An early start took me to Hampton in Arden where I caught the 0624 train to Birmingham New Street, transfering to the 0712 bound for Plymouth. Although the train left Birmingham a little late, time was made up on the way and I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads with plenty of time to spare to catch my connection to Bridgwater, where I duly arrived on time at 0948. The weather was overcast, it was spotting with rain and there was a cool North East wind which at least was pushing me in the right direction.
Having adjusted the bike, I cycled down from the Station and over the Parrett (river, not bird) into Bridgwater Town. I had previously described Bridgwater on my trip of 31 October 2009 (posted 7/11/2009) and the town confirmed my view that it was a relatively unspoiled market town. Pushing on through Bridgwater and cutting off the busy A39 for a time, the most interesting sight was Mount Radford Quarry which, although now disused, had rooms excavated into the quarry face.
Almost a mile of A39 took me to a roundabout where we parted company and I went on to Cannington (1040), an idyllic village complete with castelated church tower, welcoming local pub and a miniature bridge over the stream.
The approach to Stogursey (1120) was dominated by dark, looming shape of the Quantocks and the contrasting bright church with its central tower topped by a spire. The village also appeared to be a friendly place complete with local shop, garage, post office and pub.
During the planning of this trip I had decided to use the A39 road as little as possible as there were no facilities for cyclists and the road was both busy and winding especially north of the Quantocks. Instead, I made my way via Stringston to Holford (1200). This is an attractive village with a unique, ancient dog pound where stray dogs were once kept. Adjacent to the pound is the start of the "Great Road", in reality a rough track, which climbs over the Quantocks and links Holford with West Quantoxhead.
I had no option but to push my on-road bike up the steep incline for over a mile to the summit. On the way I was accompanied by a group equipped with all terrain bikes. I was expecting them to fly past me, but they also elected to push their steeds up the slope. This a very sensible thing to do as walking takes less energy and is hardly any slower. At the top, the bikers went on their own way and I continued along the Great Road, eventually meeting a group of youngsters practising for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. These people had missed a turning and were prematurely heading back to where they started. I gave them an accurate map reference from my GPS device, wished them luck and I was on my way.
The track descended steeply into West Quantoxhead (1310) which turned out to be a few unremarkable houses. Crossing the A39, I dropped into Watchet (1330), a really pleasant seaside town. Although the weather was starting to close in, I enjoyed meandering through the quaint, narrow streets and watching the small harbour. Beside the harbour is the Market House which houses the Watchet Museum. Despite the museum having free entry, I didn't have time to take advantage of the offer.
I left Watchet past a row of stone terraced houses and a new development of timber clad dwellings, taking the road to Blue Anchor (1400) which is little more than a pub, a few houses and a run-down caravan site. There then followed a steep road which rose into Carhampton (1425), arriving to the peal of church bells - probably not laid on specially for my visit. By now, the rain was continuous, but light, so I donned my waterproofs and hurried on to Minehead (1455).
Minehead was very quiet, as would be expected on a cold Saturday outside the holiday period. To avoid the onset of depression, I took a few photographs, including the sculpture at the start of the Southwest Coastpath (Where I started my walk to County Gate on 25 August 2009) and caught the 1520 bus to Taunton.
Arriving at 1650, conveniently outside the Wetherspoon pub, I enjoyed a meal before taking a slow ride around this attractive town and making my way to the station.
The 1854 train was on time and the journey was marred only by a nearby bore who talked to his companions about football for far too long and far too loudly. Not soon enough the train arrived at Birming New Street on time at 2053 where I joined the 2123 train to Hampton in Arden where the company was much more amenable before being reunited with my car at 2132.
12 June 2010 - Colchester to Clacton on Sea