Saturday 16 June 2012

The Great Grail Grab Grand Tour - Day 1

Up at 05.00 and on the road by 06.10 the weather didn't look too bad so I headed down the A1(M) only to meet my first rain at Hatfield. I dived into the Hatfield Tunnel only to find it wasn't raining on the other side.... result!

I had given myself four hours to get to Brecon but the GPS was saying I would do it in 3 hours 20 via the A40, so who was I to argue. The roads were empty at that time of the morning so I made really good time, arriving in Oxford in only an hour, the wind was a bit of a problem though but at least it was staying dry.

At Gloucester it was starting to get a bit drizzly, so I stopped at a MacDonalds for a coffee. Upon leaving the GPS was now saying an ETA of 10.00, so I was still ahead of my original schedule. However soon after the heavens opened and my pace dropped as a result, luckily I had stuck my one piece waterproof oversuit on before leaving Gloucester, so at least I was staying dry (for the time being).

Instead of taking the loop north on the A40 via Ross on Wye, the GPS led me down the A4151 and A4136 across the Forest of Dean to meet the A40 at Monmouth. This was a cracking route until somewhere near Staunton I came round a left hand bend to find the road surface a technicolour hue with the distinctive smell of diesel. I picked the bike up and rolled off the throttle, causing me to run wide over the white line, where at least the road was oil free and thankfully I could see far enough ahead to see the road was clear. I was able to cross back over the oil slick and could just about avoid it by hugging the kerb. The oil was about five foot wide and continuous for the next four or five miles making progress distinctly slow. It eventually swung off the road and straight into the service bay of a Nissan garage! I breathed a sigh of relief and resumed the pace.

The fuel light came on as I passed a sign saying Brecon 29 miles and the dash display said 29 miles to go. No problem I thought as I knew there was a Morrisons fuel station just as you enter the town. As it was the GPS took me down a cracking little short cut avoiding Abergavenny, across a narrow little stone bridge over a very angry looking and raging River Usk. As a result I was in Brecon after only 18 miles (and the dash was saying I still had 26 miles of fuel left..... go figure?).

I fuelled up and drove to the cathedral to nab number twelve...

A largely uneventful ride along the A40 followed despite the rain now reaching monsoon like proportions and the wind getting pretty nasty at times. I stopped at Newgale for a photo opportunity overlooking the cracking beach.

Two hours later I was rolling into St David's to grab Grail Location number thirteen, the only downside being a slightly soggy crutch as the storm flap over the zip of my waterproofs hadn't been done up properly leading the zip to leak a bit. After a bit of searching I found a good spot for a photo...

A 20 quick minute blast up the coast to Fishguard got me to the ferry in good time for my largely uneventful three and a half hour crossing to Rosslare. There were a few green faces around as the swell was a bit too much for some but it never bothered me, i've certainly sailed through worse.

On arrival in Ireland I was pleased to see it was breezy but dry so despite having had thoughts of finding a B&B, I decided to camp, so headed 15 minutes out from Rosslare to St Margarets Beach camp site for the night. I had hoped to get a decent meal and a pint of the black stuff in a local pub but there was none in walking distance, so I had to settle for a Wayfarer boil in the bag Chicken Casserole and a cup of hot chocolate, I certainly know how to live it up!

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