Dartmoor, Devon, 9th January 2016 By Belinda Dixon
When they issue a yellow warning for rain, and also forecast strong winds, mist and hail, it might not seem like the best weather to embark on an adventure. But we (me and Nicola Hendy) had the time, the enthusiasm, and the bike-hire booking, so headed for Princetown on Dartmoor anyway.
After sustenance and bike hire (£10 per-half day) at the legendary Fox Tor Cafe, our challenge was to cycle part of the former Princetown Railway – a track that in its 10km version skirts South Hessary Tor, water-filled Foggintor Quarry and King’s Tor before heading home. A 30km route goes onto Burrator reservoir before looping back to Princetown.
Video by Nicola Hendy
It’s a cracking route – a steady, but gradual climb into a remarkable, russet landscape where just venturing 100 yards from the road means you feel like you’re entering another world. Where rain may be cascading down inside your jacket, and water might swill around inside your boots, but the elements and the landscape ensure you know you’re alive.
By now that rain had turned the track-side watercourses into streams, and the hail was thundering, pea-sized into our gloved hands. Extraordinary conditions; an extraordinary cycling environment; an extraordinary place.
So what did we learn? That the Fox Tor Cafe does cheap, and very good-quality mountain bike hire (and has great log burners); that Dartmoor weather laughs at the notion of waterproofs; and that sometimes adventures happen despite – even because of – the rain …