Taunton Regional GroupOrganisers Contact: Ian and Lisa Warren, Tel: 01823 443889, Email: email@example.com
Monthly rides usually held on the third weekend of the month - either on a Saturday or a Sunday.
The Taunton group met on a glorious spring Sunday morning at The Old Calf Shed just outside Ilminster. After coffee and cake, some 10 tandems accompanied by a further 4 solos set off for their March ride. It was good to welcome Peter and Jenny Weeks, from the West Country group, and two crews on their first outing with the Tandem Club.
Following a delightful almost traffic-free route via Horton, Hatch Beauchamp, Curry Mallet, Westport, Barrington and Whitelackington they arrived, after 20 miles, at The Green House on the Dillington estate for lunch. Looked after in some style, lunch was taken basking in the sun in a delightful setting overlooking the estate’s lake
With some reluctance, the group saddled up for the last 10 miles which saw them cycling through the Dillington estate, through the town of Ilminster and then joining the former railway heading south before turning off at Peasmarsh and making their way back via Crock Street and Broadway.
A lovely ride through classic Somerset scenery it was hard to believe the A303 was our constant companion for most of the way. Lovely route and great stops coupled with the glorious weather and top company all contributed to a very enjoyable ride.
Stephen & Sarah Launchbury
Several couples from the Taunton group enjoyed the Tandem Club Easter rally and following on from this we held a local ride starting from the High Street in Taunton. There were 11 tandems and three solos and so we split into two groups. Michelle and Richard kindly lead the first group through Vivary Park followed by a second group that was joined by our latest new member James with his daughter Matilda on kiddycranks.
The route took us into North Curry via the infamous 13 bend hill and across the Somerset Levels to Burrowbridge and the river Parrett. We approached North Petherton and swiftly rode up and around the lanes to Thurloxton. The Maypole Inn was very busy but soon served all our meals. The return journey took us through Creech St Michael and across the busy A358 at Henlade to Stoke St Mary and back into the town centre once more. We welcomed new members once again and cycled a total of 32 miles. We are lucky that we have plenty of members agreeing to lead rides over a wide area and plan well ahead. Thank you everyone.
Lisa & Ian Warren / Nick & Rachel Warner
Eight tandems met in Cocklemoor car park in Langport on Sunday 15th May, 8 couples but the numbers were increased by one with Anita and Andy's grandson George looking very comfortable in a rather stylish child seat. We were all set for a 30mile ride with a cafe stop followed by a pleasant post ride picnic by the River Parrett. Ah well the best laid plans and all that…
The weather was overcast as we set off through the town and along some quiet lanes to Burrowbridge. As we headed towards Westonzoyland the traffic was busier as there was a Steam Rally at the Pumping Station. It gave us a chance to admire some vintage vehicles and we were soon back on the quieter roads towards Aller. At this point the sun started to peep out and it was all looking good as we pulled into the Bere Cider Farm cafe.
Everyone enjoyed some lovely cakes and scones and some (no names) even enjoyed a glass of the local cider. A quick check of the weather app brought bad news though - heavy rain was forecast for the rest of the afternoon! It was decided to cut the ride short and head back to Langport - the first drops of rain appeared as we left the cafe. It was a damp 3 miles back to our vehicles but that was nothing compared to the storm that hit as we drove home - the decision to curtail the ride was certainly justified.
I think we can put this in the "unfinished business" tray and hopefully we can try again next year with better weather.
Len & Gill Hampson
The Taunton Tandem group were offered an irresistible trio of adventures for their June ride. With their usual discerning taste they all opted for the middle option, labelled a cheeky challenge for the rider with more mature aspirations. A mere 24 miles with a rise of about 1,500ft the five tandems and one single explored the quiet lanes…...which we shared with 1,400 other riders who happened to be doing the Dartmoor Classic challenge on the same day.
First club ride for my wife and I on our electric. Joy oh joy as we overtook a steady stream of sweating youth on the longer hill. I won’t mention that they had already cycled about fifty miles. After all I had already lived for fifty years when most of them were born.
Bovey Tracey 360 cycle cafe, Moretonhampstead cycle cafe (recommend the Jammy Dodger ice-cream), Steps Bridge, Teign Valley, Chudleigh Knighton and back to Bovey for lunch. Great company as usual, including new members Rick & Joan, on a ride organised with Military Precision. Well that’s one way of putting it.
