Kent Branch Holiday Paignton, Devon

Booked before the pandemic took hold, this six day trip was to take place in September 2020, but due to the Covid restrictions we rearranged it to June this year. On a miserable Monday morning, 10 of us gathered together to head down to Paignton, Devon in what proved to be one of the most challenging journeys we had undertaken due to torrential rain and high winds. Having recovered from the previous day’s journey and with partially dried out bike gear and the sun shining, Tuesday’s trip was to Dartmouth and Brixham led by Mike-O. Using the A385 and A3122, we had a pleasant and scenic ride to Dartmouth, where we spent a few hours wandering around, looking at the sights and watching the busy river traffic. After lunch, we decided to take the lower ferry crossing. The ferry was a bit daunting; riding a bike on to a wet steel loading ramp with no anti-skid flooring, but we all made it safely on and off the ferry and made our way across the river to Kingswear and then on to Brixham. The obligatory ice creams were sampled and after a wander around the harbour we saddled up and made our way back to Paignton. The roads were not overly busy and the scenery was at times stunning. Wednesday promised to be another sunny day, so after a hearty breakfast at The Grand Central cafe, we saddled up and followed John-A to visit the Dartmoor Prison Museum situated in the middle of the Dartmoor moors.

Once we left the main roads, the lanes were a treat with plenty of twists and turns and great views across the moors. We had a brief stop where we got to know some Dartmoor ponies, who were very friendly and approachable. 

HMP Prison Dartmoor is a Category C men’s prison and its high grey granite walls dominate this area of the moor. The museum is a very interesting place to visit, with displays of numerous confiscated weapons and escape items, such as makeshift knives, manacles and mobile phones.

After our visit ended, we made our way to The Two Bridges pub for a Devon Cream Tea and then headed back to base for dinner at the Captain Jacks, a welcoming family run pub just round the corner from our hotel.On Thursday, we took a ride to Kingsbridge and Slapton Sands. Kingsbridge is a little seaside town west of Dartmouth in an area classified as of outstanding natural beauty. The local town market was in full swing when we arrived so we had a look around at the variety of local crafts and items for sale. A casual stroll along the harbour, sitting in the sun watching the world go by and followed by an ice-cream, we planned to move on to our next stop, which was the American memorial at Slapton Sands.    This memorial was erected as thanks to the people of Slapton and surrounding villages who were given six weeks to leave their homes during WW2 by America and the Allies, as it was to be used as a training area for the D-Day landings. Leaving Slapton, we followed the coast road back to Dartmouth. This road was a rider’s delight with many sharp turns, steep hills, and fantastic views. It also had narrow roads, farm traffic and few overtaking opportunities, so progress was not fast.   Arriving in Dartmouth, we again took the ferry to Kingswear and from there we made our way back to Paignton. Another good day on the bikes, with good weather and very pleasant riding. On Friday, we decided to spend the day on foot and had a pleasant day wandering around the town, taking in crazy golf and an open top bus ride around Paignton and on to Torquay.For those of you who have not visited this part of the country, we can thoroughly recommend Devon as a destination for bikers. It has superb ‘A’ roads that are not too busy and are a biker’s delight. The towns are bustling with a good choice of hotels, pubs and cafes and places of interest to visit for those who like a bit of history. 

As always on our trips away, we had a great week and appreciated more than ever the time spent together after months of lockdowns and social distancing.

Pauline Ayliffe