Travellers' Tales: Severn wanderers

Cycle path on the old Severn Bridge
The kindness of strangers was key on Lucy Coyne’s three-day tour of SW England and Wales.

Chance encounters are part of the joy of cycle touring for me. This year’s annual trip with female friends – our first unsupported – was no exception. It was a circular loop of 180 miles, taking in Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, and Chepstow, crossing the River Severn twice.

We began on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, cruising down scented, vividly green tunnels of new growth, sunlight dappling the path ahead. Then… psst! Our first puncture.

“You all right?” Nathan the Deliveroo rider and ex-aerospace engineer asked. He couldn’t release the wheel nuts either. Luckily Colin and Peter were cycling by and had a spanner.

Trying to make up time after savouring the towpath ride from Bath, we made it to Devizes on the A361. But the light was falling, so with 15 miles to go we began looking for transport. We found it: we were the last delivery of the day for Jason the Yodel van driver!

On day two we took lanes and bridleways through the emerald and yellow patchwork of the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire countryside. At one point we rode alongside trainee racehorses at Overton Down.

Day three began with a lift from taxi driver AJ, who piled us and our bikes into to his vehicle to ferry us through the darkness to Gloucester. We cycled across the border into Wales, past Tintern Abbey, and to another encounter with race horses at Chepstow. For our second crossing of the River Severn, we used the old bridge. The tide was out, the mud was glutinous, and the sky was very blue, with wispy clouds high above the soaring supports.