With thanks to my late aunt, Jean Abdee, whose legacy has helped make this possible.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Struggling to stand up in the wind!

Day 19: Thurso to John O'Groats

Finished. 23.65 miles, total distance 1224.1, max speed 27.5, av speed 10.3, time 2:16:27, total time 3 hours.
Left the hostel at 8:30 and found the road out of Thurso. Lots of the roads round here are dead straight and very long - often a mile or more.

Castletown was interesting. It was once a centre for making flagstones and there are a lot of ruined buildings to look at, as well as a fantastic beach ( the surf today was incredible; the sea was nearly all white).

The wind was still very gusty and about half way I saw a rainbow. I was beginning to dislike seeing rainbows, as it means that if it isn't raining yet it soon will be - and so it proved.
Fortunately I'd decided to follow the official bike route instead of my planned coastal route, which I think helped to keep me out of the worst of the wind. My planned visit to Dunnet Head was off - it was far too cold and far too windy to even consider it. All I wanted was the nice snug cafe at JOG!
Had a bit of bad news which put a damper on celebrations - Andy drove up yesterday but today the car broke down in Inverness. So what with waiting for the AA and a hire car, he wasn't able to be here to see me finish, and that's why you have yet another picture of the bike. As soon as he arrives, I'll get the official pictures and post one of me at the signpost.
Funny how I was so worried that I couldn't do it ( no aches or pains to speak of) that the bike would break down ( nothing other than a few loose nuts and bolts and not a single puncture) and in the end it was the car that failed...
Thank you for reading, for your prayers, comments and general encouragement. I hope to edit and improve the blog and add lots more pictures, but otherwise - that's all folks!
Love - Ruth.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Day 18: Tongue - Thurso

Stats: 48.38 miles, odo, 1200.4, max speed 36 mph, av speed: 9 mph. Time: 5:19:24, total travel time approx 7.5 hours.

There didn't seem a lot of point in rushing out this morning, with only 40 miles to go, so had a leisurely breakfast and visited the beach and causeway at Tongue before getting on the coast road towards Bettyhill and Thurso. Decided to give the gps the day off - after all, the only thing to bear in mind today was to keep the sea on the left!

The first order of the day was to take a minute to turn all my brake-blocks upside down, a little trick Dad taught me when I had my first Dawes bike for going to school... I know it's not ideal, as these are curved, so when upside down may scrub the tyres, but the back tyre has had it anyway, and at least I can be assured I will be able to stop!

Met Lisa, my roommate from Tongue Hostel at Bettyhill and we had an early lunch at the cafe there and visited the Farr Stone, another carved stone monument on the 'Pictish Way' dating from the 8th/9th century.

The weather overall was an improvement on yesterday; there was a really hard shower in the morning which was cold and soaking, and I had wet feet for most of the day. The thing about waterproof socks is that if the water gets on the inside (and it did) it stays there. It was still very windy, but the wind died down somewhat in the afternoon, and with the sun out, it could even be said to be pleasant. The scenery was absolutely marvellous, with the steep cliffs, sandy beaches and fantastic surf. I really wanted to go swimming - but I think it would require a very good wetsuit!

The roads were a little more challenging than of late, with a particularly long climb up to Bettyhill and some ups and downs thereafter, but the downhill into Thurso was great. With such scenery to look at though, it was no hardship to get off and walk occasionally.

Went up the road at Strathy to take a look at the lighthouse, but contented myself with looking at it from afar, at the end of the public road - the wind at that point was terrific and it added about 6 miles just doing that bit. Strathy is so isolated and the houses so spaced out it's hard to imagine living there. It's a village created from the Highland clearances, where the refugees from the crofts went when their landlords got rid of them to make way for sheep.

Lisa stayed at Durness the other night, and said that the ferry to Cape Wrath wasn't running; partly due to the rough weather, and partly due to a MOD exercise (which apparently included bombing - the hostel at Durness was shaking!). So it seems that I couldn't have made it to Cape Wrath this time even had I wanted to, which makes me feel a lot better about not making it!

