Day 4

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Origin:        Cheddar
Destination:   Ross on Wye
Waypoints:     Chew Magna, Bristol, Pilning,
                 Chepstow, Coleford
Lunch:         Pilning shop
Cake:          no cake
Accommodation: Raglan House, Ross on Wye
Dinner:        The King's Head, Ross on Wye
Google Maps (likely to go stale/inaccurate over time)
Distance:      59.8mi
Ascent:        3566ft by Google Maps

Planning a nice way into Bristol was tricky. Planning a nice way through Bristol was also tricky. We were glad to have Garmin (others are available) for this day.

Cheddar itself is rather a tacky, touristy place, but the gorge is quite spectacular and a nice if pant-inducing cycle (steady does it). From there it's pleasingly mostly-downhill... for a while. True to form, to avoid busy A-roads into Bristol, we took the hilly route via Chew.

In Chew Magna, the direct route via Nutgrove Lane is a bit bumpy and steep. If you around the main Chew Hill road, you spend an extra 0.3 miles and a few feet of climbing, but do it on what looks like a much more comfortable road (diversion 1).

That hill is a bit of a slog, but the real killer is just coming up. It is called Dundry Hill, as I have now learned... I only remember panting considerably. Having joined a busier road before climbing the hill, the traffic was also fairly busy. However, pay-off soon arrives: coming down Broadoak Hill, there are spectacular views of the city of Bristol, as the road switches back and forth before straightening out into Bishopsworth.

The centre of Bristol, with the harbour and Thekla and so on, was a fine place indeed. I was sad not to tarry. Garmin came into his own into getting us past the Bearpit, through Stokes Croft and up towards Henleaze and Westbury on Trym, after which the city thins out.

After a right turn onto a busy but narrow A4018 (with double centre-line), the road gradually becomes busier and turns into a two-lane dual carriageway. It wasn't too bad sticking this out for a while, but once the limit increases to 50mph and you hit the Station Road roundabout, it is getting unpleasant. Luckily, beyond that roundabout there are cycle-path thingies on both sides of the road. It's best to be on the left-hand one in time for the left turn, which comes just before the big M5 junction; it lets us bypass the junction and get on the B-road to Pilning, before taking a right on Station Road to short-cut around the back of the village We actually made the short hop into the village centre to collect supplies and eat lunch, before resuming the back road over the M4. Again we hit a busy road, this time the A403, but can take a cycle path, this time on the right-hand side, for the short hop that gets us down to the turning for the Severn Bridge cycle path (New Passage Road).

The roads heading towards the bridge are quite uppy-downy but pleasingly quiet, and the bridge approach is well signposted. Cycling across the bridge is quite an experience, and (unless you're lucky) a battle with the wind. The same bridge crosses both the Severn and the Wye, and it is the latter crossing that takes you into Wales. At the bottom of the bridge you'll turn right onto a narrow road that passes through the embankment under the bridge, then up again onto a somewhat elevated section alongside the A466. After passing some JOGLErs coming the other way, and sighting a “normal road” down to our right, we freestyled it a bit here, and I'm pretty sure we made the wrong choice, as we were dumped out at just the worst place to take a roundabout which we needed to go all the way around. I've updated the route with what we should have done instead.

Chepstow was a pretty nice place, and was all of Wales we'd see. Crossing the bridge out of Chepstow, we're back in England. Immediately after the bridge, the idiot Google had routed us a silly way out, including up some steps! Being a bit disoriented by the twists and turns of the main road, we weren't sure it was taking us the right way, so actually we did push ourselves and bikes up the ramp and steps. We should have just followed the road (Castleford Hill) around to the top, so that's what the route shows here.

After that, you're on the B4228 and chugging up a moderate hill on a fairly smooth surface. Again, idiot Google tried to send us off on a footpath to the right a little later (Offa's Dyke path), but we ignored it. This B-road was quiet enough, and we made good time to Coleford. The Wye Valley was one of the highlights of the trip for me... there are beautiful views and it was stunningly green.

In Coleford, we followed Google up Sparrows Hill, a short section ending with an annoying bit of pavement between you and the road The Grove. For the route I've instead avoided the minor short-cut and taken the The Grove all the way. Here we have left the B-road and are heading for Symonds Yat Rock. This is a very fun bit of road: mostly downhill and not a through route for motors, it is light in traffic (modulo the tourism to the rock itself) but smooth and fast. We didn't stop to see the rock, sadly (but I hope to, one day; may it never lose the smooth). Instead we pressed on on very pleasant roads, with bridges hopping across the many meanders of the Wye, and finally hitting the B4234 which takes us smoothly through much more lovely scenery and into the very pretty town of Ross on Wye.

The mushroom soup at the King's Head was the best ever... or perhaps I was just hungry enough to be easily impressed.

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