Thursday, 21 June 2018

Three cyclists go to Hatton 27

The three met up at Graham's house in Leamington and decided to head north west (into a fair breeze) and go to Wootton Wawen near Henley in Arden to a popular farm cafe there.

Leaving Leamington for Warwick, went through the Pump Room Gardens in the centre of town and was surprised to find the Victorian Bandstand had gone!  This was the first landmark that I had  photographed after starting this personal blog back in August 2012 and it was quite a shock to see it missing.  Graham, still a local, assured the others that it was being renovated and will be returned.  Phew.


This is how it should look as taken 6 years ago.


From Warwick, went out through Leek Wootton, Beausale ( we we had to divert a couple of miles around a closed road for bridge repairs) and out towards Shrewley before turning off through Little Shrewley and Hatton.  The diversion made the Wootton Wawen idea impractical, going to Balsall Common  (for big fat Eccles cakes) meant Mick would go past his home to get back to Leamington so the choice of Hatton Locks Cafe was an easy one.  The obligatory tea and toasted tea cakes went down very well apart the ambience was spoiled by a yappy dog.  Should never be allowed in eating houses.  This photo should have been me handing over 'the token' to Mick as it is his turn to pay next. Unfortunately it had been left back in Weston super Mare.

We decided to get back to Leamington travelling along the Grand Union Canal, the main arterial route between London and Birmingham before the railways.  21 locks lead down to Warwick from Hatton, so a fairly easy downhill stretch, especially with the wind behind.  This is Graham adjusting his toe clips, two barges in the background.  There were plenty of those about today negotiating the locks on this stretch.


Myself and Graham going over the aqueduct at the point where the canal goes over the River Avon. A little further on, there is another where the canal is carried over the main Birmingham/London line.  Parts of the canal were a little overgrown and the surface of the towpath was 95% good.  There was one point where I nearly went in the canal after wobbling when the front wheel went into a rut.  Lived to tell the tale though and stayed dry.


All agreed, it was good ride today, about 27 miles were covered.  The three split up near Leamington town centre and won't be meeting up for a few weeks.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Old Gits go to Cheddar 34

A departure from the usual routine today,  adding a trip to Cheddar onto the normal Banwell and Puxton route.  This happens about once a year and as the Shute Shelve tunnel on the Strawberry Line has recently opened after 18 months, now is the time to do it.  13 turned up for this one, the weather was pretty good, a perfect day for a trip out.

George's new shorts

Meeting up at the Tescos on the Locking Moor Road, we were impressed with George's new shorts.  That's him on the left. Nicely colour coordinated with the Old Git tops. This could be the start of something new - not.

Maid of the Mill

Spotted in Max Mill Lane, this is part of the Windscombe annual scarecrow festival.  Apologies to my fellow riders for suddenly braking in front of them at the first sight of her.  A signal was definitely needed.

Shute Shelve tunnel

Some of the gang entering the tunnel on the way to Axbridge and Cheddar.  It is about a third of a mile long and strangely, despite the other end being clearly visible, it is pitch black in the middle.  Having lights is a distinct advantage.  There is talk of lights being installed in the future. We shall see (or not see) if that happens.


A medieval town, we stopped here to regroup and make sure we were all safe and sound.  The roll call was positive so it was just another 2 miles to Cheddar.

The Mousehole Cafe Cheddar.

The usual cafes were closed today so we had to use the more expensive Mousehole cafe (£1.99 for a pot of tea).  With two tea stops today, the second at the usual Caffles in Hewish, we took pity on Andy, the birthday boy, and he only paid for the cheaper tea at Caffles.  Saved him a bomb!  We did try and get a group discount but that didn't work. From here it was a retrace of our route and back to Caffles for tea and cake.

A good day out that was, 34 miles covered, the Strawberry Line was dry, the slight threat of rain did not materialise and we didn't lose anybody or have any mechanicals.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Easy one to Burnham 28

A bit of a grey, nothing day, so not much inspiration to go out except to get a few miles on the clock towards the weekly total.  Using today to check out the new gearing fitted to the bike and see whether or not it makes the hills and climbs any easy.  Not that there is that many on this pretty routine way of getting to Burnham.  Rode south into the wind and was pushed back to Weston after a cuppa at the Bay View Cafe on the front at Burnham.  Not sure whether it was me or the bike, but it did seem a lot easier out there.  Did not struggle at all even on the two little sharp climbs that lead in and out of Uphill.  Brean was fairly busy with a lot of holiday makers, mainly from the Pontins complex, milling about the main road, all looking for bargains on the Sunday roasts being offered.

Clocked up 28 miles in the end, that makes 101 for the week.  Surprisingly, averaged 12 mph now for me, that is pretty good, more so as I wasn't really trying!  That'll do.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Out training with four Old Gits. 40

Strange week this week.  This was supposed to be a training ride for the Great Weston Ride in four weeks time but myself and 'Big Al' did not do the Burrington Combe element of today's ride. After seeing a specialist doctor on Wednesday re a respiratory/heart problem, he advised me not to tackle any big hills as the oxygen level in my blood was dropping down below acceptable levels when exercising.  He did add 'for the time being' so hopefully there may well be a way back from this. Al and I caught up with the others in Axbridge after using the Strawberry Line instead of going mountaineering!

Shute Shelve Tunnel

This is Al, heading south on the Strawberry Line having come out of the tunnel.  Not a bad day at all today, warm enough to sit out at the Mother Hen Cafe in Wrington and waiting for the others at Axbridge.  It was a bit windy going back to Weston but not too bad. Found the ride quite easy today, more so because after having some necessary work done on my bike, the gearing has been changed to lot lower ratios which makes any inclines much easier to negotiate.  With tea £2 a cup at Axbridge we didn't stop but had a £1.20 cup at Diamond Farm in Brean.  Thanks for that Al, appreciated.

