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Home Travel StoriesExploring South Devon

Rocks And A Better Brixham

By Ren Withnell
 
Ride Date 13 September 2018 
 
I'm feeling better. Not quite 100% better but better and better is better. I'm walking normally and my morning ablutions while sub-optimal are acceptable. Thank goodness for that.
 
Sharon and I are facing a problem. We chose a caravan because we do a lot of camping and we fancied a change and some home comforts. There is no doubt at all that this van is indeed comfortable and homely. The problem is that it stays in the same place - permanently. 

Within the caravan is a large comfortable double bed in a clean and pleasing room
Lovely. If only it folded up into a small bag and fitted onto the bike. 

The advantage of the tent is we can come and go as we please. 3 nights here, a night there, maybe even 4 nights elsewhere. We've been here in Brixham now for 4 full days and we both feel we're ready to move on. We've another 2 full days here including today.
 
There is no way in hell we could see all there is to see in and around Brixham in 4 days. I've been living in the Bolton area for over 20 years and I still find new places all the time. We just feel that we've done what we wanted to do here and it would be good to move elsewhere. North up to the north Devon coastline? Maybe Exmoor?
 
No. No we've paid for this so we're going to make the most of it. Anyhow we don't have a tent and I'm definitely not forking out for a hotel when I've already paid for a static caravan for the week. No we are staying here. This however is a valuable lesson. While we don't like to travel thousands of miles every week we do seem to need to "move on". Interesting, fascinating, enlightening.
 
We've looked south down the coast. We've battled our way through the English Riviera. We only touched a little of Dartmoor yesterday so today we'll have a more thorough look around them thar hills.
 
To get to Dartmoor we head back to Buckfast Abbey. Knowing it will be busy with The Antiques Roadshow I instead head into the small town of Buckfastleigh and spot a steam train sign. Oooooh choo choos! The sun is shining brightly. This station hails from the Victorian era. There's an engine in steam. There's clean toilets. There's a cafe. I'm feeling a lot better. We have a brew as the engine starts to hiss more and more aggressively. Life is good.

The old train station complete with carriages and hanging flower baskets
My father and my grandfather would appreciate such a scene.  
The driver of the steam engine leans out to ensure everyone is on the carriages
All aboard!

Out onto the roads once more. Sharon's on her own bike today and we are flowing gently down narrow lanes. It is green a lush here and yet it is also quite frustrating. These damnable high bankings and huge hedges hinder any appreciation of this setting save for fleeting glimpses. We could be surrounded by gold plated tractors for all I know.
 
I find Haytor Rocks. Ahhh good we're out of the bocage an up on the hilltops now. The scenery here, now that we can see it, reminds me very much of The North Yorkshire Moors albeit a little more rounded and softer. There's even a handful sheep wandering around, one of them senses my Yorkshire roots and backs away slowly.
 
Haytor is the top of a rounded hill with a clump of rocks atop. Several sheep wander around
Haytor and some fluffy walking clouds.
 
It seems all roads in Dartmoor lead to Widecombe in the Moor and we're back here once more. This time my mood is better, the shops are open and the sun is peeking out from behind light clouds. We park up and walk into a cafe. We look at the prices. We walk out the cafe. There's a small wooden shed but a brief walk away that serves tea and ice cream at acceptable levels of remuneration.
 
Sharon picking up her bike gear amidst postcards and keyrings outside a local shop
No, no you don't need a postcard.
A large stone building with a information centre and Widecome in the Moor church behind it
Widecombe is a nice place to always end up in.
 
Our next stop is Hound Tor. According to Wiki Hound Tor *may* *possibly* be the inspiration for The Hound Of The Baskervilles. On the small car park is a take away van titled "Hound Of The Basket Meals" so maybe it's all true huh?
 
A food van with a sign on the front stating hound of the basket meals at hound tor
Aahhhh I see what you've done there. 
At the top of the hill is a large, angular, creviced and gnarly rocky outcrop
Hound Tor, no sign of any scary hounds today.
 
We lock the helmets to the bikes, leave as much as we can in the top box and load up my big bag with the rest. It's not a long walk to the Tor yet it is steep enough to see us both sucking in deep lungfuls of Devonian air. I love my motorcycling dearly but it feels good to be off it and getting my blood flowing. The air is cooler up here making our exertions welcome to keep us warm.
 
Atop the Tor is an outcrop of craggy rock in all kind of strange haphazard shapes. There are bunches of enviably young folks clambering over it and I decide I'm not really a feeble old fart and start to climb myself.
 
I'm doing well! Scramble up this bit, flop myself like a landed fish onto that shelf then impress myself by shimmying skywards - limbs either side of a crevice. I am a veritable climbing god! Ah. Then I remember that I may want to go back down at some point in time. I stop. I Look around. Yes, well done Ren for getting this far but any further may require mountain rescue.
 
Ren is high up in the crevice between rocks looking down at the camerA
Yeah, that's enough for me. Now, erm, errr...a little help sweetie?
 