Thuso is a lot bigger than I imagined; it must be the biggest town on the coast. Stayed at the backpacker's hostel, which is above a fast-food shop (I didn't succumb - there's enough food in my panniers still). The traffic from Douneray (nuclear power plant) was quite heavy coming into Thurso too, which was unexepcted.

So here now and all ready for finishing, which is sad on one level, but a relief on another. Hopefully the weather will be nice to give me a good photograph at the signpost!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Day 17: Tain to Tongue

Stats: 74.0 miles, odo 1152.0, max speed 34.4, av speed 10.0. Time 7:24:33, actual time 10.5 hours.
Left at seven and just managed to get the tent packed away before the first lot of rain. Hopefully the next two nights will be in hostels and then I'll be done, so it's good to have a dry tent.
It was a very cold morning and didn't improve much through the day. Kept the leg warmers on, as if I get to a hostel they can be dried. Also waterproofs and gloves, though they got so soaked they weren't very warm!
Had a morning of sunshine and showers. The showers were intense, freezing and accompanied by gusts of wind, and then it all stopped, the sun came out and I'd start to dry out and warm up before the next batch of rain. I've never seen so many rainbows in one day.
Towards the end of the Dornoch Firth the bike route went to a railway viaduct bridge and I was faced with two flights of metal stairs. I couldn't quite believe it and had to re check, but it is right. Off came all the luggage, I trotted up and down with panniers, tent bag and bike, walked over the bridge and had a further flight down at the end. Saw two cyclists after me carrying their bikes on their shoulders - good if you have a lightweight bike and no gear...
Visited the Falls of Shin which were in spate ( all this rain has to be good for something) then went to the visitor's centre for coffee and cake. This turned out to be very well timed as I managed to miss a particularly heavy downpour.
Lairg was a pleasant place and the last town before the long road north. Although classed as bike route 1, there is no separate bike lane though it is a quiet road. It's single track with passing places and I have to admit to getting annoyed with drivers who didn't give any indication of thanks when I pulled in to let them pass. A raised hand - what does it take?
It was extremely blustery, often wet and very cold so I was glad to see that Altnaharra had a hotel, and stopped there for a cooked lunch and coffee ( thus neatly avoiding another heavy downpour). The staff were polite but they were there for the high spending fishermen who had flown up for their sport, so I was not made particularly welcome.

Maybe it's because this is coming to an end or maybe I've had enough, but the feeling of discouraged alienation was hard to shake. The mountains have a bleak and austere beauty, but I prefer the wildness of Cumbria and don't feel any great urge to want to return here. It's almost a shame I can't get Cape Wrath in this trip and get it over with!

Despite the often harsh weather, progress was surprisingly good, given that when the wind was really gusting I had to get off and walk. I'll be doing that a fair bit now, not just because of the wind but my brake blocks are so worn down!
Got to Tongue with enough time to get a transit stamp at the Post Office and some ' Dark Island' Orkney beer to go with dinner ( very nice) before finding the Youth Hostel, which is on the Durness road near the causeway. Given that it's rained since I got here and the wind is still high, I'm very glad that I and the bike are under cover.
Should be a very easy and slow day tomorrow, heading for Thurso. At a stretch, I could finish tomorrow, but I need to wait for my welcoming committee to arrive.
Picture is of the Falls of Shin.


In the Highlands, some of the street signs are in Gaelic as well as English, and it was interesting to see that 'church' reads ( approximately, as far as I can see) as 'heglise' which is as close to the French as you could wish and brings to mind the Welsh word 'eglws'. It would be so interesting to know how and when the word entered the language; from Latin- speaking missionaries in the Dark Ages, or the French speaking Normans in later ages.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Fwd: Day 16: Slochd to Tain

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ruth Fitch <ruthfitch@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 9:44 PM
Subject: Day 16: Slochd to Tain
To: ruth.fitchthesportyforties.com@googlemail.com, ruthsbikeride@blogspot.com

