Another scorcher of a day, where the chill of the tunnels under Bath provided a welcome relief.
As we set off from an almost empty car park, we exchanged greetings with a pair of 87 year olds preparing their tricycle tandem. After a warm up down to Lacock we hit the first major undulation, Bowden Hill, which rises 130 m onto the plateau, but compensates afterwards with 20 km of fast cruising. Their website said the Village Shop at Steeple Ashton would be closed but this turned out to be fake news so we enjoyed our coffees and watched the world go by for a few pleasant minutes.
From Axminster the road climbs up to the avenue leading into Longleat, through which there is a right of way. The swooping descent on smooth tarmac down past Longleat House was a delight (hope Chris has a picture!), and was followed inevitably by a climb but on a road closed to cars (beware the barrier at the end of it!).
There must be a less busy, less fashionable lunch stop somewhere in Frome than the Garden CafÃ© but it did the job. Richard and Lynn annoyed the frazzled proprietor by interfering with a "crime scene", but he came out as we were leaving and apologised.
So, onward to Bath and the converted railway tunnels which provided a refreshing and easy route into the city centre. After crossing the River Avon we followed the riverside cycle path NE then through the packed centre and onto the Kennet and Avon canal path. At Bathampton, well aware of the climbs to come, we prepared ourselves with long cold drinks at the pub.
After Batheaston we tackled the tough climb of Steway Lane, rendered even harder by a clot in a white Range Rover. Once back on the plateau quiet roads led back to the picture postcard village of Castle Combe.
Thank you guys for providing such good company and to Hugh F for showing me the route.