Hmmmm hmmmmm hmmmm

Cheddar to Chepstow

Starting with the climb up through the gorge was always going to be challenging so as I pushed the bike up hill once again I communicated with the wild goats, using a technique my sister and I have developed over years for communicating with sheep whilst holidaying in Anglesey, and felt somewhat proud to find that we, the goats and I, appeared to have established some kind of a dialogue. 

It transpires it was Keith , lagging some 30 yards behind, was my respondent. No meeting of the minds with goats at all. How he laughed. 

The cheddar gorge is predictably cheesy (geddit?) in its lower reaches but as one rises out of the village it opens onto open moorlands and then beautiful hobbit-land-like small villages nestling in the slopes of the Mendip Hills. 

The flora has changed: now wild vlamatis, white campion, elderflower and I think guelder rose in bloom, with gardens full of lush canna and roses and every type of perfect beautiful hydrangea. The birds are smaller and more varied- gone are the crows and jackdaws of Cornwall, the buzzards of Dartmoor – here we have firecrest and goldfinch and wrens. The really quite poor Cornish peninsula has been left behind and we now enter a much more affluent area. We know: cars are bigger and less tolerant, the price of eggs at farm gates has doubled – and the salad in our lunchtime sandwich contained Rocket. …… The two major events today involved crossing the iconic bridges at avonmouth and across the Severn. So different on a bike! We wound our way round a maze of cycle tracks round the outskirts of Bristol, by large housing estates, through industrial estates and wasteland. I wore my glasses this time. 

Snacks: remember the toast  from day 2? It didn’t taste too bad today, bread dry but jam still ok! 

This picture reminds me to discuss clothes. You see here a rare combination of what I later discovered was ‘race fit’ e.g. Like second skin top, which gives me a slightly Lara Croft sort of outline up top, and tough and reliable mountain biker shorts, baggy amorphous and probably totally inappropriate. The shorts are worn with padded underwear which have some advantages but make one walk rather oddly. I’ll come to bottoms (as in the butt that joins the legs to the body) later in the trip, when we know each other better. 

The Long socks keep my legs from burning. The shoes are specialist (= overpriced) touring cycling shoes. More of this later too. 

Chepstow is charming in the evening sun. We siton the banks of the River Wye, a favourite place for Keith to kayak in his youth, and look across to England, supping a beer and eating Mediterranean food. 

Our hotel has an honesty bar – drink what you like and pay in the morning! Last time I came across that was in Andorra where all alcohol was duty free. 

  1. The Chartists set sail from here, (see below) and I can imagine nowhere more pleasant for us to have spent the evening tonight. H The hotel is delightfully quaint – everything slightly oversized but with the most wonderful garden, and facing Chepstow castle. Tomorrow up the Wye Valley and through parts of wales to Herefordshire. 

Miles: 46.5 (cumulative 220)

Mechanical issues: 1

Tantrums: 1

Ascent: 3100

Pints: 2 cakes etc nil. 

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