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​Day 8: Cheddar, Wells, Glastonbury

We woke up early, knowing that it was going to rain during the day and that Martina’s bicycle needed some attention from someone more qualified than myself. Indeed, it started raining at 7, and the rain didn’t seem to quiet down while we had our breakfast Quaker oats (we were a bit tired of having full breakfast every morning, and breakfast wasn’t included in the price of accommodation anyway).

I’ve made a couple of calls to local cycling shops trying to arrange the bicycle to be fixed. Apparently, Yatton is home to at least two mobile bike services, which operate along the Strawberry Line and get your bike fixed wherever you are. Unfortunately, one of them didn’t pick up the phone, and another one informed us they don’t do any work until 4 pm since the person running it also has another full-time job. A local shop with a name confusingly ending with ‘Motorcare’ said he’s got the whole week fully booked, but maybe he can spare about 10 minutes to have a look.

​​Time to use our waterproof clothes — Martina’s got both a jacket and some trousers she’s bought in the Netherlands, I decided to only wear a Peter Storm waterproof jacket. My cycling shorts immediately went wet, but actually they dried quickly as the rain stopped for a moment, so I decided not to use the trousers at all.

At the cycling shop, we were told there’s nothing wrong with the bike at all, because apparently the repairman couldn’t hear the rubbing noise — but after a bit back and forth he agreed to have a closer look, and then he found the screws holding the front disc brake weren’t tight enough.

I also bought another bell, since the Dutch-style one I brought from Slovakia and had on my bike broke when the bicycle fell on its side a day earlier, and a rear view mirror for Martina, as I supposed we were going to cycle on regular roads a lot — and I personally found the mirror I bought at Decathlon immensely useful. Martina’s mirror was a bit smaller, but on the other hand slightly easier to adjust than mine. I installed the mirror and the new bell during a coffee break in Yatton, and just as we were going to set off, it started raining again.

Soon we found that cycling in the rain wasn’t as difficult as it seemed, and we actually learnt to stop and either take off our rain jackets or put them back quickly as weather conditions changed.

At one point we were passing through a village, and I felt a new smell. At first, it seemed like the usual farm smell, but then I realised it were apples! Indeed, we were passing through apple tree gardens. They must make cider here, I thought. That was exactly it — it was the place where they made Thatcher’s!

Cycling on a mostly flat cycle path converted from a former railway line, we entered Axbridge, a beautiful little town, where we stopped for coffee, beer and a bit of sightseeing.

Immediately following Axbridge was Cheddar, a village famous for its strawberries and the cheese it gave a name to. At first, we quickly cycled through the village and didn’t notice any hint of the cheesemaking. Turned out, all of the touristy cheese stuff was a bit off the main road, towards Cheddar Gorge.

After getting our Cheddar cheddar, we headed towards Wells. The signed cycle path ends in Cheddar, so we had to make our way on our own. We’ve got a bit lost near the east end of Cheddar Canal, but managed to find our way out of Cheddar:

We continued through the outskirts of Draycott, Westbury-sub-Mendip and Wookey, with just a short stretch of the main road.

Dinner at a café opposite of St Cuthbert’s church in Wells, which a lot of tourists apparently mistake for Wells Cathedral.

Vicars’ Close, apparently the oldest residential street in Europe:

A short but enjoyable ride on the 26, and we’re in the centre of Glastonbury.

Our AirBnB, Raven Haven, was directly at High Street, so having checked in, we headed to a nearby pub, the George & Pilgrims, which some believe to be haunted.

Amidst the second beer, we realised we don’t have any accommodation booked for the next night, and we’ve got no idea how to proceed on our way to Yeovil or beyond. Having finished the beer, we headed back to our room, only to our horror to find out we cannot go to Weymouth as we originally planned as either the accommodation is unaffordable, or we’re going to ride up some really steep hills, or possibly both. Half past midnight, we called it a night, hoping that we figure out what to do in the morning.

Day 7: Bristol to Yatton

Since we arrived in Bristol much later than we wanted, we decided to stay there a bit longer and leave the city no earlier than four o'clock in the afternoon.

Leaving this late made it impossible to go to Wells, which was our original next stop after Bristol; besides, there was no accommodation in Wells for these dates, only in Glastonbury or by Chew Valley Lake — for a price of mere €4912 (discounted from the original €5774) — clearly out of the range we'd be able to afford any time soon.

Looking for a place easy to reach from Bristol and affordable, we found the Bridge Inn in Yatton, just about 25 km from Bristol, a distance we'd be comfortable to make in the evening.

Some coffee at the market:

A garden behind the Bristol cathedral:

And the cathedral itself:

We have spent most of the day walking around Bristol and shopping, and just as we were ready to leave, Martina heard some squeaking noise from the front wheel. The front disk brake was permanently engaged. That's probably why Martina's legs hurt that much after yesterday’s ride and mine didn’t!

It was half past five, so most bicycle shops were closed. Luckily, Trek at Queen's Road was open until 6, so we hurried up the hill to get there as soon as possible.

