Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 55--Goodbye Wales, Hello England!

Yep, I'm now in England!

To back up a bit--even though the wind blew all night, and there was finally some rain, I slept well, and no tent poles broke. It was less windy in the morning, but I still cooked my breakfast at the dish washing place. 

I got an earlier start this morning because when my alarm went off, I thought it was 7:00 (I usually sleep through the 6:30 alarm). Turns out it was 6:30. I did go to sleep earlier last night, as there was nothing else to do.

Anyway, I got on the road at 8:00. I returned to the route along the Coast. It was quiet and mostly deserted.
And, the tide was out.

I rode the remaining 6 miles to Prestatyn, then shortly afterward left the Coast and turned inland. It was a fair amount of climbing in Super Granny Gear.
Getting up and away from the Coast.

I went up and down and back up again (over hill, over dale...). I went through a couple of small towns. In one, there was a sign to watch for sheep in the road. 
They weren't kidding. I saw several sheep. They were in no hurry to move off the road either. A car beeped it's horn several times before the group above finally consented to get out of the way. It's not like there were a bunch of fields. There were houses. Where do these sheep live?

Due to my gawking at the road sheep, I must have missed a route sign to turn. I came down a long hill to a town I wasn't supposed to go to. No problem. I knew I had to get back to the water, so I just kept going down. Sure enough, I came out, looked to my right, and there was a route sign! I was just outside of Flint.

As I was riding into Flint, I saw this castle.

Here's the story about it.

While walking around inside the grounds, I decided it was a good place for some lunch. After taking some photos, I sat down and had a bite to eat.
Betsy wanted her photo taken.

It was a great spot, and sunny too!

Moving on, I followed the route to Connah's Quay. From there I was on a rail trail for about 10 miles. While I was on the trail, I crossed from Wales into England.
The sign has seen better days, but at least there was one!

At the end of the trail, there was no directional sign for Route 5. I asked a guy riding by and he told me it was definately left. I went left, but still didn't see a Route 5 sign. There were other route signs, but none said 5 or one of the towns along 5. Finally, I turned on the Garmin and put in Frodsham. I knew that town was on the route. Along the way, I stopped at a cafe for some apple pie and ice cream. They had free wifi, so I was able to post yesterday's blog.

Soon I saw a Route 5 sign. My plan was to go about 60 miles, then hope for a caravan park to magically appear. In Frodsham, I was at about 45 miles. I kept going. The route took a strange turn onto a broken up gravel road that soon became a foot wide trail. Then it came back out to the road. Okay, I thought, that was weird, but not too bad. Then, as I was riding along, the route sign said to go left. It was another gravel road. I double checked. Yep, go left. Just a short distance on the gravel, I came to a gate. I regret not taking a photo. The gate was a horse gate. Horses could step over the part in the middle. Not so easy for a loaded bike. I checked to see if I could open the gate. Nope, locked. I tried lifting Betsy over the center, but I couldn't lift the back high enough. CRAP!!! I had to take the rack bag and tent off the bike. Then I could lift it over. Then I put everything back on. It was still a gravel road--actually, it was National Cycle Route 5--Bridlepath. WTF? But it got worse. I had to negotiate several more gates--at least I could open them. At one point, there was a route sign that was somewhat ambiguous. There was a two track paved part. I thought, okay, this must be the route. I rode up the hill on the track, and came to a dilapidated farm...and another gate. I hauled open the gate (no small feat as it drug on the ground). Then I went up to...another gate. Really, there were four options. One gate (locked) said Welcome to Dutton Park. Two other gates said "Railway--no trespassing". The final option was a tight gate that led to a grassy grown over "road". I squeezed Betsy through the gate. But, then I thought, this can't possible be the way. I decided to go back to where I had seen the ambiguous sign. So, back through the one gate, back through the heavy gate (which I just rammed with Betsy's front wheel to get it mostly open), and back down the two track pavement I went. At the sign, there was another gate. There was only the faintest path through a field with some cows. 
Yep, that was the route. I had to go through another gate at the other end of the pasture. Then it was a narrow trail with bushes whacking my legs. Finally, it was one more gate, then I went over a bridge and came out at Dutton Lock on a canal. There were cars there, so I cheered, knowing there must be an actual road.
It wasn't a big road, but I didn't care.

By this time I was seriously wondering where I would camp tonight. I saw a sign that said 5 miles to Northwich. Good, there should be something there. As I was riding along the road (The glorious road! Complete with cars and everything! Woo Hoo!!!), I saw a sign for a Caravan Park and Camping. YES! YES! YES! Woodbine Caravan Park and Camping magically appeared! It costs 10£ for the night, and sits on the canal.
One of the canal boats.

It is quite possibly one of the nicest campsites I've had in awhile. I even have a picnic table!

Total miles for today: 57.7 (35 in Wales, the rest in England)

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