Friday, 13 October 2017

Auckland to Wellington - Days 1 to 3: The West Coast

Day 1: Auckland Airport to Raglan
So this wasn't the first time I had cycled from Auckland to Wellington, but this time I was going an entirely different route.  It was always my intention on this tour to cover big mileage on the first 3 days, as the centre-piece of this particular tour was always going to be Taranaki, and I knew the weather would be unpredictable and I might have to wait around or modify my plans.  With this in mind then, after landing in Auckland with next to no sleep after a late night flight from Melbourne, I knew the first day would be testing.  I had about 145Km to cover to make it to Raglan.

On the first night, bearing in mind I had no sleep the night before, I planned to stay in a hostel so I could have a comfy bed and a good night's shut-eye.  Over the next 12 nights on the trip, however, I only paid for accommodation twice, which is not a bad effort for New Zealand because anyone who has visited will know how difficult it is to free camp there, as almost all areas are very well fenced-off.

The first day was pleasant enough, nothing spectacular, but rolled up and down the hills.  It probably was a fairly ambitious target for the first day, but I arrived into town at sunset, basically perfect timing.  A good start to the tour, back in the saddle and bang on schedule.

Raglan at sunset.

On Google, the information about the YHA hostel in town was incorrect, leaving me with a more expensive option of a BBH hostel, as the YHA was actually about 7Km out of town near the surfing areas, and of course, up a rather large hill.  At first, I thought about camping, but as usual in New Zealand, if you go to a campsite, it ends up being just as expensive as a hostel.  So for the same price, a nice warm bed with other comfortable facilities seemed the better idea.

As it was, the BBH hostel was an excellent call.  It was an amazing hostel, I had a quiet and comfortable room and one huge bonus was that the central area of the hostel was outside and had a Jacuzzi!  I had a quick shower and then soaked in the tub for half an hour before going to bed; my legs really appreciated it, it was like heaven.  I slept like the dead and woke up feeling pretty refreshed, luckily so, as I had an even bigger day ahead.

Day 2: Raglan to Waikawau (a little short of here).

This day ended up being one of the best days of the trip; fantastic weather, beautiful waterfalls, and remote and scenic roads.  However, it was also probably the most physically exhausting.  Big climbs, many on unsealed roads, with very few amenities, and even fewer people around.

As the profile above shows, there really were hardly any flat sections, and the day consisted of about 70Km of unsealed road.  Although quite difficult at times to cycle on, the unsealed section was fantastic; a very scenic and enjoyable part of the day.  At almost 100 miles of cycling (155Km), this day took quite a lot out of me.  I really felt it at the end of the day, and suffered a bit for the next couple of days as well.  Still, suffering is all part of the appeal of bicycle touring.

The stunning Bridal Veil Falls.
The first stop of interest of the day was Bridal Veil Falls.  I have seen a few waterfalls on my travels now, but I really liked this one.  Tucked-away in native bush, but not all that far off the road, it really felt like an ancient, remote, and special place.  And as usual in New Zealand, especially at this time of year, I was the only one around.  I lingered around for a while and took in the splendor of this very pretty waterfall.

After the falls my map was sending me down a road with signs saying "no exit", so this worried me a little.  I didn't want to back-track and everything on my map seemed okay, so I decided to risk it.  The further down the road I went without a sign, though, the more worried I became that I might have to go back and waste a significant portion of the day.  Fortunately, that never happened, just a very hilly, very pretty road with absolutely no cars.

After a short, but predictably steeply uphill detour, I arrived at my second waterfall of the day, Marokopa Falls.  A much bigger and more powerful waterfall than Bridal Veil.  I was pretty tired at this point, so I stopped for a needed hour's rest and ate and drank as much as I could.

After this, I wasn't exactly sure how far I was going to get or, more importantly, where to camp.  I kept riding until well past sunset.  No cars had past me all afternoon, until one guy pulled-up alongside me and asked where I was going and then said there would be places to camp just over the next hill about 6Km away or so.  This was a relief as all I could see around me were miles and miles of fenced-off farmland on very wet ground.  I asked how big the hill was, and his reply was "It shouldn't take you too long".

