THE THREE CASTLES
The Easter Ride
Easter is for us, the traditional time, to take toward the famous three castles of Gwent. The weather had been sunny on the Good Friday and the Saturday, but as I set of on the Easter Sunday, to meet Nick near my house, the weather was overcast at Midday and threatened rain. However it remained dry for the time being as we cycled to New Inn, then to Glascoed and up toward Goytre, here we took the lane to Chainbridge . The lanes were busy here as we had expected , but I had promised a quiet ride free from traffic, as we turned up the road toward Bettws Newydd, the traffic ceased, we arrived at the village of Bettws Newydd and climbed the hill to the ancient Iron Age fort of Coed Y Bwyndd.This ancient fort is quite spectacular with its neat earth banks, it is owned by the National Trust, but is more or less ignored (thankfully) by tourists. Our traffic free ride was to continue as we cycled along the back road past Llanarth Court Hospital, it was now warming up so we stopped for a while to eat some rations, we viewed the old house that is now a psychiatric hospital, the sun tried to break out but was held back by the clouds.I have often written about the wonderful cycling paradise of Northern Gwent and this day we were to find it truly is! I do not what it is about this area, but it lends a particularly friendly atmosphere to cyclists like our selves, our Uncle, Ron Jeffries used to cycle here before the war, he often wrote about these pleasant lanes and they do not seem to have changed much to this day! At Llantilio Crossenny we were now in our shorts, we cycled up the rough road which is Offas Dyke to Whitecastle, from here we cycled along to Cross Ash and then on the serene back road to Grosmont. We viewed the castle here and took refreshment from the shop as it closed at 5.00pm. The village of Grosmont is truly beautiful, it is like a time capsule from a long gone age, that we can only look back at, with fond memories. From here we sped off on the deserted main road to Skenfrith, which is one of my favorite rides, after looking at the third castle of the day we took the steep ascent up to Hilston Park, how the rain held off I do not know, but thankfully it remedied dry .From here we carried on with the tranquil theme, we took the quiet undulating lanes to Newcastle, Hendre, Tregare and Raglan. The lanes were nice and peaceful but it was hard to get a rhythm going, as they were quite steep and I suffered a bit toward Usk. Nick had sprinted off to order food from the Chinese in Usk, we quickly ate this and carried on to Newbridge on Usk where we parted, Nick cycled home via Caerleon , while I cycled home via the Treherbert road, as I finished off the last miles of the day the first rain drizzled, but I did not hang about and arrived home at 10.30pm..60 miles.
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