Day 3

previous top next

Origin:        Winkleigh
Destination:   Cheddar
Waypoints:     Lapford, Tiverton, Sampford Peverell,
                 Langford Budville, Taunton, Bridgwater,
Lunch:         sandwiches from M&S at Tiverton
Cake:          no cake
Accommodation: Southland House, Cheddar
Dinner:        from the late-opening Tesco Express in Cheddar
Google Maps:   part 1 part 2 (likely to go stale/inaccurate over time)
Distance:      79.9mi
Ascent:        2631 ft by Google

This ought to be an easy one: a longer distance than the previous two days, but more down than up. It proved difficult for us for mechanical reasons, starting with a loose rack fitting. The necessary screw stripped its thread on the way out, making replacement difficult. This caused a prolonged stop at the bike shop in Tiverton... and that was not the end of the story.

We had started on the B3220 out of Winkleigh, which was pleasant and smooth. An uphill through Nymet Rowland and Lapford was harder work but not unrewarding. After that, we were mapped to cut through Filleigh (diversion 1) but, noting that it was a down-and-up, I ad-libbed a variation that cut onto the B3022 sooner (albeit making for slightly further); this is what's mapped here.

My next decision was not so wise: following Google's advice we turned off the B-road at Nomansland (yes, really), and joined a narrow road that would serve up a ferocious down-then-up at Templeton. Only do this (diversion 2) if you're a hill-loving masochist, or are finding the B-road too busy; otherwise it's better to stay on the B-road through Withleigh, as I'm certain that its gradients are more gradual. I've used that variation on the route.

To get through Tiverton, our path was complicated by the long stop. The route here follows the one-way system around, but you could (as we did) push the wrong way long Fore Street and Gold Street to take in the town centre (diversion 3).

After Tiverton, there's some nice undulating countryside. We had another minor mechanical stop in Sampford Peverell, and again out towards Holcombe Rogus. It was here that the bike shop's fix proved not to last, leading to a bit more roadside bodging. Our eventual temporary solution required removing my friend's mudguard, which spent the rest of the day lashed sideways across my rack. The roads around Sampford Peverell were a bit busier than I'd have liked; maybe next time I'd try the north side of the A361, through Whitnage (diversion 4).

After this, we followed lots of little tiny behedged roads along the high ground, followed by a bit of uppy-downy (but mostly down) towards Taunton. Once in town, we suffered from an infestation Sustrans-like paths and what I call “shit toucans”. It's not too bad initially: we cut across the A3065 Silk Mills Road onto the naff cyclepath, since this quickly becomes road again (Heron Drive). However, as this bends back around towards the A38, things got very Sustransy as we twisted and turned past Tescos and something horrid called “University Centre Somerset”. This then dumps you onto some nasty new roads (Castle St and surrounds) before somehow ending up at a riverside path at Morrisons (of whose toilets we availed ourselves), leading bumpily onwards.

I've therefore scrapped all that and indicated a more southerly route through central Taunton. I haven't tried it, but it can't be any worse, and based on Street View, it looks generally much preferable. You'll encounter an “innovative” shared-space roundabout (ugh) on Tower Street, then use the cycle contraflow on Corporation Street to escape the town centre (although not the roundabouts). The A3038 roundabout looks to have a usable cycle bypass for the first arm, but when exiting that roundabout I suggest joining the road rather than the new “cycle pavement” on the left—you'll be wanting to turn right once you're over the river, and if you take the “cycle path” there'll be no way off it at that turning. (Typical “design”, or lack thereof.)

That will leave you on the aforementioned bumpy riverside path, although only for a short way. Finally one exits Taunton along an over-wide main road beside some nasty new development, before the blessed left turn towards Cheddon Fitzpaine (unsigned, except for “Unsuitable for HGVs”). Goodbye Taunton... what a horrible place.

In Bridgwater we again felt rather led astray by Google's love of towpaths: we followed the poor-quality cycleway down past the Hamp Academy but then missed its proposed twisty-turn onto the towpath, ending up at the A38 instead from where there was no way down. My memory has blanked on exactly what we did next; I've a feeling it was a left-right followed by some very backroads-y hopping to emerge along Binford Place by the bridge over the river, then following (I think) the route as shown to emerge by the McDonald's on The Clink. From there it was unpleasant roads for a while: straight over on the roundabout onto the A39 Bath Road, along which it was almost two not-so-pleasant miles until we were over the M5 and could take our right turn towards Bradney (unsigned, except for the name Bradney Lane). For the route here, I've straightened out our Bridgwater twisty-turns into something vaguely sensible, although they could be straightened out further still.

We use a short section of ex-railway cycle path (a rare bit of actually-not-bad Sustrans) to reach Cossington, past which we were out in nice Levels farmland. I was nearly undone on a downhill by obscene amounts of slippery muck in the road. Luckily I kept my balance, on pure instinct. Following a road closure near Riverbridge, we also wasted time trying to Do the Right Thing (mea culpa) around a short closed section of road, but ad-libbing a shorter diversion rather than the five extra miles (via Mark) that the signage wanted us to do. After getting stuck on a footpath (not the right thing of course; I'd misread it for a bridleway) we backtracked and instead squeezed ourselves and our bikes past the road-closed fencing.

The light was fading fast at this point. The remaining distance to Cheddar, through Blackford, the Stoughtons and Clewer, was the only part of the route that we completed in darkness.

previous top next

Content updated at Thu 19 Mar 15:45:00 GMT 2020.
validate this page