Cycling to Salcombe (Part 1): Home to Frome

Having told you in ‘Adventure Dilemmas’ about all the indecision and procrastination surrounding our adventure last summer, I need to tell you about how it all went.

Cycling to Salcombe (Part 1): Home to Frome

I had decided that James and I would cycle on the tandem to Salcombe about 180 miles away. We finally set off about eleven o’clock – a bit later than I’d planned due to an entirely predictable problem with the camera – and headed for a village near Frome where we were going to stop for the first night. The sun was shining and it felt good to finally be on our way. After about an hour’s cycling we stopped to refuel on cake at a café, and an hour after that we stopped again for huge handfuls of chocolate raisins beneath the Alton Barnes White Horse. We were rolling along quite nicely.

I then had to decide whether to go over the Pewsey Downs and through Bratton and Westbury to Frome; or to go to Devizes and then along the canal tow path past the famous Caen Hill locks. Thinking that being car-free would be much more enjoyable, I chose the latter. This was my third mistake; the second mistake, of course, had been the late departure. (More about the first mistake later…)

It was nice along the canal but it was also slow-going. In many places, the tow path wasn’t wide enough for a bicycle to pass a pedestrian without stopping; there was also a surprising amount of up-and-down at canal bridges and to cross main roads. At one point, we were making about four miles an hour, which was painfully slow. I was beginning to fear the onset of darkness, and was relieved when we drew near Bradford-on-Avon and could break away from the canal and get onto a B-road.

The first and most significant mistake, as you may have guessed, was the distance. My calculations had suggested it was about 45 miles, but the reality was very different. By the time we arrived at the welcoming village pub, it was about eight o’clock, and we had covered a staggering 56 miles. I felt rather amateur, but James wasn’t bothered at all; he was busy with the menu. When he learned that fish and chips were available and that he could have ‘The Biggest Fish the Boat Could Safely Land’ followed by apple crumble and ice cream, his happiness was complete.

After a scrumptious meal, we found our bed-and-breakfast, and wasted no time in getting settled-in, showered, and to bed. I resolved that the following day, we would set off earlier!

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About the Author

Helen & Ian

Helen & Ian

About Me & Mine

Hi there! Helen and Ian here from the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border! We have two boys who love everything in the Great Outdoors (especially sticks), and a border collie who also loves everything in the Great Outdoors (especially tennis balls). We also have a toddler daughter who is fiercely independent and proving to be just as intrepid as her brothers.

Favourite place in the world:

A difficult one... There are so many wonderful places to choose from... But it has to be Sandwood Bay in the far north-west of Scotland which can only be reached by a 4-mile walk. Last time we went it was a full-on winter mountaineering experience (with ice axe and crampons!) just to get there. Wild and windswept, it's totally unspoilt.

Favourite things to do outdoors:

Enjoy beaches, woods, and coastal paths; explore waterways in our open canoe; go for a big day out on a small hill; go rock climbing; collect sticks, conkers, and acorns; investigate puddles and rockpools; ride our tandem; fly a kite against a clear blue sky.

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