A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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Lessons from Devon

20 December 2012

By Ren Withnell

If you've had the pleasure (?) of reading the tale of our Devonian trip you may have sensed it wasn't a rip-roaring success. But why? Is Devon pants? Did we screw up? What was lacking? This is the real world and answers in the real world are never simple are they.

The biggest lesson Sharon and I can take from this comes from the static caravan we hired. It was heavenly to have such luxuries as we have at home with us on holiday. Our own toilet and shower and kitchen, comfortable seating, heating, big comfortable bed and even a TV! 

However staying in one place for a week is just a little too much for ourselves. I think we could have done what we wanted to do within 3 or 4 days. Then it would have been good to up sticks and move elsewhere. Maybe just an hours ride away but enough to change scene and see something fresh. 

The solution would be to have a massive motorhome - with the bikes on the back. This is not going to happen. Considering that I'm tighter than wheel nuts on a 40 tonne truck and Sharon is poor we're not getting a motorhome. It's a nice idea but no.

We can pick and choose with the tent. We stay, we go, it's up to us. If only the tent had a settee and central heating...

The part of Devon we were in was not without it's issues. 

The English Riviera is - much like the French Riviera - crowded and busy. From a motorcycling point of view we may as well have been riding through Bolton and Liverpool. Torquay and Paignton are towns like any other, Brixham is a little smaller and more navigable but don't be thinking it's a quaint little fishing village.

The roads of Dartmoor were much quieter much to our relief. Unfortunately the endless high high hedges became tiresome after a couple of hours. When we did pop out from between the hedges we found the villages perfectly pleasant and the scenery just fine. 

What we didn't find were any "great riding roads", slow and steady is the only sensible way to navigate it seems. That's is fine, we're not all about ripping up tarmac but it would have been a refreshing change. Perhaps we didn't find them, perhaps we'd need the guidance of a local.  

I figure there's one other problem that actually caused us to feel less than overwhelmed by this trip. We have been stupendously spoiled. 

Spain earlier this year gave us such things as we never dared hope to experience. We've been blessed with many spectacular trips to The Scottish Highlands. Wales still brings us pleasures aplenty. Locally we have The Yorkshire Dales and Forest Of Bowland to make our world a better place.

Dartmouth and Tor Bay, worthy though they are, failed to shine when we've enjoyed such vaunted places. Maybe its me (or us)? Did we go to the wrong places? Did we come at this all wrong? 

We are here to learn, and learn we have and continue to do so. We will also continue to change and perhaps we will return one day with a different agenda and a fresh mindset. Who knows. 

If you'd like to sponsor or support 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.
Going Home From Devon There's only the small matter or riding home from Devon now for the dynamic muppets. Can Sharon recover from her breakfast tragedy though?
Lessons from Devon Ren is pondering the problems with the trip to Devon.

Reader's Comments

Rod said :-
Ren, Have you looked at the AirB&B option? You could stay in two or three locations in a week, giving that change of scenery. I have not used them myself, but people which have used them seem happy with the concept.
21/12/2018 08:22:38 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I've used air bnb a few times but it's increasingly just a front for commercial b&bs, guesthouses etc. When it started it was very much people letting guests stay in a spare room or sometimes a flat etc that the owners would vacate for a few days. We stayed in a lovely garret in Paris which was owned by a very quirky musician / artist / actor but places like that now seem few & far between.

When we want that type of accommodation we now generally use booking.com or similar.
22/12/2018 10:28:11 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Ryanairs hotel booking system seems not bad. Prices are within a couple of pounds of booking.coms, (except places here you get the special genius price from booking.com) and you get 10% of the hotel price as credit towards flights.

22/12/2018 11:33:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
There are - for myself and my style of doing things - one major problem.

Pre booking. If we are booked in somewhere we'd typically expect to have booked in for X number of nights. Imagine we've booked for 2 nights into a hotel, airb&b or whatnot. After the first night we hate it. Do we leave and waste our money or stay and be miserable? Or we love it! After 2 nights can we just ask to stay on? What if they say no, we have other bookings?

I'm having the same concern with hostels. It's the rigid "we must be here on this day, we must remain there for these nights" I don't like. Camping is much more random and flexible - OUT OF HIGH SEASON! Many campsites do need bookings during the summer holidays.
22/12/2018 06:08:59 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Ive used air bnb and had good places to stay but your right better to stay 2 nights and move on.

