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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

West Country Mini Adventure On The Ural 750cc Dalesman

Three days off and I thought it about time I took the Ural out on a camping trip.

I'd been flat out at work so had not had any time to prepare for the trip other than book a camp site.

I decided early on that I did not want to travel more than a couple of hours away from from home, so this helped narrow down where I would go.

In the end I went for Somerset and based myself just outside of Cheddar Gorge.

The campsite was called Petruth Paddocks, a large site with a laid back atmosphere. More about this later!

For this trip I'm using the Vango Banshee 200 tent, tried and tested. I could of gone for the bigger tent as space/weight is not so much of an issue for solo travel now I'm on the Ural, but if the wind got up the larger tent would be a bugger to put up or take down on my own.

After what seemed an age of packing and loading I finally got away at 1045 and headed for Somerset Levels.

First stop was Wingreen Hill which has spectacular views towards my beloved Shaston, quick brew from my flask of coffee and I was off again. 


I couldn't resist a drive up Shaston High Street with the Ural. At the top of the town by the Ship Inn there are road works at present and a clearly marked one way system in place. Here I met a girl driving towards me! I got through but the van behind me was having none of it. Stupid girl!

Through Gillingham, and on out through Castle Carey and towards Glastonbury. I tried to park in the High Street but couldn't find a spot so went to the nearest car park, but with a few undesirables wandering around I gave up. Shame as I was looking forward to a wander around the town.

With all my gear on the bike I suspect the temptation may of been just a bit too much for a few light fingered hippy's!

I did stop at Tesco's to buy lunch and a couple of things I'd forgotten such as olive oil and pepper.

From here it was only a short ride to my campsite just outside of the village of Cheddar.

I found the site easy enough, and checked in with no problems. It was several large fields separated by hedges.

I had reserved a pitch with electric, but arriving early on I had a choice of where I wanted to go. Well, to be honest I was limited by the length of my hook-up cable. 15 metres does not get you that far.

There were only two hook-up points, both either side of a hedge. I chose to take the pitch the furthest away from the loo's I didn't fancy every one walking through my pitch to get to them. However this was the wrong choice in the end!

 It was Friday night and slowly the camp site began to fill, all though there was masses and masses of space.



It did not take me long to set up and a brew brewing! The tent takes just minutes to pitch.

On the way over I had spotted a place called "The Cider Barn" so once I had squared everything away, I rode back to see if I could get some proper cider!



I ended up with 4 pints of Riche's Cider at 6%. Easy drinking but gave me wicked cider burn.


I wasn't sure if I should drink it or run the Ural on it!

I headed back towards the campsite, but as it was still fairly early decided to take a ride up the Gorge. Not many folk about so had a clean run up and down. I then headed back to the site to chill.

The site was filling up slowly, but no way overcrowded and I spent a couple of hours or so just watching the others set up. One young couple clearly had never camped before and were really struggling erecting their tent with a lot of arm waving and stamping of feet.

Later that evening I cooked ribeye steak, I sauteed potatoes and heated some peas. On the steak I had a mustard and cracked pepper home made rub. It was amazing.

I sent Kiera a picture of myself and said I looked like a hobo with my beard being a bit wild after riding all day with an open face helmet.


Looking like this the couple to my left brought me over a couple of beers, which I gratefully received and then 10 minutes later the young couple to my right brought me over some incinerated chicken which I politely declined. He looked a bit crest fallen when I explained what I had only just cooked!

Made me chuckle!

Watching the sunset is a great way to relax.


I made a hot chocolate and I was in my maggot by 2130hrs, falling asleep more or less straight away.

The downside to this was waking at just after midnight needing a wee!

Then again at 0430hrs! However, there was a full moon and with the mist across the field it was worth waking up to see.

0830hrs and I was up, the sun shining and a brew on.

I had managed to forget my towel, using a tea towel to dry my ample self off would of been a bit of a challenge so my first task was to call  into the supermarket. I'd seen a sign saying new superstore yesterday so this would be my first port of call.

How wrong can one be!  Superstore my arse! I've been in bigger corner shops! All I could find was napkins or kitchen roll. And so the hunt begins.

Looking on the map I decided to head for the coast and a place called Brean, it looked like it would have beaches and with that fine views. But first a few detours.

I set my GoPro camera up and went up and down the Gorge filming as I went. I mounted the camera on the nose of the side car so the view you see is the same as if you are sat in the chair.



Filled up with fuel and went to find Cheddar Reservoir, it took a bit of finding! I didn't stop as I couldn't find anywhere to park. 

