In the last decade and a half the vast majority of my rides have ventured broadly westward, southward or northwards from home. I’m not entirely certain why East Devon was spurned during that time, but this year has certainly made up for that. Once more today I head out past Whimple towards Tipton St John, but instead of riding up through Metcombe I take the lane that leads to Lynch Head through Venn Ottery. As the road rises gently above the village I pass The Big House, commanding what must be breathtaking views out over the parish church and across the Otter Vale. In my head I am already writing a 1930s Murder Mystery set in its environs, thoughts that are cruelly interrupted when the road pitches up steeply towards the nature reserve at the peak of the ridge and my breath is captured by the gradients rather than the views.