James & Liz Goodwin
We all know that the secret to a good cycle ride is about getting the right ratios. Ratio of conversation and climbing, the ratio of cake size to plate size, the ratio of eating time to cycling time…! A group of 8 tandems gathered at Halberton Farm shop, near Tiverton (most people will have heard of Tiverton by now!) to test these ratios! Nearby car parks were filling up as we’d chosen the same day as the Mid-Devon Show but our route quickly took us off the beaten path past the village of Brithem Bottom and in to Cullompton. A quick sprint across the motorway junction and we were back on gentle lanes and easy conversation through to Uffculme, followed by a steady ride up over the edge of the Blackdown Hills to our lunch spot at the Beambridge Inn (just over the border into Somerset!) – great food and quick service! On departing the pub the landlord warned of the next ‘vertical mile’, but this was not as hard as predicted. A mechanical issue on one bike meant that Richard and Michelle served as recovery bike to go and collect a car. Thank you! The other 6 bikes meandered their way through mid-Devon hamlets back to the Tiverton Canal and then to a second coffee and cake at the lovely farm shop. Perfect ratios! Perfect day!
Clive & Claire
23 of us set off from the Somerset Boat Centre on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. A perfect day for cycling - warm and dry. Those who expected a flat ride across the Somerset levels were 'surprised' to discover so many hills along the route. Lunch stop was a relaxing picnic at the Willow Craft Centre. Andy and Anita's grandson, George, seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself and, along with the rest of us, had a well deserved ice cream at the end.
Clive & Emma Bowyer
On a bright and fresh Autumn morning Anita and I cycled the 10 miles from home to meet eleven other Tandems and crews at the Exe Valley Farm Shop, Thorverton for breakfast. We set off on a 30-mile ride through quiet Devon lanes towards Whimple and Ottery St Mary. We had a short comfort break at Ottery St Mary – famous for its November 5th tradition of carrying flaming Tar barrels through the town's crowded streets. We then took the return route via Talaton, Clyst Hydon and Silverton. At Silverton we had a quick stop for a photo outside Anita’s Barber Shop before returning to Exe Valley Farm Shop where we were given a separate room so we could all enjoy a well-earned lunch together.
Glorious September weather, great company and beautiful scenery, it really was a fabulous day.
Andy and Anita Petherick
The theme of the ride, as well as enjoying the Exe Estuary and Devon scenery, was luck with the weather. Thundery rain was forecast earlier in the week for Sunday 23rd October and indeed heavy rain and thunder were heard overnight before in nearby Woodbury. However, a weather window emerged in the forecast such that the sun was out when we met at Darts Farm, Topsham and it continued shining for the majority of the ride.
Four tandem and two single bikes (Len and Gill’s tandem was unavailable) cycled up to Countess Wear and then down the Exe Estuary trail to Starcross. We turned inland up the gradual incline of the Mamhead road and turned left before it became too steep. Undulating country lanes took us to Dawlish. There were a few small, sharp hills that Mark hadn’t noticed on his reccy single bike ride but everyone kept up and soon we were enjoying sea views at Dawlish. We took the cliff top cycle path down to Dawlish Warren where there was a welcome bakery with a good selection of cakes and pastries. The sun was still shining as we had our coffee.
A following wind helped us back up the Exe Estuary and we turned back south again to Topsham. By now dark clouds were amassing on the horizon but we made it to Route 2 cafe just before the heavens opened. After a hearty lunch, we donned our wet weather gear for the short final section of the ride but actually the rain eased as we left the cafe. In summary, 30 miles of enjoyable and surprisingly dry cycling despite the unsettled Autumn weather.
Mark and Liz
Well. This isn’t quite what was expected. 13th November - unlucky for some. But for us…..Glorious sunshine, thirteen tandems and two halves, both smelling of ozone. Nice cafe at Blackmore Farm Shop with little sheds that were meant to take four but we managed to squeeze eight into. Set off for a short outdoor Church service in Cannington as it was Remembrance Sunday, and then an easy flat ride to a bizarre three story bird hide at Steart Point for coffee from flasks. The last bit was pretty rough underfoot, but somehow we all seemed to manage. And the picture, taken from the top, shows us all looking very colourful.
Nice big carvery lunch for 28 at the Malt Shovel Inn, arranged at the last minute by Lisa, and home for a little rest on the sofa. What more could we ask for.
We even practised the first verse of a song for our Xmas knees up. Sung to the tune of “Away in a manger”
“Away on a tandem, No batteries we said.