I'm not quite "old" yet. I'm at that awkward stage where my brain still believes it is only 21 years old but my experience and my body remind me I'm definitely not. My youthful ego still desires to reach the peak, the wisdom that comes with a decline in hormone levels guides me to a better decision. I stop where I am, wedged in the crevice, happy with my achievement, even happier knowing I can still get back down.
 
Sharon and I take a few moments to look around. The landscape is more genteel and less ominous than I expected. The Hound Of The Baskervilles and tales of lonely, remote and wild Dartmoor seem far fetched. Perhaps it's the fair weather and people walking by? I try to imagine this on a dark, windy and tumultuous night. Context, dear boy, context.
 
Looking out from the tor we see rolling hills with rocky outcrops stretching to the distance
It's hardly the stuff of nightmares on a day like today.
 
We return to the bikes and kit up once again. Much as it pains me to say this the parts of Dartmoor we are riding are not great biking roads. These blasted high hedges are ubiquitous and prevent either rapid progress or a slow appreciation of our surroundings. I'm sure a local rider could take us to some fabulous flowing roads and to some amazing scenery but we are finding neither.
 
A narrow lane between hedges, fauna and trees on a dartmoor lane
We see A LOT of this and not a lot else.
 
Getting back into the hinterland of Paignton at rush hour isn't helping either.
 
Today is Thursday. Tonight in town there is a ghost walk. This - well this wouldn't usually be my kind of thing but Sharon fancies it. I've been passively accepting doing it but as the week has gone on I'm strangely quite looking forward to it. It'll be a different experience and it may bring the town to life with spine chilling tales. Yeah, I'm quite up for this.
 
Chippy tea too. There's a couple of chippys claiming to be "famous". Having been to the "famous" Magpie chippy in Whitby and been completely underwhelmed we avoid this one. Just around the corner opposite the "William Of Orange" statue on the harbour we find the reasonably priced Golden Fish. We eat, sitting on the base of the statue where we are to meet the Ghost Walk. The chips are great.
 
1930 comes and goes and while plenty of people are walking by no-one else is loitering looking like they're ready to be scared on a Ghost Walk. Hmmm. Sharon gets out her mobile and confirms the date and time. Hmmm. Further research reveals the website hasn't been updated for years. Hmmmm. Further research suggests this all used to happen quite some time ago. HA! Dammit.
 
Oh dear. Oh heck. Oh well. Not to worry sweetie I'll get over my disappointment in a few year's time. Never one to miss the opportunity to be a horrendous boyfriend I make the most of this chance to tease Sharon. She knows I'm joking. I think. I hope.
 
It is a cool yet pleasant evening and it seems it is now ours to do with as we please. If there's no Ghost Walk we'll take our own and see Brixham on foot.
 
I'm glad we do. You can probably tell I've been somewhat neutral in my feelings about the town. Tonight we're finding a different character and I am rethinking my opinions. Steep step rise up between random terraced houses on terraces. There's parking spaces atop out building set into the slopes. Balconies from kitchens and summer houses clinging to walls all overlook the bay which is now lighting up as the sun sets.
 
Tall house side and a narrow stepped path between them at Brixham
Wonderfully quirky houses and passageways abound.
Houses up high and low down and all levels on a street in the town
Up, down, high, low, the houses are splendidly odd.
 
I have this "thing" for unusual houses with unusual layouts. I can't explain it, I can only guess it appeals to my contrariness. My "thing" is being well satisfied this evening. I also appreciate the DIY bodges where bits of corrugated plastic and sheet materials are screwed to random offcuts of wood to scavenge shelter for pets or outdoor clothing or random tools. Delightful.
 
This house is on an acute corner and curved into the wedge of the road
"Put it in the corner" "Corner you say?"
The lights on the harbour and the boats are starting to twinkle as the sun sets
As the lights come on the harbour takes on a welcoming hue.
 
The harbour looks more alive and more welcoming at night. Seen from above I can much more easily imagine a weary weather battered trawler's relief at seeing the lights and the safety of the harbour coming into view. I can imagine climbing these steep steps to my unusual house and collapsing onto a settee after a long and arduous few days at sea.
 
I think I have brought Brixham to life in my mind.

If you'd like to sponser Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Riding To Devon It's a long and arduous trip down south to Devon. Or - perhaps Ren is being a drama queen and a bitter cynic.
A Walk Around Brixham Our intrepid motorcycle muppets don't even touch a motorcycle today. In fact it's quite a day for doing things differently for Sharon!
Dartmouth, Slapton and Salcombe South of Brixham the coastal landscape is proving to be quite rural and enjoyable for Sharon and Ren.
The English Riviera - Urgh The dynamic muppets take a haphazard tour of The English Riviera. What will the crankiest two-wheeled twit make of it all?
ButtFast And Buckfast Abbey Ren is having and uncomfortable day. There are things that should not be shared and Ren is sharing them here. Oh dear.
Rocks And A Better Brixham Sharon And Ren scrabble over rocks on Dartmoor and Ren reviews his opinions regarding Brixham
Torquay By Ferry Sharon and Ren bob along the ocean waves to see what Torquay is all about. Context dear boy, context.
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