The climb ended-up being one of the biggest of the day at about 300m.  I was worried that he might have also got the details of possible camping areas wrong, so I was always on the lookout for possible camping spots.  I eventually stopped, right at the summit of the climb, where I saw a flat piece of ground set back from the road.  It still wasn't far from the road, but seeing as I had only seen one car in about 3 hours, I figured that no one would be going past at after 8.30pm.  I was right, I heard nothing all night.

Day 3: Waikawau to New Plymouth

I had drizzly rain for most of day 3, but not enough to get soaked-through, so it wasn't too bad.  The first 30-40Km were actually very pretty, even in the rain.  It was a much easier day, only punctuated by two decent climbs, but the previous day made things hard-going.  However, I knew there would be a hostel at the end of it, and that I'd probably be done by mid to late afternoon, enabling me to get some good rest.

In the morning, I past a fellow bicycle tourer from Germany.  He was being a lot more sensible than me and taking his time, doing about 50-60Km a day.  He had the time though, and seemed to be planning to do exactly the same kind of thing I did a year earlier.  I gave him some tips on good roads and sights, especially in the South Island that he shouldn't miss.

In future tours, I am planning on taking things a bit more slowly, taking my time and cutting-down the daily mileage, but this year has been a story of multiple shorter tours, and so with limited time, I've still had to put my foot down a little and grind-out the distance.  I was certainly a little envious of this German fella taking his time to enjoy things a bit more.  Although I like the grind, I am starting to yearn for some easier touring.

I eventually wound my way out of a mountainous valley and found my way to the coast, the last 40Km being on a main road with some cars for a change.  I had only seen a handful of them over the previous two days once I got clear of Auckland.  After one more climb, I had made it to New Plymouth; about 420Km in 3 days, mainly over hills and mountains.  I was surprisingly not too sore, but utterly exhausted.  Cups of tea and plenty of food for the rest of the day, ready for a good night's sleep and hopefully good weather for some hiking up Mount Taranaki the following day.

Monday, 18 September 2017

A Return to the North Island: Auckland to Wellington

Almost a year has past since finishing my favourite cycle tour so far in New Zealand.  I didn't quite finish it as planned though; I eventually returned to Melbourne via Wellington, two weeks early because of visa issues in Australia.  I had planned another two weeks of riding from Wellington to Auckland up the West coast.

On my last trip to New Zealand I covered the South Island fairly extensively over a month and a half (although there are still a few areas I wouldn't mind exploring), but I spent less time in the North Island, just 2 weeks.  So with a full week that I am quiet at work, I thought I'd have a couple of weeks for a bit of an adventure down the West coast, in the reverse direction I had planned previously.

At about 1200Km, this is a fairly ambitious tour to do in 2 weeks.  I had originally planned a more direct route after visiting Taranaki, but I had seen a friend post a few pictures of Cape Palliser and also had a client at work who said nice things about it, so I thought I'd make the trip a bit more of a physical challenge.

Not only does heading to Cape Palliser before finishing in Wellington add distance, it also increases the climbing.  The journey to the Cape actually includes some of the toughest ascents of the trip.  I find I just can't resist the physical challenge; I could do less distance and go a bit slower, but I really enjoy the long days on the bike and a bit of suffering.

That being said, with the weather in New Zealand being somewhat unpredictable, the contingency is to just go with the original plan and head straight to Wellington on a more direct route.  After Whanganui, though, this is a route I cycled last time, so it would be nice to avoid it.

The tour will be marked by a number of waterfalls, but the central highlight will be a hike around - and possibly up - Mount Taranaki.  I was looking forward to this last time, before I had to go back home early.

Mount Taranaki, just visible in the distance from the top of  Mount Tongariro (about 200Km away), taken from my last trip.

The profile reveals that, somewhat unexpectedly, there shouldn't be as much climbing as my last tour in Wales and England.  The tour is about 300Km longer than in Wales, but has the same elevation gain over that distance, which does tell you something about the Welsh coastline, and Wales in general, because all through England there was obviously not that much climbing to be done.

After two shorter tours this year of about a week long each, this will be my longest tour of 2017 and I can't wait to head back to one of my favourite countries.  After Auckland, this tour will pass through mainly small towns and villages, in some of the less populated areas of the North Island.  As well as the natural splendor of the North Island, this part of New Zealand is a bit richer in Maori culture than the South, so I think I will be in contact with the natives a little more than on my last tour, especially as I am not going through many tourist areas this time.