A fairly easy 40 miles today, that should please the quack!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Old Gits 'reverse route' plus a trip round Lympsham. 33

Doing the 'reverse' route with 11 other Old Gits going out to the Caffles Garden Centre at Hewish and back through Puxton.  A bit of a chilly start to the ride after a couple of hot days but soon warmed up by the time we reached Sand Bay.

At Caffles

Made Caffles nice and early and the staff there had set up tables and chairs in one of their poly tunnels (made from green netting) and it was very pleasant in there with our tea and cake.  Especially as it was one of the Old Git's birthday so tea was on him.  Afterwards, we carried on through Puxton Banwell and three of us left the main group and extended the circuit to include Webbington and Lympsham.  We called in to Lympsham shop and post office for another drink and found that the cricket club next door were having one of their regular community cafes.  These are run purely by volunteers.  We could see why they are popular with the tea priced at 50p per pot and cake 50p a portion.  May well have to make this a more frequent visit. 

With the extra loop, 33 miles covered in all.

Monday, 11 June 2018

To Wells followed by a hint of Glastonbury 35

Seeking pastures new today with two of the Old Gits, Ian and Andy.  Loading up Ians 4x4 with our bikes in Weston, drove down to Mark, parked up, and after unloading the bikes, headed east towards Wells.  Not a bad morning at all, a breeze from the NE, hazy sun at times.  On the way to Wells across the Somerset Levels we were passed by scores of other cyclists, all with numbers on.  Going past Sweets cafe near West Hay it was obvious there was some sort of event taking place from there. No point in popping in for a cuppa.

St Cuthbert's

Saw this big church as we entered Wells and took it to be the cathedral.  Wrong, it was St Cuthbert's a local parish church.  Not to worry the cathedral is only around the corner.

André's Cafe

Just opposite the church was this cafe. 15 miles in, we were ready for a cuppa.  I guarded the bikes, Ian and Andy ordered.  When the cake came out it was delicious.  Fruit cake, full of fruit and cherries and very moist.  Almost needed custard with it.  Will definitely have to come here again.

Thank you waitress.

Despite being very busy (and she holds down two jobs!) the young lady took our picture.  The cake hadn't arrived yet.

Wells Cathedral

'Just around the corner' was very misleading.  No entry signs and no right turns meant we had to go about a mile to get to the cathedral which was only 200 yards away.  Having a cathedral makes Wells a city and it boasts that it is the smallest city in England.  Surprisingly, for a nice sunny summer Sunday morning, there were very few people about.  Thinking about it now, perhaps they were all in these big churches.

Vicar's Close

This street, adjacent to the cathedral, is reputed to be the oldest residential street in Europe with it's original buildings still intact. It was planned and built in the mid 14th century, the 27 houses are grade 1 listed buildings, and there is a chapel and library at the far end. The street itself is 10 feet wider at its entrance than it is at the top and this alters the perspective and makes it look longer.

More tea!

Leaving Wells to go back to Mark, we did get to the outskirts of Glastonbury but decided not to go into the town itself, that can be left for another day.  Back on the Levels, we just had to call in at this farm cafe in Godney for another cup of tea.  Another place to include in our 'visits for the future' book despite the fact that they forgot to bring Andy his toast until he reminded them!  From here it was just a few miles back to Mark and loading the car up with our bikes.

35 miles on the clock for me, the total for the week ended up as 121. 

Friday, 8 June 2018

To Bristol or bust. 61

Out with 6 Old Gits (and an Old Git's wife) for a bit of a ride to Bristol.  Most roads into Bristol are trunk roads and quite busy but a couple of the riders today know the highways and bye ways to circumvent the busy roads.  With a bit of local knowledge of the cycle paths there is an easy way in and out of the city.  A 45 miler was expected today although making the way to the meeting point, it was not very nice at all with a NE wind blowing steady rain.  10 minutes later the roads were dry and the rain kept off.

20 mile break

Went out to Yatton and cut across the moors to Backwell and picked up the cycle track to Bristol.  20 miles into the ride we were ready for a break and called in the Gatcombe Farm Shop on the Weston Road near Flax Bourton.  £2 for a cuppa which was a bit much.  I suppose tableclothes and place settings should have been a clue to the prices.  Al fresco would have been good as the outside tables had a really pleasant view but it was still a bit dull out there.  Thanks to the waitress for taking our photo.


Just before we crossed the River Avon by the docks, saw this very ornate signpost.  Worth a picture.

Cumberland Basin

Splitting up from Jim, who was going into the city to meet a mate in a pub, (mind how you get back Jim), we planned the way home standing by the Cumberland Basin, the main entrance from the Avon into Bristol Docks.  We agreed a sensible way would be to use the Portway, over the M5 Avonmouth bridge through Clapton Gordano where a Police road closure meant we had to divert some way out of our preferred route.  Through Clevedon then and got back onto the Strawberry Line at Yatton.

Avon Gorge

The Portway runs through the Avon Gorge and is crossed by the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of Brunel's masterpieces.  Had to stop and get a picture of this iconic structure, the first suspension bridge in the world.  Pity that Brunel died before it was completed, he never saw it.  Tim is waiting for a back marker to come through, another photo op.  Stopped later at Yatton railway station for another cuppa.  Managed to negotiate 7 cups for the price of 6 this week.  The lady serving, when asked if they do a discount for bulk purchase of drinks, replied, "I hope not. I'm no good at sums"!  Classic.  Continued down the Strawberry Line to Sandford and back to Weston through Banwell.  That was particularly busy at this notorious bottleneck due to an accident on the nearby M5

Arrived back in Weston, in hazy sunshine feeling very satisfied with the 61.5 mile ride that my legs were happy to tell me all about.