Sat watching the River Exe flow past at breakfast in the Anchor Inn at Exebridge. Caught sight of a spotted woodpecker and there was a kingfisher darting around too. The kind landlady gave us a packed sandwich to take with us. We were climbing almost from the off and, as the lane got steeper, Karon had to walk for a while and I managed to get the bike a little higher before I too was off and pushing to the top. Once up we were only on the bike a minute or so and we had lost all the hard-earned height. Fortunately the little lane meandered between the hills rather than cross them and riding was easier after that first push.
At Shillingford we joined the B3227 to Taunton. It was reasonably quiet but when cars did pass they were often scary fast. The odd big HGV came and went too but the road was wide enough for safe passes and if there was a layby or bus stop to move into as they passed, so much the better. At first the hills were long and the gradients gentle but just before Wiveliscombe it climbed a little steeper and chased contours around the interconnecting hills. As we entered the town we saw a bunch of riders on road bikes, stopped by a van, just readying to leave after a water/food stop. They were an organised Lejog group. We had a brief chat and the van man said there was a nice little cafe in the town so we said Cheerio and headed off to find it. Tea and caramel shortcake. Opposite was a chemist which was handy as both of us need moisturiser. Ooh my skin is sooooo rough! Karon also got a little ‘sharps tub’ to put her used needles into as she was building quite a collection. For a while after a waterproof was necessary – as much for the cold as for the odd raindrop that targeted us. The road gradually flattened and it didn’t take long to get into Taunton. The first mile or so was a bit scary as we negotiated a few roundabouts and the traffic had picked up, but then Karon spotted a cycle path sign for the town centre and after that it was plain sailing. We found a cafe beside the river and had lunch. Karon settled for some olives, humus and bread. I wanted more carbs so had a nice creamy smoked haddock and pea kedgeree washed down with a bottle of Tribute ale.
Getting out of town was easy as we cycled the towpath of the Bridgwater Taunton canal. The rain began to be a little more persistent as we cycled to Creech St. Michael where we left the canal and followed the lane to Lower Farm, Thornfalcon. Karon was desperate for a bath so the landlady gave us the top floor suite of a converted barn. There’s a pub .9 of a mile up the road but we think we’ll stay in tonight and make do with cups of tea and the sandwiches we were given this morning.
Tomorrow we pass Bridgwater and follow the canals and lanes of the Somerset levels, hoping to meet up with some tandem club members who offered to put us up. It’ll be nice to be cycling in UNhilly country!