“Zunny Zomerset” Day 11: Stroud to Bridgwater

We woke this morning to bright sunshine. We didn’t believe it but it was true – the weather lady on the TV confirmed it as well. And what’s more, it was going to be pretty much the same all day. And even better, there was only going to be a gentle breeze. Only one question remained – how would Jer cope in sunny, dry and calm weather? He was going into the unknown and he would need to brace himself.

We stayed the night at The Beacon Inn between Stonehouse and Stroud. Essentially a pub with bedrooms, it was in the process of being taken over, and was quiet. We only saw two other guests and they were using it as a stopover as they walked the Cotswold Way. The landlord and landlady were very friendly hosts and we enjoyed a hearty supper (although I’m not sure about the side salad with steak and kidney pie) and cooked breakfast. The room was quite large and was perfectly pleasant enough.

We made the short drive to the start point just before 8am and Jer set off promptly. The destination today was Bridgwater in Somerset and the predicted mileage around 65. Most of the journey would follow the A38.

We decided on a 20 mile stop strategy and I went ahead as usual. I set down at 21 miles and Jer made the stop in good time, around 1 hour and 40 minutes. So far, the road went through flattish countryside but the next 20 miles would take in Bristol. The most direct route, the A38, carved a path right through the middle and Jer was happy to do this rather than follow a convoluted route around the city. Jer navigated through perfectly and I was doing well with my Sat Nav route until a road closure ahead took me every which way before joining the A38. The next stop was at 41 miles at Redhill just beyond Bristol Airport. Jer made it in just less than 2 hours which was a good time bearing in mind the inevitable stop-start through Bristol.

It was good to see Jer enjoying the sunshine and he was happy to make a fairly brief stop before setting off again. Knowing we only had 24 miles to go, we agreed to take a final stop at 12 miles. As we dropped down into Somerset, the Levels stretched out before us with their lush pasture fields and distinctive rhynes. The final stop near Sedgemoor Services was a delight – the sun was shining, the bike was behaving and Jer was able to indulge in the joy of cycling through some beautiful countryside. The cold, wind and rain of the Scottish Highlands seemed like a distant memory…

A gentle ride into Bridgwater ended an increasingly glorious day of cycling and another 65 miles nearer the goal of reaching Land’s End. Jer has now turned the ‘corner’ into the West country and it feels like the home straight but as Jer is getting increasingly fatigued and the terrain of Devon and Cornwall is notoriously difficult, it’s still not in the bag…

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