I had a great stay with Michael and Jenny. Thanks for the excellent dinner, the craic and the donation. Again I wonder that these wonderful AoS supporters who are already doing so much for seafarers, continue to give so generously.
The logistics of moving the car hit a problem this AM and I had to drive my car in convoy with Michael and Jenny in excess of 70 miles to the destination at Bridgwater. They then brought me back to Bideford to start the ride. This made for a late start and a long day. No company along today, but Michael was able to offer an interesting route that took in the Tarka Trail from Bideford to Barnstable. After the dreary A30 on Monday I was also happy to again meander down the fairly empty B3227, taking in Swimbridge, South Molton, Bamton and wonderfully exotic sounding Wiveliscombe! I took only one stop on this long afternoon at "That New Place" coffee shop in S Molton for a final scone with jam and clotted cream before leaving this most beautiful but hill-ridden county.
A couple of riders arrived shortly after me and it was like meeting old friends. There is a wonderful bond of comeradarie among cyclists - and I will exclude the "Obsessives" here - that understands and shares the trials and enjoyment of this great machine. They had just returned from a 30 mile circular tour of Exmoor and were immediately ready with a kind donation to AoS when they learned what I was up to.
The late start resulted in a hard slog with plenty of hills on towards the Somerset border and Taunton, accompanied with the first real rain for mor than a week. I seemed to be skirting the southern edge of the Quantock hills as they seemed a good bit easier than I recall in 2007. After crossing into Somerset the hills disappeared completely and I was able to crack on as evening approached.
I stayed at a welcoming pub, The Maltshovel Inn at Cannington and enjoyed a couple of pints to wash down great liver and mash as I plotted tomorrow's route. Is it the beer that makes me decide to take in the Cheddar Gorge?
The photo shows the Tarka Trail. What a delight.