Farewell Valley View Farm
Friday morning, 7.00am, this is what 'actually' happened..
Woke before the alarm to catch a highlight featured at 7.20am of our interview with Tiffany Truscott on James Churchfield's breakfast show, BBC Radio Cornwall. I scrambled around in our bicycle panniers trying to find our voice recorder that had already been stashed away in our packing frenzy the night before. The little recorder appeared in the final pannier and just in time to catch our big moment on local radio.
"Now how about this for a truly romantic love story" introduces Pam Spriggs, co-host to James Churchfield. "A local Cornish girl, Holly Partridge and her Australian husband, David Partridge, who both share a love for adventure, will today set off from her family home in Truro, on a 30,000 mile cycle ride back to his home in the Hunter Valley, Australia. BBC Radio Cornwall's Tiffany Truscott has been asking them where the idea came from..."
I took a brief moment to consider the scale of our imminent undertaking and smiled. It has taken a lot of preparation and commitment to make this happen and here we were, finally about to make way, amazing.
The moment of glory did not last long as I knew that 'Camp Cornwall' that had been temporarily erected in the parents living room, still needed to be squared away into vacum bags and boxes, Skype calls to our Australian family eagerly awaiting news of our departure had to be made and numerous other loose ends needed to be finalised. Breakfast fell by the way side, though Mum desperately tried to tempt us with everything from bacon sandwiches to scones and Cornish clotted cream and 9.00am turned into 12.00pm!
Athol and April, loaded with everything 'including the kitchen sink', were squeezed through the side gate of Valley View Farm and tentatively steered onto the lane way. At this point we had still not had the opportunity to try our new bikes fully laden. Our neighbours came to wish us farewell and Dad consoled Mum as they waved us off up hill.
'Up hill' became the prominent theme for the next few days.
Our plan kicked off to to a fine start as we jovially ambled our way to the King Harry Ferry. A few fairly meaty hills between Carnon Downs and the ferry gave us chance to test our new Rohloff Speed Hubs and as we made the final descent down to the ferry, we were joined by another group of cyclists travelling Lands End - John O'Groats in three stages. Our arrival on the King Harry Ferry caused great excitement as the crew members and some of the passengers had heard our story broadcast that morning and had been expecting us. In fact, Tim Light has even promised a boat party on return from our world voyage in a few years time!
As you dismount the ferry, the steep slipway joins a steep and windy hill taking you into the heart of the Roseland Peninsula.
We were headed for Portloe on the East side of the Peninsula. As the crow fly's, this looks easy, but don't be fooled!
Our idea of an easy day riding diminished rapidly into aggressively steep hills, tractor dodging and a realisation that we were carrying far too much stuff. Agreeing to meet Mum and Dad for a 5.30pm table booking in Polkerris, a further 23 miles of hilly terrain from Portloe, really was foolishly ambitious.
Amongst the challenging hills, the Roseland hides many fabulous treasures, like this watermill and lake tucked peacefully at the bottom of a descent marked 20+ degrees.
Our Fabulous Hosts.. Thank you!
As scenic and quaint as our route around the Roseland Peninsula may have been, we can not deny we were slightly demoralised to have arrived in the town of St Austell at the end of the day. St Austell is a mere 15 miles along the main road from Truro!
We decided to can our 5.30pm booking at Polkerris, a few hilly miles on from St Austell and instead were invited to stay with life long family friends, George and Beverley. A few hours later and we were pitched up in the Polgooth Inn with a superb feast and fantastic company. Polgooth is a small Cornish village near St Austell and this is where Holly's very first house was. Mum showed us the little cottage and then proclaimed it was in fact called 'April Cottage', now how about that!
As Dad shared stories of the Polgooth Inn back in the day, with chickens and goats roaming freely around the bar, David indulged himself in Cornish mining history displayed on the walls and realised that without the Cornish, the Aussies in particular, would not be where they are today.
Meanwhile, on the table behind us, we hear this;
"ere there, did you 'ere about that couple on the radio today who are cycling all the the way to Australia? 30,000 miles they're gonna ride by bike.."
This is Cornish news for you, we make celebrity status with a story like this!
The next morning Bev was up with a spring in her step and George was already in the garage pumping up the tyres of an old mountain bike, he also appeared with an empty plastic container that was to be adapted into a 'savings fund for Australia'. During the night, Bev had had a moment of inspiration and that was it, they had decided that they would meet David and I in 2 years time for the final leg to David's farm in the Hunter Valley!