Looking forward to another 2 weeks of adventure and hard work - yet peaceful and relaxing at the same time.  I have just rejuvenated the bike with a service and a new chain and cassette, so she's ready for the challenge as well.  It should be a cracking trip, fingers crossed for the weather!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Last Leg Home Through England and Tour Summary

I had completed the main part of the tour, through Wales, but I still had to make my way through England to get back home to Colchester.  I knew that the most physical days were behind me and that things should get easier from then on, but this was the part of the tour I was least sure about, mainly because of the maze of roads between me and my final destination.

Coming off tours in New Zealand and Australia, where map reading skills and route finding aren't especially difficult given the lack of roads and wide open spaces, I was worried that I might make quite a few wrong turns or even end up on some rather dodgy roads for cycling in heavy traffic.

I needn't have worried, however, the app on my phone helped me pick my way back through England mainly on quiet B roads, taking-in sleepy, picturesque English villages along the way.

After an early morning pit stop in Gloucester, my main place of interest for the penultimate day of the trip was The Cotswolds; and area of natural beauty, classic villages and architecture in South-West England.  It is exactly what you might picture in your head when you think about old English towns and villages nestled in the countryside.

I stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water for some cream tea, something I had been telling some of my Chinese students to do if they ever went to England during my English classes.  The mounds of clotted cream and jam on my scone also provided much needed calories.

Cream Tea in The Cotswolds

It was just a nice, peaceful, and pleasant place to walk and cycle around, nothing spectacular, but how one would like to think of one's own country after leaving it's shores.  This was as English as it got, and the surroundings were about as stereotypically England as you could imagine.

After my short stop in the tea room, I packed my bags, ready to set off once more, I had a big day ahead of me.  I wanted to do some good mileage so I could get home later on the following day in not too much of a rush.  As I packed, a couple of cyclists locked-up their bikes next to me.  They were doing Lands End to John O'Groats.  They were packed much lighter than me as they were staying in B&Bs all along the way.  We had a good chat and I was envious of their big trip through the country.  They couldn't believe I brought my bike all the way from Australia, something that many people found quite astonishing while I was back home, as they just assumed it would be too expensive.  As a matter of fact, these days, most airlines just count it as part of your baggage allowance.

As I said, nothing spectacular, but I was enjoying the ride.  The steep hills of Wales were behind me and my backroad route took me through lots of little villages with old pubs and churches.  The only break from this was a short stop in Bicester, a slightly larger town, inhabited mostly by Muslims, it seemed to me.  There weren't many White faces around, that's for sure.  This did feel strange, as throughout the whole trip, seeing as I was going an almost totally rural route, I never saw any hint of the changing demographics of the country.

I had no idea where I would be spending my last night of the tour, but I was keen on making it to somewhere near Woburn in Bedfordshire.  Woburn is a very upmarket little town which hosts a famous golf course, abbey, and safari park.  All very nice, but not the best place to spend the night if you want to save money.  No campsites and no budget accommodation.

I couldn't afford to stay in Woburn and with little cover around for wild camping, I found a cheeky little spot behind a few trees not far off the road in a small forested area not far from Woburn Abbey.  The bells rang-out continually for about an hour from 7-8pm.  I didn't mind at all as it was just another taste of England on a very English kind of day.

The camp spot was a bit precarious though.  I was a little exposed to being spotted from the road (though unlikely), so I covered my bike with branches and made it all into a kind of bush to cover me and my tent from being seen.  It worked a treat and I had a comfortable night's sleep after a big day of over 170Km.

I woke up needing to do about another 130Km to make it home.  I was keen on getting home a little early so I could have a day's rest before working the following day, not to mention that I needed a wash after two nights camping in the forest and cycling all day.  I was looking forward to some creature comforts.

I began the day early, getting away at about 5.30am.  It was a cool, misty morning and I got a treat as I was coming out of Woburn, as presented before me were hundreds of dear grazing on the grassland the other side of the forest.  It was quite a sight, I had never seen so many in my life.

The rest of the day I continued to pass through countless villages with churches, cricket grounds, and old pubs.  It was a nice finish to the tour, and things got progressively easier as I came closer to home, doing less and less climbing, despite regular small hills.

