The southern edge of Dartmoor is home to tiny rivers tumbling off the high moors of Dartmoor. Within these river valleys are ancient woods, wildflower meadows and a farming way of life with echoes of long ago. High up above, the moors look down. Sometimes they seem to smile when the sun is shining and occasionally they can look menacing with heavy winter rains. From this great arc above the A38 dual carriageway, there is a rich network of tiny lanes, little used by motorists. Some of these lead up onto the open moors while others connect the villages in a peaceful meandering way. This is home to the National Cycle Network created by Sustrans where cyclists can go on tour with their bikes happy in the knowledge that they will find beautiful places, little traffic and periodic coffee stops. sustrans is expert at this and has created nearly 16,000 miles on the Network across the UK. The southern edge is also where Ivybridge and South Brent are located.
We are fortunate on Dartmoor as we have routes on the NCN as it is known all around the moor. There is a safe family friendly route leading from Plymouth to Tavistock known as Drakes Trail that is 20 miles long. This is NCN27 and continues north along little moorland lanes with big views to Okehampton. A route under creation is NCN28 where the stover Trail is already built. The first section leads from Newton abbott to Bovey Tracey and it also is ideal for families with young children. NCN28 will eventually lead to Moretonhampstead and Okehampton. For the more adventurous, the Dartmoor Way is a 95 mile challenging route that circles Dartmoor and has a separate High Moor link across the centre. The Dartmoor Way is not for the faint hearted with plenty of hills and more stunning views for experienced touring cyclists. Finally NCN2 links these together with connections to Plymouth and Totnes.
Locally Sustrans has teamed up with PL21 Transition Town Initiative from Ivybridge and Sustainable South Brent. Local volunteers take out small groups for taster rides. These are usually at weekends but there are some evening rides too. Families are encouraged, people with electric bikes are welcome and these rides are often more like micro adventures.
Sustrans and National Cycle Network: www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/national-cycle-network Dartmoor Way: www.dartmoorway.co.uk PL21 Transition Town Initiative: pl21.weebly.com Sustainable South Brent: sustainablesouthbrent.org.uk
Written by Graham Wilson