Just the wind in my hair but my legs feel like lead.
Be near me, JD Tandems, and send me I pray,
A Moustache or an Orbit on this Christmas Day.”
James & Liz Goodwin
On December 11th, the Christmas meal for the Taunton Group was held at the Walnut Tree Hotel in North Petherton. 36 people had booked for the meal but unfortunately because of the icy weather conditions, following a group discussion, it was decided that the usual ride beforehand would be cancelled.
As always, music was provided by Nick and James as well as the ladies choir. The festive quiz showed that it’s important to read the question carefully and the trophy for the couple who had attended the most rides was again awarded to Andy and Anita.
Lisa thanked everyone for their support throughout the year, pleased that the rides for 2022 were well attended. Rides for 2023 are organised. Nick thanked Lisa and Ian for their work as ROs and a very generous gift voucher was presented.
Lisa & Ian Warren
It was a fine January morning when the group assembled at Haselbury Mill just to the east of Crewkerne. There were nine tandem and two solo riders, Peter and Jenny travelled down from Bristol as did Duncan and Nicki. New Tandem Club members Dan and Wendy came up from Dorset.
The planned route was from the Mill out to Merriot, taking in a loop through the town, passing the "Feed Station", a cycling enthusiast run cafe, very popular with cyclists. From Merriot to Hinton St. George, a lovely village with lots of ham stone buildings. As we got to the Church, Peter Weeks asked if we could stop and he pointed out a house opposite the church which had belonged to H W Fowler a famous lexicographer.
From Hinton St George on to the village of Dinnington using a section of “sunken road” which is part of the old Fosse way, then via a muddy lane through Allowensay. We stopped at a junction and noticed a big black cloud heading our way, we hoped the associated rain would miss us, unfortunately none of it did !!
We pressed on through the rain to the Seavingtons. Nowhere to shelter and by now getting quite wet, we reached the bridge over the A303 to take us on to South Petherton and coffee at the Field Farm Kitchen. The road was now completely flooded and Dan and Wendy decided to ride through the flood! It was interesting to watch, probably mid-shin depth! Determined, they carried on through and headed back to the mill.
We decided to return back down to Seavington St. Michael and on to the coffee stop, where a large group of very wet cyclists arrived at the cafe and dripped puddles of rainwater on the floor.
The plan was to return to Lopen Head and pick up the Fosse Way back to Dinnington. As it was still raining it was decided to take the main road back to Merriot and wouldn't you know it, by the time we got there the sun was out!
We returned to Haselbury Mill for a very pleasant lunch in the Tythe Barn (the barn was built in the style of a traditional Tythe barn in 2007, the first new Tythe barn built for 300 years). We had been allocated a long table up in a gallery area, perhaps the tandem club's resident minstrel's reputation had preceded them! Sadly sans instruments, there was no music.
The ride was originally planned to be 21.7 miles we ended up just shy of 16 miles - so much for DRY January !!
David & Fiona Gray
The February ride was the 10th Anniversary of the first outing of the Taunton Tandem Group. It was great to have 6 couples who were on the first ever ride, out again for this ride.
We had an incredible turnout, 16 tandems and 7 solos and so we split into 3 groups. The ride started from Puxton Park and we meandered through the lanes past Frankie Howard’s Community Cafe at Loxton towards Winscombe, Sandford and Congresbury. There were a few hills on the morning route but there were great views of Crook Peak and the M5 motorway! Lunch was at the White Hart near Congresbury where the staff dealt really well with a large group of hungry cyclists.
The return route to Puxton was down the Strawberry line and along the lanes. We then enjoyed tea and celebration cakes (with candles!) and sang ourselves Happy Birthday! We had exceptionally good weather for the time of year, the sun shone and it wasn’t too cold.
Katherine & Bill Barnes
Michelle and Richard led Taunton Tandem Group’s March ride for which 7 tandems and 7 solos met at Ham Wall, the RSPB nature reserve on the Somerset Levels. A short ride took us to our coffee stop at Sweets Tea Rooms – a popular cyclists’ cafe and especially so on a Saturday morning! Our route then took us to the edge of the Mendip Hills and a gentle climb up to Wookey Hole, before descending to Wells, which often claims to be the smallest city in England (although this seems to depend upon your definition of ‘smallest’!) Saturday, we now know, is market day in Wells and it was heaving with tourists and locals alike, out for their shopping. Just as well we hadn’t planned to stop in Wells!