Ironically, my last 25-30Km was down a path that I had trodden many times in the past.  Several years ago, I got a job as a science technician in a private school in just outside of Halstead in Essex, not too far from my home.  I say not too far, but it was still about 30Km away.  At the time, I was finding work difficult to come by and could find no other job.  At the same time the petrol prices were extraordinarily high, so inspired by my friend's recent cycle tour from Korea to the UK, I thought I should try cycling every morning.  The last part of my cycle tour of England and Wales was to retrace the old route back home from work.  It did bring back some memories passing the school again.

I got back home and completed another successful bicycle tour, ahead of schedule, but much tougher physically than I had anticipated.  I was very glad that I had brought my bike all the way from Melbourne, it had definitely been worth it.

Tour Summary

Total Km: 867Km

Total Ascent: 7748m

Daily Average: 124Km

Hiking: Approximately 18Km on day one in Snowdonia and 15Km on day 5 in the Brecon Beacons.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Pembrokeshire Coast and The Brecon Beacons

Day 2 in North Wales was tougher than I expected, and things were to continue that way for the duration of my trip along the coast of Wales.  As beautiful as it was, the hills were crazy.

In my preview to this trip, I commented that I didn't expect Wales and England to be much of a physical challenge compared to what I had gone through in Australia and New Zealand.  How wrong I was.  I have since learned that my Dad has a business associate in Wales and they had told him that I'd never get up the hills on the roads following the coast.  Well, I got up them, but it did take a lot out of me.

I have learned that, while forecasts may not be perfect, it is always worthwhile planning a couple of days in advance in the event of dodgy weather.  With this in mind, I knew that the forecast was rain for the night and all the next day, so I needed to get somewhere dry and comfortable.  Add to this my fatigue, and I was pretty keen not to camp overnight, so I had my eyes set on a YHA hostel in Manorbier, right on the South West coast near some beautiful sea cliffs.

At nearly 150Km away, and with the Welsh coastline throwing-up some incredibly steep climbs (as you can see on the profile, not huge ascents, but steep every time), I knew this wasn't going to be easy, but I had to make it.  Wild camping in the rain when exhausted is not much fun.  I actually enjoy wild camping, but on a hard bicycle tour, I reckon doing it 50% of the time is more than enough.

The pattern of the day was a steep descent into a picturesque town or village, followed by a steep ascent out at at 15-20% incline.  This happened all day and continued for the first half of the next day as well, and was incredibly draining on the legs as a result.


I did pass-through some lovely seaside towns, though, which made the effort all worthwhile.  The stand-outs were Fishguard and St Davids, the later being a city (the smallest in Britain), but St Davids is really only a small town.  It got city status because traditionally in England and Wales places were given city status if they had a diocesan cathedral, and St Davids has one, and a very pretty one at that.

St Davids

It was a hard grind to reach Manorbier, and I was hoping the hostel wasn't all booked-out, and luckily there was a bed in a dorm room available.  Before settling-down and showering, I took a walk around the sea cliffs close to the hostel to take in some of the views before sundown.

I had contemplated having a whole day off the next day due to the bad forecast of rain all day, however, the weather was supposed to clear-up the day after, which would be great for hiking up Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons.  So I prepared myself for a wet day.

I had about 130Km to get to another YHA hostel, this time right in the heart of the Brecon Beacons and not far from the start of the hike up to Pen-y-Fan.  I gave myself a bit of time in the morning and filled-up on a huge breakfast to give myself some energy for the day.  Fortunately, the weather in the morning wasn't as bad as forecast, with very light drizzle at the worst, which did not spoil the coastal views that much.

Picturesque town of Tenby on a cloudy morning.

The first part of the day was still hilly, but slightly less so, and followed a really nice route along the coast, including some cycle paths along the shoreline and through tunnels in the rock.  For much of the first couple of hours, I didn't go on any roads at all.  It was at these times I was thankful for a phone app call  The downloaded maps were almost flawless and all the bike paths and routes came up and were easy to follow.

Fantastic bike path through the rock along the coast.
As I turned inland on a long country road, the hills picked-up in severity yet again, and tiredness began to set in once more as the weather also deteriorated.  I was still working my way very efficiently through the back roads, however, but eventually I had to get on an A road.  It was quite a busy one and not much fun to cycle on, although at least it was fast.  I was only on it for about 15Km in the hard shoulder, but I covered the ground much quicker as the road was far less undulating.

