Wye is it fenced off?

Departing Fownhope south east towards Ross on Wye I meandered south following the river.

Nothing short of blissful. Cruising the lush valley floor before occassionally climbing the steep sides to gain grand views of the river`s lazy loops.

This quaint old ferry couldn't quite quite accomodate the bike

I was fortunate enough to have a beautiful peregrine falcon streak overhead like a jet fighter and toasted my good fortune with a cup of tea (and cake) at a perfectly charming Tintern tea house. Few villages can claim more charm than Tintern with it abbey, meadows and riverside location. A fact Wordsworth  knew well:

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a sweet inland murmur.*—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Among the woods and copses lose themselves,
Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb
The wild green landscape. Once again I see

O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts

Revived I raced south through Monmouth and Chepstow passing my planned hostel in a fury of spinning peddals.  Before I knew it I was crossing the Severn Bridge.

I decided to spend the night in Bristol's delightfully situated hostel overlooking the trendy canalside and with views of the cathedral.

My early night and pleasant repost were interrupted by an unfortunately randy self-flaggelatting roommate, the less said about whom the better...

Suffice to say I departed early the next morning  in a planned detour to Bridgewater; birthplace of my trusty steed and a chance to quiz the bike makers about maintenance. By late morning I was back in the saddle and heading across Somerset towards Glastonbury guided by the Tor.

There she blows - top right
Soon I was closing in on Glastonury remembering long weekends spent with friends enjoying the festival in various states of inebriation.

Feeling a bit sad knowing I'd miss the Rolling Stones there that summer.

After pausing to browse Glastobury's eclectic bookshops I stopped for the day on the way to Pilton barely a stone throws from the festival site at Pennard Hill.

Here it was, on the side of the road, that I met Joe (late 60,s, recently evicted, down on his luck but with stories to tell, and a twinkle or two in his eyes) cycling the other way carring his worldly possestions in carrier bags.

I instantly liked Joe, it was clear that despite his gruff exterior he had a gentle soul and was something of a kindred spirit perhaps even a cautionary tale? Cautionary or not tall tales were soon flying as I helped him put up his tent and then shared a drink in local opposite the campsite. Joe had acquired the sobriquet Gypsie Joe after being arrested for indecent exposure whilst standing naked in a field feeling the laylines on a mild hallucigenic trip. When in court he claimed to have stood in front of the magistrate dropped trousers and asked what exactly was indecent about the body the creator had provided him with. He had sailed the even seas and been stranded in Fez ending up living with Roma scouring dumps for scrap metal having been robbed of his money and documents before escaping to Gibraltar. In short he was a wonderful companion however it was bitterly cold outside and I was concerned about Joe's lack of roll map and five pound sleeping bag. As we were eyeing some carpet in a nearby skip a local couple hearing my worries took pity and went and got Joe a roll mat and blankets not to mention some sausages from their farm for us both. Faith in humanity high I slept well.

I rose early with the sun. It was Easter Saturday and I planned to travel a long way/ With a quick backwards glance at Joe's argos tent I set of east through Sheperton Mallet and then onto Warninster.

The going was hard but an accidental, google maps enduced, detour through Longleat safari parks off-limits section led to a suprising encounter with a giraffe.

Seeing an 18 ft animal in your peripherals while cycling along was a wonderful shock but did make me a little concerned as to whose enclosure I had potentially blundered into. I didn't dawdle as I passed wallabees, zebra and a suprised looking park ranger on my way to the exit.

By 11 I was entering Salisbuty Plain which, in my ignorance and the absence of a topographical map, I had assumed to be flat. Not so; the long draining ascents into a stiff headwind were interminable and my knees were hurting.

Annoyingly this picture makes it look very flat
but with the afternoon sun turning watery I was excited to be nearng that most famous of British monuments.

Alas, you had to pay in order to walk around Stonehenge. After a frusrating day in the saddle this was enough to have me pacing the fence muttering loudly to the visible concern of Japanese and German tourists about the rights of freeborn Englishmen and demanding to know who claimed ownership of this magnificent structure build before private property had been conceived. English Heritage owns it as it turned out - not that this fact did much to lift my mood. Feeling disgruntled I decided that I should like to spend Easter Sunday with Family.

I cycled south to Salisbury along the Avon covering the distance at a blisterng pace, despite protesting knees, working out the stresses of the day and glorying in the gentle surrounds.

 This on the other hand just made me laugh:

From there I hoped a train and arrived at my brothers door in Portsmoith by 20:00 and spent the next morning hunting for easter eggs with Sam and being well looked after by Jonny and Joy.


A short train trip and some more rapid peddaling and I was home in Loughton with only some last minute preperations and some visa beurocracy to seperate me from the journey east.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little late of the mark reading these, but am thoroughly enjoying the ride - thanks Tom! - you're making me yearn for English Pastures!!! Kate xxxx