Cycling to Salcombe (Part 3): The Train Takes the Strain
Before settling down for the night in Charmouth, I had given myself a good talking to for having ‘confused’ numbers such as 56 and 59 with much smaller numbers such as 40. I had looked again at the route for the following day, established that Brixham was 54 miles away, which would mean setting off at half-past nine, and had given myself another good talking to.
I had promised James that we would go fossil-hunting on the Jurassic Coast – indeed, this had initially been the whole point of the trip – and I had to honour this promise. A change of plan was required. Before I fell asleep, I thought about how we might move closer to Brixham without cycling the whole distance. The nearest rail station was Axminster, ten miles away, from where we could get a train to Exeter and then a connection to Paignton, which was six miles from Brixham. I wondered whether buses, taxis, or even boats might provide other options.
After breakfast, I began making enquiries. Taking a water-taxi along the coast sounded perfect until I learned the price, and it wasn’t an option anyway because of the tide times that day. It would have to be the train. Making the reservations by telephone proved difficult, but after a long and frustrating conversation I secured the bicycle spaces we would need on both trains. I also found a helpful taxi-driver who had a large 7-seater and could take us to Axminster, so the only bit of cycling we would have to do would be from Paignton to Brixham.
James was over the moon to be able to spend most of the day on the beach at Charmouth looking for fossils. We didn’t have any kit with us, other than a plastic bag, but this was no real hindrance as the most important things are a sharp pair of eyes and patience. In any case, James struck up several friendships on the beach and so was able to get hold of a geologist’s hammer and goggles at intervals. We made some really impressive finds, including an ammonite which was coated in iron pyrite and shone like gold, and a huge lump of rock which contained an ammonite amongst other things.
After a late lunch, James placed those finds which were too large to take with us in the care of our hosts at our marvellous bed-and-breakfast, and received assurances that they would be carefully stored in case we should one day return to claim them. Our taxi arrived as promised, and we let the train take the strain from Axminster to Exeter and then along the famous Riviera Line to Paignton which runs right next to the sea and offers great views. None of this would have been possible had I not opted for a tandem with S&S couplings which allows you to separate the frame into two pieces. Other than having to disassemble and then reassemble the tandem a couple of times, and having to change trains, it was a painless journey.
The six miles from Paignton to Brixham was completed in the dark, but was straightforward, and arriving in Brixham harbour which was lit up with multi-coloured lights was spectacular. Before long we were installed in our bed-and-breakfast, enjoying the view and a cup of tea. While some people – myself included – might think that taking the train was ‘cheating’, the whole point was to have fun and to go fossil-hunting on the Jurassic Coast. I therefore shoved any ‘guilt’ to one side and congratulated myself on having managed to ‘Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome’ to achieve our aim. I was also able to bask in the accolade of being described ‘The Best Mummy in the World’.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Hi there! Helen and Ian here from the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border! We have two boys who love everything in the Great Outdoors (especially sticks), and a border collie who also loves everything in the Great Outdoors (especially tennis balls). We also have a toddler daughter who is fiercely independent and proving to be just as intrepid as her brothers.
Favourite place in the world:
A difficult one... There are so many wonderful places to choose from... But it has to be Sandwood Bay in the far north-west of Scotland which can only be reached by a 4-mile walk. Last time we went it was a full-on winter mountaineering experience (with ice axe and crampons!) just to get there. Wild and windswept, it's totally unspoilt.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Enjoy beaches, woods, and coastal paths; explore waterways in our open canoe; go for a big day out on a small hill; go rock climbing; collect sticks, conkers, and acorns; investigate puddles and rockpools; ride our tandem; fly a kite against a clear blue sky.