The Coast > Coast >
A CRABs misguided tour
|Introduction||Yarmouth to Barmouth '98||Yarmouth to Charmouth '99||Charmouth to Barmouth '00|
In 1996 I was relieved of my first mountain bike (a Diamond Back Sorrento I think it was) from outside a chip shop in Market Drayton, by an oportunistic denizen of the local council estate. Having one's bicycle knicked in the middle of a cycling holiday could rate as one of the least convenient things ever to befall a chap, though fortunately I was insured and I soon replaced it with a much better machine. It was while I was wondering what I could use this new machine for that the idea for the coast to coast triangle was born.
It so happened that I was due to spend a weekend in Barmouth on the Welsh coast the following May, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to cycle there. My home in Cambridge would have been the sensible starting point, but the challenge of turning it into a coast–to–coast ride was tempting, and the alliteration of "Yarmouth to Barmouth" was irresistible. For some reason which now escapes me however, the challenge of getting there by bike was insufficient on its own, and I decided against my better judgement to do it off–road and carrying full camping gear!
After many a long winter's evening poring over OS maps searching for tracks and bridleways, and visits to the library to locate campsites and pubs worth diverting for, I decided on a strategy of seven days on the bike with rest days after the second and fourth. The route I took on this first ride in May 1997 is not in any sense a classic, but is however remarkable for the variety of countryside, scenery, and terrain it encompasses – from below sea level on Acle marshes where it begins, on to Warwick and Ironbridge via the Grand Union Canal through the centre of Birmingham, to the mountain passes of the final day into Barmouth. Alongside this geographical diversity, the crossing of the country at its widest point gives the widest possible experience of regional dialects of English, accommodation and food, and most importantly beer.
The second side of the triangle was soon suggested by a long–time friend, one of the people I was to be meeting up with in Barmouth and who had once owned a hotel in Charmouth on the south coast. The completion of the project would be some years off, but there was no doubt in my mind that a project had indeed been born.
In this age of motor cars, aeroplanes and rapid transit systems we take travel very much for granted, but for our ancestors, the original inhabitants of these islands, there were formidable problems to be overcome on even the shortest of journeys.