Mathern - The seventh step - London to Edinburgh via Land's End and John o'Groats - CycleBlaze

June 12, 2019


Today didn't quite work out as planned.

We started off cycling westwards on Nation Cycle Route 33, one of the many NCN (National Cycle Network) routes we would use today (I eventually lost track of which one we were on at any particular time).  The first village on our route was Uphill - another delightful name.  There is an old church on a hill above the village that could be interesting but we weren't up to climbing the hill to get there.

The Old Church of Saint Nicholas at Uphill.
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The route was mostly flat, winding through Weston-Super-Mare (a name that is more weird than quaint) and onto a busy section of the A380 before getting back onto an NCN route again.  South of Bristol the route got a bit hilly but apart from the roar of the traffic from the nearby M5 motorway it was quite beautiful.

Clapton Court, a rather rundown manor house we passed along the way.
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As we approached the River Avon things started to get messy.  There were some confusing warnings about certain cycle routes being closed (I think we were on the 26) and when we finally arrived at the river it was to be at a point directly below the enormous bridge that spans it.  We retraced our steps for a kilometer or two and while we were standing around looking confused while trying to understand the maps being presented by Google and Maps.Me a friendly West Country voice piped up "Are you trying to cross the river ?".  It came from a local cyclist called Alan Lloyd who then proceeded to lead us along the route through the nearby village that would get us up onto the bridge.

Our guardian angel, Alan Lloyd.
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The River Avon.
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On the bridge over the River Avon. Our initial route had us on the banks immediately below this point.
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Once north of the Avon we sat down to work out where to spend the night. There didn't seem to be any camping nearby except for one marked on Google that lay on the Wales side of the Severn and this seemed to be confirmed by a passing couple of English cyclists a few years older than us.  They were starting the next section of a project that they have to circumnavigate the British Isles by bicycle, this section mostly covering the Welsh coastline.  So we set off towards  the old Severn Bridge a few kilometers further north and crossed it into Wales.  After struggling to get through Cornwall today took in the English counties of Somerset, Avon and Gloucester and the Welsh one of Monmouthshire (or Sir Fynwy in Welsh).

The campsite near Mathern south of Chepstow turned out to be restricted to members of the Caravan and Camping Club but they allowed us to spend the night.  Eight quid bought us a piece of neatly mown grass and nothing else.  It was like paying to wildcamp.

Up until then, the rain had held off all day but it soon starting coming down, lightly at first but then quite heavily.  A glance at the weather report suggested that tomorrow was going to be terrible so we chickened out and booked a room at the Travelodge on the Gloucester side of the Severn for tomorrow night so we can dry out before carrying on northwards.

Today's ride: 77 km (48 miles)
Total: 952 km (591 miles)

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