2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 4: Glastonbury to Monmouth

3rd July 2013

What a cracking B&B the Apple is. A lovely landlady (Julia) who serves the finest of healthy & interesting breakfasts from her character full home. And what a place Glastonbury – exactly what you’d expect from this Festival Mecca – aged hippies abound, along with shops that wouldn’t look out of place in Morocco

In Peak Tours style, we managed to travel the 6 miles to the Cathedral town of Wells, barely touching a main road, but with ominous clouds overhead. These same clouds were to stay with us much of the day, although we barely saw a drop of rain.

Wells is such a charming City, with the prettiest of Cathedrals & a moated castle, complete with a lovely outdoor market We made our way under ancient arches & across cobbles & thoroughly enjoyed the ambience, but dented the day’s timetable quite badly. It was hard to leave & given the hill that met us, immediately we did leave, the general feeling was to ask why we’d bothered. Most thought the worst hill yet. However, there was payback & we had wonderful ‘big country’ views & ultimately a great, long downhill as we made our way to the morning brew stop at Chew Valley Lakes. Paul D took over as route master, after the break, given his intimate knowledge of the area & to hopefully get us through this busy City without too much trauma. Unfortunately & although we really enjoyed the ride through the Long Aston Estate, it was a little disarming to realise the only way to see the hugely impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, was up a bloody big, traffic infested hill,. However, we were quite blown away with this part of Bristol’s architecture, history & road network. It is one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s creations (he was never going to be a dustbin man with a name like that was he?). He won the contract to create this masterpiece, designed to span the Aven River & started work in 1829. Simply amazing in complexity & size, breathtakingly high & like a piece of giant meccano. Sadly, also a magnet for suicides.

Next stop Wales, but in order to get there, you have to travel across yet another bridge, the fabulously impressive Severn Bridge which was completed in 1966 & which runs for 1600 metres over the rivers Severn & Wye. How great to cycle on a dedicated cycle lane across that engineering & artistic masterpiece. Even with a small gale blowing, it was a most wonderful experience.

All this sightseeing & photography put the lunch plans well behind schedule & it was past 2.00 when we arrived for lunch – all tired, all hungry & not a little bruised & battered from the last 4 day’s activity. However, lunch revived spirits & we were quickly off again & heading for an Abbey without windows & a roof but magnificent nevertheless. Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131, but dissolved at the time of the Reformation & clearly like many of Henry’s wives, lost its top bits shortly thereafter. Awesome though & so worthy of a visit & photo shoot (we will at some point get our photographs together, to share with anyone who’s interested).

What came after was cycle heaven – a long, long ride down the magnificent Wye Valley, which is so green with trees, it’s almost black. Great sweeping hills & curves for about 10 miles. We had long, steep descents & then a lengthy ride along the side of the river & ultimately to our destination for the night in Monmouth. Tired, aching, but with a real glow, we shall look forward to a good meal tonight & the chance to rest up, ready for tomorrow.    

Awards of the Day

British Engineering          Centuries apart, Wells Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, The Clifton Suspension Bridge & the Severn Bridge are all magnificent, beyond description. For a simpleton who gets excited when he changes a light bulb successfully, I cannot begin to imagine the type of brains that designs these things & then make them happen

 Reb also wins                  At a particular low mood point, after we’d been told we had some respite, Rebs dramatically points out a  hill with a 13% climb & makes us all groan. A closer read tells us it’s a 13 ft canopy height sign. He could well loose his coveted route master badge

Brian/Rodney                    I think my sheep jokes are quite the best of the day so I’ll put me in here, but Rodney’s ‘Plastering Duck’ seemed to get by far the best reception so I reluctantly add him too

Philosophical thought of the day

No matter how much your bum hurts, you wouldn’t change places with those guys down there on the motorway would you

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               69.38

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   5 hours 55 minutes

Climbing                               3,599 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

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