John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Monday 30th June

Route: Brecon to Tewkesbury
Mileage: 79.27 miles; 1247 miles so far
Weather: Cloudy start, then broken cloud and bright sun, gentle breeze


Steve was up for his bath early as Monday was his day in the candle workshop. Robin was getting ready for his ride with Hugh and myself along the canal, and as I left Gareth was enjoying his turn for a soak in the bath. Agnieszska called in to say good-bye on the way to the office as we were having breakfast, and Agna insisted on preparing me a sandwich for the journey.

I'd looked at the map with Hilary in Liverpool, and been told there was a good cycle route skirting Abergavenny towards Monmouth, then following the River Wye up to Symonds Yat, It would take the day's journey to nearly 80 miles but should be an easier route if the weather holds.

Raimonda's CD of Zimbabwe photos needed copying onto my SD card, and other photos taken along the route needed transferring to an SD card for David Winpenny, the L'Arche PR Officer. Over the week-end, Rov, one of the assistants who taught computing before coming to L'Arche, helpfully sorted out the problem I was having with my Asus Eeee laptop whereby it wouldn't allow me to read from an external SD card. Many thanks Rov,

At 9.15 am, Rob, Hugh and I set off along the track along the back of Christ College which takes us a quieter way to the Llanfaes bridge over the Usk. Here we joined the river path for a short distance before reaching the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, after stopping for the odd photo, and to ask various passers by for sponsorship, including a couple of friendly cyclists. I had to leave Rob and Hugh at 10.00 so they could continue at a more gentle pace, and pressed on towards Talybont and Llangynidr. This is a delightful ride, through glades of arching trees, past pretty cottage gardens and mirror -like reflections of quaint stone bridges in the still canal water.

Across the valley, the River Usk was winding its way past the Gliffaes Hotel where I had stayed for 3 months in 1977 in my engineering days whilst commissioning a tin plate line for British Steel in Ebbw Vale. Sadly, the steel works is now but a memory, having been razed to the ground.

At one point the canal path takes to the adjoining minor road which continued into Crickhowell and on to Gilwern where I met Steve Rogers on his bike. Thanks for your interest in L'Arche and for mentioning it to the School.

A new road to Abergavenny has recently been opened and I took this down to where the roundabout complex leads onto the A40, or the B4598 which I was to take. This is Sustrans route 31 which weaves its way along the busy dual carriageway through lazy villages like Great Oak and Bryngwyn. Looking back, the now sun drenched Brecon Beacons were starting to recede from view, and past Raglan, the road stretched out over rolling countyside towards Monmouth, past Michel Troy. I popped into a Caravan Club site near here to enquire about cycle paths, but got the impression from the owner that cycling routes weren't his primary interest.

So a visit to WHSmiths in Monmouth was called for, and I was soon the owner of a splendid Explorer map of the area. I went down to an area of allotments to have lunch and was put on the right track by a local resident who knew exactly how to get on to the recently opened Hadnock Road across the Wye Bridge. This winds its way round the Wye up to Symonds Yat where the river does an amazing loop, then heads north towards Goodrich. Some lovely looking pubs and hotels along here and a campsite obviously popular for canoeists, many of whom had taken to the river in the warm afternoon sun.

The road to Ross on Wye is relatively flat, and so I was soon heading west towards Newent over Crow Hill where I was surprised to see fields of vines stretching their symmetrical rows across the contours of the hill. A few hills and dips, but nothing like those on Saturday. With Newent behind me, the computer clocked up 70 miles and I was soon crossing the bridge in Tewkesbury at Upper Load and heading north along the A38 to Shuthonger. There in the distance was Tim Hollis on his Chopper bike waiting to greet me on the main road! A car drew up and Carolyn Methven, who was ordained priest on Saturday, greeted me before rushing off to a meeting. We then cycled up to the Church of Mary Magdalene, Twyning, passing the vicar on the way, to be greeted by Arthur and Madge Storey, originally from Giggleswick, and Godfrey and Pam Page, representing the parish which had generously contributed to the Zimbabwe appeal.

It had been my longest day with 79 miles covered, but a delightful journey though wonderful countryside. A glass of Pimms, a hot bath, and a delicious meal, before Marion arrived from a L'Arche Brecon Committee meeting, and conversation continued until bed beckoned.

No comments: