Posted by: Emily | September 25, 2010

My South West adventure (day one)

Day one: Bristol -> Taunton (72 miles)

Having taken the train from London to Bristol the night before, I woke early on Friday morning, keen to start my first day of cycling. After a quick but filling breakfast I was on my way. The sky was overcast and it was far from a perfect day, but I was overjoyed that there was no rain and full of excitement for what lay ahead.

National Cycle Route 3 starts almost outside Bristol Temple Meads station. As I had spent the night at the Holiday Inn directly opposite, it didn’t take long before I was on the route and following the distinctive little blue and red signs that were going to guide me to Taunton, where I’d be spending the night at Ian and Paula’s home.

About three miles in I encountered my first hill. Having spent many hours studying the map of The West Country Way (the part of route 3 that I was on), I wasn’t expecting a hill so early in the ride. It soon became clear that I had already managed to miss a sign and was no longer on the route – hence the unexpected hill. It wasn’t an ideal start. After spending 15 or so minutes trying, unsuccessfully, to get back on the route I realised I might have to just freestyle it to Wells and hope to rejoin the official route when I got there. With the help of my iPhone and the Google Maps app it wasn’t long before I was back on track. Before reaching Wells I managed to get back onto Route 3, just in time to do the climb through the Mendip Hills up to Priddy. My new bike, a Van Nicholas Yukon, got me and my panniers up nicely and although it was hard work, it was nothing compared with some of the hills I’d encountered on other rides in and around Somerset. It also helped knowing that it was likely to be the biggest hill of the day (which it was).

Shortly after leaving Priddy I managed to miss a sign and was, once more, off the route. Google Maps came to the rescue again and got me to Wells. I didn’t stop, keen to regain some of the time I’d spent messing around trying to find my way, but simply cycled the 10 miles to Glastonbury. At Glastonbury I found Route 3 and continued towards Bridgwater, determined not to miss any more signs. Now that I was on the route again I was cycling mainly on small roads with very little traffic. It was great. My holiday had well and truly begun!

From Bridgwater it was 13 miles to Taunton, with a lot of time spent going along the canal. Although it’s nice to be off the road, I always get slightly nervous when cycling on canal paths for fear of accidentally falling in. It sounds ridiculous, and probably is, but going under some of the very low bridges with a fully-loaded bike together with my stability issues is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately for me, and my bike, I managed to stay out of the canal and make it to Taunton, where together with Ian, who had cycled out to meet me en route, I had a celebratory Starbucks. My first day of cycling was over.



  1. […] number of people have asked why I picked Derby. It’s a good question. Having enjoyed my South West adventure so much I wanted to do another cycling holiday, but thought I should try somewhere new. Cycling […]

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