Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tavistock to St. Austell

On Sunday we left Tavistock as the sun was breaking out after early morning rain showers. We had an ambitious plan to get to St. Austell, but knew the plan was open to modification based on the hills. We had several climbs and steep descents. The countryside continued to be beautiful.

We decided to end the day in Liskeard a little early in order to get accomodations and some new brake pads. That was a good decision and we got a room in the 6th establishment on the list at the tourism office because all the other places were full. There was a nice couple from Australia at our B&B and we ended up having a great dinner together. They had been traveling for 9 weeks and we compared highlights of our trips to date. On Monday we left Liskeard and about 5 miles down the road and stopped at the Duloe stone ring.

This is one of the many Neolithic sites in Great Britain that may have been used as a seasonal clock, a ritual ground or a tomb. We checked the orientation of the largest rocks and they all matched the 4 points of the compass exactly. A little further down the road we had to take a ferry across the Fowey river (11th ferry ride during the trip).

We ate lunch and watched all sorts of small boat traffic in the port. This large boat headed out just before we left.

We got to St. Austell and decided that the fatigue in our legs called for a rest day. We had covered over 160 miles of challenging topography in 6 days. We found a nice B&B, cleaned up and headed to Charlestown harbor for dinner. It is a very unusual harbor with an outer harbor, subject to tidal change, and an inner harbor with a lock retaining the water.

St. Austell is known for it's brewery. It is the largest brewery in Cornwall and one of the top 25 in the country. We had a great tour today, Wednesday, and learned some new facts about brewing beer. One of the most interesting facts we learned was about a yeast bank where the brewers send samples of their proprietary yeasts. This ensures that if they lose their yeast at the brewery, by accident or disaster, that they can get a replacement culture of the exact same yeast. We wondered whether American brewers have this safeguard. St. Austell ales are the best beer we have had in England and they are available at many pubs in Cornwall.

Flower gardens appear to be at their peak just now in this area.

Before sightseeing today we replaced the brake pads on Belinda's bike and lubed both chains so we are all ready to head out tomorrow. We have downloaded software from the National Bicycle Network that has maps of bike routes and works with the GPS in our iPad. We'll try a section of Route 3 tomorrow and see how it goes.

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