Saturday, 27 August 2011

Salcombe- Plymouth- Looe- Fowey

We woke after an excellent night's sleep at the Willis' wonderful home, feeling fresh as a daisy... Little did we know at this point what lay in store for us during the day ahead. A cracking breakfast and our best send off yet, and we were on our way.

Enjoying a beer on the terrace at The Willis'

Nick on the Salcombe-West Portlemouth Ferry with Steve behind

After a free lift on the passenger boat to Salcombe (with famed boatman Steve, who is renowned for his epic pedallo adventures), we took a couple of photos outside the closed Salcombe station, before getting underway.

Salcombe Lifeboat
The view looking back at Salcombe
The route which Rad took us on out of Salcombe was, quite frankly a joke- one of the steepest hills either of us have seen, and a tiny moss covered lane shaded by trees which was unbelievably slippery and consequently made cycling impossible... Our tyres simply had no traction at all on the phenomenally steep and slippery lane, and we just ended up wheel spinning and, quite literally, going backwards.... The only option was to push the bikes, all the way to the top... Off to a strong start then!

hills out of Salcombe
The next two hours involved endless steep hill climbs and infuriatingly slow descents due to the pot holes, loose gravel and wet slippery roads. We eventually arrived in Plymouth and made our way through the town (which Rad described as an industrial wasteland- something between Holyhead and Southampton!) to the lifeboat station- a small and rather beautiful stone tower in a bizarre setting- surrounded by rough gravel car parks, and a large housing development- all of which were like a ghost town. During the 10 minutes we were there taking photos, we saw no- one, and left asap!!

Stopping for half an hour at an 'old school' Chippie on the way out of Plymouth for a good ol' Cod 'n' chips, we boarded the chain ferry across the estuary, and were soon back in the rural hills.

The route on to Looe was again unbelievably hilly, but had some stunning cliff top views. Rad got huge amusement from strapping his ridiculous new digital video camera to my helmet (no idea why I drew the short straw!), making me look utterly ridiculous (see below)! but which hopefully provided some good video footage.

Nick rocking the headcam
A quick stop at the lifeboat station at Looe, where we had an ice cream (in the rain), and a rather lengthy discussion with a chap at the station about the best route to Fowey, and we were off (if only we had taken his advice!).

While Rad had taken us on some rather dubious routes earlier in the day, this did not even compare with what was to come...

We cycled over numerous extremely steep hills until we dropped down to a small and very beautiful bay. We cannot remember the name but watch this space and we will update. It was at this point that I spotted a chap wading out of the sea with some serious harpooning kit and two very good sea bass. We quickly managed to corner him when he reached his car to find out more. It turned out that he was a rather modest and quiet (for once!) South African who had been out free diving for 6 hours with two harpoon guns, a camouflaged 5mm wetsuit, enormous free diving fins and a small dinghy and flag which he dragged around to load his catch onto. He had with him two 3lb+ sea bass which he had harpooned, but had also seen Pollack, place, dogfish, crab and eels during the day whilst exploring some under water caves. An absolute legend!

Soon, we were on our way again, on the 'direct route' which Rad had planned (and programmed into his GPS) to get us to Fowey! This involved one of the steepest inclines I have seen, on a three foot wide tarmac pedestrian footpath, 75% of which had eroded by rainwater to form huge potholes and ruts. Other great features of this route include steep 10 ft banks on either side, and the path being heavily over shadowed by trees and bushes so that any tarmac remaining was wet and covered in moss!

It is without a doubt a physical impossibility to cycle up this on a touring bike!! We were starting to get pretty good at pushing fully laden bikes up hills! Let this be a lesson- think twice before asking Rad to do directions!!

After several more monumental hills we arrived in Fowey, where the deputy coxswain, Nick kindly, showed us around the fantastic station where they were putting us up for the night. After a quick shower and kit wash we headed up Fowey high street for supper. A really stunning seaside town in an incredible setting at the mouth of the estuary- we both immediately fell in love with the place. Some whitebait, calamari and pasta at a little bistro seemed to hit the spot and we headed back to the RNLI station (which dept. Coxswain Nick Beard had given us a key for), fairly exhausted, to settle in for a good night's sleep.

Fowey Lifeboat

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