Saturday, 31 August 2013

Reaching the 500 mile mark

These last couple of days have been tough. We have had to get past some very nasty hills along the way!

Day 11

The main highlight of these two days has definitely been Dartmoor. I don't know if any of you have been there before, but it is unlike anywhere else in England, that I have been before anyway. It is so wild and untouched by civilisation, it's kind of liberating really. The main downside to all this wildness is that any roads or paths tend to follow the land quite roughly meaning you get some really large hills with some steep inclines and not always on the best surface.

Carmen overlooking the wilds of Dartmoor
And nestled within Dartmoor are some lovely little villages made up of some extremely small communities. One of which we decided to stay in for the night, a little place called Princetown. We stayed in what Lonely Planets opinion is the best bunkhouse in the UK! 

Now I had no idea what a bunkhouse was before visiting this little village. Apparently a bunkhouse is camping but without a tent. Basically it is a place where there are beds with no covers or anything, just mattresses, and you use your own sleeping bags and pillows. Apparently these kind of places are very common in the mountains in Romania (so Carmen tells me). The reason that ours was awarded as the best bunkhouse though was due to the great facilities that were upstairs. It had a big lounge area, with a huge sofa and several bean bags, and joining on to it a big kitchen. To make things even better though, the whole place was just for us that night as no one else was staying there!

This was the perfect end to a very hilly day.

As you can see, not the best surface for cycling, but some beautiful views in the background
Day 12

Day 12 continued in Dartmoor, although not for very long. After 5 miles we were out of there and heading for Plymouth, with some very relieved looks on our faces! Not only this, but within those 5 miles we hit the 500 mile mark, received with some big cheers from us. We got to Plymouth really quickly after a long slow day previously and headed for the Tamar Bridge, which would take us across into the last county on our journey, Cornwall. This was a landmark moment as this was to be the 10th county we would pass through!

Carmen with a wheel in Devon and a wheel in Cornwall, celebrating reaching our 10th county
After passing into Cornwall we thought the hills might get a bit easier, but we were of course wrong. So it was slow going again, but we made up for it by stopping off in a little village to have some fresh Cornwall baked Cornish pasties, which were delicious, and I regret not taking a picture of to show you here. Much better than the ones made in Essex I must say!

For the rest of the day we headed for the tiny coastal village of Polruan, which most of you have probably never heard of. It is a very quaint village situated on one of the steepest hills I have seen. So steep in fact that we had to push the bikes downhill, or rather the bikes pull us downhill. This was to stop us going off the end of the street into the English Channel, which would not have been an ideal ending to the day I must say.

We were lucky enough to stay in a little holiday cottage in this village due to a friend of my parents letting us use their sisters cottage. The added bonus was that my parents decided to make the trip down and welcome us to the cottage and treat us to a nice pub dinner! And even better afterwards, a nice warm bed!

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