Having tucked Talula away through the cold dark and seemingly interminable winter months, spring is finally here. We have been out on a few of our favourite local runs when the weather has not been too hostile, but we are ultimately ‘joy’ riders, and find the greatest joy NOT having to cycle into wind and rain! We have been keeping an eye out for a window of 3 consecutive fine days to embark on a jaunt down to Bristol and around Bath as we loved our time in Holland so much that we have decided to return, this year for three weeks with the aim of going further in our exploration. So, we need to get some miles under our belts doing consecutive days in order to harden up our derrières.
Our first day is from Gloucester to Bristol, a journey of about 55 miles using the national cycle network,
which is part of the Sustrans network www.sustrans.org.uk and initially takes us on one of our regular routes towards Frampton on Severn, pushing on though to a favourite coffee spot at Berkeley, where we found that our bench had been renewed and a shiny bike rack had been added.
Our stop was more brief than usual though, the weatherman had forecast a lovely warm day. But he had fibbed. We had barely finished our coffees and the chill started to set in; dressed as we were in shorts at the promise of sunshine. Fortified though, we pressed onward passing delightful, but isolated homes in the depths of the countryside and startling a postman ‘watering’ some bushes having been caught short on his rounds.
Working hard through the undulating terrain and headwind we soon began to warm up, and indeed the sun did make a valiant effort to shine through the cloud and we were soon nearing the Severn Beach area. It is worth noting that this is not as pretty as the name would suggest. We made a stop at Olveston for lunch, we have found in our travels that churchyards often offer a pleasant place to stop, and there is always at least one bench upon which to rest and contemplate the lives of those resting beneath the ground.
Our repast consumed, we took our lead from the startled postman and sought out a concealing huddle of trees before continuing our journey.
Standby for a brief rant: We have noticed over our many miles cycled in our beautiful countryside, the utter disregard held by some individuals, who appear to have no qualms about chucking their rubbish out of their vehicles onto the verges and into watercourses. Indeed some people clearly bag it all up before lobbing it out. Why? I simply do not understand this mentality. Worse still though are those who travel off the beaten path and seek out places to fly tip all manner of refuse, without care for the damage that it causes. This really does fill me with rage.
Onward we head, Bristol’s outskirts begin to envelop us as we circumnavigate housing estates and make our way to the part of the route that always brings some unease; the Avonmouth crossing.
We peddle the steep incline alongside a cycling companion, who seems astonished at Talula, exclaiming that it is ‘mental’ and was incredulous that we had cycled from Gloucester. We picked up speed as the incline levelled and he waved us a cheery adieu, still brandishing his can of Special Brew. Despite the high barriers either side of the cycle route, there is still a feeling of extreme exposure from the high drop into the muddy waters of the river Avon one side, and the thundering traffic of the M5 hurtling next to you on the other. It is always a relief to reach the end and we relax again as the noise recedes and we return to the backwater routes.
Our final leg takes us along the side of the Avon Gorge which was hard going as all the wet weather had left the cycle route extremely muddy, which for Talula, due to her length, means that we have to go carefully as she can easily slip away from under us, especially when we have the extra weight of the panniers.
We knew the end was near as we caught our first glimpse of Brunel’s elegant Clifton suspension bridge and we were less than 30 minutes away from our destination and a yearned for cup of tea and soft seat. Rarely has tea tasted so good.
Bristol to Bath and back again tomorrow. Derrière is a little tender, padded pants are at the ready though.