After languishing in a dark, temperature and humidity controlled environment on trickle charge for almost three years, Streak and Storm are wheeled out into the preparation area. Excitement mounts with the possibility that the 2slowspeeds will ride again. Where to and for how long?
Meanwhile, a short distance away in the village of Verwood, two very dead Senna S20 headsets (for rider to rider communication) are being encouraged to take a charge. They have not been fed a meal of electricity for three weeks since they came with us from Brisbane and have not taken kindly to this. We sometimes forget that many of the items that we use while motorcycling have been with us for up to eight years and, like us, can show signs of their age. One Sena S20 is revived but with an uncertain life expectancy, the other sadly did not make it out of the emergency room. Since they are an integral part of our riding, we pondered what to do next.
Contingency plans developed as we headed to pick up Streak and Storm included buying a new one today, costing some 250 UK pounds, or extending our car hire and not riding at all. After deciding to take the hire car option and rebooking over the phone, success!!!, Anne finds a spare set of Sena S20’s she was sure had been left behind amongst a plethora of spares including brake pads, clutch cables and fuel pumps. Anne had found the spare Sena’s while removing extraneous parts from a pannier. Those spares we really do not need to carry on what will be the shortest trip taken by Streak and Storm, no more than 500 miles, and the first that does not involve a ferry, plane or train as part of the journey and is wholly in the UK.
After a nervous departure through the loose gravel path and as we get used to the feel of the bikes again navigating through the New Forest, I feel a mixture of pleasure, elation and slight nervousness as I become accustomed again to the handling of Storm again. Having been used to riding only the Triumph Thunderbird for so long, I have to get used to changing gears to gain power, not just a simple twist the throttle!
A quick fuel stop to dilute the old stabilised petrol with Esso 99, which we have been told is the best fuel to use after such a long storage period, and we are ready to leave the quiet backroads of the New Forest. As wend our way through the traffic on the A31 west of Ringwood, we realise that being on Streak and Storm brings back all the positive feelings we have enjoyed over the last four trips. 2Slowspeeds are back!
We have no plans as to how far we might get on the first day, not departing till around 2:45 pm it might be the campsite a couple of miles beyond where we have been staying with Tansy. Luckily traffic is fairly light and we are able to make good progress towards the western borders of Dorset.
A split second decision at a roundabout sees us descending towards the coast at Lyme Regis. Ignoring capacious “Park and Ride” facilities, we arrive in the centre of town, having navigated narrow streets without a sign of parking, an open gate and motorbikes are neatly parked along the sea wall in the centre of town. Perfect – we stop for tea. We will stop here for the night having covered only 65 ml / 102 km since 3pm.
A campsite at Uplyme, which is over the border in Devon, provides us with a private location to set up the tent and we enjoy our first night on the road. An easy downhill walk to town for dinner and nice meal then sadly a long walk back to the campsite uphill!
Anne had identified a couple of locations on Dartmoor National Park where we could see ancient forests, so this is our next destination. We have to cover a huge 50 ml. / 80 km in a day. Start slowly they say but this is ridiculous. We do not even leave till 11:00 am.
For navigation, I am using what by now must be obsolete Garmin Montana GPS. I was lucky enough to find that it contained the maps of the south west of England as I have long forgotten how to download the free maps from the internet and then upload them onto the GPS.
After a fast transit down the M5 and A38, we stop at Bovey Tracey, a quaint town on the eastern edge of Dartmoor. This is a name Anne has difficulty remembering and I probably do not help by providing alternate names whenever asked so Anne would come up with Bony Tracy, Stinky Tracy etc. Tourist Information provides us with useful local knowledge on where to camp and sells us an ordinance survey map of Dartmoor. The size unfolded makes me think that it may be close to 1:1 scale, but it does contain an enormous amount of detail which could prove useful as we search for a campsite for the night.
Yarner Wood purchased in 1952 by nature conservancy becomes England’s first National Nature Reserve. We only take a short walk as the riding gear does impose some weight and heat limitations on our activities, which we had forgotten about, although I would not swap the blue skies for clouds while riding. We meet a local Ranger who suggests a better camping location than the one we already had. Thank you!
Dartmoor National park allows wild camping in certain areas as long as you camp away from the road and car parks to avoid use by campervans, for a maximum of two nights in any one location. With the directions provided by the ranger at Yarner Wood we come out of woodland with spectacular views in both directions – this will be the area to camp tonight.
We lug, tent, sleeping bags, mats and camping chairs the prerequisite distance from the road. As advertised our location has stunning views eastwards over Yarner wood, Bovey Tracey and we can see as far as the sea some 20 miles/ 32 km away. This is perfect. No one else is camping near, we have the place to ourselves and the long summer evening to enjoy. Pure bliss, this is why we do what we do, for experiences like this.
After a leisurely breakfast in Bovey Tracey, given the current dry conditions, we did not want to be known as the couple who started the great fire of Dartmoor in 2022 from using our camping stove. Across the moor, yes video will follow, we wend our way towards Two Bridges in the centre of Dartmoor to visit Wistman’s Wood, another special woodland area. The roads are perfect for motorcycles: undulating, open vistas, steep climbs and descents, up to 25% in one case and yes Anne could smell my brake pads at the end of that one.
Two Bridges is just that, two bridges and a hotel, nothing else added expect for the police radar van up the hill. The speed limit on Dartmoor is just 40mph or 65kph which I would forget from time to time due to the beauty of the place. “Honest officer I was just a little over”. Will I have to check the mail for any offical “notice”?
Having morning coffee, we meet a lovely gentleman who has just returned to motorcycling after many decades who we learn is on his first longer distance day outing. Great to see someone return to riding after such a long break.
As I make a lunch booking at the hotel and I am mentally preparing for the fast walk to Wistman’s Wood, lunch and then ride to select a campsite when Anne, not wanting to rush her Wiseman’s Wood experience, suggests staying at the Two Bridges Hotel, appropriate for the Two Slow Speeds I suppose. Her argument is very sound: we had an un-repeatable experience last night, let us do something different tonight.
At lunch we learn more about the local area from a member of staff who does guiding on the moors and suggests a route that will not only encompass Wistman’s Wood but three of the over 150 “Tors” on Dartmoor and a “stone throne” that locals like to say was the inspiration for “Game of Thrones”. I asked about the interesting apparent overlap of “wild camping” areas and the military training ranges. Yes they do and if you do not check before entering them you could have an unexpected interaction with the British Royal Marines.
Wistman’s Wood is made up of mostly “Quercus robur” or common oak, a bit of Latin for culture, in a granite bolder filled South West facing valley. Here they grow to no more than 4.5m /15 ft. tall. What also makes it so interesting apart from the fact the trees survived being turned into firewood or fence posts is the variety, up to 120 species, of lichens that cover the trees giving Wistman’s Wood an almost mystical appearance. Visitors are asked not to enter as some of these lichens are slow growing and hundreds of years old. Our enthusiasm to explore and enjoy needs to be tempered with the damage we can cause just by our presence, no matter how well meaning.
After a long and enjoyable walk and restful night’s sleep, we prepare for another long day in the saddle. We are meeting friends Pat and Andy at the “Jamaica Inn” made famous by the book of the same name by author Daphne Du Maurier . Our adventures will continue in Cornwall about 20 ml / 32 km away.