The trip to Devon started out with Dgym wandering around looking for his thermal layers and refusing to leave without them (despite the fact that we were supposed to have left yesterday and he hadn't seen said thermals since skiing in April) and me getting very frustrated and desperate to get cycling. Not a great beginning.
It was mid-day before we were ready, solar panels fitted, panniers packed, bikes tuned up and ready to go. By this time, my breakfast porridge had worn off so we stopped a few miles down the road for a pub lunch.
Our ride started out nice and relatively flat, such is most of North Dorset. We opted for the smallest roads on the map - tiny, unclassified single track lanes. Our choice paid off well and we encountered very few cars on our journey. The roads were tiny and shady, perfect for warm September cycling.
The flats didn't last. South Dorset is beautiful but very hilly. The gradients started to get more "rolling" after Leigh, and by the time we reached Beaminster we were into proper hills.
A few miles before Beaminster, half way up a hill, we stopped to look at the map and realised we only had a few hours of daylight left in which to reach the coast, find a campsite, set up the tent and cook dinner - and we weren't doing that well. This was not made easier by the fact that there were no campsites marked on our map until we reached the coast. We pushed on, determined to set up camp and cook in the dark if we had to.
The next ten miles or so were continuous ups and downs. The ups were tough but the downs were wonderful. At one point I rounded a corner on a descent to find a vast landscape of beautiful green sunlit hills and valley laid out before me. I don't think dgym got that as he couldn't see over the hedge.
The last few miles, after Stoke Abbot, were a welcome respite, nice gentle terrain and descents, just what we needed as my legs seemed to have mostly given up.
We happened upon a Camping and Caravanning Club campsite a few miles before we hit the coast, not marked on the map, a £6/night tap-in-a-field affair, just what we wanted. We were the only campers there.
For dinner we cooked up rice with dried mushrooms, lentils, leftover tinned tomatoes from home with peas, ham and vegetable stock. For a first camping meal it was very nice but a meal for two hungry cyclists barely fits in a Trangia 27 pan! We ended up with just about enough time to set up, eat and wash up before dark.
We started to go to sleep as soon as the light had gone but were both disturbed throughout the night by a pair of owls holding an argument just outside our tent, and a bunch of noisy dogs over the road.