Route 2. Ilframcombe to Plymouth | The Devon Dragon
The second route that I want you to take on is a wonderland of impossibly steep climbs, deep valleys, exposed heather flats. With the sea at each end. It’s something quite special. It’s Ilfracombe to Plymouth. And it’s 100 miles. (Well, it’s 99 but when you’ve got lost once or twice it will nudge over 100, easy.)
Rolling through Ilfracombe feels like cycling as it should be. The sea breeze, small shops and stunning natural setting gives you a lift. Well it better, as the hill out of the town is 20%. A monster for over 750m. Well you have to get up on to Exmoor somehow, don’t you?
Following the coast for many miles it feels great to see the Atlantic ocean and once through the public car park that is Barnstable, you make for the aesthetic retreats of Bideford and Great Torrington. Finding your rhythm here will see you kick through the miles. This will be tough though, as postcard pubs more ancient that most of London and stunning valleys catch your eye and make you break.
You can see such variety of landscape on this route as you work from the coast, taking in the bleak expanse of Exmoor, the wooded hills of central Devon before rolling passed the edge of Dartmoor and experiencing the old heartland of farming countryside in the Tamar valley.
Time this ride just right and you’ll have the sun with you as your guide as you cycle south, the countryside will be bursting with abundance and you’ll have all the little coffee shops and pubs at your disposal providing sumptuous food and soft mattresses in ample supply.
The route is mostly traffic free, 72 miles of the 99 are on cycle paths so this is certainly one to take the young and inexperienced with you. There are some great B&B’s along the route or you could camp along the way. When you stop overnight make sure you bike remains scratch free by using the Bike Blanket, especially when you stack your bike with the others that you’re riding with. Then just unwrap the next day to continue your ride!