Tuesday, 17 March 2015


My first journey this year to celebrate the British Isles was last weekend and what a stunning ride I found. Leaving Taunton, I joined the National Cycle Network (NCN) route 3 to follow the Bridgwater Canal. We set off as a threesome and our plan was to discover hidden places on the Somerset Levels and Dorset Downs.

 It was about 9 miles alongside the canal where we had far reaching views to the east. This is the land that was devastated by macro flooding in early 2014 where villages were cut off and farms abandoned for weeks. There was even an express train marooned in the middle of the floods. The canal showed nothing this. We found much of a byegone age with elderly bridges, old houses and pill boxes, relics of the last war.
Leaving the canal at NCN339, we came to Moorland, one of the flooded villages and the cycle route
crossed a dyke still under repair where we needed to carry our bikes.

Burrowbridge is a small village in the middle of the Levels. In front is an articial drain and behind is the Mump, a mound with a church on top. "Shall we stop for lunch?" I ask. "It is too early" comes the reply but it was 2:1 and we stopped.
The King Alfred must lay claim to be a national treasure. It turns out that this unassuming inn was the centre of activity during the floods helping people with food and shelter. A girl on a bike with electric gears was outside and said she was hoping to reach Simonsbath. Inside it felt very homely with log fire, many guests, welcoming staff and meals for a fiver. I had a Somerset Smokie, smoked haddock in rich creamy sauce cooked as if it had just come off a North Sea trawler. The girl with the electric geared bike said not go to Muchelney as the cycle route was completely impassable.

We carried on to Langport where we joined the South Somerset Cycle Route through Somerton and overnight at Sherborne. The Levels turned into light hills and the hedge rows were alive with primroses. There was one large hill to climb just before Sherborne.
We now follow NCN26 and want a coffee. "Nothing will be open. It is Sunday" I hear. "There might be a pub but are we too early?" We arrive at the small village of Halstock where The Community Shop is open. This is another delightful sleepy village and we were made most welcome with coffee costing just 50p.

We cross the Dorset Downs and drop into a valley to discover the River Frome. Much of our path is now truly off road meandering along farm tracks. Some of the houses are made from flint. The river is a chalk stream and I wonder if it is full of wild trout and possibly grayling.

We ride on to Dorchester for a late lunch and NCN26 takes us into the centre of Weymouth, journey's end. The total distance for this ride is 85 miles and is on Sustrans Dorest Downs map 



  1. Nice ride and nice story dad ��

  2. Thanks. There was more to see than space permitted on the blog