A Happy Man Off To Feed Horses: Cheddar To Monmouth. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 22, 2014

A Happy Man Off To Feed Horses: Cheddar To Monmouth.

The persistent rain keeps these cows in lush pasture.
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The rain stops when its time to ease the loaded bike carefully back down the steep muddy slope, mindful of how slippery the leafy mulch is underfoot, then along the root-crossed single-track below to the road. to continue on from where I left off yesterday. I'm not exactly sure where I am, as this road isn't in the atlas, though I'm not lost, as I've a fair idea where the road leads to.

Very soon I leave the idyllic Mendip Hills behind and become immersed in a ribbon of built-up areas to the south of Bristol. Here I pick up the blue cycle route signs, which lead me on through a wooded valley, parallel to the motorway's roar of trucks and cars running in both directions, then off to Portishead on the Severn estuary; from where, the cycle-route passes through council estates, along leafy residencial drives and through woodland bridle-paths. I go quite a bit without seeing a sign for Avonmouth, my preferred route north.

On a short incline, I catch up on a stout man in working cloths, energetically riding a cheap mountain bike. He tells me to continue straight on, when I ask is this the right way to Avonmouth, it will take you to the bridge over the Avon, he tells me. He then, as we ride on together, kindly volunteers to tell me about his day "I'm off to feed the horses" he says with an air of someone to whom the horses are part of the family. "I don't normally feed them Tuesdays, but he phoned me lastnight, requesting that I come in. They'll be glad to see me". A little further, I thank him as he says "I turn left here. Mind how you go."

North of the river Avon, I'm almost on familiar ground as I passed this way a few years back. Soon I see the new Severn bridge across the desolate milky brown estuary. And later I feel a chilling wind on the long ride along the fenced off cycle-path over the old bridge, a mile or so to the north. Here I feel spots of rain. The rain doesn't amount to mush, and the sky brightens as I pass up through Chepstow; after which, I stop for a three o'clock lunch sitting on a tree stump in a recently felled grove of trees, with a view over the race course.

With another stop along the way at Tintern, I make it to Monmouth just as clouds close in again. Then duck into in a fish and chip shop, as it comes on a heavy April shower. Once the rain is over and I've eaten my fill of chips and cod in crispy batter, I make my way along a rain-soaked street, across the old bridge over the Wye, to the same campground I stayed at the last time.

From a motorway bridge.
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Keeping to the cycle-route.
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The new Severn bridge.
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A detail of Tintern Abbey in 1832 by John Varley.
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The ruin of Tintern Abbey
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From the road north of tntern, towards Monmouth.
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Today's ride: 57 km (35 miles)
Total: 14,896 km (9,250 miles)

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