Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sore Saddles... The Bristol to Bath Cycle Route

The sun was shining and it felt like the perfect opportunity to tick another Bristol experience off the list. The much talked about and undertaken (although a few of the talkers, did the talking and not the action) Bristol to Bath cycle route, or Bath to Bristol cycle route, whichever way round you want to play it... incidentally there is also an offshoot route which goes over to Chew Valley lake and adds another six miles onto your journey, but hey, who's counting. With two female mates in tow, we prepped our rather flat wheels and saddled up. Attired in notably contrasting outfitting of varying practicality (compardres Rhiannon - leggings, layers and backpack containing waterproofs, water and banana, Jess - tights, denim shorts, black tee and sunnies, me, dressed like i'm in the sound of music, long flowing dress, white brogues, scarf, cardie and satchel). The journey to the cycle path was a simple enough one, which led us through the working class area of Easton, traffic and shouting reminded me of being in Dalston, past St Marks Road (a rather delectable street, containing restaurants and food stores of exotic persuasions), past The Chelsea, (a dubious pub where upon the only time I've entered, had my crotch enthusiastically sniffed by an overzealous greyhound mongrel, whilst the burly male occupants hungrily looked on), up towards Easton Community Centre / The Plough (ECC is the venue for the Easton Cowboys fundraisers, good excuse for a party / Plough a late night drinking establishment which plays host to psy trance/techno/reggae/dub/anything goes dj's), taking a left onto the cycle path.

The route was once a railway path, which steam trains would run along, certain sections are still in use, with a leisurely steam train that takes enthusiasts along the track in old carriages, I think there may even be a Thomas the Tank Engine for the children. As you cycle along the seemingly flat route out the landscape changes gradually and opens up into beautiful countryside. The birds were singing, the sun was out, the blossom on the trees hung heavy, there was an air of 'The Darling Buds of May'. You are raised high which provides premium viewing for the fields, horses, farm stock and water routes. Pubs are dotted along the track with picturesque picnic spots presenting themselves intermittently, there are plenty of places to break up the journey. Once in Bath we hit the canal path, feeling slightly heady we immediately abandoned our bicycles at the nearest railings and headed to Marks (and Spencer) for some well earned lunch. After paying a £1 to enter the park, we plonked ourselves in a heap on the grass. The journey back was hampered by the differences in pace from the riders, two members disbanded and continued at an optimum speed. We missed the Easton turning whilst pacing and had to turn back, it was pretty grueling, arriving home we clambered off our bikes with the realisation that our feet felt disconnected. Walking like cowgirls we slowly eased our bodies back into movement. It was fun yet next time I may consider joining the majority of leisure cyclists and getting the train back (which incidently takes 15 minutes, not two hours). Definitely worth a go again, I wonder if there is a train station from Chew Valley lake...