Trip to the South-West
Cycled to Paddington. Couldn’t find anywhere local to eat, so just went to Caffe Nero. Got a train to Bristol, where it had obviously been sunnier than London all day, judging by the summer dresses. Jack wanted to get his bike gears adjusted but the bike place near the station weren’t interested. We found another on the map, which we headed for via Castle Green, and we managed to avoid the ring-road roundabout. As it happened, the bike repair place was close to Stoke Croft and had the alternative feel of that area. We noted the vegan burger place on the corner, and cycled down the busy road to Kino, but it was still shut. Eventually we went to a sweet place on the corner, the Bristolian. It was good to watch many girls in straight blue sport skirts. There were also lots of school girls about, the upper school girls all wearing micro-mini skirts as part of their uniform.
It was the right side of town for the bus station, from where we got the bus to Glastonbury which was held up by traffic on the busy roads, not that we were in a hurry. We decided to get off at the High Street, rather than the Town Hall as on the timetable, and it turned out to be very close to our accommodation at Bove Town, which was round the side of a house and up some stairs. They set the access code as the last five digits of my phone number, which made it easy to remember.
In the evening we explored Glastonbury High Street, including round the back down a couple of alleyways, one called The Gauntlet which had a vegan baker at the bottom, and the Café Sol. We walked up to the abbey and saw some threatening behaviour outside the pub, one bloke shouting to another “what did you just say?”. Eventually we went for a drink outside The Crown on the corner. We had options of two Chinese takeaways and an Indian, but one of the Chinese places didn’t do tofu, so we got something from the Indian. Too much buna as usual.
Looking at a printed map last night, I thought of running to Street which was less than 3 miles away, but instead, although I went in the right direction for that run, along an old street, I avoided the option of taking the side street towards Street as it looked like a light industrial area, and ran along a rural path I’d seen on the map which led to a river, which wound round to the Street road. When I got there it was clearly too busy for running, so I headed back along Roman Road which looked on the map as if it was by a field, but it was a normal street with houses either side, so the hills scenery could only be glimpsed occasionally between the houses.
I ran towards the Tor and back into town. I was surprised to come back to the start of the High Street, and not somewhere behind our house. I hadn’t run far enough so I went past our street and turned right into ‘Leg Of Mutton Street’. Rather than just being a straightforward block, it pleasingly wound away to the left and went up a hill before meandering to the right. I checked the map and worked out the way back down the hill to our place, though I almost overshot it.
Jack had the breakfast ready, but it was gone 12 before we left, and then he was talking to the woman who owned the house for ages. We got some provisions at the vegan bakery, then went to a café with a big side garden, recommended by the woman. It was very busy but we soon got a table. I noticed a gap in the table layout, and almost immediately a man put another table there; they hadn’t expected it to be this full.
We followed the route of my run this morning and visited the Pomparles Bridge, supposedly the spot where the Lady of the Lake reached out to take the sword from King Arthur when he discarded it. Instead of going along Roman Road, we went along a path through a field but it was much lower than Roman Road so we still didn’t get much of a view. Then the path petered out and we had to carry our bikes over a fence. We spent some time in Chanice Well, a peaceful garden with a lot of places to sit, various water features and separate tree-surrounded areas.
We hauled our bikes up to the Tor, looked at the views all round – greenery in every side -then took a steeper route down the other side. I’d had an idea of cycling to Shepton Mallett, which was five miles along the ‘A’ road (and it seemed a bit less when you’d already got to the Tor). Instead it took three hours along country lanes and a long official cycle path. The last bit was an ‘A’ road but we found a hillier but much quieter road.
Shepton Mallett had closed for the evening, apart from a corner shop where I got a much-needed Lucozade. I had to put back on my layers – jacket, cycle jacket and CTB hoodie, which I’d discarded during the hot ride. We went to get a bus to Wells which we thought was leaving in one minute, but it soon became apparent it had already left, and the timetable said it was “only a guide”, and that passengers should arrive “a few minutes early”. So we waited nearly an hour at a roundabout next to Tesco, until the next one arrived about nine minutes early. We could have done with an app saying where the bus had got to.
We also had to wait at Wells for a while. A lot of lads walked by, then a couple of young girls asked me where I’d got my luminous cycling jacket. We got back about 22:00.
We went to the Winking Turtle near the Abbey, as the cafe next door didn’t have oat milk. We had to wait a short time for a table. We’ve been lucky with the sunshine, given that cafes are only allowed to serve outside. We had a look at the Abbey and then went to the other end of the High Street to get the bus to Bridgwater. On the way in, we saw the Mercure that Jack had booked in a panic after realising that he hadn’t finished booking The Old Vicarage, and then they’d cancelled our booking because we weren’t on a business trip (under current restrictions). It was a good thing as it was in a boring road leading down to the High Street. The bus station was just off the river, so we retraced our steps, went over the reed-packed river and found a and got to a healthy/vegan café, Scottage before it shut. We missed it at first and had to cycle back down the street to find it.
