6 May 23 – Hungerford to Trowbridge – 64km
We’ve actually got into the swing of things pretty quickly and we are remembering who did what and when from the last time we were on the road. Last night and this morning were good examples where, after dinner, Martina did the blog whilst I made sandwiches and prepared our breakfast for the following morning. A half hour preparing in the evening saves a load of time in the morning.
It didn’t, however, prepare us for the lashing rain that greeted us this morning! The weather forecast showed that it was probably set in for the day, typical that this happened on Coronation Day! I felt pretty sad for all the people that had made plans for street parties and we saw plenty of damp bunting on our travels today. Up and on the road by 8am and managed to pick up National Cycling Route 4 straight out of Hungerford and into some lovely rolling countryside with beautiful thatched chocolate-box houses. Very enjoyable cycling despite the rain and there was a constant cacophony of bird-sound all around us and lush green trees everywhere – the joy of cycling in Spring.
Not a huge amount happened during the ride except the rain continued throughout and we got soaked. We were also ‘hounded’ by the local number 101 Red Bus which passed us at least half a dozen times in a short period of time, much to the annoyance of the mardy bus driver. At one point we also got a bit cold but the addition of a fleece sorted that and we made it to Devizes by 11am and time for a damp sandwich huddled under a handy conker tree.
Route 4 took us back onto the Kennet and Avon canal just outside of Devizes and we were glad that it did as it gave us the chance to see a very impressive Caen Staircase locks which carry barges up and down a huge slope and through 16 locks. Apparently, according to a couple of barge drivers it can take 2 hours on a good day to get through the locks and over twice that if you time it wrong and get in a barge jam!
At this point the towpath wasn’t too bad, but as we got further away from civilisation it deteriorated into a muddy, puddle festooned, nightmare. Difficult peddling at the best of times, but more so as it was still raining hard. We finally left the canal and headed towards Trowbridge and our home for the night, at Sophie’s AirBnB. Sophie is from southeast France and made us feel very at home and even let us put our bikes in her kitchen even though they were dripping wet. We had a lovely chat during which we found out the the French cheese Comte comes from her region and that she had a huge chunk of it in her fridge and would we like some…hungry cyclists and cheese? It would have been rude not to!
7 May 23 – Trowbridge to Bath – a mighty 20km
Up and out pretty early again even though we had an easy day with only 20km planned. 15 minutes into our cycle and Martina had a message from Sophie, did we have her keys? Yup, Martina still had them in her pocket. We were about to turn back, but Sophie said ‘no’ and came in her car to intercept us and the keys were handed over – disaster averted!
We cycled into the very quaint town of Bradford-upon-Avon where we stopped to admire the bridge in the centre…
We then decided to take a B-road to Bath, thinking that this would be nice and quiet on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately the road took us up a very steep hill and then we realised it wasn’t quiet at all, so after a short time we found our way back onto the canal towpath. Turned out that this was the right decision and the reasonably smooth path took us through some lovely scenery all the way into the centre of Bath
A quick stop at Pulteney Bridge for a photo opportunity…
..and as the weather was pretty good for once and we found ourselves a top coffee shop in Northumberland Passage to have a drink, cakes and to do some serious people watching as their were plenty on tourists out. We then has a lovely wander around the centre of Bath and had our lunch sitting in the sun next to the Abbey…
….before heading off to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with Martina’s auntie Anne and cousin Emily, plus a load of Anne’s friends who came to say hello…
8 May 23 – Bath to Chepstow – 50km
Woke up to rain this morning and a huge cooked breakfast thanks to Anne. Considering we ate enormous portions of cottage pie and pudding last night it was pretty impressive how we managed to still put away a very large breakfast!
Fuelled up, we were off again and found our was onto the very convenient Bath to Bristol railway path. Great surface, lovely scenery and almost flat, what more could we want?
The National Route 4, which we have been following a lot since leaving London, goes right through Bristol, so after a quick coffee stop we were heading north out of the city. The are some pretty long, steep, hills along that route, which we made look much easier than had we been climbing them a few days back. I can’t say that were are completely bike fit yet, but it feels like we’re getting there. Only one hiccup on the way to the Severn Bridge and that was because the bike path was closed. So we had a few minutes on a busy A road but were soon on our way over the Severn Bridge to Wales…
I’m not telling a lie when I say that at the midway point across the bridge that it started to rain and continued to lash down all the way to Chepstow! After a brief, very damp stop at Tesco we made it to our accommodation, with one final steep hill climb at the bed. Though we only covered around 50km today it seemed to take is quite a bit of time and we don’t really know why….!