Monday, November 21, 2016

Baguettes On The Beach - Secret Spot!

A couple of Sundays ago the weather was looking promising, the kids were away and so we thought we would spend a couple of hours out on the Ural.

So me and my monkey/ballast/3bags/Kiera set off for a little ride around the New Forest which we are lucky enough to live in.

I was heading for a particular spot which is not that well known, but a great spot to to look out across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight.

The sun was shining but the there was a keen wind that took any warmth right out of the day, so we had to wrap up well.

Once there I set up the field kitchen straight off the back of the Ural, and started to fry up onions and sausages to go into the Baguettes.

The smell was amazing, with plenty of walkers going by and looking envious of our grub!

We spent a good hour or more there, but as it was a tad exposed the wind was biting, even with all the layers on.

A great spot, no more than 30 minutes from our house, obviously I cant tell you where it is or it wont be secret anymore!

The journey continues!!!

Dartmoor Mini Adventure Day 3 - Beating Storm Angus November 2016

After a rubbish night's sleep due to Storm Angus, I was rather glad to see that things weather wise were looking up!

But I had survived a bad storm, lots of people on my facebook page cannot understand why I do this, thinking I have lost the plot.

I have asked myself the same question and so I will try and explain the best I can why I feel the need to get away, especially during the winter!

I have always liked a challenge, I guess I would not of joined the Army if that was not the case. As I've got older (50 next year) I still feel the need to prove myself. I like being different, I also like being slightly eccentric. Doing things that not everyone would or could do is part of the fun. Kiera seems to think that some are actually envious, not sure about that as that would be mad!

But, if I was totally honest I really don't know why I need to do these things, it's a combination of escapism, enjoyment, challenging, and maybe, just because I can and that I have the full support and backing from Kiera makes a big difference.

Anyway after looking at the weather online I had decided that I would head home today, as the weather for Monday looked terrible with high winds and rain again! I was also missing Kiera, soppy bugger aren't I!

So I packed up, brewed up and ate breakfast.

It was back out across the Moor's with the sun shining, but bitterly cold. The views were amazing.

There was so much debris on the road, in places it looked as if whole banks of gravel had been deposited on the road, branches down and lots of standing water. On two wheels it would not of been a fun ride, but with three, I was loving it!

The Ural for me is the perfect bike, I can carry loads of gear, it is able to go anywhere and cope with all sorts of conditions and is fun to ride. I so wish I had taken my test years ago!

I travelled back the same way as I came, apart from Exeter, here I went through a totally different set of roads!

I was going to stop in Lyme Regis for lunch, but for a motorbike I found no where to park! No parking down at the Cobb or the little car park at the bottom of the high street. Unfortunately Lyme Regis you lost out on my money as I just carried on!

I finally made it back around 1540, tired and hungry. Kiera was cooking a roast, there were cold beers in the fridge and a hot shower awaited me. Happy days!

Where to next?

The journey continues..........................

Dartmoor Mini Adventure Day 2 - Beating Storm Angus November 2016

I woke a little chilly and badly needing a wee! Not a good way to start the day, but it was sub zero and I was on Dartmoor!

So once I had sorted myself out and made a note to bring in my (bottle to pee in bottle) for the next night I got myself up and had some breakfast!

The sun was shining, but was hidden by the trees, breakfast had to be down at the bike which was situated in the car park below the camping field.

I'm glad I had put the cover on last night! Once I had shook all the ice off I set up the kitchen, brewed up and made my breakfast which came straight out of a can! It consisted of baked beans, some meat in the shape of a sausage and some potatoes. Nothing much to look at but with some black pepper tasty and filling, but above all hot!

Today I was going to explore some wild camping spots, and generally just ride around. I knew that my time today would be limited due to the fact that Storm Angus was on it's way and was supposed to hit my location by 1400hrs.

I set off to hunt down the locations that I had ear marked, but to be honest I had all ready decided that I would spend another night at the Plume of Feathers camp site. It had every thing I needed, especially if I were to get into trouble with this storm.

I rode past the track that I had to turn off on, but it looked well rutted anyway, so just decided to carry on and enjoy the scenery. 

If I was in the camper van, there are literally loads of places where you could pull over and stay for the night, I've done it in the old Pajero, and if you were on foot, you could find some great spots, but with the bike, that's a bit different, so reckon I will stick with the camp sites.

There are some great views to be had from on top of the Moors.

After riding around a bit and getting lost I decided to head out to find some fuel, the nearest place according to Google Maps was Ashburton.

It was a great ride out through some spectacular scenery, with some hair raising hills and descents, covered in stone debris and leaves. So glad I now have three wheels on my wagon!

On my way back from refuelling, (the tank holds 19 litres and I carry a 10 litre jerry can) I could see in the distance some rather angry black clouds. There was no way I could out run them so as soon as I caught it up and took shelter in some toilets conveniently placed next to the river Dart.

As soon as it stopped I took these pictures but by the time I had geared back up again, the heavens opened up for real and it chucked it down! Back into the toilets!

As soon as it let off, I headed off, I only had 12 miles to get back to Princetown, but it threw it down a few more times.

Having a bad beard day!

Princetown is not only known for being the centre of the Moor, but also for it's prison. Construction started in 1805 and is still in use today. To say it looks grim is an understatement.

If there was ever a good incentive not to get into trouble - looking at this place should convince you to stay straight!

I got back to the pub, just after 1400hrs and decided I needed a sandwich and a brew.

They do a rather good steak baguette and don't mind you dripping all over the place and creating puddles either!

