The Met Office forecasts a window of relative brightness before rain at midday. They’re based in Exeter, so they should know, right? But approaching Rockbeare at half past ten I can see the unmistakable murk of cloud encroaching from the south west, and sure enough, by the time I ride through the village the initial mizzle has turned to steady rain. By the time I am through Marsh Green and onto the climb of Rockbeare Hill it has turned torrential. Beside the driveway of ‘Ashbridge’ a small blue and black football sits forlornly in a puddle and the water that runs down my face and into my gasping mouth tastes faintly of salt.