About a year ago (I'm a bit out of date I know) I decided on my second cycle tour: to head down to Land's End, the western most point of mainland England. As my tour coincided with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta my plan was to leave from Bristol, and as Land's End isn't too far from Bristol I further decided to follow the south coast of England to Bournemouth after Land's End. So with half a plan in mind, I set off on my adventure.
There wasn't much in Weston-Super-Mare, but there were donkeys. I think a donkey or two would have helped me on my journey.
As with my previous tour, I was keen to follow the coastline for as much of my journey as possible. and so my first leg was southeast from Bristol to Weston-Super-Mare following festival way and route 33 on the cycle network.
Our last sighting of the balloons on Festival Way.
Somewhere around Nailsea I lost track of the cycle route and ended up on a the A370, which was fine until it crossed the M5; a big enough and busy enough roundabout that I decided to back track and find an alternative road.
Admittedly, this show in Weston-Super-Mare got me excited.
I picked up route 33 again in Weston-Super-Mare only to find that it literally followed the coast with the cycle path leading to the sandy beach. Not surprisingly my bike did not cope to well with the terrain and it makes me wonder of the local council have ever ridden bicycles before.
I tried, oh, how I tried.
It was a lovely ride to Burnham-on-Sea and then I followed River Parnell to Bridgwater and an uneventful ride on the A39 through the Quontock Hills to Watchet and Blue Anchor. Baiky enjoyed the view from Blue anchor so much he decided to stay behind and I set off up and over one of the steepest hills I have cycled on.
A happy little English flag in Blue Anchor
It was, of course, once I was down the other side that I realise Baiky had stayed on the beach, and so I tackled the hill again found Baiky, and then this time, walked my bike back up. My poor legs were not able to make the third journey to the peak. Sadly, this was the final, the steepest, nor the longest incline I would meet on my journey.
This is where Baiky left me. Fortunately, this is also where I found him.
A39 snaked its way into Exmoor National Park and it was here that I had my first real taste of the terrain to come as I battled my way up Porlock Hill. The veiws of north to the Exmoor Heritage coastline and Bristol Channel were to die for, but unfortutaly so was my climb up Porlock Hill.
Slogging up Porlock Hill.
I was relieved when I finally reached the top and could coast down to my first campsite screaming down hills on tiny roads into the stunning Cloud Farm at Doone Valley. The while way down, this nagging thought kept digging its way back in my consciouness: "tomorrow I was going to have to fight my way back out again..."
Baiky and I get our first look at the Emoor Heritage Coast, in the far distance is Minehead.
Anyone who has a chance to read this and is looking for somewhere to stay, I cannot speak highly enough of Cloud farm. It was a lovely campsite complete with a gurgling brook. I had one of those moments in which I met a couple of families that had driven past me struggling up Porlock Hill and seemed a little confused what I was doing at the campsite. I think it cofuses them more as I extract all my camping equipment from what look to be tiny bags and set up camp. I was in bed early though, a new I had a long day ahead of the next day.
The farmlands of Exmoor National Park.Overall, this leg was not particularly exciting until I had snuck into Exmoor. It was about 80 miles and took me most of the day. However, it was the last 30 miles from Bridgwater that I finally got a taste of what was come. The deep greens of British moor and farmlands, ocean views, and rolling hills.
Bristol Channel from the top of Porlock Hill.The entire was sunny too, which means it did not prepare me for the fickleness of the British east coast, but more on that next time as I continue on my journey east on to one of the supposed locations of Camelot!