England: the South West

We were excited to be entering the South West region, however, first we had to cross the ‘Forest’.

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There were signs of wild boars but no wildlings were to be found. We passed unscathed. Onwards, negotiating the traffic of Gloucester, dusting ourselves down before we entered the perfect leafy streets of Cheltenham. No rest was to be had there. The Agombars tested our off road skills in the Cotswold back country.

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Nothing like being burnt off by a (nearly) 7 year old to put you in your place.

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It was difficult to leave the great hospitality of the Agombars. Best pizzas in Cheltenham – courtesy of their superbly built cob oven. However, Devon was calling so it was time to move on. We paused briefly in Tetbury before we were moved on.

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A brief foray into Wiltshire took us to the Thorntons. People’s hospitality was beginning to catch up with us and we were starting to grow bellies. We were joined for a section along the Avon and Kennet canal by Lydia and Tom. It is so nice to ride with company.

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The Bath / Bristol bike path was superb and got us traffic free into the wonderfully cycle friendly city of Brizzle.

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It was a novelty for us to be riding in a long line of cyclists, with bike lanes being two abreast due to the number of users. It was great to catch up with more BSES friends and our bikes enjoyed their first visit to an art gallery (http://www.itsall2much.com/JimStarr.html) Thanks for a great stay in Bristol Jim and Belinda.

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We cycled across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and were feeling on familiar turf now.

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Spring really had sprung.

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We enjoyed a good whizz down through Cheddar Gorge, dodging fallen rocks, tourists and sheep.

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A thoroughly enjoyable ride along the Bridgewater to Taunton canal.

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Very soon there was evidence that we had crept onto Exmoor….

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…and that Devon was just around the corner.

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It felt good to be on familiar Exmoor roads.

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Much excitement at the border crossing into ‘The Shire’.

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Followed by a superb downhill into Lynmouth.

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We couldn’t resist a ride on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway.

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Somehow the whole Hyne ensemble managed to squeeze onboard. Then it was a final steep kick up to Marine Heights.

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A suitably celebratory arrival awaited us.

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The weekend was spent catching up with my parents and commemorating my Grandad with an explosive indoor fireworks display.

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It was very difficult to drag ourselves away from the home comforts provided by the ‘crumblies’; washing machine, bed, roasts (yep, that’s plural!). However, time was ticking on. It was Monday morning and I had to be back at my desk on Friday. One final look at the sea…

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..and then we turned down the estuary, heading south to Hobbiton/Moreton.

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One final night under canvas…..

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…..and one final hail storm.

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We slowly pedaled our way along the Tarka trail, reluctant for the adventure to end.

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Hearts swelled at our first glimpse of Dartmoor.

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Despite the slowing of our pedaling, the end was nearing.

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The Hyne peleton was greeted appropriately.

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And then we were home.

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Somewhat bewildered by everything, we got off our bikes, brought them inside the house and celebrated with champagne in mugs.

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So, be gentle with us good friends. We are feeling a little lost now the adventure is finished and we are parted from our bikes. However, we manage to get up every day, breath in and out and attempt to fit back into society. Words fail me so I turn to the marvellous T.E. Lawrence to sum up how we feel:

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”

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