Having been on leave, I went out for a ride last Thursday, with the rough idea of heading out towards Tavistock, via Yelverton. First though, I had to drop a letter off near the river Tamar, which is pretty much on the other side of Plymouth, from my house.
After having delivered the letter, I set off via NCN27.
Cycling up the first part of NCN27, the Plym Valley cycle path (itself part of Drake's Trail) it wasn't long before I was at Yelverton. Just as I was leaving Yelverton, following NCN27, I noticed a Velodyssee sign. This is the furthest south I've seen one, and I have to say I do hope they'd be at least slightly more regular.
From Yelverton it wassn't long before I was cycling along the newly-surfaced track leading from Horabridge to Gem Bridge. Every time I ride over Gem Bridge I'm surprised at how much it slopes - heading north it is a downhill.
I came this way knowing that the Grenofen tunnel route isn't quite finished yet, but I wanted to cycle what was the official route what I'm sure may well be my last time. Things had changed since I last cycled this way - normally I'd have followed the A386 for a short stint through Horabridge, before turning off through the village and take Whitchurch road into Tavistock.
As you can see in the photo, the old path now has been relegated as a "temporary" route, and leads off to the left, through a little gate in the fence. The path has been surfaced along the stretch that continues ahead, and is as good as the path between Horabridge and Tavistock.
I was amused to note that now they feel the need to have a sign telling people to be careful, as there are steep inclines on the temporary route, yet when that was the main route there weren't any signs at all!
The sign isn't wrong though - it is quite steep downhill (towards Tavistock) and at the bottom it turns sharply to the left, right where it is muddy and slippery! From there it is a simple matter of passing through a wooden gate before turning right and a short while later, after another gate, you're on a tarred road again. The route turns right at the road, and is immediately uphill. Sadly, the gradient gets steeper and steeper the further uphill you get, all the way to the T-junction at the top, where the still official NCN27 turns left.
I didn't turn left here, but went right instead, into the hamlet of Grenofen. After crossing the A386, I cycled past the sign saying that the road is closed. It is, but only for cars, and when cycling it forms a little connecting route to Whitchurch road, where I turned left.
As I cycled downhill, I passed the site entrance for the workers building Ashmill bridge, and who did all the work on the tunnel route. I could see workers building what appeared to be the parapets of the bridge.
Several hills later I came into Tavistock, and turned left into Anderton Lane. This is because I wanted to look at the other end of the new route, which connects Anderton Lane with Ashmill bridge. The entrance to the path was closed with two wooden gates, but that didn't present any problems at all - despite the big chain across, it wasn't locked - and I was soon cycling along the path, which has been surfaced to the same good standard the path between Horabridge and Gem Bridge has.
To start with, the path doesn't follow the old railway line, but rather meanders along Tiddy Brook and indeed crosses it via a brand new little bridge. The path along here isn't quite level, but the gradients are mild. It wasn't long before the path veered off to the left, before joining the course of the old railway, where the workers have done some considerable landscaping. I didn't continue too far down the route as I could see the workers busy on Ashmill bridge up ahead, and I didn't much feel like explaining why I was cycling on a path that officially wasn't open yet, so I turned around and headed back.
Heading back was mostly a reversal of how I got there, except from Horabridge I headed out to Lopwell dam, via Buckland Monochorum and Milton Combe, passing Buckland Abbey along the way, before returning to Plymouth via Tamerton Foliot. All in all, it was 62 miles of scenic ride!