I caught the ferry from Dublin to Hollyhead. In all, the weather in Ireland had been incredible, I hardly saw a overcast day let alone rain. As the boat cut through the quiet sea into the port a dense fog lay over everything. I could barely see 200 meters ahead as I disembarked and cycled through the quiet streets.
I found a place to pitch my tent right by the sea which had now turned into a white tipped angry mass of water, crashing onto the rocks below. My little tent experienced it’s first night of proper wind, stretching and straining as the nylon’s limits were tested. The next morning was not any better, the wind had picked up and as I started to ride southwards the rains came like never before. I had a Vietnam flashback while on the bicycle, with the tropical rainfall I experienced there when on a motorbike. As I rode along the highway I yelled to the wind “why are you doing this??? I want to enjoy Wales, give me some good weather!” well someone must have heard me, within 2 hours the clouds were gone and the sun was out, my clothes were all dry within a few minutes and the rainstorm was quickly forgotten.
Wales is absolutely stunning, mountains cover the northern part where I was cycling through, with small remnants of snow as we edge closer to summer. waterfalls could be seen in the dozens, gently cascading down the mountainsides every which way I turned. The air, so fresh and clean after the recent downpour. I cycled through Snowdonia national park down towards the coast, through many towns I cannot pronounce or even spell but each as beautiful as the next.
A couple of weeks before I had noticed a pain in my leg, nothing major but it didn’t seem to heal up, when you cycle 100km per day I guess it doesn’t have much to a chance to. As the days went by it started to get worse and on my 3rd day in Wales I noticed my leg was starting to swell and bruise where the pain was coming from. After a bit of humming and haring I decided to take some time off in London and rest up my legs. I made the decision to stop only after talking to a fellow cyclist doing a similar trip to me through Wales with big bags on the back of his bike. He also suggested a bit of time off the leg would be a good thing. I made it down the coast to Aberystwyth which is a stunning coastal town with beautiful old houses that line the coast with their million dollar views. I managed to catch a train back to London where I spent my days resting up at a friends place.
After a couple of weeks resting up and visiting a few friends around the place my leg felt perfect again, I could run on it with no troubles so it was time to hit the road again. This time I headed West. the plan was to see a bit of the south of Wales, all the main towns I missed the first time. I cycled up to Oxford from London to check out the intellectuals there with the incredible old buildings rich with pride and history a nice town to live and study. My first night back on the road I set up my tent along a small trail off the side of the road, as I set up my tent one of my poles snapped clean in half. “Nooo!” I managed to cut one of my pegs in half and Jimmy up the pole in the most crude fashion, but it did work for the night. The next day I managed to find a Mountain Warehouse where I bought the tent from and they replaced it, not only that I upgraded from a 2 man tent which is already a bit self indulgent, to a 3 man tent! So now I have a small house for my accommodation.
I rode to Gloucester the second day, sun shining like you wouldn’t believe, birds were out in full song as I cycled country roads to get there. The rape seed flowers were so bright in the fields all around lifting my spirits higher than usual. I spent a short time riding through Gloucester before heading south towards Bristol along the canals. The canals throughout England were a busy and populated place with house boats lining the edges of the canals for miles and miles. I was scoping out a nice place to pitch my tent for the night when I came across a farm which had beautiful green fields with corn just starting to grow, I thought I best ask the farmer for permission to set up in his paddock but after asking he said he could do much better than that. He invited me in and Nigel and I chatted the night away before letting me set up in his back yard right by the house. “breakfast is at 9 Nathan, I’ll leave a towel out for you to have a shower when you wake up” what a guy! I had a delicious breakfast with him, duck eggs and toast and great conversation. Nigel had been living there for nearly 30 years but had spent the last 8 years alone and was very happy for the company. I barely managed to leave after breakfast as Nigel was keen to talk, but around 11.30 I managed to hit the road off to Cardiff another insanely sunny day where I got my over dosage of vitimin d.
Cardiff, what can I say? It is a city like any other, the port area had millions of dollars recently spent on it to upgrade it to the shiny new area it is today. Market stalls, merry-go-rounds and ship masts could all be seen down there, a lot of young family’s walked along the pier enjoying the sun. That night I some how managed to set up my tent in a pub garden, the owner was more than happy to have me sleeping there while inside people got drunk and merry.
Swansea was my next stop, only a short cycle away I powered through the countryside on yet another spectacular sunny day. Farm lands as far as the eye could see in every direction, so green and full of cows and sheep it reminded me a lot of home.
Tenting on the edge of a cliff, they don’t make campsites with views like this!
From Swansea my plan was to ride right out to St David on the peninsula right in the far west of Wales, how ever I noticed my rear wheel no longer had any rubber on it. you could see all the treads coming through so I decided to play it safe and stop in the biggest town Havenfordwest for the night, as I had already booked my return train to London I never made it out to St David’s. But it gives me something to see next time.
Back in London now I am preparing to head off on my journey to France tomorrow morning. The bike is prepped and set, and I’m looking forward to the kilometers ahead!