H3DTM Thornbury to Cardiff

Just a short hop we were thinking yesterday, will we arrive too early? A thought amplified by last night’s power cut. For some reason this was linked to the water supply. When the lights came back on, the water stayed off. Until just before we left. The club house was put to good use.

The Severn crossing was damp. Still fun, just damp. Thinks heated up when I used the back of my pedal to remove some skin. Today we were alongside the A48 for a large part, swerving to take in Roman Caerleon. Entering Newport, the Transporter bridge is closed for renovation: imposing structure.

So 1000 miles each and no punctures. And then one each in quick succession. The Newport locals know how to spread broken glass over the cycle ways.

We arrive in Cardiff via the Gwent levels. Full of evidence of the heavier rain we’ve missed. Then a change of mindset to get into city cycling.

A longer day than anticipated, changing weather and landscape. Just enough time to patch the inner tubes before enjoying Ted and Margaret’s hospitality. Tomorrow home.

H2DTM Sparkford to Thornbury

We pass through places with musical connections today. The Eagles took inspiration from Doulton, handing them a hit on a plate. Wellow was behind the famous Grease chorus. Tell me more, I here you ask. The day really came alive passing through Frampton, though the puns had started to Peter out by the time we souped by Alveston.

Almost enough to get you locked up in the prison in Castle Cary: the market hall is a fine place to have a coffee.

Coal mining makes a return at Radstock, to return later east of Bristol. A lot of today was on former railway lines: you appreciate their gradients when non navigable bits throw you onto the mercy of the tarmac contours on the road.

Bath is reached via an impressive 1.67km tunnel. The temperature drop is impressive: good wine storage room. These trails are well used, particularly the Bath Bristol line.

The Avon cycle way avoids the road mess/excess around Bristol. Thornbury reached, tomorrow Cardiff.

H1DTM Portland Bill to Sparkford

Today’s ride allowed plenty of time for sampling coffee and cake. The first leg retraced our steps to Dorchester. Yesterday’s run down was today’s spin up. Then it was good old Roman roads heading straight across country.

So 11 miles of this was labelled as a B road quieter alternative for cars. Which suited us. And every Sunday motorist wanting to go as fast as their right foot let them. Hardly noticing Casterbridge, nor stopping to think if George Elliot had been to Middlemarsh. The Giants Head campsite is presumably near Cern Abbas, though signs for Todgers caravans must have been removed.

Sherborne is to be returned to. One highlight was Oliver’s Coffee House. The imposing Abbey has the world’s heaviest 8bell peel. The A30 passes through though not noticeably busy traffic.

Nor on the next 11 miles which was such a contrast to the previous. A single track road light traffic, weaving its easy across the Dorset pastures, bringing us into Somerset and our Sparksford destination.

Haynes Piblishing are from here and still are. Tomorrow we’ll follow the manual as we head to Thornbury via Bath.

17DTM Verwood to Portland Bill

Yesterday was a lovely rest day with Bette and Colin. The rest consisted of a demonstration of navigation skills as we meandered around Broad Chalke. Lunch was in the Hub, making good use of a church.

The overnight thunder storm cleared the air. Venturing south, the first 15 miles or so was quite busy roads. Not always sympathetic to cyclists. Sometimes you wish the polite driver holding back overtaking would get on with it; sometimes you wish the drivers weren’t in such a hurry.

Everything settled down going through Wareham which felt quite a thriving wee old place. Woodsford Castle caught our attention: turns out to now be a Landmark Trust rental. Noted.

West Stafford’s sign, near Dorchester, recalled when it was once an important place, with a sophisticated meadow irrigation scheme. The cottages by the church have iron railings to protect them from the hoards of sheep once rampant though the streets. We’d passed Wool, perhaps they were heading there.

Skirting Dorchester, Weymouth marks the approach to Portland Bill. Just a wee hill to go up and we’re there. Here’s the route.

891 miles from Bettyhill. Sun to sun. A once idiosyncratic hotel to a still idiosyncratic hotel. All memorable.

16DTM Avebury to Verwood

Salisbury Cathedral towered over today’s ride surrounded by a lovely quiet green area. We sampled two of the services. The first was from a cheery chap manning the entrance. “Just a cup of tea? No worries, leave your bikes and I’ll look after them, I’m here for 3 hours”. He must have known about the service in the canteen. I hope their religious ones are shorter or people will make the transition from font to ash in one sitting.

Before that we’d stopped at Avebury at the start of the day. No other tourists, a morning sun showed it in its best light. It takes admiration as only a 4000BC structure knows how to.

Amesbury is the UK’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement, from about 6000BC. It has a distinct new town feel to it today, enjoying roundabouts. The fields of white poppies came as a pleasant, unusual surprise.

The signposts on the large RAF barbed wire fencing left no doubt you weren’t allowed to photograph. Barbara’s finger twitches. The police can’t park here: the sign read “Police, no parking” . The fencing needn’t worry about being called into service. Two large gates were wide open, the seats for the guards empty.

We navigated a bit of heavier traffic for a while. Wiltshire and Dorset thatched cottages and kept us distracted, as did the Red Kite appearances.

Salisbury town centre was very quiet, a recurring theme of this tour. The tour of the Cathedral to be returned to, we headed off to Verwood and Bette and Colin’s. My last cycle ride here I’d ended up in a muddy field. Determined not to repeat that, I’d carefully checked the route every inch of the way, bar the last mile. Thankfully the unsurfaced bumpy unadopted lane was dry…