Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Actual Trip: Day 2

Hello from Bridgwater! Gosh is was a long way to get here, but I survived. I knew this was going to be a long day, and it was. Unlike yesterday there wasn't much to see once I got to my destination, so I wasn't so bothered by it . Took about 9 hours, which was a little longer than Bing had said, but a number of wrong turns, correcting them and various dawdly people in front of me made things longer.
Sunny Torquay!

The weather was much better today, was sunny all day, if not so warm. Headed out of Torquay and despite having an ok amouny of petrol I filled up almost straight away as the Shell garage just along the road was selling it cheap. Well, cheap compared to everywhere else. Took a wrong turn quite early on in my attempts to avoid using the Dartmouth ferry but nothing too difficult to sort out. Was a lovely drive from Totnes down to Dartmouth and very twisty from there to Kingsbridge, but some fantastic scenery. I stopped at the beach at Slapton to take photos as it was very lovely.

Through Plymouth was ok, the Tamar bridge had some good views. I made my first rest stop at Saltash services which were very dull. On towards Liskeard making rapid progress as the A38 is a pretty good road. Was lots of following holiday traffic all the way down to Helston, and got a bit lost when the route had me turning off the A390 to go through Par but again a u-turn sorted things. Had lunch at Helston and took a wander around. Had been planning to get to Penzance for lunchtime, but I was hungry. It was then up the A30, with lots of roadsigns for places I'd already been, before heading through Newquay to the A39.

The A379 at Slapton.
Oh, the A39. Most the rest of the day was on the A39, titled "The Atlantic Highway", must have been getting on for 3 hours of it. Started off as quite a good road, though was stuck behind a milk tanker that annoying I had passed earlier on the A30, but thanks to it not going via Newquay it had gone back passed me. Was going to stop at Bude, but the route didn't really get into the town, so stopped in Kilkhampton instead. Not the most exciting of places but it had a shop, somewhere to park and a public toilet which was all I needed! More A39, through Bideford (another great bridge) to Barnstaple.

From Barnstaple it was off the A39 for a bit to get to Ilfracombe. Really dull road into Ilfracombe, made duller by lots of reduced speed limits for little-to-no reason, though got quite good at the town itself. Got thoroughly lost in Ilfracombe. Could have sworn the main road went along the seafront; apparently not. Eventually found the A399 climbing steeply out of Ilfracombe. the A399 set the scene for the return to the A39 with it's narrow steep twisty route. The road straightened out eventually somewhere up on Exmoor before heading into the Watersmeet gorge.

At this point sensible traffic takes the B-road straight down to Lynton and Lynmouth. The A39 however heads through the gorge, barely two lanes wide in most places, with a number of hairpins and lots of blind corners with rock face on one side and a sheer drop the other. Thankfully I was following someone , so they had the job of watching for oncoming traffic! Out of the gorge it was down into Lynmouth before a 1 in 4 climb back up again. Cecilia did a good job with this bit, made lots of noise (as she had done with a hairpin earlier that need 1st gear) but got up the hill. I think they should sell T-shirts that say "I survived Watersmeet Gorge and Porlock Hill".
Helston Boating Lake, the location of lunchtime.

Things calmed down a bit again as I headed towards Porlock. Porlock is of course infamous for it's hill, and the signs as you head towards it warn you of this. It reminded me a bit of being on a log flume waiting for the big drop, though when I did finally get there I was behind someone with a "P" plate on who was understandably taking things very carefully. Lots of hairpins on the way down as well. Eventually the road settled down again and it was a long trundle to Minehead and eventually Bridgwater, where I again got lots finding the Travelodge despite it being at a junction with the M5.

Really enjoyed it again though, the bit from Dartmouth to Plymouth and the A39 from Ilfracombe to Minehead were my favourite bits. A very different day from yesterday with much less town driving. A much shorter day tomorrow (200 miles compared to 320), but lots of cities and towns to get lost in!

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