I managed to find quiet B roads after that all the way into the Brecon Beacons, an area of higher mountains in South Wales.  Once into the national park, it was a very steady uphill climb to nearly 450m.  This was one of the biggest climbs of the trip, but even though it was also done in the pouring rain, because it was steady, it was a doddle compared to what I had been doing along the coast.

The Brecon Beacons is famous as an army training area in the UK, especially of  the SAS, the British elite special arms forces.  I saw plenty of soldiers and army trucks on the way to the hostel.

I arrived at the hostel totally wet-through and was hoping and praying for a bed, and again I got one. I really don't know why I don't book in advance, especially as I pretty much always hit my daily targets on the bike.  I dried-off, settled-in and prepared for some hiking the next day, followed by 80Km of cycling again afterwards.

Handily, the hostel had a path conveniently connecting with the trail up Pen-y-Fan.  I wasn't planning a huge day, about 14Km total in a circuit back to the hostel.  The weather was improving, but still wasn't perfect, so I was unsure whether I'd have views from the top.  All the way up, I could see the peaks shrouded in cloud, although there were still great views from lower down.

As I reached the top, I could see nothing, but I decided to hang around for ten minutes, as things can change fast on mountains, and especially in Wales.  Sure enough, the clouds started to clear and offered stunning views of the Beacons in all directions.  I met a lovely chap from Merthyr Tydfil who took a photo for me and also educated me on some Welsh pronunciation (apparently it is pronounced "Pen-a-van").

On the way down, I was rather taken aback to see two disabled people being helped up the rocky path on 4-wheel drive mobility scooters.  At various times their helpers were placing planks of wood across difficult areas and even partly lifting the scooters.  It looked back-breaking stuff, and the disabled people looked cold, as they were just sitting there.  At my gym back in Australia, we have pictures of an inspiring man without legs scaling peaks in Tasmania and other countries, so I'm not saying mountains aren't a place for the disabled, but it really didn't look a good idea getting those disabled people I saw in Wales up a mountain.

I made my way back to the hostel in good time, but my day wasn't over.  I wanted to see if I could make it into England before the end of the day, and with one last almighty effort, I made it to a wild camping spot in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, about 30Km from the city of Gloucester. After a slightly scary experience with an angry Dad of a family of wild pigs - he stared and huffed at me for quite a long time (he was quite big and looked very upset) - I settled down for a quiet night in the forest.  Wales was amazing, but I was very pleased to leave the hills behind me.

Wild camping in the forest.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wales and England Part 1: North Wales

I somehow managed to cram my bike and all my camping gear into my mum's sports car - as well as her stuff and the dog - so it was about a 6 hour drive up to Conwy in North Wales.  I had a couple of days there before I'd start the journey back home on the bike.

20 miles or so before reaching Conwy, my mum and I stopped-off at Betws-y-Coed, a nice little village on a river for a short walk and to let the dog stretch his legs.  It was the first sign of the great synergy much of the UK seems to have between man-made buildings and their surroundings.  Unlike many places in the world I have been, the buildings here complement their surroundings and add to the scenery; they don't stick out like a sore thumb and spoil the view.  It was also the first opportunity to butcher a place name, much like I did all over New Zealand.  Amazingly, I managed to be even worse at pronouncing Welsh towns and villages than I did those in New Zealand.

I would definitely do more running if this kind of view was a few kilometres down the road.

Conwy was a beautiful little town to start things off.  Narrow streets with old buildings and one huge castle.  The morning after my arrival I went for a run over the other side of town to one of the rocky outcrops over-looking the town.  Even though it was a cloudy day it still gave excellent views of quite a lovely place.

Conwy Castle

Later on that day I joined my mum and her friend, plus a good friend from my time in Korea, Peter, for a short hike.  The next day, we would do a harder hike around the nearby mountains.  I had originally planned to hike up Wale's highest mountain, Mount Snowden, but I was advised by Anne - who we were staying with - that this hike would be busy with tourists and not especially enthralling. She suggested we do a longer, more technical scramble of a hike, first up Mount Trfan and then along a ridge-line after it, horse-shoeing back to our bikes.

