Cycling through musical tunnels... No Mum, I'm not on drugs.


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Europe » United Kingdom » England » Wiltshire » Salisbury
May 15th 2017
Published: May 15th 2017
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Thursday morning I took the full suss out for a bit of an explore, and the bike was in its element. All the rocks and ruts that had tried to break the 920, were simply rolled over with very little problem. So I started trying a few routes that split off from the main tracks and found some amazing views of small beaches along the coast, all the while trying my best not to go to far to the bottom of the hill, as 1300 feet is a long way to go back up. I'd also decided to do the laundry that morning as the MET office had said it would be dry till the evening, but no, it rained off and on, pretty much from the time I put the washing on the line, till I took it down, so I went back out on the bike. This time I found a track that ran along the tops of what seemed like cliffs, which was exhilarating. Especially when the track started to go fast down hill, then have a bit of a lean on it, all I kept thinking about was the fact it had been raining so grip could start to be an issue soon, and I was constantly fighting the urge to brake! As this would definitely caused me to crash and roll to the bottom, and I didn't want to push the bike back up from there.

Friday I packed up and made my way to Salisbury, where I would be meeting up with Dad and my little nephew Rory. The weather was grim again, but being I was driving it didn't really matter. When I got to the site, there was a queue to get in! Now it wasn't a small site but obviously very popular, as apparently they can have anything from 30 to 70 vans a day turn up or go. In the evening I walked up to the local Harvesters, as thats where I was going to meet up with Dad and Rory. When I got there little man was having fun running doe the steep grass field, but not so much the walk back up. By the time we got back to the Bob it was quite late, so I prepared the bed, it was at this moment that Dad realised that he didn't have Rory's sleeping bag, but luckily he had brough a spare adult sleeping bag. But then when he went to pump up the air mattresses, he realised they were still at home, so I gave him the spare cushions to use instead. The next day we were in two minds as to where to go, due to the unruly weather. If it was going to be nice, we could go to an animal park, but if it was going to tip it down we would need something indoors. As it was we didn't trust the weather, so chose to go to the Planetarium at Winchester, which was brilliant fun. Unfortunately little man was a little too young to understand what some of the activities were trying to teach him, but he still had fun pushing the buttons, and making the things fly/spin. When we got back to the van I heard the fridge clicking, so I knew I had run out of gas. So while Rory and I walked to the nearest cash point, (these sites only take cash still) and replace the bottle, Dad ordered some fish and chips from a mobile chippy that was parked in the site.

The next morning after saying our goodbyes, I set off on the bike to find a set of tunnels along a cycle route. Apparently one of them is the longest cycle tunnel in the UK, so I made sure I had the good lights on, though after a mile, I had to turn around and head back, as I hadn't picked up the damn battery for said light! On the second start I was off through Salisbury, doing pretty well at navigating the route, until I reached a road block, where the police were hauling a car out of the river so I had to go up to the main road. This wasn't too big a deal as the route eventually joins this anyway. The route is fairly nice, as it undulates through little villages, but it was nothing special, but still nice, especially in the sunshine. Eventually I reached the cycle route, but as the miles where going down, I still hadn't seen these tunnels, though I did end up riding through the Longleat estate and seeing the mansion which was very impressive, but didn't see any animals. Eventually I reached the Radstock, which I had made my point of return, as this was forty odd miles from the site, and it was now quarter past one, but I hadn't found any tunnels, just a few large bridges. After a quick google search, I found out that the tunnels are another 12 miles on, just outside of bath. Now I was torn, if I cycled to the tunnels I would be adding another 20 miles to the 80 odd I would already be cycling, but the whole point of this ride was to see the tunnels, so I carried on. I was also very hungry by this point as I hadn't found somewhere to eat on this route, and the pub I did find 5 miles later was packed to the point where people were having Sunday roasts out the front of the pub on benches. Luckily, I found a small cafe at the beginning of the main off road section of this route. Now while I was eating the sky started to get dark and a few spats of rain landed on the table, but it never did rain, so I finished my coffee quickly, and set off before it did. Eventually, after cycling 50 miles, I found the first of the two tunnels, and it did not disappoint. Yes it was very long, but it was better lit than the Tavistock tunnels, and it had lit hubs imbedded in the walls, that looked like something out of Doctor Who's Tardis, that played classical music, but each one was playing a different instrument to the next for the same piece. This made it a very entertaining ride in the dark, and very much worth the ride to find it. The second tunnel wasn't anything like as long, and didn't have the music, but was still a nice bit to ride.

Now while sitting at the cafe for lunch, I had decided to see if there was a train to get me back to Salisbury, as by now the weather was looking dodgy and I didn't really want to get back to the van very late. This sort of worked out, as there was a train that goes straight back, but the cycle lane doesn't finish near it, in fact it finishes on a busy main road. So a quick look on the phone told me the station was 2 miles down the road, so I headed that way, but then I saw a sign for cycle route 4, and the Train station, so I followed that. This took me down along the river, and was fairly pleasant, until the heavens opened, and I got hammered by rain and hail, plus the winds had suddenly picked up too. It was also at this point that the signs started to get a bit confusing, so I ended up going all over the place, and almost out of the city following route 4. This meant that, as well as being soaked through, I watched my train leave as I was walking up the steps to the platform, so I bought an over priced coffee and cinnamon bun, and waited an hour for the next one. As usual the bike area on the train was big enough for two bikes, and it was full already with a bunch of kids scooters piled in too, but two stops later they had all gone so I could park the bike properly and have a seat. By the time I reached Salisbury, the sun was beaming, so I retraced my route back to the campsite.

Today I'm off to Chipping Norton, for four days, though I'm not sure how much cycling I'll get done as the weather looks awful for this week, but we'll see as it has loads of cycle routes near it, and I do have the waterproofs somewhere. I also need to amend my last statement about mileage. In the last blog I said I had a limit of 200 miles a week, which I don't, Its more like 140. You see my budget was supposed to be £150 a week, but sites are about 8/9 pounds a night, so Thats £56/£63 gone already. Food tends to be about £30 from the supermarket(£48 this week as I had guests, not that I did much cooking in the end), but £10/£20 a time when I eat out. Add this to the average 30p a mile the van costs me, to get from Minehead it was 90 miles, so cost me £26, and to get from Tavistock to Minehead was about the same, so another £26. So in total the budget doesn't really work, unless I do nothing, or stay in one place longer than a couple of days. When I go over to France to follow the Tour, I should only be paying for the fuel and food, which is cheaper there, and apparently, during the tour, everyone just parks up any where, so no more campsite fees, plus they have free aires for motor homes too. But as I get bogged down in the expenses of this trip, I do need to remember that I'm not doing this as a lifestyle change, its just a bit of fun time, so bugger the cost.


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