Our good friend Keith’s arrival from New Zealand heralds yet another cycling adventure. Planned and plotted by Gavin, this alternative ‘end to end’ (Lands End to John O’Groats) will take us from Portland Bill to Unst in the Shetland Islands over the next four weeks. We are looking forward to being joined next week in Dumfries by Maree and Phil, fellows of St Malo to Nice in 2015 and Corsica/Sardinia last year.
The train journey from Newton Abbot to Weymouth, changing lines at Castle Cary was not without stress! An instruction by the train manager to put the bikes in the Buffet car was overturned by the ticket collector by the time we hit the coast at Teignmouth, resulting in a helter-skelter dash to the guard van, bags everywhere, at Exeter. The two carriage train from Castle Cary required us to carry the bags and bikes up and across the over bridge to get to the right platform then manhandle them into a reasonably crowded space. Just as we settled down to enjoy the scenic countryside rolling by, one of the bikes fell over causing consternation from fellow passengers and a hero dash by Gavin to sort the situation. Our arrival to the sedate Victorian resort of Weymouth in the sunshine was not a moment to soon.
A ten mile cycle out of town, behind Chesil Beach and over the causeway took us to the Isle of Portland where a very long, very steep, heavily trafficked hill proved the first test of our metal. All passed and progressed in a less strenuous manner to the official starting point, the lighthouse at Portland Bill on the southern most tip of the island.
Our billet for the night was a delightful room at the charmingly named, Piddle Inn at Piddletrenthide, arriving on fabulous cycle paths and quiet lanes from Weymouth, through Dorchester and beyond. The countryside screams ‘harvest’, with fields of corn now mostly gathered in spite of August’s awful weather and hedgerows laden with an abundance of juicy ripe blackberries. A convivial supper was enhanced by Gavin’s university friend, John who joined us from his Dorchester home, recounting tales of his cycle touring youth on a bike and with equipment that makes our sound positively lightweight.