The last night in my cottage was a sad event. Everything I picked up, packed away, or tossed out reminded me of the great time I have had in the Cotswold’s’. Earlier in the day I made my last visit to Stow, and then to Bourton on the Water to get a new clutch return spring fitted by my friends at JWorx. What a fantastic stroke of luck it was finding a classic car garage only five miles from home! As you may recall, earlier they sorted out my brake system leak and then later did an oil change, lube and service. Great guys who work on a very eclectic bunch of cars. Yesterday there was a Maserati and a Fiat Abrath race car there, alongside several Jags, Landrovers, and other stuff.
Today is bright and sunny, and after a few hugs and tears with my “landlady” Jules, I was off. South past Bath, one last blast through the Cotswold’s, then east below Bristol and onto the west coast of England.
On the way to the coast I drove through the “Cheddar Gorge”. This is the Cheddar of cheddar cheese fame. Lots of pastures with cows, and then suddenly a five-mile-long deep gorge leading to the village. I had seen this drive on Wheeler Dealers and it was scenic, if very short. Not the Grand Canyon, but for England, a significant and unusual geological feature. I didn’t stop for the cheese, frankly I don’t care for their cheddar. Even the “mature, aged and tangy” grade is a bit disappointing (and white).
The coastline is dotted with seaside resorts, interspersed with climbs and drops over the heads from one to another. Minehead is a HUGE resort town with miles of great beaches. Like all I have seen here, they remind me of Santa Cruz in the 60’s. Popcorn, cotton candy, carousels and, of course, these days, video arcades.
After leaving Mineshead I climbed over Pormoth Hill into Exmoor National Park. The sign at the bottom warned of “1 in 4 gradient”. Some quick math indicated a 45% incline. With switchbacks all the way of course. Needless to say, as I reached the steepest part I got stuck behind another car and some kind of farm buggy that could barely make the grade. After much foul language and the smell of burning clutch, I finally got a chance to sprint by both of them, kamikaze style, and the rest of the climb was a breeze thanks to the Jag’s oodles of torque.
Once at the top of the moor it was a spectacular scene. Open country between the road and the ocean, looking like Scottish moorland, with the most dazzling green valley’s stretching off on the opposite side and WAY down there. Sheep in the road, ponies in the road, terrified Asian tourist drivers in the road.
SORRY ABOUT THE ABOVE TWO. SEEMS I TURNED OFF THE AUTOFOCUS SOMEHOW FOR A BIT.
Oh, and did I mention that I then had to descend a similar grade back down to my seaside overnight in Lynton? With little traffic, and using engine braking, it was quite a ride. More 45% angles and I decided to hand hold the GoPro to get you all the best video! So, one handing the wheel and shifter. If you love the sound of a big engine backfiring on the downhill parts, you would have loved this. Hope the GoPro caught some of the audio.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I found Lynton to be a smaller version of Minehead, but with a rocky beach, not nearly as crowded. I did a loop tour of the town trying to find my hotel, and then decided to trust the Garmin which seemed to want me to go back uphill. Uphill it was, WAY up hill. More burning clutch. Turns out Lynton is really two towns. One at sea level and another smaller section way up the cliff. The Crown Hotel really should be called the Cliff Hotel. Anyway, nice little hotel with a good pub (where I am writing this) and what looks like a reasonable restaurant. I am sure not going back down that hill for dinner, the two flights of stairs to my room is enough. Jag safely tucked away for the night.
Since I am not making the trek down the hill tonight, and the Jag is safely in bed, there is no need to count my pints, though I probably won’t be having dinner until late, after the Ham, Eggs and Chips I had for lunch. See below. It’s a good thing the English have a National Health Service, with food like this! Note the salad that keeps it all healthy!
Today’s route: https://tinyurl.com/yaweh45p
So, Day 1 down, 34 to go!