Stats: 68.01 miles, odo 1077.9, max speed 30.5, av speed 10.3. Time 6:35:34, total time 9.5 hours.
When I get back and have more time I hope to do a full review of Slochd hostel, because it was really lovely and I can't recommend it highly enough. Left at 7:30 and went past the first distillery of the day at Tomatin ( the 'a' is long as in tomato ( unless you're American of course)). The weather was holding out; it was grey and blustery, but dry. Had a really great start; one of those days where it goes really well and you don't want to stop. Did screech to a halt to see the Clava Neolithic tombs but still managed 12 miles in the first hour and ten more in the second, which is a record. Ill apologise now for the fixation on facts, but sometimes there isn't a lot else to think about!
Came through Culloden (a modern looking little village) into Inverness and thanks again to the excellent bike route markers, made it in and out of the city with little hassle, only stopping for second breakfast on the way. Croissant with jam, a bacon roll and coffee in a cup so large I think you could cheerfully have washed in it.
Also found a shop that did Mountain House trail rations, which should mean - with any luck - that I never have to have another Pasta 'n' Sauce again.
Took the Kessock Bridge out and met another cyclist coming the other way, and was truly amazed when he called me by name - it's the first time I've met a blog follower! So hello Gavin, it was good to see you, and I hope you have a very good journey to Land's End!
After that, the grey weather became a bit more solid and this greatly turned into a not- quite rain, but still quite wet. A mizzle, perhaps.
Bike route 7 had now given way to bike route 1 - the last one for me as it goes to ' The North' as you keep seeing on signposts. To be beyond the Cairngorms and yet to still see that on signposts makes you think they should expand a bit ' The Utter North' perhaps?
Stopped at Dingwall for a bit of shopping and pressed onto Allness, where you can see oil rigs in the Firth, and then to Tain, past the second distillery of the day, Glenmorangie.
Met quite a lot of cyclists going the other way, in particular two Dutch ladies, on heavily laden mountain bikes. We stopped to talk ( remarkable because cyclists don't like to stop and lose momentum) and the reason for all their gear became clear - they are doing the North Sea Route which is apparently 6,000 kms. They wanted a hostel so I gave them a number for one at Evanton, and wished them luck.
As for me, I think I'm nearly there. After discussing the finish date with Andy I've agreed to leave off going for Cape Wrath this time ( fruit for another challenge, possibly) and to finish on Thursday. I'm going to aim for Tongue tomorrow and Thursoe the day after, but it depends on terrain. The going has been a lot gentler recently - or I'm just getting used to it.
Picture was taken from the campsite across Dornoch in a rare moment of sunshine.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Day 15: Pitlochry to Slochd

Left at 7am as I knew it would be a long and probably steep ride today but in the event it went very well and quickly. Stats: 74 miles, odo 1009.8. Max speed 26.5, av 9.3. Time 7:57:35, total time 10.5 hours.
Had Sunday morning all to myself as I went through Blair Atholl and saw Highland cattle by the entrance to the campsite.
Soon got onto the bike route that runs alongside the A9, with all the warnings that this is a high road and to expect sudden bad weather and to be prepared. I thought I was as prepared as possible so went on. The cycle path was quite far from the road to start with, with nice views of the river and waterfall to the left and the mist- covered mountains ahead. It was very cold; I had two shirts as well as my jacket, rainlegs and gloves. It was a very long, very gradual uphill, hardly noticeable except that with the slight headwind it was enough to keep my speed down to single figures. Saw a couple of cyclists and even a runner with a large pack going the other way. Eventually got to the summit of Drumochter at 1516 feet and was also welcomed to the Highlands and the Cairngorms. Had a gentle downhill and had done 30 miles by the time I arrived at Dalwhinnie, so decided it was time for lunch and had a bacon roll, coffee and cake at an excellent cafe ( also a bunkhouse).
The sun came out then but it was still cold, but the going was good to Newtonmore and Kingussie. I rang the bunkhouse I wanted to stay at to check there was room and was again picked up on pronunciation - it's Kin goosey, apparently!
Took the B road instead of the bike route to Aviemore, which was nice and fast and again traffic free as there as an A road directly alongside it! Took the Speyside Way to Boat of Garten, which was hard work. Was making very good time and set for an early finish, so dithered in Carr Bridge before taking the off road route ( don't - it's very hard work) through a forestry estate to the bunkhouse, which is very luxurious and wonderful, especially since I have the entire place to myself. Might as well make the most of it, as the forecast for tomorrow is back to normal - heavy rain predicted all day.

