The day started badly when our pre-arranged 8 o’clock breakfast was only an ingredient in the cupboard for mein host! Anyway, within half an hour we were ‘cooking on gas’ – well we weren’t, but she was! In the event, a super breakfast was produced and our very kind hostess, on hearing of our charitable endeavours, made a cash donation to the cause. So we left the Drovers Arms in high spirits – only to have them dampened almost immediately by the usual problem of which road out of town to take? We toured Carmarthen examining in detail each road sign before deciding on our exit strategy which, in the event like on so many previous occasions, turned out to be up a bloody great hill! We valiantly struggled to the the top of the hill, immediately stripped off a couple of layers, and carried on our way. Several miles up the road, having already taken a wrong turning Bry discovered he’d lost his mitt ( one mitt mind – he was wearing the other one!) and his watch. He sets off to retrace his steps – whilst I sensibly wait for him. Twenty minutes later he reappears, triumphant, having found his mitt in the hedge and his watch in the road. We then descend down to the coast to the village of Ferryside and follow the National Cycle Network route 4 to Kidwelly. By this time it was clear that our planned rendezvous for lunch with a friend and former colleague in Swansea was beginning to look decidedly dodgy. We ploughed on, still following the ‘4’, across a disused airfield, around the estuary, through miles of pine woods before emerging onto the coastal path. It was after noon by this stage and a 0ne o’clock lunch in Sainsbury’s, 13 miles away, was hastily put back by an hour. We thrashed on, mile after mile, with the Gower peninsular and Rhossili Down, a familiar landscape from former family holidays, in the background. Following the ‘4’ was proving to be difficult and at one particularly tricky junction I completely mis-judged the route, came to a grinding halt, couldn’t get my feet out of the clips, wobbled and then went crashing to the ground – to the obvious amazement of a nearby party of cyclists from Swansea. Bruised and grazed but nothing broken we continued on our way. A long leafy run in to Swansea bay and then along the water front to our two o’clock lunch appointment. By this time we’d clocked up over 45 miles and our end was no where near in sight yet. A much deserved lunch and catch-up chat and we were on our way again. The ‘4’ now follows a route that was difficult to follow and even more difficult to describe. It turned out to be a tour of most of the back-alleys and railway sidings of the greater Port Talbot area. The path continued relentless on in the general direction of Porthcawl, with the notable cultural highlight being the abbey at Margam. Six miles from our destination roadside signs kept appearing saying ‘Road ahead closed’ – we both concluded that this couldn’t possibly be the case and we carried on! When we got to the spot and found the road was indeed closed we briefly considered the possibility of cycling back up hill for two miles before investigating alternative means through the fenced off obstacle! As the actions which now followed were, we were later informed by the security guard, captured on cctv I won’t go into too much detail – suffice it to say that we were invited to leave the site via a couple of locked gates, a herd of cows and several farmers fields! The last few miles seemed to fly by before we reached the sanctuary of our nights lodgings! What in theory should have been a relatively easy and straightforward day turned out to be anything but!
The grim statistics of todays ride are presented below:
Birding highlight from today, and yes the were a few, included Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat, Jay and Little Egret.
…AND NOW WITH PHOTOS!
Lost already…and we’re not even out of Carmarthen!
View from the National Cycle Network route 4, looking down hill towards Carmarthen. It was on this verge that Bryan disgarded his mitt and watch.
Fabulous view up the estuary towards Ferryside
Kidwelly castle from the church yard – brought back happy memories of past family holidays, as did views of Rhossili Down where Joseph ran away, and the ‘pitch & putt’ on Swansea sea front where Daniel almost scored a hole in one!
We encounter all manner of obstacles on the ‘4’!
…and another one – what do they think we are, trick cyclists?
View along Port Talbot beach
One of the less scenic bits of the ‘4’!
Nw this was a nice surprise, Margam Abbey, nestling on the wooded hillside above the former steel works.
And finally…five miles before the finish, a slight diversion following an alleged Health & Safety incident!