I think you made the typical mistake in thinking Devon and Cornwall might be good. Wrong stock to the remote parts of the country much more rewarding in the long run.
22/12/2018 07:26:02 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ed, rigid can cause issues, oooo eerrr matron.
But yes, this year, almost last year, we pre-booked just about everything, b and b's, apartment etc. To be honest it's a pain either way, by pre booking hopefully you sort better accommodation but then you have to find it only to find it isn't that good anyway. Go for free and easy and you're looking for accommodation from 3 pm just incase you miss out.
On reflection I'd say free and easy rules. It can be really good to stay somewhere that turns out to be amazing and you didn't even know it existed 2 hours earlier. Of course in the UK it's even more difficult because everywhere is so darn busy.
But look on the bright side, at least we're on two wheels.

22/12/2018 09:06:21 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The world is not a perfect place, everything is a compromise.

Pocketpete - I am sure there are countless people who find Devon and Cornwall an absolute delight. I have enjoyed some fabulous holidays on the peninsula. It's about the reasons for going though. If you're looking for a traditional holiday to just be somewhere else, away from work, maybe a little beach time, a few tourist attractions and entertainment for the small people then great. For motorcycling and the joys of the open road, maybe not huh.

Upt'North - and anyone else reading. How easy is it to find accommodation? I often hear this "start looking for a hotel at around 1500" thinking and I must admit I seldom hear "I had to sleep under a lorry trailer because I couldn't find anything". All I've personally known is hotels booked 3 months in advance to the notion of "just winging it" is alien to me.

There are 2 thing that puts me off hotels. Firstly cost. That said with campsites often charging around the £20 to £25 mark that gap is all too rapidly closing. Secondly is there's nowhere to cook! This builds expense as we can rustle up a meal for a couple of quid in the tent yet dining out for 2 costs £10 and way up from there. That's one of the reasons hostels might be better.
23/12/2018 01:28:32 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I don't see why staying in hotels etc stops you from cooking - you can still carry all the kit and find a quiet car park / layby to fire up the Primus surely?

I'm one of the "start looking at 3pm" fraternity - or I was when I did extensive touring on the bike. And I never had any problems finding a place to stay whether France (the easiest obviously), Scotland, Wales, England, Italy, Spain or Greece. Having said that I did once follow signs to what I thought was a hotel in rural France only to find myself strolling into the reception of an old folks' home. It was quite scary as I walked in the door and all these eyes swivelled round to see what was going on. Of course, some would suggest it might have been appropriate for me anyway......
23/12/2018 02:36:37 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ian, glad we aren't the only ones. Start looking at 3 and maybe you can be nicely showered and relax with a cold one before dinner.
Now cost, I have a good mate who loves caravaning, I know why would ya.....but apparently it's a really cheap holiday. Oh and I just spent £30,000 on a new caravan, £25,000 on a motor to tow it and it's only £40.00 a night with electric hook up. Even with man maths that can't make sense.
Camping also ain't cheap, good tents, sleeping bags, cooking kit, extra fuel, etc all cost money and you get to sleep witt the worms. Naahh.
At the end of the day, it's personal preference, but if I can find a decent room and meal, I'm happy and ready to face the next day in the saddle.
Cost comparison wise, one night in Austria in 2018 was 113 euros for bed, breakfast and a very nice three course dinner. The accommodation was excellent too, not a worm in sight. But if you love camping and cooking, again that's your choice.
Oh, merry Christmas to one and all.

23/12/2018 02:58:08 UTC
Upt'North said :-
That Austria price was for two by the way.
23/12/2018 03:00:32 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
So Ian - let me picture this scene.

Sharon and I have booked into a hotel or hostel in say, erm, Campbeltown in Scotland. We've unloaded the bikes and our kit, save for the cooking kit, is stowed in the room. We take the cooking kit and food to a nearby car park. We're sat there, huddled around a Coleman stove. Water - we need water to rinse the pans out and to boil the rice. Having found said liquid we're now cooking. As the random passers by stop and look on with a forlorn look upon their faces at the poor besodden waifs trying heat water in a pan.

Then we'll be eating out of the pans while standing around or sitting on a park bench. What if it's raining? Then there's the washing up. I suppose we could do that in the sink of the toilet at the hotel? It is actually do-able. I think I'd rather be in the tent!

Now I do hope you didn't bother those grumpy old French folks!
23/12/2018 03:06:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
?113!!!! I think I've just passed out.

In Spain we were expecting ?20ish per night for camping and around ?3 per meal.

Bah Humbug!
23/12/2018 03:07:58 UTC
Upt'North said :-
There you see, man maths, works every time.
23/12/2018 03:38:08 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Upt'North you said...
"showered and relax with a cold one before dinner."

Dinner? DINNER?!?!?

If you're looking for a hotel at 1500 hours there's a chance you could find a place and be ready for a cold one before TEA! I'm not entirely sure you really are from Upt'North at all. Actually you can't be, no real northerner would part with that much cash for a night's kip.
23/12/2018 08:15:40 UTC

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