Le DeTour logo

Le DeTour logo

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

"How to get out of Wales with three bicycles"

Day 13, Wednesday 17th Sept - Two weeks since we set out from home!

We started the day at John H's house, having breakfast whilst the kids got ready for school. Sensibly, we'd left the bikes loaded in the Defender, so when we were all ready to go, it was a case of replacing the baggage and stowing ourselves in the various 'spaces' between. An uneventful motorised journey completed to return to last night's finishing point on the road, we unloaded and reassembled the bikes and their various bits of kit and headed off with Fiona's best wishes in to what we expected to ba a long hard day.

At the start of the day, the Three Desperadoes about to leave Ross on Wye

In a repeat of the previous evening, we started the day following the Wye river, before a severe climb out into the Forest of Dean, briefly, before then descending to the Wye again, rejoining at Redstream where we stopped for second breakfast. Here John H did a quick shop so we had some basics for lunch, including a locally baked loaf (which proved to be delicious). Then we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon winding through the sun-dappled Wye gorge, surrounded by trees and glimpses of glorious scenery, houses perched high and very little troubled by traffic. We stopped briefly to admire Tintern Abbey, before eventually climbing out of the gorge and heading towards the Severn Estuary. We passed Chepstow Racecourse and grazed the outskirts of Chepstow itself. 
Old bridge at Redbrook in the Forest of Dean - old tin mining area 

The two Johns enjoying the sun dappled Wye valley.

John H passes Tintern Abbey, Wye valley.
Perversely, we were now following signs towards the M48! As we neared, we picked up the cycle route to the Severn Bridge. Finally, the bridge loomed before us, at which point the two Johns, bewitched no doubt by the sight before them, started up the hard shoulder of the motorway itself, instead of following the signposted route that was also de-marked by red Tarmac and big painted bicycle signs. Fortunately I spotted their mistake and was able to call them back; rescued by 'Dad' apparently (I like to think this is a fond reference to my natural air of common sense and responsibility and by no means a suggestion of any greater apparent age than them ....)

John C joins the slip road of the M48 !

Tunnel before Severn bridge crossing
We thoroughly enjoyed crossing the Severn Estuary on the 'old' bridge, offering great views all round under clear skies. It was astonishing and slightly unnerving to feel how much the structure vibrates and moves in response to the heavy lorry traffic. We finished the crossing and then followed NCR4 through the countryside towards Bristol; a great route only slightly confused by the multiple iterations of the route!

The Johns on the Severn bridge.... making use of the free wifi!

JH on the Severn Bridge

We ended up at Blaise Castle country park, where we had lunch before winding through the delights of Coombe Dingle; a deep-cut mini-gorge, filled with green, through suburban Bristol. The only down side to this route was that, although used by many cyclists, the stile at the end / start is too small for laden bikes. 

Lost in subterranean Bristol

 JR and John have different but equally inadequate methods, of negotiating their way off the cycle route in Bristol .

Method 1

Method 2

We ended up at the Avon Gorge, passing under the Clifton suspension bridge, before negotiating a complex route over and under the roadways around the place where the A4 crosses the Avon river. We had a bit of a shock to the system when we tried to join the A38 at a gyratory; then the road itself was ridiculously busy for the first few miles, only quietening once we passed the airport. We eventually stopped in Churchill at the Churchill Inn for some long cool drinks and bowls of excellent soup (except they messed up the order and John H made do with a banana). 

Clifton suspension bridge
Then we blasted on in the growing dusk, still 20+ miles to do. With quieter roads and a tail wind, we coursed along at ~20mph for a while. Lights on, we covered the last few miles at a gentler pace, extra vigilant in the traffic around Bridgwater itself as the driving became more impatient and less considerate. We arrived finally at 7:45 pm, our longest day yet completed, ravenous (no, really, more than usual) and tired; an interesting set of competing bodily demands. Of course hunger won out!

Forgotten tail
Something I forgot to note from day 11 (please refer to day 12). We were going quite fast on a nice downhill section whilst winding thought the countryside. John C was leading with me not far behind. Suddenly there was a blur of fur as a squirrel (grey) tried to dash across the road, but hadn't reckoned with our quiet bikes. It ended up almost making it between John C's two wheels - there was no way he could take any avoiding action, it was all too fast - but got its tail run over by the back wheel. After a shocked moment, it shook itself down and carried on, apparently unharmed ....

West is best
We've just realised that our furthest point west of the trip, assuming we complete, will have been Tarbert on Harris (6.8 deg. W, day 3) and not Land's End (5.7 deg. W)

Stats of the day:
Distance 83 miles - longest yet
Average speed 12.1 (max 40.2)
Total climb 1236 m
Energy 4267 cals

JC 3 
JH 4 
JR 3
One of our highest banana counts of the trip, reflecting the very long day.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a good day guys. Like the off roasting pics and also the one by Tintern, beautiful ccountryside.

    Clearly you all did some canvassing while you were in Scotland as every region you passed though (ex Glasgow) said No... Thank goodness