Matt

Writer of words, rider of bikes.
Also fond of a good walk.

When a drive back from Cornwall took us past the start of the Granite Way in Okehampton, it was the perfect chance for a ride that offers a unique perspective on Dartmoor.

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A young boy in a blue t-shirt sits on a sandy beach, his yellow bike propped up in the sand behind him.

Our largely car-free week in Cornwall showed what’s possible when people have access to good cycling infrastructure.

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Three bikes lean against a wooden gate and fence in a forest.

Following a year in which the pandemic had kept us close to home, the prospect of a few days pedalling along tracks by the River Wye felt like a distant adventure.

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A young boy in a blue t-shirt cycles away from the camera on a forest track.

It had been six months since we’d been to Mortimer Forest and it felt good to be back. For family rides, forest tracks offer us the sort of traffic-free exploration that’s hard to come by where we live. Whenever we roll out of a car park and into the trees, we feel free.

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A child in a blue t-shirt rides a bike away down a farm track.

When the fruit farm’s website announced the ripening of the strawberries, we knew exactly where our family ride that Sunday would take us.

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It was an adventure I’d dreamed about since a childhood bedtime story – an adventure that spanned 14 years, starting in Minehead when I was a teenager and finishing in Poole as I was about to become a parent.

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Two distant figures walk up a snow covered hill through sparse woodland.

Another snowfall. Peering through the window into the early-morning gloom we could see a deep covering in the street outside. The hill beyond was obscured by cloud but we knew straight away that we wanted to go up there.

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Around 92% of land in England is off-limits to the general public and where rights of way do exist, cyclists can only ride around 20% of them. We deserve better access to our own country.

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A track through woodland passes the brick pillars of a dismantled railway bridge.

Every now and then, a tell-tale line of undergrowth cuts across my path. It marks the route of the old railway line. Of the hop pickers who once rode trains into Herefordshire in search of seasonal work, there remains only the slightest trace.

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A map spread out on the table with Swindon marked at the bottom of the photo and the rest out of focus

Why should you always have to know where you are, and where you’re going?

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