Best route Bristol to Bridgwater and back

22camels

Active Member
I have an appointment with Thorn this week and having never been that way before, I am due to arrive at Bristol Temple Meads at 10:19, cycle to Bridgwater in time for the 15:00 appointment, leave at 17:00 at the latest to get back in time for my 21:19 return train. So I have 4h40min to cycle out and 4h20min to cycle back. If I fall behind schedule, I catch a local train, I believe they are fairly regular along that line, but I would like to cycle the distance, which is between 60 and 80km one way depending on how windy a route you take.

I am normally not very serious about route planning. But this looks a bit tight so trying to devise a plan. Maybe even use my Garmin multisport for turn navigation which I haven't done in ages. I've got offline maps with gps on my phone in any case so there's no chance of getting lost just don't want to spend too long figuring out directions.

Any tips? I see there is an NCN3 but it looks like it goes too far out of the way and I don't know what condition it's in. Cycle.travel/map sends me on a long 77km route only climbing to 50m max, whereas bike route toaster has it at 60km with highest elevation 300m, but both seem to go mostly along minor roads. I heard there are lots of roadworks - probably on the A roads - not sure if those will matter. I guess on the way out the A roads won't be too busy but they might be on my way back and it will be dark (though I've got a bright enough light so that's not such a problem). I think I'd rather retrace the route on the way back rather than do something different. I would also rather not stray far from the rail line in case I need to use it.

I have a road bike with 28mm tyres.

Thanks in advance.
 
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andym

Über Member
Could you ask for an earlier appointment, get the train to Bridgwater and then ride back?

The NCN3 is fine and the cycleway from Bristol TM out towards Chew Valley (I can never remember what it is called) is pretty enjoyable. There may be bits where you could opt for the main road to save time (eg Wells to Glastonbury). I thought there was an off-roady bit on the way into Wookey Hole, but I can't see it on the map.

The A38 into Bristol isn't too bad (not my idea of hugely entertaining but OK), and probably the A38 south from Bristol is OK - most of the fast through traffic will be on the M4. If you wanted a direct fast route then that looks to me like the main candidate.
 

Rasmus

Without a clever title
Location
Bristol
I'd suggest taking the NCN33 "festival way" out to Backwell, then hop on the roads down to Sandford, where you can pick up the strawberry line cycle path (non tarmac), which goes through a tunnel, escaping most of the climbing involved in crossing the Mendips. I don't know the roads very well south from there, but I think it should be possible to find some quiet lanes most or all the way to Bridgwater.
 
I think User has offered the best solution, other than that I think your easiest option is the A38, there plenty of side routes which you could do, but most twist or turn this way and which way, But I feel you could find a route out of Bristol going to Bridgewater, but I feel at night on your return to Bristol you could have problems route finding, bearing in mind your train times. you could use the NCN 3 to Townsend , then head into Priddy for a quick Lunch ( two Pubs) , then Rodney Stoke, Wedmore, Watchfield, Woollavington then NCN3 into Bridgewater, I hope that helps. but I would not want to do the return that way at night.
 

Ian H

I am an ancient randonneur, & I stop often for tea
Location
East Devon
I've ridden some or all of the A38 between Bridgwater and Bristol several times. It's not too bad outside rush hour. A lot of it is 50mph and less. It's the simplest, flattest and quickest route.
 

andym

Über Member
Dusk is at 17.34 on Friday. Unless you have really good lights, I'm not sure that riding back to Bristol in the dark on roads you don't know is a terribly good idea. If you have good lights well maybe the A38 is an option. (And when I say good lights I mean lights that will light your way on unlit roads - not just make sure that you are visible).
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
This is really helpful, thanks.

I like the sound of the NCN33 followed by the strawberry line cycle path avoiding climbing. But any "local" sort of route will be a bit sketchy in the dark, so maybe the A38 is the way to go. I feel though that returning by the same route I came will make it easier even though it'll be dark, and I have a good sense of direction. My headlamp is fine for unlit country lanes.

I know this isn't the most practical idea but I like a bit of a challenge :smile:.

Oh and I have cycled from bristol to the airport and back along the A38 before so that bit would be familiar.
 
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Desist while you have the chance!

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Please learn from my sad tale......

My wife has never liked dérailleurs, and thought that a Rohloff would be an option, so off we went..... to Bridgwater and Thorn.

When we arrived they took a look at us and gave us a couple of bikes and a series of routes to try, my wife's bike was far too small!

After a couple of hours though she was smitten, and despite our misgivings about the size it was the most comfortable she had ever ridden. What was worse was I was also impressed with the bike and gearing

When we returned my wife had the bright idea that we could treat ourselves to a pair for our 25th wedding anniversary, so we came away with orders for the one we had planned, and a Thorn Nomad for me as well.

Since then we now have 5 bikes with Rohloffs


So be warned, this is one of those places that is helpful, reasonable, knowledgeable and has a superb product.... all the things that a bank account hates
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
I know :smile:. Still just window shopping but it's getting into dangerous territory. But I'm not after Rohloff. The Sherpa is almost the same price as an LHT so I thought I should take a closer look (I know I won't be able to test ride one there but still).
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
I followed NCN33, then the A370 from Flax Bourton to Congresbury, then the Strawberry line (26) to Cheddar then B roads. It wasn't that fun, perhaps because I was constantly looking at the clock, but too many cars and even though the strawberry line was nice, I got covered in mud from going through all the puddles :smile:. Just made it in 4hrs. Needless to say I didn't fancy cycling back and took the train. Had a little test ride on a Thorn Raven, was like a tank compared to my road bike, pretty nice though I am looking at the Sherpa.
 
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