Cycling Report 12th August 2021

The ride on Thursday 12th started from Winscombe rugby club where six of us assembled, and were subsequently joined by Denise and Paul who had cycled to the start.

We set off and were almost immediately beset by a rather heavy drizzle which required a brief stop for wet weather gear. We then proceeded along the route which took in Barton, Loxton and Bleadon before a careful crossing of the A370. (Thank-you to the unnamed but very polite driver). We then took the cycle route across Bleadon Levels having to pass through the numerous gates on the way to our arrival at the Uphill Wharf café, where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and cake in the now much improved weather meaning we could all sit outside with dry backsides.

Having refuelled we made our way along from Uphill to the prom at Weston, enjoying the now excellent shared cycle path. The journey along the prom was as busy as ever and some of the group chose to cycle along the beachfront road which was by far the safer option. Having negotiated Weston we now followed the Kewstoke road and dropped down into Sand Bay before heading out into the countryside at Ebdon, and Wick St. Lawrence before once again meeting the A370 which we followed for approximately a mile before our lunch stop at Carriages Café Hewish. By now the weather had much improved and again we enjoyed lunch outside.

We could now look forward to a nice flat ride through Puxton and Nye picking up the cycle track at Thatchers which we then followed back to Winscombe. The trip was one of contrasts and approximately 27 miles. As we left for home the sky opened. I only hope Denise and Paul survived the downpour.

Pete W.

Cycling Report 26th August 2021

Woodlands and lakes of Wiltshire (and a few hills)

The 26th August was set aside for an incursion into Wiltshire, meeting at Nunney but omens were not good for the drive to the starting point. The men from the Met didn’t tell us to expect it to be very overcast with distinct dampness in the air! But by the time the eighth rider arrived the sun broke through and remained with us for the rest of the day.

Any feeling of morning chill was swept away on the gentle climb to Nunney Catch, followed by a drop down into Trudoxhill and on via little lanes through Marston to the coffee stop at the Lighthouse guesthouse, Tytherington. This seemed an unlikely place to be served coffee and cakes, having meandered around a number of out-buildings but we did eventually find the café, complete with a garden area equipped with picnic tables and a view over a small lake.

We restricted ourselves to little more than half an hour’s rest because our planned lunch stop was known to be popular and it was thought wise to arrive reasonably early. We passed immediately into a narrow, gated road, more of a track than a road and with no cars at all. This was soon to change, though, as we had to cross the very busy A361 but immediately after that we continued along another gated track which led us onto route 24 of the national cycleway network.
The roads were becoming a little hilly as we were confronted by a bold no entry sign at the start of Longleat Estate but closer inspection revealed a tiny additional note ‘except bicycles’. We were now at the start of a long descent through delightful forested area direct to Longleat House itself. We had missed the opportunity to peel off to the lion enclosure but that might not have been very wise anyway! What we did find was a stream of day trippers arriving bumper to bumper – all going in the opposite direction to ours.

Then came the big hill – a long upward drag with forestry to our right and a lovely view over the deer park behind us. What a glorious feeling to be on the level again as we left Longleat! – But one shouldn’t speak too soon! There followed a nasty steep section as we headed through the forest towards Crockerton.

Just as we were coming into the village the leader brought the peloton to a halt for a warning about the route ahead. We were about to turn towards Potters Hill and this was no ordinary hill. It was narrow and only one car width and, most importantly, an incredibly steep descent – so hold tight onto the brake levers! Later John said that it was the steepest descent he had ever done on a bike and he likened it to abseiling!

In no time at all we arrived at the lunch stop at Shearwater Tea Gardens beside the lake – a wonderful outlook as you munched a panini. The leader also discovered that they do a good pint of cider too – a bit worrying for those in the group who might have to find their own way back if they didn’t have a map! After lunch we did a short amble down to the lake to admire the view and also the large number of huge fish right at the water’s edge.

So, on our way – hic – a little uppity downity as we passed through the hamlet of Horningsham and more woodland. We were now in open pasture land for a short length of B road, heading for Trudoxhill but then our way was blocked by a ‘road closed’ sign and they meant it – even cyclists. This was the tar and chipping operation which, as was pointed out to us would end with us being tarred ourselves if we were to ignore the sign. So with only a slight detour, we were almost at Trudoxhill when we came across another length of recently chipped road which may have been the cause of the leader’s puncture – luckily within walking distance of the finish. Back at Nunney we compared notes and found that the distance covered was only 25 miles even if it felt more!

John Wh.