I was, as always, limited by my budget when choosing a bike, but even when considering the more expensive models, I would still have stuck to the Sardar. Dawes refer to it as an expedition bike as it has the oversized frame of a tourer, allowing plenty of room for panniers without them conflicting with the pedals, yet has the build of a mountain bike.
It comes supplied with;
rigid steel forks
Shimano Deore LX 27 gear dirailler
Shimano Deore LX hubs and shifters
alloy bottle frame
front and rear pannier racks and bungy cord
26" double walled rims (in some parts of the world, eg Asia, often only 26" are available for replacement)
This really is a great little train journey, travelling the 39 miles from Exeter up to Barnstaple (or vice versa of course), following for the most part the valleys of rivers Exe, Yeo and Taw with stunning rural scenery as the train winds along the respective rivers' courses, often criss-crossing them on Victorian railway bridges.
The Tarka Line provides an essential rural link to its villages en-route; many of the station stops being mere hamlets with little more than the station itself (and usually a pub!) but providing access to the larger villages scattered around this mid-section of Devon.
From the terminus at Barnstaple the wonderful world of North Devon opens up, umbellifera-like, with local bus services radiating from the town's bus station to all points on the Devon compass including my personal favourites of Lynton and Lynmouth.
At the Exeter end the local bus services cover the whole of Mid and South Devon and the railway stations of St Davids and Central join the National Rail Network giving country-wide accessibility.
Train run roughly hourly with the first train of the day departing Exeter at 0559 and the last leaving Barnstaple at 2209 tho' not all trains stop at all stations and some stations are "request stops" (which means that to stop the train you have to put your hand out to signal the driver - just like catching a bus!). Websites have full details of timetables etc and the first has links to bus services too.
There are 2 car ferries which cross the River Dart, higher & lower. I personally always use the lower ferry, just out of habit.
The crossing takes less than 5 minutes, Costs £3.00 each way (bit steep!!)
You can buy a book for 20 crossings for only £16.00, which takes the price down to 80p a crossing, quite a saving. Foot passangers cost £1.00 each way
This is Lower car ferry loading up, with Dartmouth in the background
If you are coming from London, then there should be a train from Waterloo. Some of the stations it visits on the way are:
Salisbury (platform 4)
Axminster. Very long tunnel which pop's ears
Exeter St davids
The journey takes about two hours and a quarter.
There are a few ways to get to Cockington.
Walking (or by Car):
Follow the road inland from Livermead Beach (just up from Corbyn's Head). At the first junction cross the road and then take the country path beside the Cockington stream. This will take you directly into the village.
Although the road runs next to this path.
Alternatively follow Walnut Road from the main traffic light junction leading towards the Torr Abbey area. This leads past a series of local shops and continues uphill towards St Matthews Church and Green. The road is now St Mathews Road. At the top of the hill take one of two left turns. One can be driven the other is a one way road and can only be walked down (or driven up!).
There is a dial a bus service that can take you into Cockington Village:
There are tourist transport services into Cockington from the Sea Front and Harbour area which run during the summer.
Alternatively take a horse-drawn carriage and be in keeping with the history of the area.
I originally stated that Cockington was not very wheel chair friendly, however I stand corrected - the lovely people in Cockington have sorted out good wheel chair access around most of the village - enjoy!
Other good website:
This is a great bargain. For £10 residents of the two counties can buy this annual pass which entitles the holder to 1/3 off all off-peak train tickets within Devon and Cornwall. Then for a double plus the discount also applies to the Devon Day Ranger ticket which brings the price down to £6.60 for a day's unlimited travel around Devon's rail network. It can also be used to get a discount on "PlusBus" add-ons and so for a city visit to Exeter from say Barnstaple you can add unlimited bus travel for that city for an extra pound or so.
Whilst the card is only available to residents if you happen to be visiting someone here who has the card it is valid for a second adult (regardless of residency) and accompanying children get their tickets (point-to-point) for £1 each.
Just the job for my recent pub crawls ;)))
This A-Z map is definitely the most useful for navigating Devon. It shows all the roads, railway lines and most of the walking paths as well as highlighting most of the main tourist attractions. The town and city plans are especially useful for those travelling by public transport as they show the bus and rail stations and the gazeteer indexes and locates almost every village and hamlet.
It's not a freebie but given its attention to detail is well worth paying the £3.75 for. Most tourist offices stock it as do booksellers, newsagents and many other outlets. I live here and use it all the time for my forays.
Unfortunately the late 1960's Beeching cuts in the, then, British Rail network resulted in the closure of many of Devon's rural rail services. However what remains is still a pretty good network and some of the train journeys are spectacularly scenic.
Exeter St David's station is the hub of the system and from here you can follow the River Exe and its wildfowl-inhabited mudflats down to the South Coast at Exmouth, or go north following the River Taw through the lush scenery of mid-Devon to the mini-metropolis of Barnstaple. You can have a morning's shopping in the proletarian city of Plymouth and then sneak into Cornwall following the stunning Tamar Valley line for a late lunch.