From cycle route 7 near Calvine, Glen Garry.

And a bit more

Some bits that got missed out before - on the miserable day I met quite a lot of cyclists going the other way, and assumed they were  End to Enders, though it was not possible to do more than pass with a nod of the head. But yesterday I saw a chap going South and we cheered at each other like long lost friends. He had more luggage than I do, and I thought I had loads.
Also had my Andy Schleck moment, or my 'And Can it Be' moment depending on your preference when I changed gear to go uphill and it fell off. Though I didn't see Andy Schleck get out a packet of wet wipes prior to replacing a mucky chain on a filthy ring (I believe I've covered the issues re mud). I'm so looking forward to taking my bike apart and giving it a really good clean!
Last of all, a little cafe on the Birnam road ( lots of woodland by the way) does really lovely cake.
Till tonight!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Day 14: Inverkeithing to Pitlochry

Stats: 70.14m, odo 935.8, max 29.5, av 8.9, time 7:49:22, actual time 10 hours.
True to form it rained again this morning. No, really! I tried to wait it out but couldn't sulk like Achilles all day so levered myself out into the weather. I must say, the rainlegs are working out well. The main road was completely flooded at one point. Luckily I didn't need to go that way so could just watch the cars all queue to make their way through it. You'd think the people that do roads would have noted that it rains a bit here. Well a lot.
Fortunately for me it ceased after an hour or so - mostly - and there was even some sunshine. So it wasn't as miserable a day as yesterday, plus there was more to look at.
I have to say this; the bike routes in Scotland are really very good; thoughtfully done and very well marked.  Some signs not only tell you the next town or two but also the distance.
Soon after coming out of Inverkeithing I was off- road for a good stretch and then lanes to Bridge of Earn and Perth.
Perth was a bit much of a city for me; had a good lunch and left along the river path. Followed the Tay, which wasn't silvery as much as peat coloured with lots of fishermen up to their hips in it going after the salmon. Dunkeld was very pleasant and the bile route went through some very grand estate gates and parkland to the river before running alongside the main road to Pitlochry.
There was some kind of festival going on - heard music and there were lots of chaps in kilts, some carrying musical instruments, some carrying bagpipes ( sorry!). I tried the Youth Hostel - fully booked - didn't fancy the look of the backpacker's hostel, so had a quick dinner and came out of town to a campsite; commercial and noisy, but a site. Hope to get past planned stop tomorrow to a bunkhouse called Schloch - great name!  But there are a few little hills to get round or over first - the Cairngorms - so will have to see.

Crossing the bridge

Friday, 10 September 2010

Day 13: Hawick to Inverkeithing

Stats: 80.18m, odo 865.5, max speed 37, av speed 8.9. Time 8:55:20, actual time 10 ¾ hours.
Morning: damp, dull, drawn- out, dreary, dreich and depressing. If anyone else has suitable synonyms for a long road with very little different along it on a wet day in the Scottish Borders, feel free to add.
After the foggy misty and downright very rainy and wet weather ( did I mention the mud?) the sun finally came out as I approached Edinburgh. Went along quite a lot of cycle paths, then a long stretch by the canal then ten more miles out of town to the Forth Bridge. Then saw sign that the cycle path on my side was closed and would I take the stairs to the other one. ( Stairs?!!)  So carefully got bike down two flights of stairs, but up the other side was another matter. All the panniers had to come off and be carted up then the bike, then the whole kit resembled. Did I mention the mud?
Nice ride along the bridge and it now feels that phase two - mainland / England is done, but on a day like today I can safely say it's a struggle.

