Graham's End to End - Part 8
GRAHAM’S GREAT BRITISH JAUNT – WESTWARD HO!
The George Inn at St. Briavels provided a substantial breakfast and after a brief look at the youth hostel in the castle and a tour of the village we rode towards Chepstow with good views of the Severn estuary. An attempt to reach the Severn Bridge from the east bank of the River Wye was corrected by a local man. We crossed the old bridge over the Wye into Chepstow in the shadow of the castle. After a mile or two in Wales we re-entered England at Beachley below the bridge after stops for a photo call. Minor roads brought us to Alveston where map reading errors landed us in hamlets rejoicing in the name of Hazel: Lower, Upper and Greater if I remember correctly. Back on track and short of Yate the Forget-me-not Garden Centre provided a good home cooked lunch. Yate appeared to be the industrial and commercial end of Chipping Sodbury which is an old town with a market square lined with handsome buildings constructed in mellow Cotswold stone.
I have to confess that I was quite happy cycling in the morning, but another session in the afternoon at this stage in the journey was not very attractive. However, the designated route was along the Monarch Way which transpired to be a mistake for cyclists as the way was barred by gates and stiles suitable for walkers. After a session following a path across buttercup meadows we decided to keep to the lanes to Wick – there is one in Scotland, Wales and England! The pub provided tea and cakes in the garden where we chatted with Chris Moore and friend from the San Fairy Ann CC before we continued our lane route south between Bristol and Bath. We mistakenly took the road to Bath and after several attempts to secure rooms for the night we reached Compton Dando where we found shelter in a bed and breakfast and dinner in the Compton Inn to enjoy in my opinion the best meal of the four weeks on the road.
The weather had taken a turn for the better. We were now averaging over 50 miles per day – two drawbacks for me were the heavy saddlebag and the afternoon session. Why couldn’t we call it a day at lunch? The countryside was marvellous, but the hills were killers as we struggled up to the inn at Castle of Comfort, after which it was a glorious run down to Wells where the Cornish Pasty Shoppe provided food, cold drinks, coffee and a seat in the sun. We broke our routine by visiting the cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace. We decided to become tourists for an hour and I doubt that not many had travelled as far as us from Dunnet Head and Chester. We did encounter the ubiquitous Japanese and we did spot one coach party from Fraserburgh in the north east of Scotland.
The road to Glastonbury and Street was busy, but there was a good cycle path along the bypasses. We saw the Glastonbury Tor and were constantly reminded that Street was the home of Clarks’ Shoes. We were now into what I would call the Somerset levels on a minor road after Grainton passing through Sutton Mallet and Chedzoy to come to crossings of the River Parrett, railway, motorway and the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal south of Bridgwater. We followed the cycle way along the canal, but by now I had become disinterested in cycling which probably explained why the miles seemed interminable. We were heading for the home of North Roader Ken Fletcher and his wife Heather at Castle Farm in Adsborough. This is a small hamlet difficult to find due to the conspicuous absence of signs, but it offered a home for the night. Eventually it was reached and soon we were being warmly greeted by our hosts and refreshed by tea and biscuits. We had planned a short day, but in fact we had covered just under the usual 50 miles.
After dinner and a tour of the estate of Castle Farm I was finished and retired to the sitting room for a snooze, but not before Hazel and I decided that we needed help from home to book rooms for the night as we were entering the counties of Devon and Cornwall. These counties are very popular with visitors, especially as the school half term and a bank holiday were on the horizon. We needed help so Hazel phoned Annabel who was enrolled to search the internet for accommodation. She certainly eased our passage by finding excellent bed and breakfasts with not too far to journey between each one. Or so it seemed on the map! On the ground it was another matter as Devon is very hilly and some of the route in the lanes was not marked by signposts. That was a matter for another day as we crept up stairs to bed and passed into the sleep of tired cyclists.