Seeing the sign for Axbridge I pulled off the main road and into the town. Axbridge dates back to the medieval times and has a quaint square at the heart of the village. A couple of pubs/hotels a coffee shop and a corner shop and that's your lot. But worth a visit.


Onwards now to Brean! Well, what can I say?!

A Chav's paradise! Not what I was expecting at all - I went right to the very end of the road, hoping it would get better, but once again I was stumped for parking!

They would not let me onto the beach to park, the one time that riding a motorbike has gone against me.

Tacky is the only way to accurately describe Brean. Such a shame as I was expecting to find peace and tranquillity for a couple of hours.

It was full of static holiday homes, theme parks, amusement arcades and pubs catering for the egg and chip brigade.

For the life of me I really do not see the attraction for such a place, yet it was heaving with folk!

Heading back towards Burnham on Sea I realised I was going past the area where I had bought "Lucille" my Honda C90.

I turned around and went in search of the house. I had bought it from an old boy who was mad on motorbikes. His house was full of trophies he had won years ago. He was heavily involved in the scrambling scene.

I wasn't sure if he still lived here or even alive! I found the house, knocked on the door and he answered! We had a good chat and he was clearly pleased that I had turned up and that his C90 was still in safe hands. It also made me feel extremely good.

Sadly though he has be diagnosed with Parkinsons.

Into Burnham and along the sea front which had a much better look to it. The town itself was a little run down, but the views across the water were good. I say water, sand really as the tide was out!



Here I got chatting to an old boy who was also a keen motorcyclist, he was intrigued by the Ural.

I do enjoy chatting to these old boys about the bike and their old bikes, it's like a fire is lit in their eyes as soon as they start remembering their bikes and what they used to get up to.

It was here in Burnham I finally found a towel!

Heading back towards Cheddar via Wedmore I was starving, so decided to go to Cheddar Gorge once more and buy some Cheddar Cheese and eat it in the Gorge! Had to be done really! Along with some lush chutney, crusty bread, ham, salami and tomatoes still on the vine I feasted as I watched the countless bikers, boy racers and cyclists go up and down the Gorge



One thing did wind me up, and this was watching the cyclists. It's obviously a steep climb in places and they have to go slow as it's hard work cycling up the hill, so why not stay in single file instead of 3 or 6 abreast making cars coming down the hill swerve to avoid you!?

let alone the cars, coaches and motorbikes struggling to overtake you. Rant over.

I went back to the campsite and to my surprise find a VW camper parked right next to my tent!. The pitches are clearly marked so either the couple thought they could intimidate me and I would not say a word, or they were half wits.

One thing for sure is that they were not expecting a big fat hairy biker to turn up. I growled as I pulled up and I have never seen a pair pack and scoot off as quickly as they did.

Opposite me a party of chav's had set up. Music blaring, loads of shouting and the language was terrible.

I swear, in fact I swear a lot. I'm ex forces where the "F" word was used as a term of endearment, but one thing I do is kerb it in front of kids. I must say their kids were better behaved than they were. 

After 2300hrs the wardens had to come and tell them to turn off the music, which they complained about, but still carried on singing and shouting till the early hours.

Then at 0730 they were up and the music was back on again! 

No consideration for others what so ever, sad really.

As I was awake, brew on, and started to pack up my gear. It didn't take long. Yet again I packed too much clothes. I never wore half of it, in fact apart from clean underwear I stayed in the same gear!

I didn't really have a plan for heading home, but I did want to see Wells Cathedral.

As I dropped down the hill, which is a very long hill, I was greeted with an amazing view across the valley towards Glastonbury. You can just make out Glastonbury Tor if you look closely enough.

Wells Cathedral is amazing, I could of spent ages looking at all the stone carvings, there are just so many to look at. I did not go into town, I will save that for another day when Kiera is with me.





From here I headed through the lanes and picked up a sign for King Alfred's tower, a folly built as a grand and final gesture by the same man who built Stour Head gardens and it's many folly's. An imposing tower, which to be honest gives me the creeps!



I didn't hang around here at all. Not sure what it is about the place, just sense a bad feeling about the place.

Just outside of Shaftesbury is a set of hairpin bends called Zig Zag hill. I wanted to capture this hill with my GoPro. Set it up, hit record, and went up and down the hill. It wasn't till later that I discovered for some strange reason that it had not recorded!

Always another day!

And then I was home. 232 miles completed, not a massive amount of miles by my standards, but I really did enjoy my time on the Ural. Such a fun bike to ride.


The journey continues...........