We had pre-ordered our lunches at the comparatively recently opened Middlewick Farm Shop on the outskirts of Glastonbury, and this proved to be a good choice. Good lunches prepared us for the final, and probably steepest, climb of the day which took us over the shoulder of Glastonbury Tor, opening up magnificent views over the Levels towards Exmoor and the Quantock Hills (although the narrow and pot-holed lane required full concentration from the pilots!)
The forecast had warned us to expect showers but, in the event, the sun shone and we stayed dry throughout.
Michelle & Richard Miles
The April ride started at Chettiscombe near Tiverton with 12 Tandems and 1 solo bike. The ride moved out under a cloudy overcast sky, ideal cycling weather.
As this was Devon we started with a nice hill to get everyone warmed up. We made our way through the villages of Uplowman and Sampford Peverell where we crossed the railway and then the Motorway. We continued through the Culm Valley onto Uffculme where we stopped for coffee at Bridwell Park.
After leaving Uffculme we cycled to Culmstock crossing over the River Culm on the Packhorse Bridge. We then crossed over the A38 making our way to the ancient hamlet of Canonsleigh crossing and re-crossing the Grand Western Canal until we reached our lunch stop at The Globe in Sampford Peverell. Here we were joined by some non-riding members for lunch.
Cycling back to Uplowman we then picked up the River Lowman and followed this back to the Lost Kitchen at Chettiscombe for coffee and cake. A nice day with good company.
Vicky and Jeff Conibear
The May ride had a record of 21 tandems and 6 solos take part in the Birthday Celebration ride for Grace’s 90th Birthday. Wearing a Birthday sash and balloons attached to the tandem, passing cyclists and pedestrians were soon wishing Grace a Happy Birthday!!
A beautiful day, the ride saw us passing through the Strawberry Line tunnel and onto Axbridge village square. Passing Cheddar reservoir and village then a short climb took us along the base of the Mendip hills with lovely views of the Somerset marshes. Onto the levels passing Nyland Hill into the pretty village of Wedmore where the volunteer public loo attendant had to be persuaded to reluctantly abandon cleaning so we could use the facilities.
Onwards to the village of Mark and Brent Knoll for the lunch stop at the Fox and Goose where 55 hungry people were promptly served with great food. After lunch a short ride back to the village hall where other friends joined for the afternoon Birthday Tea Party with lovely cakes. 32 miles with great company and lovely scenery helped by amazing weather.
Malcolm and Grace Gammon
9 Tandems and 6 solos met in Langport for the re-run of last years ride organised by Len & Gill which had to be cut short due to bad weather.
As before, coffee and cake stop was at Bere Cider Farm in glorious sunshine.
This time we got as far as Somerton before black clouds started to appear and so the decision was taken to make a dash for home! Heavy rain accompanied us back into Langport but dried up for an impromptu picnic by the river,
The Taunton Tandem group ride on 20th August was a 28 mile three county loop from the village of Chardstock in Devon to Broadwindsor in Dorset via Somerset and back. Chardstock is on the edge of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and whilst it certainly is beautiful, ‘hills’ is the operative word here. 2,500 feet of ascent overall and some wonderful swoops downhill but scarcely a yard of level road. We were pleased to be joined by tandem club members from Towcester and their son, who were on holiday very close to the start.
In all nine tandems and six singles set off from the community hall at 10:30 after a fortifying cup of coffee. We immediately began a mile of descent to the River Kit, followed by a two mile climb to Bewley Down, where for a nice change, the road surface was excellent having been recently resurfaced. We enjoyed great views to the South West over the Blackdown Hills from this wide road but most of the rest of the ride was on small, hedged lanes where luckily other traffic was scarce.
After twelve miles including more climbs and descents and a difficult crossing of the A358 we dropped down to cross the river Axe and stop for a well-earned coffee and cake break at beautiful Forde Abbey. Pre-booked groups may access the cafe without paying the entrance fee but get to walk through the impressive kitchen garden and stunning herbaceous border on the way to it (many thanks to the owner for allowing this concession). Forde Abbey is certainly well worth a full visit with beautiful gardens, lake and house. After that another six miles - uphill to Thorncombe Cross, downhill to Synderford, uphill to Kitwhistle, downhill to Broadwindsor and hooray! a welcome lunch at the Stableyard Restaurant where the staff did an excellent job of feeding the group. After lunch a slightly easier uphill along the B 3164 to Birdsmoregate passing Pilsden Pen (second highest point in Dorset) where unfortunately the cloud had come down and robbed us of the stunning views to the south coast and the sea beyond. At Birdsmoregate we plunged back into the small lanes and a long downhill back to cross the river Axe again. Just when one might think the end is in sight there was of course one more climb back to Chardstock and more tea and biscuits. A hard ride but with the excellent company, refreshments and views a very enjoyable one.
