Our August Devon meeting near Cullompton has I’ve heard, also matured. Perhaps it’s become a bit cheesey, but what I think is meant, that we stick to a fairly well liked itinerary. Some lane driving is very good (read challenging, after all this where the term fluffy and non-fluffy lanes was coined). Balancing the best of those lanes is the touring & sightseeing stretching from North to South coasts, with plenty of breaks for groups mixing it up & taking in the picturesque countryside at some leisure. Overall the event has a nice relaxed atmosphere though maybe that’s just a combination of the time of year when the sun is starting to wane and the effect being in the West Country itself tends to have.
On the Friday afternoon’s green laning there was a sad moment when we realised that the old man who’d lived at Hack Pen Mill cottages his whole life (90 years nearly) was not about, the places being gutted.
This year, there was plenty of time for laughs and roadside natter, but not for the first time in Devon, things got a bit serious with some high drama here and there! The weather was again, wet, wet and yes wet, so it’s those lovely breaks between the showers (or cloudbursts) that make it all so worthwhile (isn’t it!). However whilst grip degrades from showers and surface water, soil stability can degrade from incessant rainfall.
Having missed a turning one of our groups took what looked like a good route that hadn’t been recced recently, and for some got a bit narrow as the tracks curved around steep drops, with the edges undermined by weeks of rain. Everyone got through with mutual support & a team spirit, but a few clear messages were learnt: one was that far too few carry any really useful equipment.
Devon is also becoming a longer meet, many arriving now Thursday for the Friday afternoon/evening scratchy drive and departing Monday or Tuesday.
A visit to the Devon & Somerset Gliding club field should I think, be on the agenda, with a chance to fly and see the Black Downs and potentially half of Devon & Dorset from above.
So despite the intermittent rain, many stayed for the Sunday, a drive to Fingle’s Bridge, a pub lunch followed by a real cracker of a climb up through the woods, and an equally steep descent. It was Fingle’s being just the first. On to Dartmoor, tea and cake at massive Tor, surely the wilderness was conjured up by these places. Then we found ‘the lane’, a real corker under dripping canopies, finished off with a good steep scramble. Returning out of Dartmoor’s magic grip, we were hit by a cloudburst of Devonian proportions.… everyone seemed to stop in their tracks as, wipers thrashing, our Syncro convoy rolled back down onto the main roads, washed clean as a whistle with waves of water splashing above the tallest hightop.
A long tour is the order of the day for Monday and so it was, to the North coast, Tarr Steps was running well of course, and yet the view to Wales from Porlock was so clear we were asked where in Devon it was.
Most people departed on the Tuesday, but a few stayed longer for more sight seeing.