Tuesday, June 18
First thing in the morning, we discovered that FLJ’s bike again had a flat.
This was the same tire we’d fixed the evening before on the road. I soon discovered the probable cause of the repeat flat: the tire wasn’t seated properly on the rim, which would have made for another pinch flat. We sorted it out, but then decided to help ourselves to the hotel buffet for breakfast since it had opened in the meantime. Long story short, it was 9 a.m. before we got on the road.
As expected, it was a bit of climbing to leave Hatherleigh, and it was 11 a.m. before we rolled into (i.e., puffed and strained uphill to) Lapford, which had been our goal for the previous evening.
We had only a short break (with Snickers bars, which we hadn’t yet grown sick of) and then continued. We had just a bit more climbing out of Lapford and then things leveled off a bit. As though to compensate, however, the heavens opened up and it began to rain. By the time we rolled into Tiverton, it was well and truly pissing it down. We found a likely looking café but it was being remodeled. A passing local directed us to the Half Moon and we thanked him for the advice. When we got there we found it was warm and the food provided us with much needed calories, but the atmosphere left more than a little to be desired.
As we left the Half Moon behind and (after some faffing about in a cul-de-sac) Tiverton as well, we entered into the first of a long series of canal paths just as the rain was letting up. It proved to be a somewhat deceptive introduction to the canals as the path was broad and smooth. The wet clay of the path was soon spattered over our gear (and our faces, most likely), but it was still smooth going compared to some of the canal paths that lay in our future.
Later in the afternoon we left the canals for a roll through Devon’s more distant historical lanes, and found ourselves suddenly plunged into a … Devonian … crevice displaying dark and foreboding strata on each side. Adding frosting to the scenic cake was the fact the road was quite narrow and we had the threat of traffic whizzing by in either direction as we struggled up through the narrow defile.
St Michael Church
And yet later the same day we found ourselves back on the canals. It was lovely and scenic before all turning topsy turvy at the end of the day in Bridgwater as a failed detour had us going backward on our course as the rain and the darkness began to fall in tandem.