I’m ashamed to say that the bikes currently residing in the shed don’t get as much of an outing as they should! But smallest child is having cycling tutoring at school and it has had a huge and positive impact on his attitude to taking the bikes out. It has been a few years since he has needed a tag-along but our rides have tended towards the Sunday round the part rather than anything more strenuous.
But this is the perfect time of year for a bike ride: the wild and stormy weather of winter is behind us and the trails are not yet filled up with summer time day-trippers. There are some picturesque, and challenging routes across Dartmoor but you don’t need to head far out of Plymouth to have a brilliant ride. And if you own a hill-phobic teen as do we, then you might need to promise to avoid hills and a couple of good selfie opportunities – and this ride ticks both of those boxes!
The Plym Valley Cycle Route is 10 miles long. Meandering through this beautiful countryside will take you about an hour and a half, although you may want to allow time for stopping and refreshment. This route is much better suited to mountain bikes and family riders than road bikes.
This is an out-and-back route, so one direction will be slightly easier going. There are no obstacles of note, but you might want to have a light as one of the disused tunnels can be a bit daunting on a dark day.
This is a gentle route, ideal for families, or you could walk it if you want a much slower pace. The route follows a disused railway line so… no steep hills here!
There is a viewing station on the Cann Viaduct and wildlife is abundant. Buzzards can often be spotted and, if you are super lucky, you will see peregrine falcons nesting,
- Start out from the Skylark Inn at Clearbrook, look out for the signposts which are to your right. This is part of the National Cycle network so signs should always be clear.
- Heading south, you will pass Leebeer Tunnel and, shortly after, Shaugh Bridge. Continuing in this direction you will cross the Bickleigh and Riverford viaducts. If you like to cycle off road, nearby Bickleigh Forest is a popular and invigorating mountain biking spot.
- Now you are getting closer back to Plymouth and as you arrive at the industrial estate you will need to cross under the Plymouth Road and double back to take the track under the railway. This route avoids all the main road crossings.
- The path takes you past the old Can Quarry, on your right is the China Clay Drying Plant and you will soon arrive at another industrial estate. This is the end of the marked track so you can continue to Plymouth or take the same route back to Clearbrook.
- There are a few places for a drink and a rest across the way: the pub or the café at Yelverton are particularly worth a mention.
For bike hire, contact Plymouth Bike Hire on 07577 279 928 or visit http://www.plymouthbikehire.co.uk/
The Dartmoor Café in Yelverton is definitely worth a small detour for a pit stop. Or try the Rock Inn if a pub lunch is an important part of your day trip.