As my riding for the day was over, it was just too wet, I covered the bike up and at 1530 settled down for an extended period in my tent!

I was still full from my late lunch but a few brews took place from the confines of my tent!

For this trip I had bought a new sleeping mat, my vango self inflating was only 3/4 length so I thought as it's winter I should get something with insulating.

The Thermarest Ridgerest Classics insulating qualities are second to none, it was brilliant, you could actually feel your own body heat coming back off the matt, but I still lack comfort, being a fat bloke doesn't help in this matter so I may have to splash some cash!

Keeping an eye on the weather, it was as predicted - torrential rain, there was no chance of me going out in that. The only thing that was missing now was the high wind.

I kept checking the tent for water ingress but found none! The Vango Banshee 200 truly is an awesome tent.

I was woken around 0300hrs by the lightening, it was if someone had set a flash gun off right in front of my eyes! - seconds later an almighty crash shook the ground! A few choice words were said, as old habits that are still to die kicked in and I was looking for cover!

Not long after this the rain finally eased off, but only to be replaced by Gail force winds hell bent on blowing me from one side of the Moor to the other!

This lasted for a couple of hours, once more my little tent took everything that was thrown at it.

Finally everything eased off and for the first time in over 15 hrs things were silent.

The journey continues............................

Dartmoor Mini Adventure Day 1 - Beating Storm Angus! November 2016

With a couple of days off work and with the Plumbers in refitting the bathroom, I thought it may be a good idea to get out of the way for a few days.

May rough plan was to head for Dartmoor which is around two to three hours away and take in some stunning scenery on the way.

I had spent some time studying Google Maps and by using the Satellite option identified some places where I could wild camp.

Wild camping on Dartmoor is the only place in the whole of England where you can legally get away with it.  As long as you obey basic rules and camp only where permitted, as shown on the Official Government Dartmoor map.

I also had a back up plan that if that all went horribly wrong there was a camp site at Princetown, at Dartmoor's heart that I could stay at.

Wanting and early start, but not getting one I eventually got away at 1000hrs, at least I would miss all the traffic through Bournemouth so as they say "Every Cloud" etc.....

Here is the bike all packed and ready to go. You may notice the addition of the Givi Top Box which I fitted. I took the mounting plate off of the Varadero, made some brackets up to fit onto the all ready installed luggage rack/tray.

I always like to travel well prepared, I know I take far too much gear, but you never know, and of course anything can happen!

With the mileage at 24081 Km I was ready to go! (The odometer reads in KM but the speed reads in MPH).

This was my longest trip yet on the Ural and I was more than interested to see how it would cope, especially as my journey through Dorset and into Devon meant climbing some big gradients.

Over the three days I was away, my steepest gradient climbed was 25% which I can tell you is steep. However, I had nothing to worry about, fully loaded the Ural was brilliant!

Following the A35 through Dorchester (where I stopped for fuel and a brew) and Bridport I got to Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast a World Heritage Site. I didn't stop a) I've been many times, b) I wanted to get on!

Here I could of followed the A35 up to Honiton and joined the A30 but the Ural is not built for busy dual carriage ways, so I took the twisty country roads which suited me just fine!

I followed the A3052 all the way into Exeter. Now Exeter to me is a bit like Gloucester, I can never seem to take the same road through the town twice.

I eventually popped up the far side of Exeter and on the A38  and had to ride up through Bovey Tracey as I wanted to get to Moretonhampstead. This for me is the gateway onto the Moor.

At Moretonhampstead I stopped to have a think about where I was going to camp that night. It was around 1400hrs and with a little over 2.5hrs of day light left, thought it best to head straight to the campsite and pitch there for the night.

It is more or less a straight road all the way to Princetown, with plenty of hills and sweeping bends to keep me occupied.

The weather up to this point had been ok, a couple of light showers, but nothing too bad. I had been wearing full waterproof gear since Dorchester, more to keep me warm than anything.

As soon as I got onto the Moor it started to rain, first just light drizzle, but there were a few heavy showers to contend with. Thankfully my wet weather gear works brilliant and all though on the outside I was soaked, my inner layers were bone dry and just as importantly still warm!

I pulled into the Car Park of the Plume of Feathers in Princetown which tucked behind it is a small field full of lumps and bumps and on a slope which was the campsite. Due to the amount of rain that they had had there was also very wet patches where the water naturally drained away. Finding a level spot that was dry was going to be a challenge.

I went into the pub, sorted out the pitch fee which was a very reasonable £6.75 and went back out to set up my tent and get my gear into the tent.

Thankfully the rain eased off enough to get all this done and just about managed to do all this as the last remnants of day light disappeared.

Nothing for it then but a pint of the black stuff!

I was feeling a bit knackered so instead of cooking decided to have a simple meal of ham, egg and chips, and of course another pint!

Back in my tent, roasty warm in my sleeping bag I settled down for the evening. Soon after getting into my tent it started to rain, heavily at times but the wind was light. The temperature certainly dropped.

I woke a few times due to the rain, but could also hear a sort of sliding noise of something heavy going down the side of the tent. My first thoughts were that it must be an animal, but soon worked out it was the accumulation of snow and ice being washed off the tent when the heavens opened!

I'd been keeping an eye on the weather via the BBC, even out on Dartmoor I had full internet accessibility via my phone.

This also meant I could keep in touch with Kiera to let her know I was still alive.

Tomorrow the weather was supposed to be clear first thing, but Storm Angus was rapidly approaching!

The journey continues.........................