Say hello to Richard and Vicky, fellow cyclists from Bishops Lydeard, who I met at Taunton station. They were off to Newport as well, then onto St. David’s Head, but for some reason, they had to change trains at Bristol Temple Meads, where as I was changing at Weston-Super-Mare. I got off as appointed, waited 10 minutes for the connecting train, and then guess what? Met them again at Bristol Temple Meads as they boarded the same train as me! Except I’d bagged the bike space along with another chap, and so they were slightly stuck in the corridor holding their bikes.
They eventually came and joined me at my table, and we had a good chat about cycling. They were on their second tour, having done Lands End to John O’Groats last year, and this time they were off to West Wales to then cross the middle of the country to Lowestoft, so pretty much completing the North, South, East, West points of the British Isles (I seem to remember the most westerly point of Britain is in the Western Isles off Scotland, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, they were in good spirits and looking forward to the day ahead, even though as we alighted at Newport we were welcomed to Wales by light rain. They toddled off to meet their cycling chums, and I went in search of the loo to change out of my trousers and find my wet weather gear.
So a damp start, but still very pleasant. The first part of the journey out of Newport was along the Brecon and Monmouth Canal. Not a scratch on the delights of the French canals experienced more recently, much more akin to the Kennet and Avon I did in March with the rest of the boys. Much of the canal was silted up and full of weeds, and the tow path was pretty ropey in places but at least mud free. It did improve as I passed Cwmbran, and according to one of the info boards along the route the lower 33 miles or so are navigable. They might have meant the ducks though, which were in no short supply.
I stopped a chap for directions at one point, as the signage seemed to contradict logic, pointing me right when I wanted to go left, but I realised shortly after that the canal ducked below an old railway line which took me in the direction I wanted. Talking to the chap I got my first dose of the local dialect, which I shall try not to replicate when I get back to the pub or Fewlass will take the piss, and quite rightly so. I seem to remember being able to do a fair Welsh accent as a kid, but I seem to have lost the knack in recent years.
The rain slowly ceased to the point I could get the coat off again, but returned again only 20 minutes later. The canal finally joined an old railway line that lead from Pontypool to Blaenavon, where I am at the moment enjoying lunch.
Still got several hours of reasonable cycling time left today, so expect to be able to get over the hill at the head of the valley and towards Abergavenny. If time allows, I’ll head on towards Brecon as that would be a good mileage for the day. I suspect that the ride over the hill from here is going to be a little unpleasant as its shrouded in low cloud at the moment, so I’ll probably get a little wet. The waterproofs are doing fine at the moment, and I think the wet on the inside of the jacket is from perspiration rather the precipitation. I picked up some overshoes in the week, and they seem to be doing a good job of keeping the feet dry. The rain hasn’t really been that bad at the moment.
Slight lack of landscape photos but the weather isn’t so conducive. I’ll see if I can take some more observational pictures later. I did get a glimpse of some coal mines on the way up the railway, but it was so misty the photo wouldn’t have been meaningful!