Malcolm and Kate
A tango of 6 tandems and 12 tandemists cycled the September ride from Taunton out to Wiveliscombe. This was forecast as the last day of the exceptional September Heat wave. Instead we were waiting for the starting cafe to open in heavy rain thunder and lightning. But that just washed and cooled Somerset ready for our journey. We cycled through fresh and cheerful lanes with very little traffic. Approaching Wiveliscombe we found roads that no tandem has ever been down before, potholes the size of craters, grass down the middle as high as an elephant’s eye, and hills that climbed right up to the sky – Oh, what a beautiful morning…!
It was the day of Wiveliscombe street fair, with a plethora of stalls and live music and crowds of happy people. The sun reached its zenith, temperatures broke all records and we evaporated as we ate a hot roast lunch outside the Bear Inn. With a sprinkling of luck we managed to glide back to Taunton. Another great day with tandem friends.
Nick and Rachel Warner
It was a sunny October morning for the Taunton Group ride starting from the refurbished Avalon Marshes Hub – first tea stop!
8 tandems took part with some dressed for a cold Autumn day, others still thinking it was summer!
We made our way across a wettish Tealham Moor, though sheep and cattle were still grazing. We turned towards Burtle and rode along the Polden Chain to pick up the cycle track to Bawdrip for our second tea stop at Peasey Farm Shop, a recent find to add to our café destinations.
After tea and chat we joined the cycle track along Kings Sedgemoor Drain that was perfectly still reflecting like a mirror. We skirted the villages of Stawell and Sutton Mallet to arrive at the Ring o Bells in Moorlinch for our lunch. We all ate well and then cycled on to Pedwell to pick up our second moor crossing turning left in Nythe where the swan family on Butleigh Drove were still enjoying the warmth of the tarmac. Leaving the moor we crested the ridge at Walton Windmill and descended into the village and turned off the main road towards Sharpham Moor. The stag at Sharpham park looked magnificent in his field of ladies.
Some of us took a short detour through the wilder parts of Sharpham to pass houses from the 21st Century to colourful dwellings from the late 1800s.
We all cycled the ‘old railway ‘ that passes through Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath reserves that have had numerous appearances on TV for their abundant bird life and murmurations, worth a visit in itself.
Back at the Hub we had more tea and chat and some of us decided it was time for our winter wear for the next ride! Many thanks for everyone’s company – we rode approximately 32 miles.
Rex and Hannah Whitcombe
A lovely autumn day saw 10 tandems and one solo set off from Stoke-sub-Hamdon before going to Montacute and clipping the edge of Ham Hill and then to West Chinnock before heading for coffee at The Feed Station at Merriott. For the next 45 minutes lively conversation replaced lively cycling before setting off again this time for Hinton St George. With its hamstone cottages and delightful Main Street this is one of the loveliest villages in Somerset. Peter Weeks, from the West Country group, but also well known by most of the Taunton group, gave an impromptu talk on H W Fowler (1858 – 1933), the famous lexicographer, outside his last home which now wears a blue plaque.
Next it was Dowlish Wake, Kingstone, the Seavingtons and South Petherton before hitting the home straight through Over Stratton and then to lunch in Norton-sub-Hamdon. The Lord Nelson was the venue where we were looked after very well and enjoyed some excellent food and atmosphere.
It really was one of those nice November days – mild, dry and a real pleasure to see the countryside in all its autumn colours as well as to pass through some glorious villages. Combine this with great stops and even greater company, what a way to ride 25 miles.
On a sadder note we missed having Malcolm and Grace join us on this ride. In May this year we celebrated Grace’s 90th birthday but we know that currently she is not well. She is an inspiration to the entire group and we send her our very best wishes and hope to see her again soon.
Stephen and Sarah Launchbury
Contact: Richard & Michelle Tel: 01643 818465 / 07401 067823 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ability to download all the rides, by a member, in a zip file will be available once the rides have been published here.