Return to Whittle Wanderer

Bristol, Bath, Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, Hastings, UK.
(5 day bike-pack)
Wed 19 Apr - Sun 23 Apr 2017

Wed 19 Apr 2017

Wed 19 Apr 2017
Thu 20 Apr 2017
Fri 21 Apr 2017
Sat 22 Apr 2017
Sun 23 Apr 2017
With my bike loaded for a backpack trip I set off from home to cycle to Chorley to catch the 6:52 train to Manchester Piccadilly. It was earlier than I needed to catch but being the start of the rush hour I wanted to make sure I could get my bike on the train. I needn't have worried as there was room and I reached Manchester Piccadilly railway station on time. However because I caught an earlier train I had well over an hour to wait for my next train which is the 09:07 service to Bristol Temple Meads.
Chorley Railway Station
One of the annoying things about Piccadilly is there is no heated waiting room and I had to sit in the cold, even though I was inside. The train is a cross-country service and I boarded the train about 10 minutes before it was due to leave. The bicycle compartments are of a ridiculous design and there is one that will take two bikes and one for a single bike. They are designed to have the bike hung up by a wheel but I couldn't fit my bike in with panniers on. I took my front panniers off and with some cord was able to tie my front wheel to the roof hook. After we left the guard came to inspect tickets. I asked him about the 3 charge for my bike and he said he didn't know what it was for and I should check at the station where I bought the ticket. It is a direct train going via Birmingham New Street where most of the people got off. The train continued through the sunny countryside and I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads on time at 12:05.
Bristol Railway Station
I wheeled my bike out into the sunshine which was quite warm. I took a layer off before setting out on my bike ride. I rode down the cobbled road to meet the main road outside the station and turned left. Fortunately I wasn't on the road long before leaving it by turning left to join a cycle track along the River Avon. First impressions weren't particularly good as there was broken glass across the cycle lane and constant graffiti on walls and buildings. The cycle lane surface was variable but not too bad. Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay on the track for too long and had to join the main Bath Road towards Keynsham. It was rather busy and uncomfortable cycling.

The Cresent, Bath
Eventually I reached Saltford where I was able to leave the Bath Road and turn left and join the old railway route which is now a cycle path. It follows the Bristol and Bath railway path. This was delightful cycling and there were many people out enjoying the sunshine. I assume most of them are out on holiday as last weekend was Easter. The cycle track took me to the outskirts of the city of Bath and then I had to join the road. Fortunately it wasn't too bad and my first objective was to ride up the steep hill to have a look at The Crescent houses called Royal Crescent. It looked quite spectacular in the sunshine especially with the freshly mown lawn at the front.
I rode along the cobbled road at its frontage then descended the long straight road down in to the centre of Bath. I cycled my way through the narrow streets which were very busy with tourists and most of them were wandering in the road without even looking where they were going. I reach the site of the Roman Baths where I stopped to take a few photographs. I follow the road for about a mile until I was able to join the cycle path along the Kennet and Avon canal. It was smooth tarmac at first but soon became unsurfaced but still quite easy to ride on.
Kennet & Avon Canal

Plasticine advert
It was interesting to come to the location of the first plasticine factory which was built in 1900 and the inventor originally set up in Bath.
Part of my youth was spent making things with plasticine and Id never given a thought to where it came from. It was invented by the artist William Harbutt (18441921).
He was headmaster of the Bath School of Art and Design from 1874 to 1877 then later opened his own Paragon Art Studio. He invented Plasticine around 1897 as a non-drying modelling clay for use by his students. In 1900 he converted a nearby factory in Bathampton to manufacture the product for commercial sale.
As with the earlier cycle path there were plenty of people out but the main difference with the canal path is that the route followed the contour and found its way generally to the east and south. I reached a spectacular viaduct at Dundas Wharf where I stopped briefly to follow a path down to the River Avon to get a better view. When the aqueduct was first built it only had to take the canal over the River Avon but later it was altered to take the Great Western Railway when that was built.
The next large viaduct was at Avoncliff where I had to leave the track for a while to descend down and pass underneath then climb up again to re-join the Kennet and Avon canal on the opposite bank. I stayed with the canal to Bradford-on-Avon and then left it to join the road which took me into Trowbridge. Cycling through Trowbridge I stopped briefly at the Asda Superstore to buy 2, 2litre bottles of water at 17p each.
Avoncliff River Avon aqueduct
I left the town heading along the road to the south and was quite surprised how busy it was. I stayed on the main road until I reached the points where it reached by Clanger wood. I had previously checked this out on Google Maps and saw a track running through the woods so I left the main Westbury Road I rode through the car park and had to negotiate a difficult gate on the path to continue through Into the Woods. I found a clearing on the right which was ideal to pitch my tent. Late in the evening there was a loud barking Fox nearby.
Camp on in Clanger Wood