The last two weeks I’ve been touring around Devon and Cornwall in the SouthWest of England, trying to design a pair of new bike tours.
I wonder what our loyal customers would make of the chaotic process of dragging a tour together? I must have bought over a hundred books and maps about Devon and Cornwall. I’ve pieced together a dozen or so large-scale maps of the region, covered in stickers showing interesting sites and nice hotels – that’s why I run this business, I love
maps! I love sticking them together and covering them in labels, post-its, stickers and highlighter pen. I think its fab.
Cycling round them at a later date, eating and drinking with fun people is pretty good too, but its really about the maps.
I’ve been out and about in the car, with a bike in the back, trying to find the tiniest backroads between the most interesting places. The challenge is to try to pass around the worst hills, avoid major roads, but not zig-zag 40 miles to find a flat, quiet route to a place that is only 4 miles down the road.
There is a lot of work left to do, but I reckon I’ve got the routes just about fixed. And I’ve fallen in love again with our coast line. At Burgh Island near Bigbury-on-Sea there is a causeway which is passable on foot at low tide (Or by a weird-looking tractor at other times). I got there just as the tide was beginning to meet in the middle. It was quite blowy, and there was the spectacular sight of rollers coming in from both sides and meeting in the middle. Stopping me from crossing over to the Pilchard Inn. So a coffee from the surf-hire shop for me rather than a crafty pint at the Pilchard.
What else have I seen? I had a fascinating tour round the Plymouth Gin distillery . This is based just yards from the point where the Mayflower set off with its pilgrims for America, and they’ve been distilling here since 1793. I picked up a good bit of trivia – did you know a martini can only be made with gin, and not with vodka? If it’s vodka, it ain’t a martini. I like stuff like that.
Our Devon tour, and our Cornwall tour, will be pretty hilly. I’m absolutely thrilled with the routes. We’ve managed to stick to our format of about 30 miles per day, and much to my astonishment these UK tours may have better food than any of our French and Italian tours. I had no idea that the SouthWest had enjoyed such a renaissance in local produce and great cooking.
Next week I’m hoping for some better weather so that I can geet busy with my camera, and I’ll post some of the results on my blog, obviously.