The Bridge Inn at North End Brister is a Hungry Horse eatery with an attached Lodge. Neither seemed very busy. There was no one on reception when I arrived so I went through to the bar where the barman told me some one would come around and book me in and I was duly allocated the ground floor room nearest to the front door which suited me well. I went in and plugged in the bike and stripped off ready to have a shower when there was a knock on the door. I grabbed my shorts and put them on to find the receptionist with my wallet in her hand. I must have taken it out of my pocket and put it on the bar when I was talking to the barman and it had been handed in by another customer. Disaster averted. Once cleaned, I had a bowl of soup and a large Tikka Massala to replenish the energy.
The hotel is about a mile north of Yatton and, at the still operating railway station, is the start of the Strawberry Line cycle track which runs along the path of the former Bristol and Exeter Railway Company line from Yatton to Wells. GWR took it over and it became an important freight line that was used to transport the strawberries from Cheddar all over the country, hence the name. Closed in 1964 it fell into dereliction before the Council bought much of the track bed and laid a hard surface
which now runs between Yatton and Cheddar with a couple of road crossings in between, particularly where the new Thatchers Cider Factory is being extended. The orchards around the factory are full of fruit ready for pressing.
Co-incidentally, as I am staying the night at Sandford, near Crediton, the Strawberry Line passes through an altogether different Sandford
before going under the hill at Winscombe through the short and unlit Shute Shelve tunnel and eventually emerging on the A38 just short of Axbridge.
I was now about 10 miles into my journey and had to cycle along the A38 for a couple of miles before turning off across the Moors and Levels, as the name implies, flat and easy cycling though there was a bit of a wind in my face.
I passed through the villages of Mark and Yarrow before crossing a couple of smaller rivers and the River Huntspill, a wide basin with a pumping station.
Up the hill into Cossington necessitating a short blast of motor and then down a strange off road path to Bawdrip, soon crossing over the M5 and back onto the A38 through Bridgwater, staying on it most of the way to Taunton where I had planned a route through the middle of the town along canal and cycle paths through the Parks.
This worked well and I eventually found myself back on the A38 at Bishops Hull where the traffic increased somewhat and I passed Sheppy’s Cider factory and was glad to stop at the World’s End pub, owned by Hall and Woodhouse, for sausage and mash and a pint of Fursty Ferret.
Refreshed I continued on the A38 past Wellingon before turning onto side roads through small villages, once again crossing the M5, through the larger village of Uffculme, advertising its annual show on 5th September and recrossing the M5 north of Cullompton before heading west down some very small country lanes, through Brithem Bottom and Butterleigh, easy and enjoyable cycling with a few hills that needed the motor. I crossed the River Exe at Latchmoor Green, a fisherman trying his luck upstream
and then up a closed road, Hulk Lane, with the brambles spreading almost to the centre of the track. I passed the imposing gates of Shobrooke Park and the road wound obligingly around the perimeter of the Park that was being enjoyed by walkers. Only a couple of miles from my destination at Sandford, staying with one of my oldest friends Patrick, sadly not in the best of health, and being joined here for the rest of the journey by Rich, an even older friend with whom I cycle every week at home. We are taking P out to dinner and tomorrow I shall be pleased to have company as we set off across Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor for the penultimate and most arduous day of the whole trip.