On the outline itinerary todays ride looked a breeze – two minutes from our digs to the ferry, all morning on the boat, off at one o’clock and a gentle ride through the West Wales countryside to Carmarthen and our over-night accommodation. Now that was something to look forward to, particularly as the weather in Wales promised to be significantly better than it had been in Ireland. Well you know what thought did don’t you – it turned out to be one of our most challenging days of the whole trip, with 46 miles covered and nearly 3,500ft total ascent in half a day! The crossing went to schedule with the sea being flat calm for the entire trip. A slight hiccough at Fishguard when we were required to produce our passports but we were soon on our way up an enormous hill which is the exit route from the harbour. Once on the right road the going was initially easy – picturesque country lanes, stunning scenery, an abundance of wild flowers and warm sun on our backs – and then the hills began! Their pattern becoming wearily familiar – a long steady incline, down through the gears, grind away in bottom until over the crest, followed by a helter-skelter descent round a couple of bends, over a stone bridge and around the next bend the hill began again! We did this for twenty odd miles, at one point in the company of a load of fellow cyclists participating in a 50 sportive, before stopping in the town of Narberth for a much needed cuppa and cake. The very nice couple running the cafe were interested in what we were up to and when we came to pay the guy gave us a donation (thanks mate)! We set off on the second half refreshed but with ever increasing aching legs. The pattern of the first half was to be repeated for most of the remaining 25 miles. At one point I was in bottom gear and out of the saddle to maintain forward momentum – I wish I hadn’t bothered! At Red Roses, where we turned on to the A477, we encountered the ‘Carten contingent’ – hundreds of mad riders cycling from Cardiff to Tenby! Well done you guys, it puts our efforts for the day into perspective. The final dozen or so miles were on the busy A40 dual-carridgeway into Carmarthen, where we arrived at the Drovers Arms at 17.50.
Leaving Ireland on the Rosslare ferry
Bry catching up on his beauty sleep
Approaching the Welsh coast, with the Bishops & Clerks Isles in the background
Enjoying a change of scenery and some warm weather for a change
Views over the West Wales countryside
A poor picture of a magnificent orchid – Early Purple, to my untutored eye?
Check-point on the Carten route, at the summit of a sustained climb
Todays stats – usual error factors included!
A better day on the birding front. Plenty of sea birds from the ferry, including Fulmar which was new for the trip. But perhaps the greatest surprise was a singing male Redstart in the wood yard where we stopped for a break after the first big hill.