Day 10: Say Cheese! Journeying from Hay-On-Wye to Cheddar
The day kicked off to a hilly start, weaving into the Brecon Beacons as we made our way towards Cheddar, the birthplace of Britain’s most loved cheese. As well as hitting our fourth national park, today was full of interesting locations and sites to take in. Now at day ten, the team are really feeling the stress of the expedition. Cycling 100 miles a day is no walk in the park and with the roads ahead still offering some of the trickiest climbs that our cyclists will conquer on this trip. We left the campsite on a high after an evening spent with family and friends. The Borders campsite was incredibly welcoming and their homemade honey offered on site was the cherry on top of a great stay.
Our first pit stop came in Monmouth where we coincidentally came across a cycle market in the middle of the town. If not cycling, food is the number one agenda for our cyclists and this market hosted the perfect opportunity for them to stock up for the many kilometres ahead. Monmouth itself had some beautiful infrastructure so the whole crew were happy to stop for a bite to eat in the little town. A short cycle further we came into Tintern, another quaint town along the riverside. Surrounded by greenery, the town is home to a twelfth-century gothic abbey that is a stunning site on the River Wye. After seeing lots of urban architecture, it is nice to see some historical sites that have molded into the natural landscapes.
Heading out of Wales our cyclists crossed over the old Severn bridge, aiming for their next stop in Bristol. The sun may have been shining, but the winds across the coast were so strong that the rest of the support and film crew were turned away from the old bridge and made to reroute across the new Severn bridge. It seems odd that the bridge remained open to our cyclists and we bet the high winds made for a thrilling ride over the river Severn.
In a day full of awesome locations, our next checkpoint was the Clifton Bridge in Bristol. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and is seen as one of the turning points in the history of engineering. It was opened in 1864 and spans across the Avon Gorge, a stunning natural environment that is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna. We were also extremely happy to hear that Claire from the Plastic Free Shop was waiting across the bridge with homemade brownies! It was definitely a welcomed treat for our cyclists after what had already been a long day of cycling. In even more happy news, a big group of Sal’s friends came out to cheer her on as the team rode through Bristol. After a few days off the bike, there couldn’t have been a better way to support Sal and the Pedal 4 Parks journey.
With our campsite being in the infamous village of Cheddar, our cyclists were lucky enough to be just a stone’s throw away from the magnificent Cheddar Gorge. The limestone gorge is the product of meltwater floods in the ice ages that created the 137m drop and the numerous caves within the natural structure. Tourism is a huge part of the village economy, but the National Trust is committed to the conservation and protection of the wildlife and rare chalk grasslands in the area. In our research we also found out that Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, the “Cheddar Man”, was found in the gorge. Estimated to be around 9,000 years old when he was found in the early 1900’s. Pretty awesome, but you won’t find us rummaging around those caves any time soon!
The cycle through the gorge put the team on an incredible high. Back at camp the support crew had made a delicious curry to fuel the team before they met with Dougal Driver from Grown in Britain. Grown in Britain work in every stage of the supply chain to promote the sustainable growth and use of UK timber. They are an independent not-for-profit organisation and are focused on the sustainable use of the resources we have in the UK. Through rewilding and reforesting plant species we can maximise British timber use without damaging the environment and prevent the environmental costs of transporting timber from overseas sources as far as China. Dougal spoke about the importance of embracing all types of woodland, introducing native and controlled non-native species to enhance our woodland and optimise the benefits of this new ‘wood culture’. We know that buying locally benefits the environment by removing large sections of transport in the supply chain, but have you ever thought about where our timber comes from?
Once the interview was finished it was time to rush into bed before the downpour started! Ironically, it seems like the Scottish weather was kinder to us than in England. We are keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine in the Scilly’s… is that too much to ask after two weeks of cycling across the UK!
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