If beaches are your thing, the golden sands of Torbay beckon, only a 45 minute journey which literally touches the magnificent Jurrasic Coastline at Dawlish - on a stormy day the waves crash against the sea wall, spattering the passing trains and sometimes even flooding the tracks.
For small town Devon at its best the line eastwards from Exeter to London Waterloo passes through Pinhoe, Whimple, Feniton, Honiton and Axminster (where the carpets come from) before leaving the County.
OK you can't do all this in a day but for a casual rail wander you can get a Devon Day Ranger ticket from any train station for the princely sum of £10. This allows unlimited travel within the County, on all train services, after 9.30 am on weekdays and all day Saturdays and Sundays.
Great if you want to do a town to town pub crawl!
For a network map click HERE
Not being a car driver myself this is something that I won't have the opportunity to use but it sounds like an enterprising idea.
Basically if you're going out for a drink in North Devon then you can book a driver to pick you and your car up at a specified time and place (from midday until late). The chauffeur arrrives on a collapsible motorbike which is then stowed in your car boot and you get driven home in your own vehicle.
The business is based in Barnstaple and covers an area of about 15 miles radius. Whilst it is best to book (and pay) at least 24 hours in advance, it may be possible to arrange a pick-up at the last minute if they have a free driver.
Website has all the info:
Exeter Bus Station, at Paris Street, is the city's bus transportation centre, from which the two main bus companies, Stagecoach and First, cover all of South Devon. Both have links to Barnstaple (and hence accessing the North of the County) the direct route being covered by Stagecoach. This is also the terminus for National Express services linking the rest of the country. For a bus station this is particularly well organised with a series of bays from which the buses to different parts of the county leave, organised into logical groupings.
Unfortunately the tickets of the two companies aren't interchangeable and so any journey which requires using both will require separate tickets. However for travel in the immediate area, for people arriving by train, you can add a "Plus Bus" option to your rail ticket for a couple of pounds which IS valid on both companies' services.
Everything is well signed and timetables are posted in each bay with the relevant bus details. The information office is generally helpful and drivers and other staff are happy to provide guidance also. This makes finding your bus pretty much idiot-proof - well it would have to be for me!!
Contact number below is for Traveline which provides bus and rail service details nationally and is also particularly well organised.
Barnstaple is the transport hub for all of North Devon. From the bus station here in the town centre (Belle Meadow, at the end of Queen Street) there are regular bus services all over the area, as well as services to and from Exeter to access the south of the County.
The two main service providers are First and Stagecoach (websites below) and there are also a couple of smaller local companies such as Flyers and Turners. Unfortunately each company has it's own tickets and so there is not coverall ticket but First run the majority of routes and their day tickets are great value for money.
The bus station itself is well laid out and signed with the various destinations served by individual bays which have their timetables posted. The information office in the main building is always happy to guide users and also the drivers and other staff will provide general advice.
For those arriving in Barnstaple by train the bus station is about 800 metres, 10-15 minutes, walk, with a couple of bus services connecting the two. Train users can also add a "Plus Bus" option to their rail ticket which gives unlimited local travel around the immediate vicinity - the North Devon Rail Users group has a useful Wiki Page with links and more info.
The only modification I made to the bike is the saddle. I bit the bullet and went for a Brooks B17 pure leather saddle, much to the amusement of the shop assistant. They say that it can take 500 miles to brake these babies in when they will become the most comfortable saddle in existence, though in the interim they will be hell to sit on. Surprisingly, I found no real problems from the start, and I just love it. The fact that this model has been in production since 1898 says it really is a classic!
Pocket Rocket Master Blaster - a big name for a very little pump.
2 large water bottles.
Cateye 'Enduro 8' bike computer.
Raleigh wing mirror (I know, normaly only librarians have wing mirrors on their bikes but Ive found it invaluable.)
Shower Cap - pure leather seats have to be kept dry, so there was a choice of a specific seat cover which are silly-expensive, a plastic bag which kept blowing off, or a shower cap - 20p (35c) from any pharmacy. Does the trick nicely!
Had I the cash I would have probably gone for Ortlieb panniers as everyone who has them raves about them, but they are the most expensive too. I settled for Altura 'Dryline' front, rear and handle bar bags. As the name suggests, they are waterproof and have the easy to use Klickfit release mechanism. Excellent. The only gripe is that the map holder supplied on the handlebar bag only has velcro on one end meaning it can flap around in strong wind and I had to glue extra velcro on to stop it annoying me. The rear bags also have built in organiser pocket and reflective markings and all have detachable shoulder straps.
At the time of writing (Nov 2007) this is something I have yet to use but doing some public transport research for this page came across it on the Devonbus site and it certainly looks interesting.
The "Fare Car" system is an innovative experiment in providing public transport to isolated areas where it is uneconomic to run a regular bus service. The way it seems to work is that local taxi companies are contracted to make available a vehicle and driver to a timetabled route around isolated areas and that members of the public can book their journey the day before, according to the timetable, and pay roughly what a similar bus journey would cost. If no-one has booked a particular scheduled journey then the car doesn't run and so is free to do its normal days work. On the other hand if several people want to use it then they share, just like a bus!
At the moment there are 11 such routes running and it is definitely fascinating to see how the experiment works. Link below has details.
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