So with tyres inflated and an abundance of enthusiasm, Bev accompanied us by bicycle to the next town along, Par. We had a lovely few miles meandering around the back roads, passing Carlyon Bay and hearing the history of the local area. Thank you for riding with us Bev, stirling effort and thoroughly enjoyable!
June, Colin, Chloe and their boat Makri
Yacht Makri is a true reflection of June and Colin's characters. It is vibrant and colourful, with sentimental trinkets and fresh flowers filling the interior. Makri is warm and welcoming and one can not help but feel completely relaxed as soon as you come aboard. June fussed around eager to revive us with warm tea and cake and then prepared a tasty mediterranean spread of warm bread, ham's and salad. As we had arrived in Millbrook much later than anticipated, we had planned to pitch on the grassy area behind the boats. However, Colin had very kindly contacted the owner of the adjacent boat and asked if it were possible for us to camp out in the salon area. As the boat was currently undergoing a refurbishment, it was not yet ready for guests but for seasoned wild campers, this was real luxury! A big thank you for allowing us to stay onboard!
Leaving Cornwall on the Cremyl ferry..
After stockpiling the calories for the days cycling ahead, we packed our steads, wished one another well and embraced the final mile riding in the county of Cornwall. By 10.00am we were officially leaving Cornwall via the Cremyl Ferry.
We were in Yealmpton shortly before lunch and had just about burned through the bacon and eggs of our morning brekkie. Lucky for us, Anna and Clive tracked us down and came armed with an awesome picnic of sausages, bread, salad and cake. We picked a suitable road side patch to enjoy our spread and it was just perfect! Love you guys.X
Our next stop for the evening was Number Nine, The Dawkins Residence, Torquay. The ride from Yealmpton to Torquay was good, the roads were quiet enough and it was satisfying to finally get some miles under our belt. Along route we met a cyclist, Cameron Frankish after climbing out of Avonwick. Cameron had stormed up the hill but stop to have a chat. We are aware his time was being logged on his i phone, so apologies for ruining your time! :-)
We also met Ian Thomas just a few miles before Totnes, he had a particularly cool green Brooks saddle! Ian was testing his kit out ready for his own expedition through France in the summer, so best of luck with that Ian.
We had made Torquay by sundown and were welcomed by Leeann and Geoff with an enormous feast of Geoff's pasta and bolognese. With other friends and family also staying the night at Number Nine, we were in for a great night. Thank you so much for your hospitality guys, massively appreciated, we had a great time catching up with you both.
So you may have been led to believe that a pair of touring cyclists embarking on an adventure across the world would be in desperate need of a shower and a good feed, well, Day 5 and once again we were being put up by Kyle and Nikita in their lovely new house in Honiton, the White Lion.. this has to be the way to cycle tour!!
The White Lion is nestled at the very bottom of Honiton high street, so without further ado, it was straight uphill for us! The climb continued and continued and eventually we found ourselves at the very top of the Blackdown Hills. With lush green pastures rolling down to the Jurrasic Coast, it was spectacular. Although there are some fairly big hills involved as the road dips down into the villages in the valleys and climbs back out again, we would highly recommend this to ride.
Revisiting Sydling St Nicholas
Sydling St Nicholas is sited in the valley of Sydling Water, a tributary of the River Frome. The stream divides at the North entrance to the village and there are lots of little foot bridges to get to many of the idyllic cottages, many of which also have traditional thatching.
The significant reference to the river, is the fact that this one was flowing South, exactly where we were heading. With the steep valley rising up either side of us, our road ran unperturbed alongside the stream. The sun was setting on the crest of the hills and it was time to set up camp.
Sustrans Route 2
The i phone once again excelled as we cut through the back streets of Dorchester totally fuss free. By sheer chance, as we popped out the other side, we happened to pick up the signs for Sustrans National Cycle Route 2 which would take us directly to Poole Harbour ferry. The route wandered through tranquil villages and beautiful countryside, as well as passing by Corfe Castle, built in the 11th Century by William the Conquerer. We were treated to a good road surface, mildly undulating all the way to the ferry. The ferry took us from Studland beach and nature reserve, across the entrance of Poole Harbour to Sandbanks. At Sandbanks we were able to join the promenade which runs alongside 7 miles of sandy beach to Hengistbury Head, East of Bournemouth. Be cautious that there are signs asking cyclists to dismount during the busy summer months of July and August. On this occasion we were lucky enough to be able to cruise along the paved walkway soaking up the sunshine and the buzzing atmosphere as British tourists scurried to the beach, took to their bicycles and made the most of this rare dousing of glorious sunshine :-)