Land's End to John O' Groats

Chapter 2: Wales

4. Day, Thursday, Bridgwater - Avonmouth - Monmouth
8.15-17.15, 130 km trp, 17.0 km/h avg., 49.9 km/h max, 499 km total

I did not expect to get such a rich breakfast from a sleepy guy this morning. May be I cannot stand on this over weeks? The main goal today will be to cross the wide mouth of the Severn near Bristol. I leave Bridgwater at the A38 leading straight north. Passing Burnham-on Sea but into Weston-Super-Mare. And I read:  "Twintown of Hildesheim". So I soon buy a postcard and write some greetings to my daughter Verena, who lives at Hildesheim.

At the Tourist Information I try to find out if there is a bike path leading to the Severn bridges but the ladies do not know. Weston is a typical spa town with a long promenade at the beach. As I leave the town I end at the drive-up to Motorway M5 and argue to be wrong here. But there is a small road and soon I find myself vis-a-vis some swans at a small bridge over a creek. Nice to have no traffic around. I head on to Congresbury and then on another side road through flat land near the coast.

St. Andrews Church in Clevedon
So I reach Clevedon and follow a misleading sign: "St. Andrews Church and Center" (this does not mean the center of the town). So I get a photo of the next church on my way and have some minutes rest in the sun aside the St. Andrews-Center. Clevedon is a nice spa town again and they have a large Victorian pier at the sea which seems to be preserved by an expensive maintenance. So the visitor is invited: "Sponsor a plank!".

Remark: The  Clevedon pier is the first victim of an unpleasant incident I realized back at home. One of the films is spoiled by light coming inside the camera. I cannot say how it happens. I try to use some of the partly spoiled pictures anyway...

Finally I approach Avonmouth and wonder, if one can use the Avonmouth-Bridge by bike, it is not to be seen from the road map. But soon you can relax, bikers and pedestrians are sorted off from the real traffic and curled tracks lead up to the bridge. Far below there is the river Avon with muddy shores caused by the low water level. When I pass the bridge I meet a biker couple walking at the right (inner) side. I ride on the right side too - just as at the continent - for this is the airy side this time. We have a chat, the couple rides the National Cycle Route No. 48 and they have a guide and signed map. My eyes get wide. I had dreamt of a traffic-free path from end-to-end, but this was utopic. They explain the next route to me and then we part with the words

"I'll go with the wind!"
"And we are going into it!"

Sounds like a poem! At first I find my way on the Route 48 along paths through the fields and industrial sites. But one sign must have been absent after I find myself at a main road again. Now there is a new built bridge, this is for motorized vehicles only. The same applies to the tunnel. The second bridge, a huge rope bridge named Severn Road Bridge finally is the right one. High above the sea I cross the Severn and a new section of the tour begins.

Cornwall/Devon/Somerset disappear in the mist behind. A colorful country named Wales is now ahead. I ride straight to the north in the Dye valley. While you just run down a downhill they have build a jewel ahead: the Tintern Abbey. This is a huge ruin of a cathedral or monastery or both. Many Pubs, Inns and Taverns around - as usual. I make a photo (plane grey finally) and head on.

For the accomodation tonight there is another jewel: the town Monmouth. The galic Name is Trefynwy. I am early enough to enter the Tourist Office and bring some joy to the ladies there. They call some people for a B&B and succeed at Mr. Adams round the corner. The official name is: Steeples, 7 Church Street.


Monnow Bridge

Soon I go out for discoveries and some photos(?) in the evening sun. At first I find a Pizza Restaurant with "Take Away", but I decide to go there later. I enter the Monnow Bridge, one of the last 3 of it's kind. Then I visit Geoffrey's Window at the Priory Street, where I only spend a short glance to the attractions trusting in the photography. At least I end at the Pizzeria. I order one Seafood Special, BIG. And then they bring a huge cardboard box with a Pizza as large as a wheel covered by tuna and prawns.  I must ask for a plate and knife and fork for they have thought, I would take that pizza home to my hungry family or so.

Well, I start my Dinner for One and do my very best. And as I feel to come to an end I prefer to scrape the goodies like cheese, prawns and tuna from the cake and refine the current dish. After I capitulate no one can say that there is wasted too much. "He must be hungry, I thought" one of the boys says as I pay.

I tumble home to my nice lounge and make plans of the further tour.

5. Day, Wednesday, Monmouth - Haye on Wye - Knighton - Bishop's Castle
8.30-18.15, 122 km trp, 14.8 km/h avg., 67.8 km/h max, 621 km total

May be it is from the pizza last night or from the english Breakfast every day, today I order "without meat". Mr. Adams tells, that some days earlier two end-to-end riders have passed. But they got fast bikes and absolve the tour probably like a race. "I like to stop as often I want or to lie under a tree" I state. The usual route from here is via Hereford.

At the last evening I have looked at the map for a long time and found a tiny road along a valley in the mountains. To get there we use the B4347 and this is a beautiful section already. The landscape looks like a park with green meadows and single oak trees around. As over all Britain sheep are everywhere and you always have an accustic entertainment. Sometimes I give an answer and beg to apologize this to a lonely rider. But I state at this time and for all the time further on: there was never anything boring.

Church near Pandy
Well, we are on the way to our valley and first use the A465 for a while. Once after a passing car a robin redbreast falls straight down from heaven just in front of my bike. This is a very sad event and I think of the moribund squeakers in their nest. Sad thoughts leave when I turn to my tiny road. It starts at Pandy and you need a good map to find it. At the end after the summit we will reach Hay on Wye. So for I have no photos now I enumerate the attractions:

The way down finally is steep  and I often use the brakes until I reach Hay on Wye. This is a nice town famous for the Antique and Old Book Shops. I buy a road map of Northern England.

After some time I find the side road B4350. There is a mysterious sign on the map and the word "toll". As I get there it's a sensation again. There is the old Whitney on Wye Toll Bridge from the year 1775. The biker has to pay 5 Pence.

Now we have to do some work and use the A438, turn to the A411 north to Kington. "Keep the Hospital" is to be read everywhere. The next town is Knighton. And if you once use the same route, remember me as I say, you have to cross about 5 valleys and climb up about 200 m each time afterwards. At the evening you can figure out, that the next time you can ride in the Alps as well if you add all the height differences of the day.

So I am somewhat exhausted as I reach the nice town Bishop's Castle. In the following please feel with me the tired rider's luck to find a roof for the night. The information bureau is closed already but while I look around a lady appears from inside. And I have not to do one more step, I can stay and get a room just here.

After the regeneration period I don't expect to find an Indian restaurant here, but there is one. Some more words to my "home": the house is very old and the floors not quite horizontal (you feel it on the bed as you tend to roll off). My bike is in the back yard leant to a "Horse for shaving wood". This is used to prepare wooden materials for restauration works. "Old Chairs" are the speciality of the house.

At the end of the evening I sit at the roof window of my room, just above the street, waiting for the dark and feeling happy again.

Chapter 3: Middle England, Lake District and North England
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