I left home on Sunday morning with “Shirley the Surly” and caught a train from Treherbert to Cardiff and then on to Reading. I picked up National Cycle Route 4 and followed the Kennet and Avon canal to my first stop, The Pelican at Froxley. The canal was quite pretty with lots of kingfishers, swans and hundreds of very colourful barges.
On the second day I followed Route 4 through traffic free country lanes that climbed away from the canal and passed through a number of pretty villages with thatched cottages and pubs. I rejoined the canal about 8 miles from Devizes and struggled along the rough path into the town. After a couple of pints (and lunch) it was a much better surface on the canal path into Bradford on Avon where I was staying that night. I was joined by my mate Ty who was going to ride back into Wales with me on Tuesday.
After breakfast we followed the canal to Bath and after riding through the city we picked up the 15 mile railway path to Bristol. This included a working steam railway section and a ride through a refurbished tunnel (similar to the proposed cycle way at Blaencwm). It absolutely poured down while we were having a pub lunch on the wharf in Bristol and a second downpour nearly caught us out as we started cycling again. Luckily we took shelter under some trees until it stopped. It was a considerable climb out of the city and over the downs before a decent to Severn Beach. The ride over the old bridge was a bit wild with a really strong side wind. This turned into a very strong headwind all the way to Ty’s house near Magor. The undulating last few miles went past Geraint Thomas’s house (very nice too).
On Wednesday morning, Ty guided me into Newport where I picked up National Cycle Route 47. This followed the canal to Cross Keys before climbing the Sirhowy Valley along the lovely, wooded cycle track through the country park. I dropped down to Ystrad Mynach where unbelievably I lost the track and after adding a couple of miles trying to get back on course I took the main road across to Quakers Yard. Here I took the Taff Trail to Pontypridd before a final push up the valley and home.
In all I covered 178 miles (all into a headwind) along a fantastic varied route that took me through some lovely countryside.