There might not be any TT this year (2020) due to the plague, but I still thought it might be time to revisit my epic trip to the TT two years ago, 2018, and re-live a motorcycle journey that took in a fair bit of Great Britain, Wales, Ireland and of course, the Isle of Man itself. I hope you enjoy the ride…
Chinnor to Cornwall via Stonehenge
After an English breakfast at Haddenham Farm with my Uncle Alan we bid him a fond farewell and made tracks towards my other uncle down on the Cornish coast at Torpoint.
Our route, again navigated by just trying to choose an interesting line with more green than not on the google maps via the phone, took us through Abingdon, the interestingly named World’s End, in to Litchfield then past Thruxton before seeing the rocks in a paddock that are commonly referred to as Stonehenge.
I probably should have been prepared for just how busy this Wiltshire tourist mecca now is, but I clearly wasn’t.
Despite the price of basic admission for two adults amounting to AUD $80, almost 1.6 million people visited the 4000+ year old ring of stones last year alone. Obviously, this is one prehistoric monument that runs at a very significant profit. I should move some of the huge rocks around at my place up at Eildon and charge admission, StoneHedge…
Coach loads of people were coming in and out during our hour at the ring of 25-ton stones that mark the circular banked enclosure whose purpose it still yet to become definitively clear.
Many hypothesis abound as to the actual reasoning for the layout but the fact that they align along the lines of the summer and winter solstice lays reason that it was most likely linked to ritualistic purposes and astronomy. But with no written records kept from back in the day there remains a dearth of certifiable facts that surround both its inspiration and its purpose.
Nonetheless it is a remarkable engineering feat of man to transport some of these huge stones more than 240km from Wales to their current site a few kilometres west of the current day town of Amesbury. Some archaeologists believe Stonehenge was actually a work in progress over a period spanning more than 1000 years.
With Stonehenge behind us we turned south through the curiously named Sixpenny Handley then on to Blandford to refuel the Triumphs before heading for the Jurassic Coast via Puddletown.
Once starting to near the coast I often dragged the route line on Google Maps towards green coloured areas on the map to get further away from the main roads. This was a good move as we chanced upon some gobsmackingly beautiful country single lanes suitable only for a single vehicle width.
The hedges were taller than the motorcycles and lined with the new growth of spring, which, on this particular day of brilliant sunshine, made for a truly quite magical ride that will long be remembered.
This one-minute video clip gives you an idea of what I’m talking about
Once the coast was in distant sight I navigated towards it via some green lane farmland. It was perhaps a little bit too adventurous at times for the road based Metzeler Tourance Next rubber as there was a bit of mud in places.
It was another brilliant experience though and proved worthwhile when it opened out in to some truly stunning views from the clifftops above the Devon and Dorset coasts.
This section also allowed me to start exploring some of the off-road modes available on the Explorer.
All the rider modes are completely customisable on the Triumph with not only the ABS and traction control modes being able to be individually tailored and then saved to each of the six riding modes, but even the layout out of the new 5” TFT dash is switchable between a range of six different styles, which can then be linked to a respective riding mode via the set-up menu.
It is actually a lot more intuitive and effective than what it sounds, and is certainly one of the least confusing sytems to learn.
The different modes and functions are selectable via a switchblock on the left bar. The switches are individually illuminated via LED back-lighting which is another thoughtful feature.
The angle of the actual instruments is also adjustable to suit riders of different heights or riding stances, a feature that I can’t seem to remember being available elsewhere.
Check out this short video that overlooks this gorgeous section of the Jurassic Coast.
The display also has an ambient light sensor that automatically switches between contrasting colours to cater for the differences between bright daylight and dimly lit or night time conditions. It responded quickly when entering tunnels or bright sunlight.
All the information about the bike and trip computer functions etc. are easily accessible and legible. The only thing lacking is the bluetooth functionality now seen on some competitor instrumentation that allows for navigational prompts and music controls etc. from your phone to be displayed on the screen. We believe this might be coming by way of a later update that hopefully will be able to be fitted retrospectively.
The new Off-Road Pro setting was the pick for the tricky sections of dirt that included a few muddy patches here and there.
The things that were most likely to catch us out were deep hoof prints that had been made in once soft mud, but had now hardened and were hidden in the grass. These acted like mini ruts that you didn’t know about until you were in them because of the thick grass cover. It called for a little blind faith in regards to speed and relying on a little bit of measured wheelspin to safely traverse some sections.
Lukcily Off-Road Pro mode deactivates the traction control fully and also disconnects the rear brake from the ABS system, it also puts the electronic suspension in a softer off-road setting.
After eventually finding our way back to tarmac we passed through Newton Abbot, Dartington and on to the Devon Expressway over the River Tamar. Then it was onwards to our destination for the night at Torpoint, a town near Plymouth in the county of Cornwall.
We were warmly welcomed in Torpoint by my Uncle Mick and Aunt Margaret who then took us out for a fantastic dinner followed by quite a few beers.
My uncle and I discussed a few things from our respective naval careers and his current work with BAE systems before concluding that we best not leave it 30 years between drinks next time.
The next part of the journey takes us up over the moors of Dartmoor and up into Wales.
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