map reading error added miles before we regained the chosen route to Liskeard where the White Hart provided much needed refreshments. I was distinctly tired and could not face scratching about in lanes any more so it was the wide open spaces and long drags of the motorway standard A38 to Doublebois after which we took the quieter A390 to Lostwithiel. Some long downhill stretches took us into the town and a phone call to the Bed and Breakfast for directions saved time searching for our haven for the night. Baths, tea and biscuits restored our humour, and I even quietly enjoyed mending two inner tubes before turning in for the night.
We were now in Cornwall and our last county of the jaunt. The frequent road signs for Bodmin were now replaced by numerous signs pointing to St. Austell as we headed westwards along minor roads with more open views. The villages of Lanlivery Puddle, Luxulyan, Roche and Bugle led us to St. Dennis, where we got lost due to the absence of signs to point the way to the A30 at Indian Queens – not as nice as the name implies. The Blue Anchor at Fraddon provided shelter from the rain and a welcome lunch, after which we turned south for Truro after negotiating the cycle way through old arsenic mines. Cornwall had some truly dangerous industries ranging from mining for tin and china clay, quarrying, inshore and deep sea fishing, but arsenic mining must rate as the most hazardous. Arsenic was extracted from the spoil to form crystals to be sent to USA for use against the boll weevil which wreaked havoc in the cotton fields. Other pesticides did away for the need for arsenic, but nevertheless we were pleased to escape the area and reach the fair city of Truro. Having descended we now had to ascend to reach Redruth on National Byway three and our overnight stop at Illogan Highway arranged by Annabel.
Redruth, Illogan Highway and Camborne stretch along the old A30. We kept to the national byway to the south of the three towns which merge into one long built up conurbation, which at one time was linked by a tramway. The Victorians loved trains and trams which perhaps were necessities for getting about, but I suspect were also regarded as status symbols in out-of-the-way places. Our hosts for the night had some every interesting photographs of the old days, but more importantly were able to phone ahead to book dinner at The Three Plumes. This was a popular spot with the locals playing darts, but it also had reminders of the grimmer side of Cornish life as it had been used as a mortuary very many years ago when there had been a disaster in a nearby tin mine.