Monday, 2 April 2012

The Actual Trip: Day 3

Hello from Pembroke Dock! What a day... As predicted when I wrote the post about the Day 3 route, there was quite a bit of getting lost. Survived though and found my way. Took just over 7 hours, which was somewhat longer than I thought it would, but it doesn't help when I drive around in circles.

Started with overpriced breakfast in the cafe at the service station that I had stayed the night above. Not really enough staff working there either so it was a bit of a wait. Some guy in the queue ended up commenting "I blame the government"; think he was confused between petrol queues and breakfast queues. Anyway, on the topic of petrol I picked up at the service station, which was a mistake as of course I paid a lot more than I needed to. I've spotted a nice Tesco petrol station just up the road for tomorrow.

So off I went up the A38, heading towards Weston-Super-Mare. The first bit of getting lost was soon to follow when the road I wanted to take was closed for roadworks and the diversion just sent me round in a circle. Found my way back out the town in the end though by following (M5) signs. Both the M5 and M4 were going to mock me for most the day for my refusal to use them. Along to Bristol when I got to admire the Clifton Suspension Bridge from below; it's a B-road so not on the route. Sadly nowhere to stop nearby so no photos. The gorge it spans is impressive too.
The Second Severn Crossing. 

Back under the M5 and through the docks and industrial estates at Avonmouth I went. Feeling short-changed about not being able to photograph one suspension bridge I turned off for a stop at Severn Beach and got to photograph two. The views were magnificent and it was quite fun to look back down the coast at the places I'd been yesterday and look across the estuary at the places I was going for today. I hopped back in the car, drove over the M4 and did my sole bit of motorway on my journey crossing the Severn using the M48 (£6!). It's a fairly diddy motorway, having been the old M4 before the new one was built further south and I managed to use all the M48's numbered junctions, those being junction 1 and junction 2!
The First Severn Crossing

Onto the A48 now, which was to become today's A39. I was pleased to have avoided driving up or down any significant hills at this point and there weren't really any hills of note until Barry, which was a relief after yesterday. Having crossed the M4 again it was round the south of Newport, meeting the M4 again on the other side and heading to Cardiff. Came off the A48 a junction too early so drove round the roundabout and back onto the A48 again. Took the correct junction and came to the day's main traffic jam.

Now, I had ended up on the A4161 as planned, and according to my directions I needed to go left at some traffic lights onto the A4160 to Penarth. I missed this turning somehow (the signs were there I think, I had been checking on streetview when I wrote those directions) and ended up in the city centre, not really sure where I was going. Thankfully I had a lot of time sitting at traffic lights to look at my map, and while I could have just taken a direct route towards the next town on my route (Barry) I would have missed out on both the tunnel and the large bridge at Cardiff Bay. So a couple of left turns and a bit of guessing later I managed to find the A4160 and was back on my way.

Next up was Barry, which joined Bethany and Mark as "places I had seen that shared their names with people". This one should have been simple. I followed the A4055 into the town and then the signs for the A4055 disappeared, so I thought "through traffic" would be a good bet to follow. This ridiculously sent me round in a circle, so I followed "Barry Island" instead and managed to find the one-way system and the A4050 that my directions mentioned. Found my way back to the A48 and had lunch in Cowbridge.
The Physic Garden at Cowbridge.

After lunch, a wander around Cowbridge and a really good check of the rest of the day's directions, I set off towards Bridgend. This bit was fine, down to Porthcawl and up again, yep ok, back across the M4 at J37: check. More A48. Across the M4 again at J38, Port Talbot, and it was here that the M4 really seemed determined that I should use it. For the unaware, the M4 goes pretty much through the middle of Port Talbot, so that's the easiest way to go. So much so that at one point had the driver in front of me not dived off the onslip at J41 at the last moment to take the A48 instead, allowing me to follow, I would have ended up on the M4. No big disaster had I done, but it would have been annoying. Oh, and for added fun at this point the A48 crossed the offslip for said junction, as in you need to stop and give way to traffic that is charging off the motorway and you can't really see up onto the motorway.

That bit of fun over I went under the M4 for the last time (which was really really high up here) to head towards Swansea. Swansea wasn't very eventful but took forever thank to loads and loads and loads of traffic lights. There were then some more traffic lights, and for good measure, temporary traffic lights replacing normal traffic lights. Eventually I was heading towards Llanelli and after that it was back to country-lane driving, around the wonderfully named Kidwelly and up to the A40 at Carmarthen. Things were pretty straightforward then, in and out of Tenby, where I would have stopped had it not been raining. One last traffic jam in Pembroke thanks to that perennial scourge known as Gas Main Works and eventually I got to Pembroke Dock.

Not as long a drive as yesterday and thankfully no large city/town driving tomorrow at all. I have just noticed though that there appears to be a toll on my map for tomorrow that I hadn't noticed before...

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