When: 27-28 July 2002
Who: Julian Foad, Jay Foad, Mark Bailey
How far: 130 miles
This tiny selection of photos shows approximately none of the gruelling
journey. The starting point on the North coast was Ilfracombe, but
the nearest station was Barnstaple so we began with a ten mile ride over
a big hill to get there. The sky was overcast but quite bright, and
one or two breaks in the cloud were just appearing as we caught first sight
of the sea (unlike the stormy look of the photo).
The small beach at Ilfracombe was fairly packed with families expecting
the hottest weekend of the year, but most of the coast was dramatic rock
outcrops and lots of green slime, so the only other thing the people could
do was to mill around the bucket-and-spade shops and get in the way of cyclists.
We could see a large mass of land across the sea, which must have been Wales,
where the ferry was going.
We had a quick look around and a bit of food and water, and moved out, following
the actual coast-to-coast route at last. Each massive descent into a
coastal village had to be paid for with a long, slow climb so that we began
to begrudge the all-too-rapid downhill bits. Then we followed the Tarka
Trail along a former railway track with a moderate but steady gradient, back
into Barnstaple. We stopped for another snack outside the station, and
I announced that we were back where we'd come from, but Jay didn't recognise
it and, after a brief investigation, found it to be the old station.
Of course, we'd been following the path of the old railway.
There's a big gap in the middle ...
... and then we got to Plymouth. The last train back to Reading had already left, so we stayed the night there.
Off to the station in the morning, to arrive at work at mid-day, still in
shorts and T-shirt.