Hereford to Llandovery – day 5

I was aware that the weather forecast was for lots more rain, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to a long train journey in wet cycling gear, so I resolved to set off pretty early. As it happened, I broke all personal bests as I was awake with the dawn chorus, out of bed for 5.30 and on the road at 6.27. The tent was dry, its footprint needs airing, but all in all I was quite pleased with myself. I had mile upon mile of empty road as well – not that a great deal ever uses these remote Welsh B roads.

It was quite cold, although none of the nights delivered the sort of temperature that was rumoured. I hadn’t brought any warm gloves with me, and on the spur of the moment I had bought a pair of neoprene gardening gloves in a pound shop in Llandovery, just in case I did have to cycle in the cold and wet. My fingers were painful with cold this morning, so I put them on and slowly recovered as I went along. The wind was still north-easterly, so I had a headwind to contend with, but there was not a great deal of height loss to this journey: about 400′ above sea level in Aberedw, about 160′ above in Hereford some 38 miles away.

The clouds and early morning sun were providing quite a spectacle, and Lord Hereford’s Knob was covered in white.

I passed through this village on Friday and I promised it that I would

and I had to read this road sign two or three times before I realised that it didn’t say what at first I thought it said.

The Wye, at Glasbury, was much clearer than the turbid torrent it had been three days previously.

I arrived in Hay more quickly than I expected. I had it in my mind that it was 20 miles to Hay and a further 20 to Hereford, but in fact I pulled up outside the Isis tea rooms after only 16 miles, at 8.25 in the morning, intending to take advantage of their all-day breakfast, but they were closed. I suppose an all-day breakfast is one you can’t buy at breakfast time. Fortunately a baker’s shop was open an they were selling filled rolls. I bought a couple, eating one straight away and saving the other for the train.

Once I left Hay I was in England and, after a short while, it started to rain. I stopped near Moccas to put my waterproofs on and from that point I couldn’t really read the Garmin. The route was simplicity itself, though: I arrived in Madley and after that kept to the B road until it joined the A465 and some fairly heavy bank holiday traffic. I crossed the Wye for the last time

and then went in search of the station, which was annoyingly quite some distance from the city centre. My train was at the platform and left 5 minutes later, but I found that there was no convenient connection and decided that the Great Malvern tea room was the best place to spend an hour or so. Eventually, a huge old 125 arrived and I thankfully put my bike in the last space in the bike lock-up, although I found afterwards that there were more bikes in the guard’s van proper.

The ride to Fenchurch Street was unusually pleasant: the mile or so through Hyde Park was followed by traffic free Constitution Hill and The Mall. I arrived home about 12½ hours after I’d set off, feeling generally pretty pleased that I hadn’t abandoned on the first morning.

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