The man with the vintage motorbike ambled up our drive, helmet dangling from his hand. Days after our move to a cottage in the heart of the Taw river valley, he’d run out of fuel exploring the little lanes hereabouts. Easy to do. Enhanced by all the driving I did for my last project (Devon Cream Teas), it inspired a growing fascination with our mainly empty, often moss-centred, little lanes.
Devon’s publicly maintained road network is over 8,000 miles long. But it’s not our motorways, A roads, urban mazes, nor even our B roads which make it nearly a third longer than its closest rival. It’s our rural minor roads (classified ‘C’ and unclassified ‘U’) which do it, occupying fully 5% of Great Britain’s minor rural roads. These unsung 6,378 miles are what I’m here to celebrate.