Day 4 – Wandering to Weymouth

Day 4 – Wandering to Weymouth

N50° 36' 52.0344" E-2° 27' 11.3112"

2017/06 - A Return to England with Mom
15 June 2017 in Some Infidelity, United Kingdom

If I am very honest, yesterday felt a whole lot like work. I spent a lot of the day fighting with the bike. It was running roughly first thing in the morning. It started overheating after a long run through a narrow laneway in first gear, something it kept up with every time I had an extended run at very low speeds. And the bike stalled what felt like an enormous number of times (although that part may have been me).

With the added pressure of trying to arrive by a certain time, the recognition that Mom was getting tired and the on-going question of where we were, where the GPS thought we were, where the GPS thought we should go, whether I believed the GPS and where we still had to go, it made for a long, intense and altogether less-fun-than-it-was-supposed-to-be kind of day.

Given that this is our vacation—and that the entire purpose of coming out to Cornwall (and pretty much our entire reason for choosing our mode of transport for the trip) was to engage in enjoyable motorcycling adventures—and we have a disconnect of major proportions. As a result, we made a decision to take some time today to stop on a regular basis, enjoy the scenery, check out interesting places and in general enjoy ourselves. (You would think that this would be an obvious thing to do, but apparently we need reminding).

At Land’s End. The western-most place in England.

In terms of navigation, we are trying a different strategy. We’ve made note of the scenic roads we want to take on paper, and Mom has the notes in her pocket. She can reach them as needed, even while we’re on the road. I’ve also programmed the GPS with each of the places that we plan on stopping, and we’re going to drip-feed it only the information that it needs to get to the very next place. This should stop its tendency to look at our final destination and say, “Hey, guys! Follow me! I know a short-cut!”

From here, there’s nothing until you get to Canada.

We’ve got an extra stop planned as well. I looked at the bike last night, and the coolant level in the reservoir was below “Minimum,” which may be the cause of the overheating. Astonishingly, there are no less than 3 BMW Motorrad dealers between St. Ives and Weymouth, our destination for the evening. A call to Ocean Plymouth BMW first thing this morning, and they advised me to stop by when we are passing through and they would take a look.

There were more than a few vintage Jags on the road this morning…

Our first stop is Penzance. (Yes, that Penzance. They even have touristy places with pireate-y themes). Which, depending upon your perspective, is either appropriate or ironic. Penzance was theoretically a thriving economy as early as the 1300s. Since that time, it has had a royal charter to hold a weekly market, and later was granted independent status as a borough. A bunch of keeners, that lot.

At the same time, Cornwall is well known for its more illicit trade. Smuggling and wrecking were popular pastimes, if one can use that term. Piracy was a vocation, and many of the wealthy patrons of the region got that way by showing no mercy on the high seas. While there is an open question of whether locals lured ships on to the rocks, they were happy to plunder whatever booty appeared when ships actually ran aground. And pitched battles were fought between the customs men that confiscated retrieved cargo, and the local wreckers that considered the property rightfully theirs.

All this to say that the area has a colourful past. Today, however, the area has a colourful present. A big, touristy, colourful present. Penzance is a large centre still, and a magnet for tourists in the area. Our ride from Land’s End saw many (badly driven) rental cars wending to and fro, along with some impressively navigated lorries. The roads are narrow, the speed limits are generous but the way was still relatively slow, as passing places were few and far between.

Once arrived in Penzance, however, our destination was easy to find. The Duke Street Café is rated as one of the best coffee places in the town. It is certainly amongst the most funky. And it provided an outdoor oasis to people watch, check out the town and take a deep breath before our next leg. The doggie watching was also something Mom enjoyed a lot.

The Duke Street Café in Penzance. Our first stop of the day.

Our next stop was lunch, just outside of Plymouth, before heading off to have the bike looked at. While the ride to Land’s End and Plymouth largely featured B roads (and decidedly twisty ones at that), for the trip to Plymouth we opted for the GPS to tell us the fastest way to get there. This resulted in the first major stretch of double carriageway of the trip (with the next major stretch coming right after Plymouth). While this wasn’t terribly scenic, for this stretch that was pretty much going to be the case for secondary roads as well. We opted for making good time through here, so we could enjoy the scenery later.

We had a great pub lunch at the Rod & Line Inn in Tideford. It’s a small, out of the way pub; hugely popular with the locals, but if you didn’t know it was there you would completely miss it. I had home-made crab cakes (which were divine), and Mom had a spectacularly impressive ham and cheese omelette with a side salad. From there, we headed to BMW in order to figure out what was going on with the bike.

Ocean Plymouth BMW is pretty impressive. It’s a car and bike dealership all in one (common in the UK, not so much in North America). We arrived shortly after 2:00pm, when we had indicated. A manager immediately looked at the bike, then had a technician give it a once-over. The verdict was that it wasn’t a coolant problem. The coolant was actually full. Apparently it expands and contracts based on temperature (I am so not going to dignify this with any other commentary) and the coolant reservoir was pleasingly full (okay, so I lied). The best guess was that the radiator is having a flow issue; the manager recommended giving it a rest if we’re in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, but otherwise carrying on for the rest of our trip.

So carry on we did. Our final stop of the day was Lyme Regis. This is an epically touristy (and epically hilly) town on the English Channel. The ride into Lyme Regis was for the most part enjoyable, although the last part involved several miles following a pair of seniors in a Volvo wagon that were absolutely terrified any time the road narrowed or there was on-coming traffic (which, as we’ve already established, is pretty much always). I have no idea what happened to them, as we stopped, but they really, really need to find themselves a smaller car. Or a chauffeur.

Lyme Regis, looking down to the water (emphasis on down).

After a coffee in Lyme Regis (and yet another top-up SIM card as I desperately attempt to manage getting a data plan) we were ready for our last leg. Lyme Regis to Weymouth was 30 miles of entirely epic road. Impressively, the GPS guided us to the route we wanted to take (for the first time ever). And there were virtually no cars on our way over the moors. Just wide open road wending through open fields, soaring above sandy dunes and passing by more sheep than you can reasonably count. It has easily been the best stretch of the trip so far.

The run to Weymouth. Spectacular roads and beautiful scenery, all to ourselves.

Our hotel in Weymouth is a little boutique establishment with nine rooms. Located right on the esplanade, it looks out over the water. Even better, it has free motorcycle parking about four doors down the street. We checked in, got ourselves sorted, enjoyed a G&T (well, I did, anyway) and headed out for a lovely meal at a local Italian bistro.

On the seafront in Weymouth. Dedicated motorcycle parking for the win.

Tomorrow we start visiting again. While the trip to Cornwall and back has had some highs and some lows (and some general frustrations) it has been an epic adventure. We’ve explored parts of the country that neither of us have ever seen. We’ve experienced some truly epic riding. And we still four days of travel before this trip comes to a close.

Night falls on Weymouth. Tomorrow is another day.

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1 Comment

  1. Pat Silverthorn 16 June 2017 at 8:43 am

    Hi Mark & Sandy: Just love your writing style – it takes me right back to my last wonderful trip with my husband – beautiful Cornwall! I do hope the good outweighs the bad on these final days of your epic return to the U.K. Take care, keep calm and carry on.


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