Well the things you do to keep the old man happy… for him to watch his beloved Charlton in the play-offs, we had to be on the road very early for us. We crawled through Bristol’s sprawling suburbs and had great views of the River Severn virtually all day.
One happy CAFC fan – they won!
The best day of weather so far today: sunny and 17 degrees. Lots of families out cycling along the Gloucester & Sharpness canal. This was once the widest and deepest canal in the world to allow ships to dock in Gloucester, avoiding the dangerous tides and loops of the River Severn.
Emergency pizza stop
The waft of a delicious mobile pizza oven stopped us in our tracks about 10 miles outside Gloucester, in a village called Frampton on Severn. This Margarita gave us the fuel to get us into a lively docklands area of town where there was dragon boat racing going on.
Gloucester cathedral nr our hotel
Looking forward to seeing our friend Pete tomorrow who’s cycling the next two stages with us.
Fortunately our weather’s been better than in Kent – no rain. Glastonbury and Wells were so lovely that we lingered there until lunchtime.
The Tor has been a site of religious and spiritual pilgrimage for centuries and has fantastic 360 degree views over three counties. Historically, when the Somerset Levels have flooded, the Tor became an island and shepherds led their sheep to its higher slopes to graze.
Vicars Close, Wells
A perfectly preserved residential street of 14th Century houses in the very attractive (and smallest) city in England.
After lunch, there was a sharp climb up the Mendip Hills where we passed through Wookey Hole with its limestone caves and saw signs to Cheddar Gorge as well.
View from the Mendips
At the end of the day, we saw lots of Bristol. We didn’t mean to but got horribly lost trusting SatNav.
Weather was sunnier and warmer today and once the last of the climbs were out of the way, the cycling was flat alongside the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal and over the Somerset Levels.
Cothay Manor and gardens
We decided on an Airbnb tonight as priorities were a) a healthy meal and b) a washing machine. We haven’t been eating enough of our 5-a-day: too many cooked breakfasts, cake & coffee stops and naughty restaurant meals. Tonight’s spinach & goat’s cheese frittata & salad was much better. We also washed all of our cycling gear properly, instead of by hand in a sink. Hope it all dries by morning!
Signing off now as it’s way past our bedtime 21:30 – completely exhausted.Night.
Don’t be fooled by the short mileage today as it turned out to be a very challenging ride. Exmoor was a 500m ascent but somehow, once up there, we both missed signage for Route 3 and lost all our height! However, once we’d got back up there, the views were to die for. NCN Route 3 follows the ridge and border between Devon and Somerset. To the South, we could see the beautiful patchwork of Devon and the dark hills of Dartmoor on the horizon.
View from the top
Not exactly Chris Froome is he?
The afternoon ride was a gentle wind-assisted descent into pretty Dulverton where we rehydrated ourselves with Exmoor ale.
Well, we’ve made it into Devon! Miles covered so far = 175. Miles to go = 1025.
Our route so far
Today was damp to say the least. The forecast was so bad that our hotelier in Bude offered to drive us to Barnstaple in his van! Needless to say, we did not take him up on it although Andy was tempted. There were not many photo stops: we bashed to Bideford as fast as we could.
The caped crusaders
Tonight, we met up with our dear friend Daz (who lives in Devon) for a few beers and a curry.
Long overdue catch-up
The Old Vicarage B&b tonight is terribly posh; home-made cake with our tea and a huge pedestal bath.
Had a lovely time finishing off the Camel Trail this morning and then climbing up onto Bodmin Moor.
Camel Trail under the canopy of trees
The scenery on the moor was wild, rugged and lonely. We didn’t see many people – our only company was the wild ponies, ewes with their lambs and buzzards. The wind was fierce up there but fortunately at our backs.
An unusual spotty horse!
Now in a Bude B&B renovated and run by a charming Mancunian. Off for a fish and chip supper since we’re by the sea.
Another bright sunny, but chilly day. Our thighs are nearly as big as Chris Hoy’s because of all the hills this morning. However, the views from the top were sublime; it was very peaceful and magical slowly climbing, hearing the birds singing and looking at the colourful hedgerows full of bluebells, red campion, wild garlic and late primroses.
Shark’s teeth – up & down all a.m.
The man himself
Highlight of the day was a slap up lunch at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow. Can’t believe I got that one past ‘Kittyman’.
After lunch, we cycled to Bodmin on the Camel Trail, an old railway line, with superb view of the Camel Estuary and rolled into our B&B.
Here goes with our first blog… Obligatory photo of Land’s End fingerpost
Registered as ‘End to Enders’ at Land’s End Hotel. We have to get a minimum of 5 stamps as we journey up the country to prove we have done it. What’s to stop us taking the train I wonder?
Next stop, pretty Mousehole harbour.
Tide was out at Marazion where you can walk over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. We didn’t! Andy needed a pasty stop.
The highlight of the day was the off road cycling path through tin and copper mining country – Wheal Maid Valley. Back in the late 18th Century, this was the richest square mile in the country. Alas, no sign of Poldark scything his crops!
Signing off for today from an Airbnb in Truro. Only 27 more stages to go. Yikes!
Up until now the training regime has been quite casual: a 50 mile round trip to see Dad in Crowborough; a weekend cycling in Suffolk with friends etc. Now Andy is insisting on 3 gym cycling sessions a week and has even taken me out for a 20 mile hilly ride in the rain!