We looked round some of the old streets away from the centre, and saw the Old Vicarage which we’d originally tried to book. There was an independent café in the centre which we used while waiting for the bus. The shops were empty, for a Saturday, especially considering they’d juts re-opened. There were a few bored teenagers passing by, and four Hare Krishnas who a phone-repair assistant made fun of, but he managed to look stupider than them.
We got the last bus, which went to Huish Episcopi rather than Langport. Jack started talking to the driver and he said he’d drop us off at a better place for our cottages, on his route back to the bus depot. The cottage was owned by a really posh bloke, who let us put our bikes in a shed, and suggested a walk to the lakes, via a wood, which we did in the evening. We couldn’t get all the way round the first lake, and after we’d explored the second one I didn’t know where we were. We tried to get back along the second path the man had suggested but had to climb over a gate and ended up back on the road. Walked up to Thorney village and bought some pickle from outside a woman’s house. There was a bridge over what was obviously a disused railway track.
The Cottage owner suggested a walk or run through fields along a winding river to Langport, which I ran in the morning (and got some marge). I found the route back to Muchelney – not the car route – which went under an unusual arch over a side-street. I realised I didn’t actually know where we were staying – Jack had found it from where the bus dropped us off, but I followed the signs to the lakes and the nearby caravan park, though it was further than I expected.
Jack had found come cycle route maps, and we decided to follow a 23-mile one, though it was a struggle for me from the start. We went along a cycle route mentioned on the route, but it was a stony route suitable only for mountain bikes. I felt the tyre pressure getting low. There was a fantastic café there. Although it was at a spot by a bridge over the river in an important spot, it was mainly vegan and completely organic, so we bought a lot of stuff.
I went to a neighbouring bike repair place and asked him to pump my tyre up. His heavy pump split the tube in two with a bang, so while he mended that we had some organic lollies with compostable wrappers. (strawberry/lemonade and very-berry). I realised we’d gone the wrong way up the cycle route as it actually started at Langport – we were supposed to miss off the first bit.
Instead, as it was now 15:30 we decided to follow a shorter, 18-mile route which avoided going back down the cycle path. It was a good thing we changed, as we covered a lot of the original route cycling to Taunton next day.
It was much easier to cycle now. We passed through some picturesque villages – which isn’t always the case – and got to Somerton, where we tried to navigate the one-way system, which wasn’t easy as we let running inti dead ends. The market square was very nice. The route to Long Sutton was very fast. We got a drink in the Devonshire Arms on the village green, just before it shut at 19:30, and got back to our cottage just as it was getting dark.
Cycled with Jack to Langport, so I could show him the rest of the town, including an unusual arch (The Hanging Chapel) we’d have missed if we’d followed the signposts to Langport. Jack’s idea today had been to go back to Bridgwater on the bus, visit a place where various poets (such as Coleridge) had met in the past, then get the train to Taunton. But we decided just to cycle to Taunton from Langport instead. We soon got off the ‘A’ road and headed through Curry Rivel, Fivehead and Curry Mallett. We’d been intending to do this route yesterday, but because I got it wrong at the start, we did a shorter route in another direction.
This turned out to be lucky, as we got to see the places today, and it would have been repetitive if we’d have done it yesterday as well. We stopped at The Hatch Inn at Hatch Beauchamp, which wasn’t open, but looked as if it might have been open other days. The café we went into yesterday was closed on Mondays, as was a vegan cafe – the Mango Tree - we tried later in Taunton, even though the owner was there and offered to give us some free food.
I’d planned to go along another ‘A’ road for a while, but this one was much worse, with a constant flow of traffic and quite a few lorries, so Jack found a cycle way which said it was heading for Taunton, but after a while he lost confidence in it and we headed back towards the ‘A’ road. We went down the central verge for a short time, then the sloped grass part at the side, and it was so and we left it earlier than planned to go on a small road which looped a long way round.
Taunton was quite a big place and I was very hungry so we headed for a park where there was supposed to be a cafe but this also was closed on Mondays. We got some ice creams and cycled into the centre, up North Street and then sat by the river at a café called The Shed before going back round the castle and eventually to the Hub Box, where we had to make do with burgers. We still had time before the train, so diverted along the river next to a nice park, where there was a cycle path which we were tempted to explore. But was had to get our train back to London.