03.09.2011 - 11.09.2011
I had a rest day at my folks place, ate roast beef, walked the dog and slept. My Dad is looking and sounding better after his stoke and my Mum is doing a fantastic job of caring for him. My dog Redge who now lives with them after I split from my wife is also doing a great job in looking after them both and he has now trained my Mum very well, he dictates where they walk and at six he jumps off the sofa and starts to bark at my mum. This is signify that it is time to feed him, he does it everyday at six, how? I think it might be because of the Grandfather clock chiming at six (can he count?)
I left Dawlish with the intention of making it to Plymouth, but got side tracked on the way. I was aware of the trip finishing soon, so was really taking in everything. Free wheeling downhill looking at beautiful countryside and being aware of the feeling of the air on your body, was one way and talking to people that I met was another. I rode through Teignmouth, Torquay, Paignton then headed for Kingswear. On the Kingswear to Dartmouth ferry I met a guy called David, we got talking and as the ferry docked he hit my Achilles heal by saying "Do you fancy a pint" After a couple of pints in Dartmouth, we moved onto Slapton and the Tower Inn, where there was a live band and BBQ. I had a fantastic evening and camped near Torcross, in the morning I rode onto Plymouth, suffering from a slight hangover. I had another rest day here and caught up with a couple of friends.
I left Plymouth via the Cremyll foot ferry, this took me over to the Cornish side of the Tamar and I carried along the coast past Mount Edgecombe, Kingsands, Cawsands and on into Whitsands Bay. Stopped off in Looe for fish and chips, caught the ferry over the river Fowey and carried on to Trewitthian where I camped. The following day I caught the ferry from St Mawes to Falmouth, the difference in prices for ferry rides over the country varies greatly. In Scotland the ferries were quite large and very cheap considering the distance travelled, in Cornwall the ferries were small, as were the crossing but for a very similar fare. I carried onto the Lizard peninsula, which was my final extremity. It was also the most beautiful and the busiest, but it also had the best weather. It was over forty miles from the Lizard to Land's End, I arrived as the sun was setting behind the lighthouse. I was a bit choked when I got there, looking up the coast towards Bristol and realising that this was the final stretch. I watched the sun go down, then went a short distance along the cycle path and pitched my tent on the path. It was not intentional, but I slept at Land's End and John O' Groats.
I rode up to Penrose near Padstow to stay with my good friend Sian, this took me through St Ives, Hayle, Perranporth and Newquay. If you have never visited the North coast of Cornwall and Devon, the beaches are absolutely world class. The Atlantic storms have carved out some incredible bays and deposited golden sand, when the sun is shining the waters look almost tropical, although not as warm. If the weather could be guaranteed everyone would holiday in Cornwall, it sometimes feels like that now with the number of Emmits (Cornish for ants, their reference to the holidaymakers).
I left Sian's quite late and only made it to Bude, I stopped at a large pub just as you get into Bude and ordered two main meals, as I was waiting for them I put my phone on to charge. After about five minutes the landlord came and told me he does not give out free electricity, its bad enough that he gives out free wifi. So when the food came I took one bite of a poor burger that cost £5 and the pasta with pesto that had no pine nuts for £6 and sent it back saying I only pay for decent food and not rubbish that is massively overpriced. Due to his tight manner he lost out on £11 there, the food could/should not have been reused all for about 20 pence of electricity. I was so hungry that if he had not said anything then I would have just ate it and left. I went to the Chinese takeaway instead then onto another pub for a drink. The range, quantity and pricing of food varies massively throughout the British Isles, but I wish I could remember the name of the pub as this was the worst, it showed also in the landlords attitude.
After leaving Bude it was back into Devon and I got totally lost in the lanes between Bude and Hartland, probably did twice the distance that I should have and still ended up doing some of it on the busy A39. I hooked up with the Tarka Trail near Bideford, which is another great cycle path. I went past Barnstaple then along the breath taking coast between there and Combe Martin. One of the main reasons this coast is breath taking is the hills, wasn't half puffing by the time I got to the top.
I slept on the cliffs North of Combe Martin this was my last night, I was determined to make Bristol the following day. My last day started off wet, I decided to stop early and have a breakfast at a camp site where Keith Allen (actor and father of Lilly Allen) once stayed. They were very proud of the fact judging by all the photos. I carried on into Lynmouth and was aware that a bike race was going on. They were all going the other way to me until I started the climb out of Lynmouth. The hill starts of at a 25% gradient for about half a mile then only 12% for about another mile, maybe a bit more. At the beginning of the hill three of the racers overtook me, one said to me "Extra man points for carrying all that weight." I stopped in a lay-by to take my waterproof coat off and carried on, after a bit I thought I might be gaining on two of the guys. So I put a little more effort in. As I went past them I said "This is bloody hard work." I got no reply, think they must have been saving their breath or were just stunned into silence that someone on a heavy touring bike with an extra twenty plus kilos could out climb them. I put it down to two things, I had cycled almost everyday for eight weeks and those guys were pushing big gears and had been during their race for some time. As no one else witnessed this I like to think that they both said to one another "We don't talk about this to any one." or "What happened on the hill, stays on the hill." If I was a fellow racer and found out a fully loaded tourer had passed on a hill, I would tease them mercilessly. After another ten miles they still hadn't overtaken me, which was a surprise. I turned off the main road and followed the cycle path, this took me down a very steep twisting private road full of potholes. Wish I stayed on the main road as I missed Porlock hill, which is infamous for its gradient. I might have even been able to beat my top speed. D'oh.
After that I was on the Somerset levels, this allowed me to get some good miles in. I went past Minehead, Taunton and Bridgwater where I stopped for food and to text friends about my return. I continued to Weston Super Mare and then to Cleavedon where I asked a lady if there was a coast path to Portishead. She gave me directions which I followed and found the path. After about quarter of a mile it started to narrow, I had passed some people as well. Then it really narrowed, it was pretty much a goat track, by the time I realised I should not be on this track I had done about a mile, do I carry on or go back? I carried on, again, this was probably the wrong decision, but eventually got out on to a road. It was just a ride down the side of the river Avon to my finish. I got back to Bristol at about 8.30 pm, it was my longest days riding of 124 miles. I met up with some friends at the Miners Arms in St Werburghs, had a few beers and a pizza. Time to put my feet up.
The total millage for the trip was 3,952 miles and it took me 58 days with 8 rest days.