Immediately following the Mayday holiday weekend, 22 of our cycling clan headed to North Wootton for four days of riding in the glorious Somerset countryside.
The first and fourth days consisted of 30-mile rides on Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning, taking in lots of lovely quiet lanes. We also took the time to visit a 13th century tithe barn in Pilton, cycled past Worthy Farm where the Glastonbury Festival is held, slithered our way through a ford and enjoyed a welcome cup of coffee and cake in Castle Cary.
The first full day (Wednesday) was a relaxed affair riding through the Somerset Levels and pondering the devastation caused by floods in recent years, however the area is now calm consisting of water meadows, nature reserves and peat beds. Coffee (obligatory) was taken in the city of Wells with time to visit the Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace and wander around the market listening to buskers playing Bristol shanties on violins and flutes.
Heading off across the Levels to Glastonbury lunch was taken at a roadside vegetarian cafe. The solitary attendant/cook stood firm and managed to cater for 18 hungry riders, the relaxed nature of the ride and a juggling act with a couple of plates of food where gravity won over skill lead to a prolonged stop. Glastonbury was its longstanding weird self with shops and residents having not changed since the 60’s (other than being 50 years older). Kaftans, healing crystals, long hair and dream catchers adding to the unique “appeal” of the place. Afternoon tea and back to the hotel for dinner.
Second day dawned slightly misty and cool. A different ride to the day before as we headed North to the Mendips. The intended coffee at Wookey Hole failed to happen as we climbed up the 1:7 route taken by National Cycle Route 3. Put to shame by a lone cyclist laden with full panniers and apparently doing the End to End we, to a man/woman, walked whilst he ground out the climb in a gear not far short of going backwards.
Up into the mist and low cloud, a pause to take breath and appreciate the view back down to the Levels. Having invested the effort in the climb, the 2.5 mile run down through Cheddar Gorge made up for the pain. Taking the sweeping turns and avoiding the sheep (or are they goats?) which were unbothered by cyclists buzzing past (I topped at 36mph), we headed to the village for lunch.
Slight confusion as to which gorge cafe we were heading to some of us found an outlet called Cafe Gorge and set about devouring lovely cheese and roast pepper tarts. Following discussions at lunch, the groups split into three bunches, one heading back up the gorge, and the other two making their way down to the Levels before heading to Wookey Hole for ice creams and tea. Having regrouped, a short run back to our hotel for a shower and dinner where we were already considering what to do next year.