Donkey track, trod, trod.

The plan was a simple one.  Brickkiln lane, Underdown lane, Donkey lane, pillow mounds and the Corton Hill descent.  The reality was clag.  Super clag.  So much clag that an hours riding took 90 mins and I am puffed. 

Cutting through the estate, as soon as I hit Brickiln lane and the bike began to load up I realised this was going to be a tough ride.  It was supposed to be the better half of a circular tour; the three ridges – Oborne, Gryphon and Corton.

Turning the corner to Underdown lane progress slowed and chain, brakes, stays and forks jammed solid.  Pedalling was hard, effort maximum and even a dip in the Yeo did little to remove the clag.

The byeway climb up to the reservoir beside Grange farm removed the tedium; I was already replotting in my mind.  The spell on tarmac was well received and I jumped to remove soil and grass, largely in vain.

The Donkey lane was better, I had a view but as I entered the lonin at 5km the parimpleth of mud built again.  The source of the Yeo is a long way under these conditions.

And suddenly I was out of the saddle and dropping over the scarp slope of the Oborne ridge.  A quick nip across the Bristol road and up and onto a climb of a more grassy nature – the pillow mounds. 

Up the metalled road past Cortlands to access the ridge and then a swoop back down into Corton Denham.  I was drying out and the mud was falling away but light was failing.

The other side of Sandford Orcas I climbed towards the Quarr, a far easier ascent noticing the golf course more readily from this direction.  Home was not far away.

The ride took me 90 minutes but was much harder than I wanted and I felt I was pushing hard the whole time, I think next time a route into Oborne would be better on road.

Sussing out the SProgs

After our Dartmoor bash and the success of the Harepath ride it was hinted that a ride around Sherborne may work.  I had explored the eastern escarpments before and had a couple of alternatives but towards Yeovil some linking was required.

The Eastern route would drop into Sandford Orcas and so I headed out to Higher Sandford by Quarr lane.

The route down from Holway would continue eastwards on Moorway Lane out onto the Marston Road.  At Rosedown farm I headed straight across to Mount Hunger.

Sharp right and then an onroad box leads onto Plot Lane and up onto Lowsome Lane.  This muddy lane makes a obvious right hand bend at Shelners beginning to climb.

This is a lovely triple track with soft brow and solid, narrow pedal-tap runnels.  A right hand bend indicates the graveyard section; plenty of obstacles to dodge.

Eventually on the left the most difficult climb on the section is met.  Initially short, steep and convex it flattens out if you hang in there popping out into sunlight.  I turned right but left would be better.

Dropping into Stallen along the right angled track of Kitten Lane I passed the cave and onto the Yeovil dual carriageway.

I was heading for Gooseland Lane, a gradually rising grassy track used as a gallop by the local horse fraternity.  Sadly the bottom section was laid hedge and the hawthorn was now growing in several bushes: puncture territory.  Above the corner going was slow and tedious until surmounting the top quite close to Kitton track.  A shorter alternative, or reversal may have been more suitable.

The original plan was to box Trent path lane, climbing back up the Quarr but Checombe Lane was the obvious way on and I preferred to climb back up on metal. Coombe lane was selected, rising up over Ambrose Hill before bumping into a colleague and the long unclassified run back down to home.

I will add part 1 soon; the ribs and gutters … 

Onto wheels and back to the moor

An early start on New Year’s Eve seems to be poor planning but the roads were quiet despite the fog.

I was meeting with a cycling group from Sampford Peverell who were then transferring to the moor.  Starting from Postbridge a spectacle ride would loop out through Pizwell Farm before circumnavigating Challacombe Down and returning by a mettaled minor road.

Once the post bridge was crossed the East Dart was followed on the northern side.  Lined lane gave way to a handrail and it became clear this was likely to be a muddy ramble.  Once we were above the river the gloop took over and we waded in search of islands of normality.

Dropping towards Pizwell the fords provided an opportunity to clean up but back on the tarmac the over enthusiastic hedge trimming claimed its casualty – a front wheel puncture.

An anti-clockwise round of Challacombe then commenced.

Through the farm with medieval dwellings the north east corner now includes a permitted diversion.