Day 12: Dufton to Hawick

Stats: 79.54 m, odo 785.3, max speed 33 av speed 9.8. Time 8:05:16, total time 10 hours.
Earliest start yet and rewarded by seeing a red squirrel, the first time I've seen one in this country. A cool and cloudy morning and perfect for a really good pace over rolling hills to Brampton. That was the 30 mile point so shopped, had a cafe break and got my last English transit stamp at the Post Office. Also turned in my novel and bought another at a charity shop - and then saw two others! Just like buses...
The sun came out as I left and it was really good cycling all the way through the rest of Cumbria. This is very different county to that of the Lake District, and far quieter - probably my most traffic- free day so far. It seemed easy to get the miles in too ( I'm sure the rest yesterday helped) and I'd done over 40 by lunchtime.
The hills got steeper and suddenly I came through forest to the signpost announcing the Scottish Borders.
Made it through Newcastletown and then saw the sign for Hawick - 18 miles, the same distance as the hard push to Hawes. This too seemed to go on for ever, not helped by my running out of energy and also a shower of rather persistent rain. But made it here though could not face another 12 miles to Melrose tonight, much as I would have liked to get there. So potentially another hard push tomorrow to - hopefully - get over the Forth Bridge... But that's for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Day 11: Hardraw to Dufton

Stats: 34.93m, odo 705.7, max speed 38.5, av speed 7.3. Time 4:47:57, actual time 8 ¼ hours.
Slept for ten hours straight last night and woke at my normal setting off time. Got breakfast and the normal breaking camp routine done, but everything was taking ages, and when I started trying to cycle it was confirmed - I was exhausted. That 18 mile push had taken it out of me. So everywhere I went today I went very slowly, and as you can see it took nearly all day to do what would normally be half a day's cycling.
Having said that, it was really lovely with some fantastic views over the fells, and because there was almost no- one else about (a little traffic and a handful of walkers) it really felt as if I had these hills all to myself. I'm so glad I came from the south up, as the scenery just gets better all the time. Came into Cumbria and had the best downhill section ever, sweeping into Nateby and Kirkby Stephen, where I had lunch.
Apart from some low cloud to start with it's been a really hot sunny day, and I could appreciate the stunning scenery.  Decided to call it a day at Dufton and will hopefully get a pub meal ( my second this trip) at The Stag. For now it's good to just stop and recoup. Picture attached is of the Wainwrath Falls just up from Keld.

Day 10 - Hebden Bridge to Hardraw

Stats: 75.07m, odo 670.5, max speed 40, av 7.9. Time 9:27:32, total time 13 hours.
Still had trouble getting out of Hebden this morning but finally got the right road to Slack. Some good moorland cycling past The Packhorse Inn and Wippup Reservoirs. Got to Cowling ( proposed stop for last night) at lunchtime. Lovely day with quite strong sunshine and the lovely Yorkshire and Lancs countryside. Had an afternoon stop at Gargrave and pushed on to Settle. There the weather broke with a clap of thunder and torrential rain. Waited out the worst of it under a tree but had to carry on. Got to Horton at about 5:30 and was so wet, decided to carry on to Hawes - another 18 miles. It was a really hard push but the rain stopped, the sun came out and there was a rainbow over Pen Y Ghent. Had a fish supper in Hawes as couldn't face yet another Pasta 'n' Sauce, then found a good little campsite at Hardraw, just up the road.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Day 9 - Crowden to Hebden Bridge

Stats: Distance - 59.96 miles, odo 595.2 miles, max speed 35 mph, average speed 7.1 mph (remember this doesn't count time spent walking very slowly as moving and therefore doesn't affect the average speed as it should).  Time: 8:25:20, total time 11 3/4 hours.

