Monday, 12 October 2015

Bikes are doing Overtime!

Bikes are Doing Overtime

Saturday 10th October 2015

We came to Wiltshire mainly to cycle, so today was another day for a ride and we decided to visit Lacock. The National Trust own the  Abbey there, and both that and the village can trace their history back to the 13th century.  We cycled from the campsite, initially back along the same part of the canal tow-path that we'd ridden on yesterday, but after about 4 miles we turned off onto little country lanes until we came to Melksham.  This proved to be a very busy market town, and with it being Saturday, the shoppers were out in force, so this along with the narrow streets with cars and busses jostling for position made it less than a pleasure to ride through.

Happily, we got through safely, and following a few more country lanes we came across this lady standing proud and overlooking somebodies garden.

After about 10 miles we rolled into Lacock and found streets lined with timber framed cottages, little unique shops, pubs and tearooms all trying to entice the many visitors through their doors, however, it was mainly the Abbey that we'd come to see so we didn’t linger too long in the village.  

The Abbey was founded by Ela of Salisbury who became the first Abbess of the medieval nunnery, and as we wandered through the golden cloisters and the remaining rooms it almost seemed a sin that people should make a noise in a space that was previously for prayer and meditation.   

A very old camera

Having said that, it's only the ground floor that remains from that time - the upper levels were converted to a Victorian family home by the inventor William Henry Fox Talbot, who in 1839 announced his invention of the photographic negative.

Sharington’s Tower where Talbot kept the 1225 Magna Carta

More recently both the village and the Abbey’s claim to fame are as venues for the filming of Downton Abbey and Harry Potter.

Following our visit we decided to reroute our return so as to miss out the busy Melksham, so instead we followed the road up Bowden Hill,(I thought Wiltshire was flat - WRONG)  and then on to Sandy Lane which is little hamlet made up mainly of picturesque thatched cottages.  

Altogether our ride was about 20 miles and to finish it off we wended our way over gently undulating country roads back to the T4rdis - just in nice time to watch Strictly.

Sunday 11th October 2015.

Another day and another ride - today’s aim was to see the Caen Hill Locks and the iconic White horses in the Vale of Pewsey.

The locks came first - we left the campsite and headed in the opposite direction to the previous two days - towards the the town of Devizes. Following an initial flat start the track begun to rise alongside a huge flight of locks, that in total, go up by 72.5 metres. Obviously, the water has to go that high as well, and we were very interested to learn that the pumping of it is facilitated in part, by 208 solar panels that are housed in a field at the side of the locks.

The slope varied between 3 - 5% gradient so it wasn’t too challenging, and as we peddled we were entertained by numerous barges negotiating the flight - apparently it takes about 4hrs unless you are unlucky enough to meet a traffic jam!

Also, at the side of each lock there was a Barge parking area!

After the locks we continued along the tow-path to the town of Devizes, but although the track continued from there it deteriorated to a very narrow and sometimes muddy lane so we decided to leave the canal behind and followed Sustran’s route 4 too Pewsey, and that was where we had our first glimpse of the White chalk horse on the North Down.  

Is this the only one!
Now it was at this point that we argued about if there was 1 horse or 2.  I was adamant there was only one, but John thought 2, however I was sure I was right because we could only see one!! (more to follow)

We progressed on our way into Pewsey hoping to find somewhere to stop and eat our lunch, but we didn’t, so we continued on our way mostly through country lanes arching around the back of Pewsey, and it was here that we left route 4 to pick our own path back to Devizes. By now we were starving and very relieved to find - at about mile 22 - a village green where we parked up and ravenously ate our picnic.  

Feeling much better now we'd been fed we recommenced our journey through lots of little hamlets in The Vale of Pewsey, along a road which took us closer to the White Hoses(s).  We passed the one we'd seen earlier, and then John called out ‘there’s another one’ - and there was no arguing with him - because it was facing in the opposite direction! He would be the first to admit it’s not very often he’s right - and although for a while he thought he was - it turned out we were both wrong! When we got home I looked it up on the internet and found there were at least 24 in Britain - and of them, at least thirteen are known to have existed in Wiltshire! Today only eight are still visible, all the others have either been lost completely, or are hiding under the turf.

From here we retraced our tracks to Devizes and then rejoined the canal to take us back to the T4rdis - with an overall mileage of 38.  So, in the last 3 days, we have ridden nearly 90 miles - our  bikes (and our sit up on s) will have a welcome rest tomorrow!

Monday 12th October 2015

Well, today our little jaunt south has come to an end! We've brought the T4rdis back to our old home area - The Midlands, and w're re staying on a brand new campsite that is affiliated to the National Forest. It's called Riddings Wood and the site and the facilities seem excellent. We only have the company of a few other vans - and I think most of them are just seasonal pitches because nobody seems to be in!. We have mostly come back to keep dentist appointments, to sort out some administrative details for our new venture, to visit our family and friends. However, the most important and exciting event that will hopefully occur very soon is the birth of our 3rd Grandchild.  

So our next few days will be extremely joyful while we catch up with family visits and have time to spend playing with our other 2 grandsons.

Click here to see our UK camping spots