The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 25, Porthgain, Wales to Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds, England

Monday, May 25, Day 110 - Porthgain, Wales to Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds, England

Breakfast at 9AM with the same people as yesterday for conversation. Most are moving on as this is the last day of the Bank Holiday. We load up and bid Jeff and Allison, our hosts, farewell and are on the road about 10:30. Today’s drive is to be 200 miles and take 3:30. Yeah, right! We may be slow, but we do learn! It is going to be a B... of a drive!

Coming out of extreme, southwestern Wales there are no main roads so the GPS has us on pig tracks for the first 30 miles or so (a little over an hour of driving forward a mile then backing up 100 yards to a passing space or waiting for the on coming car to do the same. Heaven forbid we should meet any farm equipment!!

Finally we pick up the A40 and as we go through Haverfordwest we see Haverford Castle ruins on top of the hill above the town center.  This is a Norman castle built about 1100. We check the GPS and see it marked so we find the entrance, but fortunately for our time factor there are about two very steeps flights of steps up to the ruin so we take a picture and drive on.

When we finally reach the M4, we make fairly good time until the M4 comes to a halt near Swansea. There are several miles of construction and the traffic is at a stand still for miles, according to the GPS, on this busy travel day. Fortunately we see it coming in time to get off and figure a Plan B. We set the GPS to avoid "Highways" and that seems to mean routes like the M4. Now we are back to the narrow roads, but at least we are moving!
At some point we see a shopping area with a Subway so we stop to pick up sandwiches to eat later. An hour of more on down the road, near Monmouth, we see a sign for Raglan Castle and pull in to eat our sandwich lunch. The place is hopping with some sort of festival but we find a parking spot overlooking the castle, eat, and then walk to the gate to see what is going on. It seems to be medieval fair and there are lots of people. We manage to get some photos of the castle ruins without having to pay to go in and that is all we really want.  Raglan Castle was begun in 1430, rather late for castle building, but is a stunning statement of wealth and power.  Neither of us is up for a "Tudor Execution" this afternoon.

The planned stop for today is Tintern Abbey near the English border. We finally arrive there about 3PM, over 4 hours after we left our B&B! It is on the River Wye and again we have to take a number of almost one lane roads to get to it. The river valley is one of those deep "V’s" and is really beautiful...when we get a glimpses of it through the trees and high hedge rows. This abbey was founded in 1131 and is a predecessor of the abbey in St. Davids that we visited yesterday. The abbey is in ruins but they are imposing and in some places much of the cathedral is still intact and we enjoy exploring. It is easy to see/imagine what it must have looked like before the dissolution of the monasteries. Admission is £8.20 or $12.87US. We also pick up 12 slate drink coasters here as gifts and for our own use.

The town of Tintern is built along a bend in the River Wye and looks like it would also be a fun place to wander around. There are loads of people out doing just that, but it is 4PM and there are still 50 miles to go to our stop! The GPS tells us it will take one and a half hours, but we have not been able to do anything in the time the GPS allows since we got to Wales!

After another bout of one lane roads, we finally get on an "A" way with the speed up to 60 and then slow down to 30 for each small village. The roundabouts bring you to a complete stop every two or three miles so averaging 30 MPH is doing well. You just can’t get there from here quickly in the UK. The roads must be a major drag on their economy!

It is after 6PM when we ring the bell at Holly House B&B in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. Our little two room suite is on the 1st floor (2nd floor to us Yanks) and we unload. Carolyn put what we will need into one bag this morning to help Dick get our stuff up the stairs. One of our hosts, Jane, serves us a very civilized "cup a" to Carolyn and a glass of Port to Dick to help us over come our road shakes and makes us reservations for dinner at 7PM at the Rose Tree in the center of the village.

We clean up a bit and head into the lovely little village. At the Rose Tree, our table is waiting and the dinner is the best so far, if expensive. Dick has braised lamb shank and Carolyn has a vegetable plate with garlic cheese bread. We start off with mushrooms in a whiskey and Stilton sauce and an order of crumb coated fried Brie. A bottle of wine tops it off.

Before leaving, we make reservations for tomorrow night and they agree to hold the remaining  half bottle of wine for us until then. We walk a short way around the village and then head back to our rooms. This has been an exhausting day with the pokey travel and Dick's knee hurting. We both are tired and ready for a good night's sleep and a slow day tomorrow.

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