DWDAM Rideout Sunday 7th May 2017 - Tarr Steps Inn, Exmoor, Devon, via Dunkerswell Airfield.
15 riders gathered at Top Of Town Carpark, Dorchester, at 0930 for a 1000 departure. It was really good to see some 'old' faces returning with a good mix of motorbikes on show, all looking forward to what promised to be a good day's riding. The prevailing weather was also good with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. After the usual safety brief and basic but essential route directions from ride organiser and leader Jeremy Weekes, a prompt departure ensued with Jim Leese as back marker.
Jeremy had chosen a scenic route out through Dorset, Somerset and Devon.
The first stop was for coffee (and carrot cake for some) at 'The Aviaitor Bar', Dunkerswell Airfield, scheduled for 1145 but in fact the ride arrived a little earlier. The route there followed the B3157 coast road via Martinstown and Portesham to Bridport, then the A35 to Honiton before taking a B class road to Dunkerswell. A first visit for many and quite a busy airfield with sky diving also taking place.
After a half an hour stop, it was back on the bikes again for the next stage, an hour's ride to Tarr Steps, Exmoor.
The route initially headed for Hemyock, before joining the A38 and A361 to Tiverton before winding its way along the A396, the B3223 to Dulverton then taking a C class road passing over cattle grids to Tarr Steps. The ride passed through typical Devon countryside and villages - narrow, tree lined roads with streams running alongside, bends galore, lovely villages with many thatched roof houses to be seen. In some of the villages it was a question of sharing the road in single file traffic. Cyclists were many, some in pairs others in groups of six or more hence maintaining that 'safety bubble' assumed even greater importance. The Tarr Steps Farm Inn is certainly in a beautiful spot and very popular. Many people were also enjoying a family picnic by the River Barle. Having parked up the bikes, everyone descended on the Tarr Farm Inn for Lunch.
Jeremy had managed to reserve a seated area overlooking the River Barle. Lunch was very good with ample choices to suit all tastes on the menu.
The Tarr Steps river crossing is by an ancient clapper bridge made of huge stones, which is classed as Grade 1 listed structure. Each step is numbered as in the event of damage, they can be replaced in their exact position as happened in December 2012 when the clapper bridge collapsed after being struck by a 10ft wall of flood water. This prior numbering of the stones enabled Engineers to rebuild the ancient bridge. Some of the stones weigh two-tonne with each measuring up to 8ft.
Soon the hour long lunch stop was over and it was time to mount up and head back to Dorset. The ride retraced its self as far at Dulverton before bearing left this time and taking a northerly route for the Brendon Hills and following a mix of A and B class roads to Taunton where a refuelling stop at Morrisons was planned. Not everyone had to refuel but those who needed to were grateful for the opportunity. Having negotiated the Taunton traffic out, the ride headed for the A358 in the direction of Illminster and then following the A358 to Chard, Axminster to the A35 for Raymonds Hill, Bridport. From there everyone was free to return home independently. The exception was Brian P who felt the need to divert to Eype Services on the A35 for a comfort stop - bless the oldies !
Highlights of the tour vary but one in particular would be Frank's turn of pace on his Harley Davidson - he could quite easily catch you napping and whoosh - gone - very impressed.
All in all, a great mix of roads, some previously ridden on and others completely new. A special thank you to Jeremy Weekes for organising and leading the ride, brilliantly navigated and the drop off system worked a treat. Great coffee and lunch stops too. Thanks also to Jim for being back marker - again well ridden and last but not least, a big thank you to all 15 members who turned up and enjoyed a ride out in the best traditions of DWDAM.
Ride write-up by Brian Purnell
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