Thoroughly stuffed, we waddled off to Tavistock Cycles, which to our delight opened at 9 am, instead of the more usual 10, and hired cycles for the day. To our further delight, a 'day hire' meant returning them the following morning, so we wouldn't have to hustle to return by closing time. Martin, the proprietor, (who observed our somewhat pudgy middle-aged physiques and lack of Serious Cycling Gear) gave us some excellent advice on the routes-- which we failed to give much consideration, as we already had A Plan. It would no doubt have been far more sensible to have taken the advice and chosen destinations that were less ambitious. However we make up in sheer bloodymindedness what we lack in fitness, so we set out without any serious qualms, following the excellently marked bike routes.
Our chosen route led us up out of the Tavy River valley, through woodsy paths, and along country lanes lined with wildflower-covered hedgerows.
We cycled along the edge of Dartmoor- quite literally, as one side of the road rose up in sere amber tones to barren hilltops, while the other dipped down, painted with lush green fields and trees. It was like someone had cut out two vastly dissimilar pieces of landscape and pasted a road down along the join.
We made steady progress north-northwestward, and cycled down into the steeply wooded Lydford Gorge. We stopped for a cold drink there, before tackling the long slow slog up out of the gorge to reach the Granite Way, a rail trail once used for hauling the products of quarries to the coast for shipment.
But we eventually worked our way back up to the second section of the Granite Way, which featured marvelous views, a gentle grade, and a pathside bike store (Devon Cycle Hire) with ice cream and cold drinks.
Thus fortified, we finished our ride to the town of Okehampton.
We found lunch at a local place called Marion's, and visited the Museum of Dartmoor Life. The museum focused on the trades of the area- farming, quarrying, the famous prison. I most enjoyed a collection of home movies, made in the mid-twentieth century by a local farmer. He was apparently an enthusiastic amateur, and owned one of the first color movie cameras in the area. There was a good deal of fascinating footage of traditional farming methods, how the equipment worked, along with all of the family members pitching in.
By then it was time to admire the public art, retrieve our bicycles and head back to Tavistock.
The ride back was every bit is gorgeous as the ride out, and thanks to a tip from another cyclist, we were able to take a short cut between the two parts of the Granite Way that did not involve a return detour through Bridestowe.
We locked our bikes back at the inn and enjoyed some more of Dave's cooking in the pub. Then--in an effort to relax our rapidly stiffening muscles-- we took a turn around the center of Tavistock. JT had apparently not had enough hills yet, and we walked a few steep streets up, and came back down a long pedestrian stair. And then we went back to the inn to sleep like the dead on our last night in Tavistock.