We arrived tonight at The Rising Sun,Umberleigh in deepest Devon, ahead of schedule and with a thousand miles under our belts. There is also serviceable WiFi so, fingers crossed, there should be a full blog tonight! Todays route, which was just over 70 miles, started in Wells, took us across the Somerset levels past Glastonbury, along the towpath of the Bridgewater and Taunton canal and, after our lunch stop in Taunton, our route followed the B3227 across ‘the top’ of Devon, through Brampton and South Molton to our night-time stop. Reveille was at the usual time of 08.00, when Mike our temporary travelling companion, appeared to be in in remarkably fine fettle. A good breakfast was enjoyed by all before loading the bikes, posing for the ‘team’ photo and ‘pushing off’. The route to Taunton took us through Glastonbury and Street, on the busy A39, and over the Somerset levels – which had the distinct advantage of being flat for a change. Mike putting a brave face on his obvious disappointment at not being able to put his new-found hill climbing skills to the test! An impromptu stop at Borrow Mump was greatly enhanced when ‘magic Mike’ produced some Blackheath farmers market flapjack out of his saddlebag! A small detour to look for a coffee shop led to a chance encounter with the Bridgewater & Taunton canal. Now you know what a temptation that would have been for Bryan and, sure enough, we decide to go ‘off piste’ and follow the NCN3 to Taunton. The towpath took us all the way to our lunch stop at Morrisons, where, after refuelling, we said our ‘goodbyes’ to Mike and resumed our route on the B3227. As flat as the morning section had been, so the afternoon was characterised by hills, but not like any we’d encountered thus far. No, these were the ‘Mother….Theresa’ of hills – long-lived, full of suffering and silent anguish! One in particular, between Wivelscombe and Brampton, seemed utterly endless. On the subsequent down hill, we crossed the county boundary into Devon, which brought on an inexplicable emotional moment for me – not sure if it was anxiety or anticipation! Anyway, nothing that a good cuppa couldn’t put right and the Toucan Cafe in Brampton was definitely up to the mark with a slab of excellent apricot and almond flapjack thrown in. We pressed on to our original finishing point of South Molton (rather reminiscent of the ‘hill towns’ of County Down) and then, with over 100k under our belts already, we carried on. Are they mad?, I hear you cry …yes, undoubtably but mad with method. The additional miles this evening have put us ahead of schedule and give us a fighting chance of finishing tomorrows mammoth stage in more or less one piece. Cunning hey!
Stats from todays ride are presented below – look on in awe!
Looking through the gate house to Wells cathedral at our hotel, The White Hart
The ‘team’ ready for the off. Notice Mike is already wearing ‘green’ in recognition of his climbing efforts the day before
Mike and Bryan trying to avoid going off the edge on the towpath of the Bridgewater & Taunton canal
Bry approaching the summit of ‘Mother Theresa’
Views from the B3227, looking north across Exmoor
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