Left Crowden good and early and it was another clear day, but still very breezy.  The main road was busy with traffic so tried the Northern Horse Route - but this was too boggy to take a bike over.  So walked along the footpath by the side of the road until the A6024, which if you look on a map, wiggles its way between Crowden and Holmfirth.  It's a long road - about 6 miles - with a very long uphill (and corresponding downhill!), very winding and almost completely devoid of traffic, which is amazing given how direct it is.  But given the snow poles all along both sides of it, I'm guessing it's probably impassable in a hard winter. 

The top is the summit of Holme Moss, 1719 feet or 524 metres above sea level, and also the border between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire.  So no sooner had I got to Derbyshire than I was out of it. 

Progress was, however, extremely slow.  On any other day I'd expect to do nearly 10 miles in the first hour (and slow down after that due to rest stops etc) but today I'd done less than 3m by 8am and struggled to make 30m by lunchtime (and it was a late lunch).  It has not been an enjoyable day.  The roads are incredibly steep - up and down (but mostly, it seems, up) and added in there were very high winds and gusts from all directions, making walking a necessity along a lot of stretches.  So each mile was hard fought for - and then things really went wrong.

It was all my fault, much as I would like to blame the signage (or lack of!) of Route 68, the Pennine Cycleway ... I saw a sign, followed it and ended up on a wonderful stretch of moorland, heading into Lancashire, which was as expected.  But the road wasn't the right one, I'd gone spectacularly wrong this time and ended up back at Ripponden ... where I'd had lunch... with effectively an afternoon's hard cycling wasted. 

To cut a miserable story short, I navigated to Hebden Bridge (which I know of old is steep; you practically need a parachute to get into it and a ladder to get out of it).  By now it was clouding over considerably and dark even for 6:30 pm.  A helpful chap saw me checking the gps and asked if he could help - we discussed routes and campsites and then he said 'Or you could stay at the hostel right here!' (I hadn't even seen it!)  So I did. (And he wasn't anything to do with the hostel either).

It's a very nice hostel, £17 got me a room (four beds) to myself, with use of the kitchen and computer and a lovely hot shower, and to cap it all, it's now raining quite heavily outside and I'm not in it.  My bike has its cover on and I'm hoping it will clear by morning.  Still as I'd like to get to Keld tomorrow and am now behind on my route, I've got some serious catching up to. 

Tried a Lucozade 'Alert' thing today - a pricy little container of high-caffeine but low sugar energy drink.  It certainly helped with the energy levels.  It's difficult to tell, but I think I've lost weight, which is incredible given the amount of high-fat/calorie/protein food I'm eating.  As for Lucozade itself, I should have shares in it, I must get through at least a bottle a day and still fade out after 60 miles.  I'm even more impressed with the Tour de France riders than ever - that's probably a couple of hours' work for them.

Oh well just because I have a real computer for once, there's no need to rabbit on - I'm going to head off to a proper bed with a quilt and pillow and everything - funny how the ordinary becomes luxurious!

Day 8 - Hixon to Crowden

Stats 75.63m, odo 535, max 35.5, av 8.2. Time 9:07, total time 12 hours.

Early start. The B-road to Ashbourne was very busy with Alton Towers traffic, but nice and quiet after the turnoff. Picked up the Tissington Trail and had 17 miles of off road flat cycling and time for early lunch at the Estate tea room. Got the High Peak trail after that, some of which is * not* fit to cycle on. It was in a poor state even for a footpath and I wasn't wearing walking boots. It was so rutted and potholed it was hard going even to push the bike up the track. Great to be in Derbyshire again though. Made very good time and pushed on to Crowden Reservoir. Very windy night - and worried about falling branches all night.

