National Cycle Route 33 – Somerset

Jeff at burnham-on-sea for web

In late June Jeff Matthews, Club Chairman, travelled to Burnham on Sea for modifications to his campervan. He took the opportunity to ride his mountain bike to Weston Super Mare to visit relatives.

Sustrans Route 33 runs from Bristol to Ilfracombe but I was only going to ride from Highbridge/Burnham on Sea to Weston Super Mare, a 32 mile return trip. The attraction of this ride was that it was almost perfectly flat and around seven miles each way would be along the beach. When the tide is out the hard sand is available for walking, cycling and sections for car parking. The tide was out on this day, so far out that the grey, sticky mud of low tide could be clearly seen and needed to be avoided.

I had cycled the beach section a few weeks earlier but planned to go further today and travel the newly opened Brean to Weston cycle path. Mistake number one was having changed my tyres ready for my holidays. I had dis-guarded the knobbly tyres for ones more suitable to harder surfaces, on sand these were very little help to me.

After a cooked breakfast on the promenade, I took to the beach just before the lighthouse at Burnham and immediately I had problems finding sand firm enough to be able to pedal comfortably. This was very much a walking/cycling day. At one point, when I was going really well, I hit some soft sand, came to a dead stop and fell off the bike.

The tarmac section to Weston was a refreshing change but more problems when the Fire Service had blocked the track to fight a hay fire in the fields. This meant that I needed to go into Weston along the busy A370. After sandwiches on the promenade and a cup of tea with my cousins I sought out the cycle path again.

I picked the path up at the boat yard in Uphill, a pretty little village on the edge of Weston. The surfaced track passed right alongside the hay fire so I needed to get off and walk here to stay safe. A fireman told me that it had caused about £50k loss to the farmer. I soon reached the sand again and foolishly thought it would be better in the other direction. No such luck. Hard cycling and walking was my only way forward.

My legs were very heavy when I arrived at Burnham so I was pleased to get onto the promenade as soon as I could. It was not too far before I found the ice cream seller for a very welcome cornet. The cycle route through Burnham to Highbridge was quite straight forward but after a very hot day and 14 miles fighting the sand I was glad to see the comfort of my campervan.

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