Checked the wall this morning to see how we’re doing. I’m scoring poorly considering how excellent I have been)
Only two more stamps to collect
Not today. Today was a beautiful day out of Shropshire, into Wales and across the Severn to Bristol and on to Chedar at the edge of the Gorge.
Not just the easiest day, the only easy day
Wales was the star. The Wye Valley was breathtaking. We arrived at our campsite as the sun was setting and a hot air balloon was coming to land.
Now here comes the wind and rain.
This is what happens when you cycle behind and slightly to the right of a well oiled bike on the A49 for nine hours.
Sitting in a sunny conservatory looking out over rural pastures and sipping coffee it is hard to recall the hell that was yesterday.
7 miles to go, rain teeming, every part of us soaked and teeth chattering… Psssst. Puncture. It took myself and Paul 1 minute to get everything out and ready and then we took 4 attempts each to do the simple job of putting the tube inside the tyre. Our hands we numb and Manual Dexterity was a Spanish Dancer. We managed to make it the last 7 miles and collapsed at the side of the Caravan. We were all a little dazed and suffering from mild exposure.
Breakfast finished, time to oil the bikes and get on the road to Bath
Yesterday in one word? Wet, wet, wet.
My longest day on a bike yet. At Seven thirty as the last of the light faded we pulled in for the forth time in 30 miles just to stretch and eat. We noticed that the sign we were leaning against marked our departure from Scotland after four brilliant days.
At noon we were climbing in the rain and freezing cold. I was going through permutations in my head but could not see how we would finish before eight. We stopped in pub for lunch after only 35 miles with 70 miles still to do. We simply could not go on. The rain past and for the first twenty minutes after restart myself and Tom were shivering but the rain had stopped.
The scenery through Tweeddale was spectacular but there was not much of an appetite for it. At 8pm we pulled up at the caravan park in the dark. The owner greeted us by reprimanding us for using the wrong gate. Thanks to Staff at Carlisle A&E who managed to retrieve Paul’s pump at 4am. A quick wash and it will be as good as new
It is an obvious cliché but despite all the cycling and the incredible scenery the really highlight of the trip is the people you meet.
Angus our landlord drove us into town last night for dinner. He explained that his wife had dementia and not to be concerned if she repeated questions. In the morning he got up at 6am to make us breakfast and then left at 7am to drive another guest to the foot of Ben Nevis. ‘He tells me he is climbing it today. Mind you he said he was going to climb it yesterday and he didn’t get up until noon. The day before that he said he was going to climb it too ..’ While Angus was gone we meet his wife. She mentioned she was recently told she couldn’t drive because of Alzheimers and that her husband had learned to drive after swearing for years that he would never drive. His Job? Captain of a Ferry on the lake.
We arrived in Stirling to our Caravan for the night. A beautiful heated Caravan with a lovely cosy bed. Met another guest by the Campfire. She was alone and drinking Rose having a ‘lost weekend’ ‘I had a week off and felt I had to go away and not waste it.’
Lost weekends with Tennents and wine. Something I often considered. Initially I thought to myself that I made a different choice but giving it thought I realise I have been drafted by my friends and the miles I have travelled are down largely to them.
Guest Blogger: Jaclyn Hargreaves
Day two’s cycle was a game of two halves as we started with a tough slog along a busy A-road from Tain to Inverness. The remainder of the day took us across the country to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis. Our route was beautiful, hilly and peaceful and we had to take several stops for photos.
We passed Loch Ness hoping for a glimpse of the beast in the deep but unfortunately Nessy remained as elusive as Peter’s Dartmoor gold!
Yesterday was a day of firsts for another reason. The gentlemen with the Penny Farthing caught Peter in the hall and spent a good half an hour bending his ear about his jaunts around British Isles on his vintage steed. When he escaped Peter asked why I didn’t come and save him from the cycle bore who doesn’t stop talking. “I feel your pain Peter, I feel your pain”.