Newport to Bristol
The fifth & final stage of my Tour of Wales adventure began with a bacon sandwich, orange juice & coffee – we were ‘only’ riding 62 miles today, so no need for a full fry-up!! We were packed, checked out of the hotel & on the road by 8.30am. The sky overhead was blue again, with clouds & possible showers forecast for late afternoon.
We re-traced the final mile of yesterday’s route on the A48 back towards Celtic Manor, before taking a right turn & started climbing straight away – not really what the legs needed before they had a chance to warm up. The reward for our hard work was that as we summited the climb, big views opened up across the valley to Celtic Manor golf course & beyond.
We entered a forest as we descended into Kerneys Inferior & could just make out the rush hour traffic on the A449 dual carriageway, just off to our left. As we continued on to Newbridge on Usk, we caught a view of the river Usk where birds were swooping down catching their breakfasts of flies & gnats. As we reached Llantrisant, the road started to rise again – while these early climbs were all less than a mile in length, they all provided stern tests, as they all had gradients that hit 10% plus.
On the next downhill section we passed a couple of large new build houses, which had us both saying if we won the lottery we’d want to buy one of them! Unfortunately they were well protected from my prying camera lens by lots of hedging.
In spite of doing a lot of riding around Usk, all these roads were new to us, as they were all to the south of town – I’m sure we’ll be back in the near future to explore some more, as we thoroughly enjoyed the lanes we did see.
We left Usk via the A472, then joined the much quieter B4235 at Gwernesney & continued across country to Raglan on roads we ride regularly. I stopped just after we crossed the busy A40 to get a photo of Raglan Castle, then we set off towards Monmouth on the Groesenon Road. I planned the route a few weeks ago so was fully expecting to follow the road all the way into Monmouth – it’s a regular training route.
It came as a surprise when my Wahoo GPS told us to turn down a small lane on National Cycle Route 42, but it was a gem of a detour, if a little lumpy! The next 6 miles into Monmouth had the profile of shark teeth – the narrow lanes were either climbing or descending, as we caught occasional glimpses of the surrounding hills & valleys.
We arrived in Monmouth at about 10.45am, with 25 miles completed, so stopped for carrot cake & cappuccino at Oxford Coffee Co – a new stop for us, but recommended by my work & cycling buddy Ian. It was a great little place & well worth a visit if ever you’re in the area.
Our final 20 miles of cycling Welsh roads took us up the Wye Valley on the A466, following the course of the river Wye as it joins the river Severn. This is a lovely stretch of road & in my experience, it’s rarely very busy – we were able to enjoy the ride even more than usual, as a tailwind pushed us home!
Although I know the road & views like the back of my hand, I deliberately acted as a cyclo-tourist, stopping to take photos whenever a nice view appeared.
Having passed Chepstow racecourse, we followed the cycle path to & over the Severn Bridge, where we stopped for a couple of final photos. Having arrived back in England, we reversed the route we took on Monday for the final 17 miles, passing through Olveston, Tockington & Frampton Cotterell. We had a very pleasant, but unexpected stop for a chat when I saw my sister-in-law Nikki & her Mum.
As the skies were beginning to darken overhead, we had to get on our way, continuing back towards the Bristol to Bath cycle path via Coalpit Heath & Emersons Green, until Sean & I eventually said our own goodbyes at Mangotsfield station, where the adventure began 5 days ago.
I’ve really enjoyed our Tour of Wales adventure – great company, experiencing off-roading routes & visiting areas of outstanding natural beauty. I’m sure I’ll be doing more touring in the future! Watch out for my next cycling adventure!