Picture of the reservoir this morning.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Tea at Tissington

Following theTissington Trail and called at the tea shop for elevenses. Very civilised.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Day 7: Lem Hill to Hixon

Stats: 66.21 miles, odo 459.3, max speed 31.5 ( no av speed today). Time 7:21:38, total time 10 hours 45 mins.
Got a good early start and at Bridgnorth by 9am. Had second breakfast there, did a bit of shopping and got some cash, which is lasting very well. This probably my favourite town so far in that I didn't get lost in it or coming out of it. Ironbridge very pretty but a long hard haul uphill out of it. Very pleased to stay on the bike and not walk it ( though always said that ' walk' is not a four letter swear word). Average speed uphill was about 3mph. It was that steep.
Changed route slightly to try and avoid Telford, which managed with reasonable success.( You'll note I changed route to avoid Monmouth - shame - but no need to go that far west). Did go through a lot of industrial estates.
Lunch at Albrighton, then tried to get to Breward (pron Brood) which seemed as elusive and difficult to get to as Narnia. The GPS was determined to take a long route on major roads when I could clearly see a minor road linking them. Hashed up and down the same lane so often I was worried the Rural Watch would call the police before making it to somewhere with a signpost to Breward on the left. GPS still insisted on going right - back to Albrighton! I took the turn and after a while it accepted my route with a little beep that seemed to say ' oh THAT Breward. . .' and then we were fine.
Scenery much the same as at home (Northants) which made for rather a dull afternoon. Cloudy and cooler too.

Made it to Hixon at sixish, very saddle sore and very tired. Campsite at Green Man pub which took some finding. Site dingy and basic but pub food excellent.

Day 6: Berry Hill to Lem Hill

Starts: 66.72m, odo 392.9, max speed 41 mph, av speed 9.4. Time 7:04:11, total time 9 hours.
Another hot day but cloudy start and it was lovely to see the most in the valleys. Berry Hill must be the highest point around here ( clue in the name?) so the day started with a long downhill stretch to Lydford.
Ross- on- Wye was nicer than I remembered it but then I went through it three times to find the road out. Still went wrong somewhere and ended up doing the two long edges of a triangle, as it were. Agriculture has changed to apple and pear orchards, vineyards and hops - some of the best ales are made here. There was an obstruction on one road involving a Fosters tanker - perhaps it was being politely escorted out of the county!
Had lunch at a garden centre having done 40 miles by 1pm. Very rolling countryside though with lots of downs and ups - more walking when even the granny gears weren't enough.
Found a pitch at Lem Hill where they doing normally take tents. Pic attached.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Day 5: Priddy to Berry Hill

Stars - 62.73m, odo 326.1, max 33.5,  av 8.3. Time 7.5 hours, total time 9hrs 50.
Yet another hot sunny day. I don't know where the sun was in August but it's making up for it now. Got in an early start and for the first time the tent was dry which was much better. Good going to Chew Stoke and amazing how quickly the miles clocked up. Did 12 miles before 9 am!  Of course Bristol slowed things down and proved tricky to get out of. Ended up following my route as best I could and actually walked a great deal to keep an eye on the gps. There are some very nice villages outside Bristol and the roads very quiet. Managed to find the bike route to the Severn Bridge and had the most glorious crossing. Felt as if the first phase of the ride is now complete. Bike route through Chepstow ( lovely town, really liked it especially the random bits of poetry in the pavements), over the bridge back into England and then up, up, up pulling away from sea level into the hills. I'm starting to hurt so walked a deal of this too! The heat doesn't help, but I'm not complaining. Found a campsite in Berry Hill, Forest of Dean.

Day 4: Greenham to Priddy

Distance 66.52 m, odo 263.3, max 26.5. Time 7:27:30 av speed 8.9 total time 10 hours 15. Much easier day, for which I give thanks. Lots of lovely canal paths again. Another glorious day for sunshine but misty and chilly in the morning. Silage making in full swing everywhere. Taunton has some good cycle paths through the centre. Picked up canal path again almost to Bridgewater, then minor roads to Glastonbury ( would like to have stopped and looked round, but this is not a sightseeing holiday). The Tor is far higher than I imagined. Bypassed Wells to campsite at Priddy just north of Wookey Hole. Very steep climb to end the day but nice view of the sea, and hopefully crossing into Wales tomorrow.