A Cycling Trip Through England's Cotswold District

Day 6

Thursday, June 1, 2000

Glastonbury to Salisbury

Today was a cool and misty day. Tom had indeed caught a cold and his enthusiasm for cycling was dampened. Heck, he was downright miserable - sort of like a man suffering from PMS (sans Midol). After a lingering breakfast - a real delight today as our host, Valerie made a fresh fruit salad, various cereals, fresh rolls, yogurt, and coffee - we broke camp and headed towards Salisbury. We lacked a map for the first few kilometers as the map we had (Collins, Southern England in 1:250,000 scale) didn't extend quite far enough, and the Ordnance Survey maps we tried to purchase were out of stock.

In no time at all, we were off our intended course. After about 15 kilometers of cycling on flat country lanes we found ourselves about 7 or 8 kilometers off course. We joined the A361 to the A371 and endured the heavy traffic until the B3081.

Tom taking in the rolling countryside outside Salisbury - OK. he's really "watering the flowers"

Flat countryside was again behind us - we weren't especially fond of what we saw in our path. We made several climbs and an especially long climb prior to Bruton and then a quick descent into the town. We continued on the B3081 and more tough climbs. We cycled parallel to the A303 to take advantage of a more gradual incline. We joined the B3092, cycled under the A303 and headed into Mere for our lunch stop. From Mere we cycled into another maze of country roads towards the A350 and East Knoyle. After crossing the A350 we tried to plan our route to avoid another large hill. But no luck, we missed a valley route and instead climbed yet again before descending into Tisbury. From here to Salisbury the countryside was much flatter. We joined heavy traffic on the B3089. A strong tailwind helped us quicken our pace to 35 Kph all the way to Wilton.

At Wilton Tom stopped to get some cold medication. While in the drug store Tom's feathered rear tire gave way with a loud boom. This was actually a humourous experience for Kevin. Just as the "explosion" occurred, several young teenagers were walking by.  Not only did the blast scare the living daylights out of them, but Kevin initially thought they were playing a gag on him by exploding firecrackers nearby.  Ironically, the teens had just bought a tire repair kit from a local store and offered to help. The rear tire was a write-off. Fortunately, Kevin had some tire repair tape that he used to line the feathered sections inside the tire - it was deemed that five sections of tire needed the repair tape. The temporary fix held for the remaining 10 Km into Salisbury.

With a late start, a long ride and a flat tire we just made the Tourist Information Office 5 minutes before closing at 6PM. The office clerk seemed to take pity on this sniffling tourist and after several calls helped book a B&B. It was 7PM by the time we had checked-in and were ready for dinner. There was much to see in Salisbury, we decided to forgo the next day's cycle to Winchester and stay two nights in Salisbury. We walked downtown for dinner, and along the way we met another cyclist asking for directions.  We were actually able to help him out, as he was staying at the same bed and breakfast as ourselves.  He was quite grateful for our help, as he had overextended himself that day by cycling over 120 km into headwinds.  We continued on our way to the downtown area where we strolled into a pub to sample yet another beer. Two young chaps noted our accent and stuck up a conversation with us. These two chaps were well primed with beer and kept us entertained while one called his Uncle "Knobby" on his cell phone. "Talk to Uncle Knobby - he lives in Canada too," the inebriated, but jovial lad said.  After talking to his uncle for a few minutes we found out he lived only 45 minutes away from our homes, in the village of Strathroy. We greatly enjoyed the banter and often thought of how these two fellows must have coped the next day.

Cross in downtown Salisbury

Salisbury Street Scene

The next day we made our decision to stay longer in Salisbury.  Tom's cold had worsened by now, and we needed any excuse to get in some additional sightseeing, as well as beer drinking.  Unfortunately, our bed and breakfast for the first night, the Holmhurst Guest House was fully booked.  Karen Hayward, the proprietor was kind enough to call a friend on the other side of Salisbury, and we were quickly booked and on our way to the Old Rectory Bed and Breakfast for another fun filled day.  

During our second day in Salisbury, we decided to take a quick bus trip to the legendary Stonehenge.  While this grouping of ancient monoliths had always held a special interest with us, once we arrived we found it a bit of an anticlimax.  The site was fairly small and not totally awe inspiring.  Admission to the site includes the use of a digital audio guide.  The use of this piece of equipment does provide some insight into the stones at Stonehenge, and I highly recommend its use to get some return for the high price of admission.

Kevin at Stonehenge

Distance: 92.5 km, Time: 4 hours, 59 minutes, Average Speed: 18.5 kph.

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