Wednesday 3 June 2009

Day 19 - Penzance to Lands End

After a leisurely breakfast we knocked off the final few miles to Lands End in just under an hour to arrive triumphant at 10.45 am.


1052 miles in total. John O Groats to Lands End was 1037 miles and we'd completed it at an average of just over 10 mph.

We spent a good couple of hours taking photo's, texting and making phonecalls, posting postcards, drinking coke and eating ice cream before taking a leisurely ride back to Penzance, elated and relieved.

Day 18 - St Austell to Penzance

We were expecting another really hilly day today, but apart from a couple of stiff climbs out of St Austell and another one out of Truro, it wasn't too bad. After Truro we headed for Redruth on minor roads, then joined the old A30 again throught Cambourne, Connor Downs and Hayle.

No real alternative to the A30 itself as we completed the final few miles into Penzance.

Day 17 - Okehampton to St Austell

A really tough day today, with some horrendous climbs.

We joined the A 386 towards Tavistock, which climbed onto the edge of Dartmoor.

Then a fast descent through Mary Tavy to Tavistock. Here we joined the A390 and had a stiff climb out of the town, then a drop down to cross over the river Tamar and into Cornwall.

We had a real killer climb through Gunnislake to Drakewalls. We then continued along rolling roads to Callington and stopped for a picnic lunch at Liskeard.

From Liskeard, we dropped onto the newly completed Dobwalls Bypass and turned off at the first opportunity into Dobwalls village. It was now baking hot and there was very little tree cover. We continued on the A390 to cross the river Fowey at Lostwithitiel and another stiff climb out of the valley. We eventually made it to our overnight stop at St Austell and stopped at the Travelodge.

53.63 miles today
in 5hrs 21 mins
Ave 10.01 mph
Total so far 999 miles

Day 16 - Tiverton to Okehampton

An easy run down to Exeter on the B3181 through Willand, Cullompton and Broadclyst. We crossed Exeter and climbed the very steep Whitestone hill to Whitestone village, before dropping down to join the old A30 road at Tedburn St Mary. We stopped here to top up with drinks as it was now very hot.

We continued along the old A30, a delightful road to cycle on - rolling hills, good surface and not much traffic. We passed through Cheriton Bishop, Whiddon Down and Sticklepath and on into Okehampton. I expected Okehampton top be busy with tourists, but it was virtyally deserted. We stopped for a Devon cream tea before the final climb to the Travelodge at Sourton Cross.

47.82 miles today
In 4 hrs 49 mins
Ave 9.91 mph
Total so far 945 miles

Day 15 - Chew Stoke to Tiverton

An easy ride down to West Harptree and then a very steep climb up to the top of the Mendip Hills along a narrow, wooded lane from Compton Martin. There were fine views across Chew Valley Lake from the top.

We headed across the top of the Mendips and then a lovely descent of Cheddar Gorge, which wasn't busy as we had arrived before most of the tourists.

We made our way to Wedmore then turned off into tiny lanes across the Somerset Levels, to emerge in Bridgewater. We followed the A38 out of Bridgewater, which was quite busy, so we turned off at the first opportunity and joined the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal.

We followed the towpath right into the centre of Taunton, stopping for tea and cake along the way. We were following Sustrans route 3, but couldn't pick up the route out of Taunton and had to join the extremely busy A38.

Most of the traffic turned off at the motorway junction and we continued along the A38 past Wellington, then up a long climb to cross into Devon, before descending to our overnight stop, the Travelodge at Sampford Peverell.

62.79 miles today
in 5 hrs 52 mins
Ave 10.68 mph
Total so far 897 miles

Day 14 - Symonds Yat to Chew Stoke

Another fine and sunny day today. We had a nice run down through Coleford and St Briavels and across Tidenham Chase before dropping down into Chepstow and briefly into Wales. We had a steep half mile climb to get up onto the A466 and the Severn Bridge road.

The crossing of the Severn Bridge was spectacular, but I wouldn't want to do it on a windy day, as it's quite exposed in the middle. We re-entered England as we came off the bridge and stopped for a celebratory coffee at Aust services.

From Aust, we followed minor roads towards Thornbury, skirting around Bristol. The CTC route is quite hard to follow and we missed a turn off in Iron Acton. We headed towards Pucklechurch, where we found a cycle path. We were wondering whether to continue on the road or follow the cycle path, when another cyclist offered to show us the way. It turned out he was the runs captain of the Bath CTC, so knew his way around.

We followed the paths to Bitton, on the Bristol to Bath railway path, then carried on to Saltford and Compton Dando. We got a little lost in the lanes, but we were heading in generally the right direction. We eventually emerged at Chew Magna and found our way to Chew Stoke and our B&B (Orchard House).

55.33 miles today
In 5hrs 23 mins
Ave 10.26 mph
Total so far 834 miles.

Day 13 - Ludlow to Symonds Yat

Another nice day. it started off cloudy but dry and cleared to bright sunshine in the afternoon.

After a short stretch on the A49, we continued south towards Leominster on B-roads. We stopped in Leominster to buy a picnic lunch before continuing. We turned off into country lanes and skirted around Hereford to the east. We ate our lunch at Fownhope - "Home of the Oak Tree", before continuing on increasingly hilly roads towards Ross-on-Wye.

We turned off the B-road at How Capel and found a tiny lane which dropped down into the valley at Hole-in-the-Wall. This stretch was really beautiful, running right alongside the river Wye.

After a couple of miles, we had a steep climb out of the valley and then dropped in to a busy and congested Ross-on-Wye. We continued southwards past Goodrich Castle and turned off towards Symonds Yat, a picturesque beauty spot on the banks of the river Wye. Here we spent a relaxing hour, sitting by the river, drinking Coke and eating ice cream.

The last climb of the day was a killer 1 in 5 climb up Symonds Yat Rock itself.

This was possibly the hardest climb of the whole trip. I had trouble keeping my front wheel on the ground, due to the gradient. I managed to ride the whole climb despite having to stop half way up. Sue also rode most of the climb. Her knee, although still painful, seems better after the rest day. We stopped at the view point at the top with fine views across the hills and down to the river below.

From here it was just a couple of miles to the Rock B&B at Hillersland. We had a mile long walk to the pub, the New Inn at Shortsighting. After dinner, washed down with a few pints of Wye Valley Ale, we took a leisurely walk back to the B&B.

54.76 miles today
In 5hrs 35 mins
Ave 9.78 mph
Total so far 779 miles.