A cycling day, organised by Mandy and Adam was planned, with the bonus of a train journey on the delightful and picturesque Exeter to Barnstaple line.
We were not disappointed, firstly with the weather, warm and dry after the drizzle of the previous day and secondly with the train ride. Everything on time and our bikes were ready and waiting at the station in Barnstaple, where Martin and Heather S were waiting also to greet us. A band of 18 cyclists in all.
A little adjustment of saddles, pedals and baskets and soon, with helmets atop, we set off. The intention was for the more able to make the 14.5 miles to the Puffing Billy (and back!) and others could pick their turn around and refreshment point from one of the many eateries en route, enoying the scenery at their own pace.
A breeze helped us along the estuary as we left the town on the Tarka line, as it once was. The Tarka Trail was established in 1987 as the Taw/Torridge Country Park using the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford. The railway line was purchased for £515,000 in 1986-87 from British Rail] In 1989, the remainder of the line between Bideford and Meeth was acquired in its entirety by Devon County Council for £1.
The bobbing boats and rippling waters, dashed with diamonds of sunlight were all a delight to see and we wheeled our way through Fremington, Instow and Bideford. Some dropped off at Bideford and the top twelve finally arrived at The Puffing Bill for lunch. The Tandem Two in the lead, despite mechanical issues on the way – double pedal-power we decided.
Without doubt some sore parts by the time we finally got back to the Station, but rest stops and ice-creams provided an opportunity to sooth aching limbs (and other areas!).
A shut eye on the train journey home was had by most and all agreed, as we bade farewell to fellow travellers departing at their home stations, that this was a most excellent trip, brilliantly organised and one which would be repeated – although perhaps not for a few weeks!