The only climb of the day was rewarded with a rocky descent before turning left again and following the Webburn River through the mine workings.  A climb into Soussons Down provided a wooded change before catching the earlier path and up to the Cairn Circle.

Left at the grid drops onto double track, a pretty ford and gladed path back out onto the Postbridge road.

Chocolate, cake and craic greeted us as we cleaned bicycles for our return.

Thanks for the top image Dan.

St Cuthberts Swallet

An unexpected trip appeared between Christmas and new year when a family comitment was truncated and (more) northern friends were at the Mineries.

I met with Kirstie and Sean for a trip to sump 2 and return via the rabbit warren.  Most memorable on this trip is always the four  entrance ladders, numerous chambers and final streamway.  For me the various tiers inbetween are just names but with three trips now under my belt I am gradually beginning to formulate a model.

The journey down the ladders was slick and once we were on the wire rift names started coming.  Our journey down to sump one was straightforward, we took in pillar chamber and a small clear lake but were soon adding plugs and buckets to tubes to reduce the flow.

The main obstacles in the streamway were a flat out wet crawl and stal which protruded down to the bed.  Beside this a vertical slot requiring a twist of the body. Sean led by example and we were soon gazing on sump 2.

The return required circumnavigating the rim of the gour pool and Kistie and I tittered at Sean’s description childishly.

Climbing back up we visited the railway tunnel, k2, the fingers before returning to the Boulder chamber.  Exiting the cave is hard work but by taking it steadily and utilising the electron ladder I made a much better attempt at a safe exit.

Coffee back at the hut and then a look at the survey revealed the complexity.

Back home that evening, with inquisitive quests I remembered that I had a book on the cave.  The survey sections were better and so I spent time reconstructing our journey.  Also in here I found a list of my original visit with Alison; it’s good to write things down.

12 o clock; Charlton Horethorne.  

With 16 potential walks,16 points of the compass but only twelve months in the year I am perplexed as to how many walks I need before seriously considering a guide.  Today I have returned to a clockwise walk of last week with my companion, Tiffin. 

One section was a mire as the fields were overgrazed whilst the ‘gutter’ of the Cleeve was muddy and inaccessible.  I considered the map, reversed the route and by traversing the rib opened up a shorter cut through.

The views up and down the Cleeve are better from the southern flank and the stiles are in better condition.  The loop around to the left gains height and views out across Dorset and behind towards King Alfred’s tower open up fabulously.

It not long before the straight ‘lonin’ returning to Charlton reappears and I am heading back to the village; on this occasion my first Christmas offering from Butcombe.

Around Sherborne … a new project.

I have been wandering with Tiffin since our arrival last August, almost twenty months now.  I try to go somewhere different each time we venture out, usually 3 to 4 kilometres and mostly on public footpaths.

I like a route with some ups and downs, a variety of landscapes and some interest.  I’ve collected over 16 routes now, some better than others and so my mind is turning to putting them together.  I’m not quite sure what form they will eventually appear in but after the canyon guide I wanted something different …

Possibly; black and white mapping, A4 format, 16 walks and a coloured cover.  And all within 6 kilometres of Sherborne.

The Deverills, north of the A303.

After a week of getting ready for a triathlon that never happened (too expensive) I was still in run, bike mode this morning.  I had arranged to mountain bike pm, this time heading towards Salisbury plain.  My early morning run didn’t help my legs later.

Jacob arranged the route, an anti-clockwise 14 km circuit from opposite Stourhead.  We turned off at the Red Lion, gained some height before spotting our first corn circle of the year.

Climbing onto the chalk ridges was tiresome but at least paved and the track up from White Sheet Lane a warming start.  We were heading to the Deverills but the most surprising find was an airfield perched atop the ridge.  Dropping into Kingston there had been some realignment of the bridleway but a traditional village pond made up for our quickly forgotten confusion.

We tracked west on Tarmac again dropping back onto bridleway by the dairy farm.  This second part was less enjoyable, the nettles were high, gates poorly maintained and sign warned of cows and calves and bulls.  We escaped onto the road once we were back at the byway.

On the way home we visited Alfred’s tower and the Nog Inn in Wincanton finishing in traditional style.