06 July 2010

P2G 4: Newark to Goole

From Newark up to Goole was a flat trundle alongside the Trent. Pleasant cycling on a warm morning, but the Danube it's not. The Trent valley consists largely of power stations - you keep expecting the Super Mario Brothers to pop up out of the cooling towers - relieved by the odd high-security mental institution. I hope that today is the nearest I ever get to Rampton, but the way things are going, you never know.

En route I went through the village with the biggest sign in the land: North Leverton with Habblesthorpe is, according to the Guinness Book of Records in the days when they listed such things, the longest place-name in Britain.

Finally arrived at Goole, which is every bit as good as it sounds. The purpose-built port town at the orifice of the Humber was opened, along with its canal and docks, in 1826, and has gone pretty much downhill since then.

I arrived at 2pm and set out to explore all the highlights the town had to offer. I took a train to Ferriby at 2.12pm.

Miles today: 60
Miles since Poole: 301

05 July 2010

P2G 3: Leamington to Newark

A long hot haul up the Fosse Way today. Unfortunately, the speed I cycle, I couldn't even get this ford to splash me with cool water.

Ab Kettleby is a nondescript little village near Melton Mowbray. But it's Britain's top village - alphabetically - thanks to the way computers sort their gazetteers.

(And yes, it's sideways. Blame Blogger. It's OK on my laptop.)

Staying at a Travelodge just outside Newark (which has a surprisingly continental feeling Grand Place, except everything was shut when I went through at quarter past five). Convenient bike parking here.

Miles today: 87
Miles so far: 241

04 July 2010

P2G 2: Bath to Leamington Spa

After living there a dozen years, but leaving in 1999, it was funny being in Bath for a night again. Half the shops I knew had gone, replaced by chainstores or upmarket shopping courts. Rather like meeting an old partner who has now married someone richer and more successful, who is very polite, but has clearly not missed you.

I set off on the Fosse Way, which goes excitingly straight - and therefore, in this bumpy landscape, in rollercoaster ups and downs. Up to the M4 it's lovely country lanes, and from there to Kemble it's gravel byways with the occasional historic ford (above). This is what cycling in Roman times would have been like.

(And yes, I know it's sideways. It's a bug in Blogger; the image is the right way round on my laptop.)

The source of the Thames is at Kemble. That's the Thames there, winding its way through a field and under that little stone bridge, except it isn't because it's dry, as usual. But nice to know it's downhill all the way to our house from here.

I'd forgotten how many beautiful towns there are north of Bath - how come I never visited them before? Cirencester, Bourton-on-the-Water (above, packed out with families and kids paddling in the Water) and Moreton in the Marsh are all delightful places.

In Leamington Spa tonight, in a £19 bargain Travelodge room that's just ace. A big double all to myself in a grand Regency building overlooking the main street, and all the action. Mind you, in Leamington on a Sunday night, that's evidently not very much.

Miles today: 80
Miles so far: 154

03 July 2010

P2G 1: Poole to Bath

Set off from Poole at 9.30ish, having taken a ludicrously early train from Waterloo.

At Wimborne I dropped in on the Model Town. This is a one-tenth replica of the town as it was in the 1950s. You can walk up the streets and lanes and imagine being sixty feet tall. The shops have little models of what would have been in the windows. There are two bike shops. If the model is anything to go by, bike parking in 1950s Dorset was non-existent.

At Blandford Forum I could ask one of my favourite questions. The town was rebuilt in Georgian style following a fire, and the architects were William and John Bastard. So you can point to any building and say, which Bastard designed that?, and you're asking a very intelligent question. Anyway, at Shaftesbury I re-enacted the famous Hovis TV advert on Gold Hill.

Via Warminster and Westbury I got to the canal towpath. Just past Bradford on Avon is a string of narrowboats, some of which are shops. You can get your hair cut in one of them, but I was more interested in what this one had to sell.

I overnighted in Bath.

Miles today: 74
Miles so far: 74