Tour of South Wales – Day Four – July 2021

Llanelli to Newport

Day four was billed as the Queen stage of our 5 day Tour of Wales adventure, so we started the day with a huge cooked breakfast. While Sean polished off every last morsel, breakfast defeated me & I was left hoping that this would be the only item to beat me today!

We were on the road by just after 9am & the first 3 or 4 miles were spent navigating our way along quiet residential roads as we left Llanelli & started heading east. We gambled on short-sleeved jerseys & suntan lotion as the morning forecast was dry with a possibility of showers in the afternoon.

As we crossed the river Lougher, we spotted a couple of fishermen dangling their rods in the river, hoping to catch lunch. At the 7 mile point we left suburbia behind us for a while – we joined a Sustrans cycle path for 4 miles, reminding Sean & myself of the Bristol to Bath cycle path from Bitton into Bath. It even had a hard-packed gravel section to keep us on our toes.

The cycle path delivered us onto Swansea Beach, where we joined the seafront cycle path for a few miles. We then had to navigate our way across Swansea on cycle lanes & cycle paths which kept us out of the way of the busy workers & shoppers.

As we circumnavigated Earlswood golf club, we took the cycle route across the A48 Briton Ferry bridge before battling a brief headwind to get onto the Aberavon sea front, where there were 100’s of people enjoying the sunny weather.

By now, we were over 2¼ hours (& 26 miles) into the adventure, so it was time to find somewhere to stop for refreshments. Selections Coffee Shop was in the main pedestrian walkway in Port Talbot (only a 10 minute ride from the Tata steelworks) & they served up a lovely piece of peach melba cheesecake washed down with a cappuccino.

The first 6 miles after our coffee stop were on National Cycle Route 4 (NCR 4) cycle path, keeping us off the busy main roads, just a few feet off to our right. When we hit Pyle, the ride turned into the adventure we’d been hoping for – we joined a gravel cycle track that took us through a beautiful forest, including a moving memorial to the 112 men & children who lost their lives in the Parc Slip colliery disaster of 1892. The names of all the victims have been recorded in the brick walkway – one family lost 6 sons in the incident, the youngest of which was 14 years old.

At Tondu we worked our way across to the next section of NCR 4 where we followed a more conventional cycle path, although it threw in a couple of short, but steep climbs, which were unexpected! This was a hors d’oeuvre for what was to follow – as we joined the A4041 at Blackmill the climbing started for real – 2 challenging ascents with a lightening quick descent in the middle – I rapidly ran out of gears & required my friends Grit & Determination to get me to the 2 summits!

We continued tracking east & slightly north on more cycle paths, before hitting Caerphilly, where we needed to take a couple of commuter roads to cross town. Luckily we avoided the steep climb of Caerphilly Mountain but did have a great surprise when we found ourselves passing the ancient castle at the 60 mile point.

Leaving Caerphilly, we re-joined NCR 4 as we took quiet country lanes through idyllic villages that mirrored the contours of the surrounding hills.

As we hit the 70 mile point, we started working our way round & across Newport. Although we once more followed busy roads, we were on separate cycle lanes. To all intents & purposes, the adventure was now over although we still had another 11 miles to go. We knew the ride was almost over when we passed Celtic Manor & before we knew it we’d arrived in Langstone & found our hotel for the evening.

The day can be separated into three distinct sections – busy roads crossing towns like Swansea, Port Talbot & Newport (although we rode next to the roads), the stunning & undulating scenery of NCR 4 & the glorious coastal views between Llanelli, Swansea & Port Talbot.

The day more than lived up to its Queen Stage billing as we had our 3rd epic day out on the trot – 81 miles (our longest of the trip), over 7 hours in the saddle & more than 4,500 feet of climbing on a fully laden touring bike! Tomorrow marks the end of this week’s Tour of Wales, but I feel that I’ll be back again to sample some more Welsh delights.

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