Having climbed up, we've got the brakes adjusted in just a couple of minutes and weren't charged a penny. ‘Spread kindness — and donate to your favourite charity’, said the Bicycle Repair Man slightly smiling face

Just as we passed Ashton Gate, another complaint came from Martina, about a slight rubbing sound from the front brake, which didn't however slow her down much, but still the vibration could be felt in the handlebars. I tried to fiddle with it but to no avail, so we decided to get it fixed next morning in Yatton.

The ride to Yatton was super easy, only the last bit was a bit intense as it became dark and quite a lot of cars were coming towards Yatton.

The accommodation was a Greene King inn, which meant the Greene King ales at the bar and a lot of signage typeset in Gill Sans. The furniture was a bit old, but nothing to really complain about.

Day 6: Chepstow to Bristol

Having arrived at Chepstow quite late, we couldn't see much of the town before the darkness, so we went to see the castle and the bridge once again the first thing after the breakfast.

It's time to head towards the Severn Bridge.

We ended up on the Northern side of the bridge despite very obvious signs and the fact the correct path was painted red! The Southern side seemed to be better connected and offered better views, so we backtracked a bit to go under the motorway onto the other side.

The bridge looked as if it were very steep, but in fact we only stopped a couple of times to take pictures, but otherwise it wasn't hard at all to ride up the bridge.

On the other side on Severn we were met with quite a long diversion.

Just as the diversion ended, we made a bit of a mistake — we wanted to see the Severn estuary, so we took the path which seemed to go closer to it, but in fact it just went along a very busy road.

At some point we returned to the 41 but soon I made a navigational mistake and we ended up on the Port Way cycleway, which was very far from being pleasant, as it followed a very busy dual carriageway along the river Avon, while the 41 went across the river under the trees.

Anyway, we made it into Bristol, albeit much later than we originally planned.

Day 5: Cardiff to Chepstow

We decided that Bristol is worth staying in for a bit longer than just a night, so we booked accommodation in Chepstow, so that when we come to Bristol we still have a whole day ahead of us.

Morning coffee at Brodies, and we’re off. Cardiff has a bunch of very decent cycle highways, but unfortunately, they connections to the surrounding streets are not very well thought through. For example, how do we turn left on this intersection without pretending we’re pedestrians?
Getting out of Cardiff was anything but pleasant. Newport Road was very busy, with lots of cars, lorries and buses, and the cycle way was just a pedestrian path marked for shared use, with no real provisions for cyclists.
Martina wanted to see some of the sea or river or whatever sort of water body was it, so after crossing the river Rhymney, we turned off the official cycling path onto the Welsh Coastal Path.
Little we knew it wasn’t suitable for cycling! The first thing we ran into was a bunch of rocks and concrete blocks (in fact, if we checked this path on OpenStreetMap, we’d see this is clearly tagged as barrier=block).
Much smaller kissing gates were trying to give us extremely unambiguous hints we weren’t supposed to do what we were doing. No worries, nothing can stop us now that we managed to deal with rocks and concrete! Nothing but cows.
Ouch. You don’t argue with cattle. You just don’t. You wait and if it doesn’t help, you turn around and find another way. Especially when there are bulls and calves involved.
We found a gate leading to a path leading back to the official route, and soon arrived in Newport.

The official route led us to the Newport Transporter Bridge.
What a magnificent structure! At first, it seemed improbable or almost impossible it could be part of the official cycling path, but it turned out we weren’t supposed to somehow climb on top of the bridge, for it was simply a suspended ferry. Unfortunately, the bridge is not in operation until spring 2023, so we had to take an alternative route, quite a detour, with the route crossing busy streets with a lot of very aggressively driving lorries.
We were soon back on the country paths, eating roadside blackberries and collecting free apples put in buckets by the locals. Near Redwick, the route passes by a local pub, the Rose Inn, which unfortunately was closed, but the proprietor allowed us to refill our bottles with fresh water.

Near Summerleaze, we took a wrong turn and ended up on the Coastal Path once again. The grassy surface was a bit worse this time, and we were tired of dismounting our bicycles and throwing them across kissing gates each time, so we took the first path that seemed to lead back to the official route… only to run into a closed gate. In total, I reckon, we had to take bags off the bike and put them back about five times that day.
Approaching Chepstow, I underestimated how busy and how steep Chepstow Road through Pwllmeyric was, and we took what I thought would be a “shortcut” — but ended up with us pushing bicycles up a steep hill. Sometimes the cycling routes are there for a purpose!
Checked in at the Beaufort, and it immediately went dark. We only managed to take a shower and had some dinner at Lime Tree café across the street, but we didn’t get to see much of the town except a short walk to the bridge across the river Wye.

Day 4: Some time off in Cardiff

Sunday was the day for us to rest and explore Cardiff.

After visiting Cardiff Castle we started looking for a local place to have some coffee at which is not Nero or Costa. We found a cafe+bicycle shop facing Gorsedd Gardens with good coffee and breakfast options:

Having had breakfast, we headed to back to our accommodation conveniently located across the river from the stadium, and found another cafe, Brodies Coffe, directly in Gorsedd Gardens park, with even better coffee. They only serve take away coffee, being a cabin in a park, but since I always carry an espresso cup with me, it wasn't an issue at all 🙂

We've spent the rest of the day in the bay, taking a late bus back to the city centre.

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