Mount Tryfan

Firstly, though, I had to meet my friend at the start of the hike and this required about 40Km of cycling from Conwy to get there.  Pete would meet me there, as he was riding a motorbike.  The plan was to leave the bike at the base of the trail and cycle a little more afterwards about 6 hours or so later.  The cycle to the start of the walk started immediately with a 300-400 metre climb up to the Sychnant Pass just outside of Conwy, which was a bit of an early shock to the system.  It then continued along some country roads, avoiding the main road, which was extremely busy and not suitable for bikes.

One country road in particular rose so sharply that I had to get off the bike and walk, and even that was difficult.  This is not something I had to do for the rest of the trip, but it was clear very early on that this trip wasn't going to be an easy one, and that the country roads were going to be a little unpredictable in terms of gradients.  Once I got on the main A road towards the mountains, however, the gradient became more manageable, rising more gradually.

Anne was right about the choice of hike, it was fantastic, great views and quite a challenging scramble.  It was just like old times hiking in Korea, although I think Wales has slightly more appealing scenery, even if the mountains are actually lower.

After a little rest, I said goodbye to Pete and headed-off on my own to see how far I could get through Snowdonia before calling it a day.

It was superb cycling, not really that challenging, as the ascents were gradual and the descents long, without too many twisting corners to slow me down.  This didn't take away from the lovely scenery through the Welsh valleys.

By the end of the day I had done about 80Km on the bike, much more than I expected, especially with a 6 hour hike in the middle.  I'd made it past Porthmadog and settled-in at a campsite a little further down the road.  Just beforehand I had stopped to get some cash in a small town called Tremadog.  I cycled through a very modest street party outside a couple of pubs on the main street.  It was quite a quaint look at Wales.  "Show me the way to Amarillo", was pumping out over loudspeakers with a big Welsh flag in the background.  This song was to be in my head for the rest of the trip.

Day 1 route and profile.

After a little rain overnight, I hung my tent up to try and dry it out before setting-off.  My mission was to get as far as possible in the day, now heading down the West coast.  I was soon to learn that cycling along the coast of Wales is actually much tougher than cycling through the mountains. Basically, the route up the mountains were through the valleys and steady because of it; the coast on the other hand, was remarkably up and down, especially when coming in and out of the towns.

As I made my way South the hills felt like they were getting more pronounced.  I often dropped into small towns, which gave me good chances for breaks, but also posed an extra challenge of making sure I knew where I was going.  As the trip went on, I got better and better and finding my way around.

It was nice to pass through small towns and villages, many with old castles and buildings and red post boxes.  It was all very traditional, very British, and made for such a different atmosphere while riding from my trips in Australasia.

Coastline of Aberystwyth.

I made a few pit stops throughout the day, one in a place called Dogellau for a cooked breakfast and some cake, and then again in Aberystwth, a town I once considered studying in.  Aberystwyth had a very pretty waterfront, with nice buildings and a rocky coastline.  I remember when I considered studying there that the bay at Aberystwyth was home to some dolphins, so I thought I would look out on the water for a while to see if I could spot them, and sure enough, after a few minutes I could see two porpoising close to shore.

Not having many pictures of me and the bike, I looked for someone to take my picture on the shorefront at Aberystwyth.  I found an old couple; the lady said her husband better take the picture as he was better at taking photos.  He kindly took some, but afterwards I looked at the pictures and he managed to take 8 pictures of the floor and 4 of me but with his thumb over the lens.  I then asked a young couple to do it instead once they had disappeared off into the distance.

It was difficult to know where to stop after Aberystwyth, but at around 7pm I couldn't ride any longer, and because of the lack of tree cover in this part of Wales and many farms, I saw a sign for camping and thought I might as well pay again, even though I really dislike paying for camping.  As I rode down the track, I couldn't see any signs of a campsite, just two fairly large houses with no one around.  Eventually a man came out and I asked if this was where the campsite was.  He said yes, and that another cyclist had camped there the day before.  There were no facilities though, and so he just said I didn't need to pay and to just camp in the field out back near a couple of old caravans.  Perfect.

Day 2 route and profile.

After another rainy early morning, I managed to dry-off in one of those caravans as the door was open.  This was very handy as it was still raining outside.  I got myself all sorted in the dry inside and thought that I could have just stayed in the caravan for the night, but I guess that would have been a bit cheeky.

Half of Wales done, I had to cycle quite a bit more down the coast through Pembrokeshire National Park and then across to the Brecon Beacons, which did bring up some challenges, both in terrain and with the weather.  All about that in the next post.