After my various trips away over the summer I have once again turned my attention to riding locally. West Dorset is very rural and it is a great pleasure to ride from my home out into the countryside.
This year as we continue into September, Summer has forgotten to stop. The weather is very benign and perfect for long days out riding a bicycle. Most of the summer visitors have gone now so there is only a little local traffic on the lanes. As I ride along – often alone – I appreciate and enjoy the quiet calm of the countryside in the benign late summer weather. So when I came across the sign to Peaceful Lane near Holwell in Dorset I thought that this was a perfect title for a blog post about a couple of longer rides I’ve been on in the last week or so.
I am able to ride my bike most days but only occasionally I decide to go out for a longer ride that takes most of the day. Sometimes I use these rides to collect Audax distance and altitude points. To do this I have to enter them as a DIY event and then record them on my Garmin.
It is exactly 100km from my home to my daughter’s house in Bristol. There are various routes but it is hard to avoid the Somerset Levels and at some point the Mendips have to be overcome. I think my favourite route over the Mendips is up Cheddar Gorge.
The climb is 3.5km with a height gain of 160m . There is only about 100metres that are really steep the rest is not too demanding and of course it is very scenic.
I like to cycle through Ashton Court on my way into Bristol and often I am lucky enough to see the deer.
To return to the South Coast from Bristol I decided to extend the distance to 200km. I left Bristol at first light and used a series of cycle paths to leave the city. I was going against a steady flow of commuters heading inwards and revelled in my freedom from work. My first ‘control’ was Clevedon and then I headed to Wedmore and onto the Levels. The route I took from Wedmore to Bridgwater was excellent. It followed a series of skinny drove roads along Rhynes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyne. There was hardly any traffic. I was right down at sea level and it was easy to imagine how all this land was under several metres of water last winter.
I crossed the River Brue and came out at Gold Corner Pumping Station and the artificial Huntspill River. It was a beautiful tranquil scene.
The Huntspill River was built in 1940 to supply water to the Royal Ordinance Factory in Bridgwater.
After Bridgwater I crossed the Quantocks to Bishops Lydeard, skirted Taunton and then went up onto the Blackdowns at Clayhiddon. It was really lovely up there. I headed for the South Coast at Seaton…
…and then went down to Uplyme via Cannington Lane. I just cannot resist a view of the Cannington Viaduct which is totally incongruous in its rural isolation. It really is a work of art. The railway line was axed by Beeching in 1965 but the Viaduct remains and is now Grade 2 listed.
The climb up Springhead Road out of Uplyme is not for the fainthearted but then onwards to the newly resurfaced B3165 which isone of the flattest roads in the area. Going north it is actually prevailngly downhill and good fun now the surface is lovely and smooth.
It was a long day and I was pleased to arrive home. Even better – dinner was ready.
Last Sunday my ride took me on a circuit a little over 100 miles from home. Once again it was a perfect day for cycling.
I set off, as I often do, up Eggardon Hill. It is a 3km hill with a height gain of 190m. The average grade is just under 7% but there are a few steep bits in it. I then continued in a north easterly direction through Maiden Newton, Sydling and down to Cerne Abbas. I noticed the first signs of Autumn as I headed up Piddle Lane.
I went over Bulbarrow Hill – which is the highest paved road in Dorset and the site of Rawlsberry Camp, a five acre Iron Age hill fort.
At Okeford Fitzpaine I headed West and for the next 40km the route was on very quiet and relatively level skinny lanes. (This is where Peaceful Lane is. ) This is a lovely place to ride. The lanes are full of interest and virtually free from other traffic. Once I reached Crewkerne the route became more scenic again. I headed over Windwhistle Hill down through Winsham to Chard. It is a steep climb out of Chard but I was on a mission by now as I had a lunch date at the Cotley Inn at Wambrook. They even did me a baked potato with cheese and beans specially.
Mounters Hill took me out of the valley on another peaceful lane.
The Membury Road took me down to Kilmington and onto the coast at Seaton. From there it’s only about 40 km home. The ride continued to be undulating but I enjoyed the scenery and the peace of the quiet lanes and was rewarded with a beautiful sunset on ‘our’ beach to end the day.