The Two Rivers Inn in Chepstow is a Marston’s house and, as such serves perfectly good beer and food. I dined on Halloumi fries and steak and ale pie, both of which were fine and not expensive, indeed the whole bill for dinner, bed and breakfast including a couple of pints of Pedigree was a very reasonable £67. There were few diners and the service was good. Full English breakfast this morning was well prepared and fresh and couldn’t be faulted. The main change in these Covid times is that there is no self service but my order was quickly prepared and despatched so that I was able to leave just after 0900 for what I knew would be a difficult day as I was cycling 80 miles.
I fairly soon took a wrong turn but it was unimportant as the A48, on which I found myself was not busy and I was able to buzz along to Caldicott by a more direct route than the one I had planned. At Caldicott I took to a cycle path across the park and bagged myself my first Castle of the trip
Caldicott Castle is not one of Edward 1sts fortifications being built in about 1170 and passing through various hands including Royalty from 14th to 17th centuries but it was allowed to fall into disrepair until the 19th century when it was partly restored by the Cobb family before being sold to the local authority in the mid 1960s. I cycled all the way around the outside before leaving the park and heading on towards Magor.
For much of the morning I was within a couple of miles of the Bristol Channel but saw no sign of the sea until I reached Cardiff. I made my way slightly inland in order to cross over the River Usk at Newport, passing the Transporter bridge, one of only two still working in the UK, although it is currently closed due to Covid.
I looked back from the other bank at the City Bridge that I took across the river: built in 2004 it takes the main A48 road away from the City Centre and there is a good cycle lane across it.
I continued on across the littoral plain, flat and uninteresting but easy cycling. There was much evidence of wind turbines and solar parks: it looks as though a massive solar park is in the process of construction between Newport and Cardiff.
I made my way towards Cardiff Bay. The area has been gentrified and massively developed with offices and a cycleway snakes its way around the waterfront before crossing the bay by way of the Cardiff barrage built amidst much controversy in the 1990s. It provides a shortcut to Penarth which gave me my first major hill climb of the day but I managed it fairly easily and the view from the top mad it worthwhile.
I was now about half way into the journey but well behind schedule due to photo stops. Next stop was Barry where I took the opportunity to cycle to Barry Island, the Coney Island of Wales. There were people about but the fairground attractions were static.
I took the opportunity to dive into Asda for a sandwich and drink, about half the price of yesterday’s M&S lunch stop. I had another major climb from the waterfront and then swooped down the other side through Porthkerry Park, with Mrs Marcos Cafe doing brisk business. Shortly after that the road becomes a cycle path beneath Porthkerry Viaduct, built in the late 19th Century to carry coal to Barry Docks. It still carries the main passenger line between Cardiff and Bridgend, stopping at the airport which was my next sighting. There appeared to be nothing happening at Rhoose airport although it is, according the website, open.
Past the airport the road continues, gently undulating along the coast. This made for hard cycling. Straight roads that go up and down are enervating and I still had 35 miles to travel. Through Llantwit Major as the school disgorged, St Donats, Marcross and Monknash until, at St Bride’s Major I was faced with a decision. I had planned to go down to Ogmore-by-Sea but could see that I could cut a bit off the journey by staying on the main road. However this is a journey around Wales sticking as close to the coast as possible and I decided I could manage the extra miles, though I was flagging badly.
There were plenty of cars in the carpark as the River Ogmore discharges into the Bristol Channel and because the road starts quite high above the river, I had the strange experience of cycling largely downhill up the river valley until I got back to the main road at Ewenny. There were skeins of Geese flying down the river, honking madly as I made good time back to the main road. A narrow road with heavy traffic made its way from Ewenny to the A48 south of Bridgend, crossing the stone Dipping Bridge with dozens of children splashing in the water with no apparent heed of distancing.
I now skirted south of Bridgend on the A48 before taking the main road to Porthcawl, mercifully largely downhill, because, by now I was very tired. Porthcawl was busy with several surfers taking advantage of the rollers,
in the, by now, weak sunshine, though I missed the forecast showers. I cycled all the way along the promenade and out towards Royal Porthcawl golf club. On the way I stopped to consult my phone as I thought I had made a wrong turn, put my foot down on what I thought was a grass bank, only to find that it was a shallow ditch and over I went. Unfortunately I couldn’t get out from under the bike and couldn’t get myself up. Equally fortunately a passing cyclist pulled the bike from on top of me and I very sheepishly got back on my feet without harm to anything but my pride.
Only about 5 miles to go to my destination it was hard work as I passed Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club before I landed at Greenacres Motel in North Cornelly after 80 miles in the saddle.