Well it’s time to leave Willdhill (and all that home cooking) and start the touring part of our trip. We have rented a Subaru Liberty Wagon, it’s a turbo diesel and goes like the clappers. Our luggage easily fits in the boot and where off. First stop Brighton then Rustington for lunch with Terry and Lelia. It’s a Sunday and we say our goodbyes and head for the M25. Now the M25 on a Sunday is an adventure in itself, 4 lanes sometimes 5, 120 kph one minute, stopped the next. We have a borrowed gps with a map set about 5 years old.
Ninety minutes later we drive in Brighton and jag a parking spot and where off for coffee and some free wifi. We head off up Saint James’ Street, there are lots of people about. Two men are rolling some beer barrels down the middle of the street, something you don’t see every day. After coffee we walk out on the famous pier. It’s a beautiful day, it’s not Cronulla beach but Brighton Beach looks pretty good all the same. Our parking meter is running out so we hit the road. We drive the coastal villages west to Rustington. We meet our English cousins Terry and Lelia, their kids, their grand kids, parents, aunties and uncles. What a great afternoon of chatting and getting to know everyone. All to soon we say our goodbyes and continue our journey west.
We have no real plan for the rest of the afternoon other than to head west and find somewhere to stay. We pass Chichester and Plymouth and just keep going. Its late in the afternoon when we stop in Salisbury and decide that’s enough for today. We stumble across a small boutique hotel in the middle of town. They have two double room and the rates are reasonable. We decide on heading off to explore the town and find a pub. Soon enough we find a pub off Blue Boar Row and settle in to chatting about our day over a beer and wine, the rest is history.
The next morning we head of in search of coffee and Salisbury Cathedral. We find a bakery that does a good coffee and a bacon and cheese something or other. We walk the Avon river which winds itself through town providing a lovely home for ducks and swans as well as a backdrop to the parks along its banks. Following the odd sign and the walls of the old city we find the cathedral. Quite spectacular really, it’s gothic architecture, and it’s huge by comparison to anything I have seen in Australia.
Well its time to hit the road. In Salisbury that’s easier said than done, it appears the city fathers have devised a traffic plan using a series of one way streets. They are cunningly laid out in a manner that makes departure impossible without driving through the city bus depot. Anyway we finally ignored the GPS and find a sign for Bath and we’re on our way. I would like to say our next stop was part of a well planned route but it wasn’t. We saw the sign and all looked at each other and said ‘how about that, Stonehenge !’
The whole area around Stonehenge has a bit of a game of thrones feel about it. Strange mounds seem to grow out of the ground in various spots and then there’s the stone circle itself. In reflection it has been turned into a bit of a tourist trap, which is a shame. I suppose with so many people visiting the site it is the natural way of things, follow the signs, pay to park, pay to go in, then keep behind the ropes please. Anyway we’ve been there done that and we continue on to Bath. We drive through the lower Cotswold country with its dry stone walls (fences) and rolling hills, its a very picturesque area.
We lunch in Bath, before visiting the Roman Baths, the Cathedral and the beautiful gardens that adjoin the Avon River. The Cathedral was full of interesting artefacts and memorials and well worth the walk through. We decide to give Bristol a miss and continue north on the A road to the M4 before continuing our journey west.
As as we approach the River Severn it becomes apparent from the signage that we will need to mortgage something to cross the river. The new bridge is quite magnificent but expensive to use. Don’t think I have ever driven on a road like this, four lanes where doing 70 mph and black beepers are going passed us, like we are standing still. We cross into Wales with its interesting names and places.
Pam and Jenny were keen to spend some time in Caerphilly, so we set the GPS. The girl’s father Des worked for the Prudential and Caerphilly was his first posting and he had many fond memories. On arriving we stopped in the park opposite the castle. Given the fact it is mostly a ruin, Caerphilly Castle must have been a magnificent structure in its day. A quick trip to the tourist information, a phone call and we are walking into our B&B the TyCaslte. It a huge old house recently converted to a B&B. The owners seems like a nice guy and give us some hints about pubs and dinner.
After a test drink at a couple of pubs we settle in for dinner and chatting about the days adventures. We get up early for a walk around the town, visit the Castle and it’s museum. We head back to the TyCastle for a hearty breakfast and where back on the road again.
We head north through villages with names we cannot pronounce towards the Brecon Beacons. We stop at Merthyr Tydfil, described as the gateway to the park. It’s market day and there are people everywhere, this makes parking a bit of an issue but we find a spot eventually and head of for coffee and lunch. The town has several camping and outdoor shops and we purchase a couple of Wolfskin Jack coats on special.
After lunch we continue north on the A470 enjoying a wonderful afternoon driving through the park. The weather is closing in as the afternoon passes, a little drizzle is mixed with occasional bursts of sunshine. Late in the afternoon we make our way out of the park now heading east back towards beautiful Wildhill.