27th July 2010 - One of our longest days that turned into a bit of a nightmare. It started off with some very light drizzle in Exmoor but eventually became a sunny day (a little worrying for the sun burn) with a high of around 27C. We set off quite early at around 8:30am (early in the sense the hostel didn't serve breakfast until 7:50am) and made our way down out of Exmoor. We changed the route slightly and added some more distance in favour of smoother, faster roads by heading north along the A396. The roads coming out of Exmoor were quite amazing first thing in the morning. Trees overhanging the road with the sunlight cutting through, we managed to hit quite high speeds (around 50-60kph).
Once we got into Somerset the hills disappeared and it became very flat, meaning on a slight hill you could see way across the county. It was great cycling, and the roads we picked were smooth, flat and had barely any cars on, to the point we road a lot of the way side by side. We got to Ashton Court Estate park overlooking Bristol quite late, at around 5pm. As we left the park the GPS cut (it hadn't got a proper charge the night before) so I had to navigate from memory and using my Nokia 5800 which has GPS and maps installed on it.
We went over Clifton Suspension bridge and through Bristol. It was actually very pleasant given it was a city. We then dropped out of Bristol and crossed the very windy Severn bridge (the older one). It had a cycle lane away from the road which was great, so crossing it was easy. On the other side we entered Chepstow (and hence Wales) briefly before cycling up hill to St Briavels. Chepstow wasn't the nicest of areas, but the road up the St Briavels was very picturesque, which made the last 10k very pleasurable despite having cycled 95 miles already.
We got in around 9:30pm, our latest arrival on the whole trip. This didn't leave us much time to relax or enjoy the castle we were staying in. St Briavels hostel was certainly the most unique hostel we stayed in, although given its uniqueness the facilities were quite poor (especially the shower). This can be forgotten though given you're staying in a 16th century castle!