Day 4 : Bristol to Compton Dundon

69.7km at a rolling average of 15.1km/hr. Left Bristol at 12:05 arrived at 17:45 Lower average speed owing to several walking bits where the Strawberry Line cycle path was closed for waterworks and where I found myself on a lumpy muddy clay footpath – thanks Ms Osm ­čÖü . Weather some sunshine and very heavy showers.

Oh and yes I did actually have to get off and walk one very short very steep hill that I attacked wrong somewhere around Wedmore.

Out of Bristol OK on the cycle path through Long Ashton (Festival Way NCR 33) which winds its way through the housing estates and then becomes a nice smooth path alongside the mainline railway for a while – slightly hilly as it follows the top of the cutting, not Brunel’s trackbed.

Somewhere around Nailsea it started to rain slightly so I sheltered under a tree to see if it passed quickly and put on my cape if it didn’t – it didn’t and I got the cape on just as the heavens totally emptied themselves so I stood there with the drips from the leaves getting heavier until it eased off sufficiently to press on.

Into the lanes down towards Yatton I caught up with another heavily laden gentleman heading my way so we fell into conversation. He had come down from Worcester but was falling behind schedule owning to headwinds. Heading for Uffculme for a secret festival – Kozfest, a small (licensed for 500 attendees) psychedelic music festival on a farm in N.Devon now in its third year. Checking online when I got home I discover that headliners this year included Soft Machine and the Groundhogs (presumably what is left of both of them). Needless to say apparently it sells out on the day tickets go on sale…

My companion was a large bearded bloke of about my age, an involuntary retired school technician and a very experienced touring cyclist (when he was expelled back into the wild he set off to Istanbul on his bike which makes my ambition to reach the Med look tame.

A pleasant couple of miles chatting brought us to Yatton where our ways parted as he had decided to bale out and get a train to Tiverton to ensure he arrived that evening.

From Yatton the Strawberry Line cycle path barrels southwards, initially flat and with the best surface I have ever found on an ex-railway line path. Nicely compacted and smooth, even after the rain it had dried off rapidly.

Today there were far more cyclists about than on previous days. On the lanes as well as the cycle paths and not just day riders but a few well laden for touring. Strange how I barely saw another cyclist across Beds, Bucks, Oxfordshire and Wilts but today have seen loads.

Good progress until…
…somewhere near Sandford where the path wiggles across a lane the heavens opened again. This time a convenient yew tree kept me perfectly dry for 10 minutes while it passed.

Then a mile later the path was closed and diverted due to water works, they had provided an alternative path but very hilly and with bad surfaces such that one had to get off and push. Then it crossed a lane at about the summit and someone coming up the other way warned us (there was also a couple on Brompton folders, one towing a child buggy containing a dog – tough work (but not for the dog, some sort of retriever/lab with ageing legs travelling in luxury) that the diversion path was even worse so we went for the road option which meant doing half a mile down the very busy A38 and then crossing it on a blind bend.

Roared down the hill into Axbridge where another shower saw me sheltering in the portico of the town hall and wondering why the cafe was closed.

Back onto the Strawberry Line briefly until it was again diverted around Cheddar Reservoir with another brief large rubble walk-or-trash-your-tyres section.

Coming out of Wedmore Ms.Osm decided to play her games again and sent me up a short 1 in 5 and then along a lane that turned ito a track which turned into a grassy path strewn with sharp boulders hidden in the overgrown grass and low hanging branches from overhanging shrubbery.

Only option was to get off and push for a km or more (long way back around). Thence ok down onto the levels and drove roads to Street making up some time.

Hoping to have a cup of tea and get a bottle in Street to take to David’s but failed to find anything open until I was heading out through a housing area back streets when I stumbled across Hecks Farm Shop still open where they make and sell their own cider. Ideal.

Had a chat about apples and juicing and cider making then pressed on for the final leg carrying an extra 2 litre glass flagon of their finest. Fortunately no serious hill presented itself and arrived at the Earth Spirit Centre (David’s gaff) at 17:45.

No photos today owing to rain and not wanting to stop.