Day 17 – Port Talbot to Ilfracombe (Trimstone Manor)

What a day of mixed fortunes today has been.

Before leaving the Hotel for Newtown Motors in Cwmbran the Mog needed yet another wash to remove yesterdays ‘caked on’ sand and various farmyard by-products.

No sooner was the shampoo in the bucket than the heavens opened so no rinse or Chamois needed today. As I was wrapping the case in its waterproof cover the knot on the bungee came undone so I sat in the lobby re threading that along and re tying it.

Photo taken and off we went to find the coast road to Porthcawl. There we were approaching a junction signposted ‘Waste Disposal Site’ well ahead. Right on the bend and the Junction there was a sign for Porthcawl so we missed it. Turned back after a mile or so and turned into the correct road.

Two Miles down the road there as a ‘Road Blocked Ahead’ sign so back we went and that was that for Porthcawl. Next we tried Ogmore by Sea which was found easily and a lovely spot it is too.

The coast road took us all the way to Barry Island (or Chip Island as the locals call it) and there on the beach head was the ‘Gavin Stacy’ corner.

Today the Queen was visiting Cardiff so I had to try and avoid an impromptu audience. No fear, the high level trunk road to the Docks took us all the way and fast, straight through the tunnel.

It was guess work after that trying to find St Brides Wenlock so I gave up and used the Motorway to Newport before turning north to Cwmbran. One circuit of the town and a helpful car dealer’ map took me straight there to meet Peter Constable. I was also fortunate to meet owner Tim Alan just before leaving.

Unfortunately my old schoolmate Barry Murray-Upton could not join us due to his business commitments.

We had a coffee and Peter was kind enough to give me a full overview of the companies Recent Morgan Sales and Activities and let me take photos. Everyone was busy with Customers arriving and Deliveries to make so I bid everyone farewell and got back to my mission.

I headed for the road to Caldicot to complete my Welsh tour at Chepstow. There must have been some horsey event coming up at Chepstow, Matt, judging by the two slow horse boxes using my route.

For most of my tour of Chepstow I had a police panda car just in front of me so was unable to use a camera ( Mobile Phone Ban!)

It was bye bye to Wales as I sped over the First Suspension Bridge with Tenner in hand for the £6 Toll. Then I realised that you only have to pay to get in to Wales.

My next mistake was to use the road to Avonmouth which goes through the Docks. I had 20 mins of hell dodging Lorries and Heavy Spray. I still had to come onto the M5 to cross the Avon on the Bridge there.

Then I spotted Giordano Services where I knew I could get a decent cappuccino and pannini lunch. During lunch I was introduced to Bernice Brady, the volunteer county coordinator for Wiltshire, who had spotted my H4H shirt and then the Mog strategically parked at the entrance.

Bernice’s husband is currently serving in Afghanistan and she operates as an Ambulance Driver at RAF Lynham where the wounded are repatriated to the UK. Her overview of the situation there, and the excellent work that H4H does for these so unfortunate people, brought home to me the importance that the generous donations you have all made to my project are.

We said our farewells and I set off to get fuel and then find Portishead. Lack of sat nav played a big part during the next two hours. The sign said left hand lane for ‘M5 Portishead’. As I swung onto the M5 I saw Portishead in the next lane.

Up to the next junction I left the M5 for my next town Clevedon and onto Weston Super Mere ( Now renamed ‘Awful Mare’).

The traffic is directed right across the width of the town so that you arrive a the Prom at the southern end and not the northern end as I would have expected. Coming back out there are no sign posts for ages and not one for Burnham on Sea, my next call. I went around and around and eventually took the road to Cheddar where I knew a road the ran back into B. on S.

The traffic was so slow always 10 to 15mph slower than the limit. It is a good job that Mog does not carry a voice recorder. The road from here to Minehead was trouble free if slow at times.

It was past 5pm so everywhere was closed for the day but I had to pop into Dunster for a photo shot of the High Street, Corn Exchange, The Lutteral Arms Hotel were we had a weeks holiday many years ago, and of course the Castle.

Next place was to visit Minehead (not the Holiday Camp) and its harbour before setting off to via the back road, which I had not done before, or so I thought until I refereed to the map afterwards.

The road through the village of Porlock takes you up a narrow hill climb of 45 degree incline with two hairpin bends where the angle increases at the apex to around 55degrees. So Mog in 1st and up we went. That is until we reached the apex of the second bend where a VW Gold was stopped for why I do not know. Pulling away again in such a position was for me scary.

The drive over the High Road to Lynmouth is a dream including the steep decent to the town. Somehow, as I went through Lynton I took another back coast road which led to a £1 toll at Lee Abbey / Monestary. It was single track with grass in the middle and wet loose gravel. This was even more scary as it climbs and climbs higher and higher.

It runs along the edge of a very steep cliff side with the only protection from the deep drop being the row of mature Trees that line the road edge.

It runs to a place called Woody Bay but at the first opportunity I cut back inland to Parracombe and then onto the A39 for my run through Combe Martin and Ilfracombe on my way to the Trimstone Manor Country House, where I arrived as it was getting dark just after 8pm.

The weather was awful all day. Only five days left after today!

I am off to Lands End, down the West Coast, tomorrow and staying in Penzance.

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