Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

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Tuesday 5 September 2017

The Celtic Trail Day 1. (Newport to Swansea)

The Celtic Trail Day 1
Bradleys Coffee shop Aberdare
Open Tue-Sat 8-6, Sun 10-4
Cafe Espresso, Neath 
Open No idea as doesn't seem to exist

After the critically acclaimed success of last year's Great Ride North, where myself and Mrs Crusader (plus occasional guests) rode along National cycle route 1 from Norwich to St Andrews, then this year we have headed West to give the same treatment to the Celtic Trail in South Wales.

The trail actually starts in Chepstow but we skipped the early bit and started from Newport so we could follow a figure of 8. The inland part of the route is on Sustrans route 47 and the Costal part is National cycle route 4. 

Our first 2 days will be spent inland, although to make the distance doable we will be taking some short cuts rather than stick to route 47 all the way. The mission is again to find the best cafe on the route.
The route we will follow sticking mainly to the Celtic trail
As we awoke in our Holiday Inn Express en-suite room it was clear Mrs Crusader was a little apprehensive of what was to come. I had promised that this year's stages would be shorter than last year but had only recently mentioned they might be a bit (or a lot) hillier. This had not gone down well and she had insisted I installed the biggest cog I could find (36 tooth!!) on her bike to help her make it up. I had also only recently pointed out that today was mostly off road which is always a sustrans lottery as it could mean anything from tarmac cycle path to open fields. It had also started to rain.

So it was with some trepidation that we climbed on our bikes  and left the Holiday Inn Express car park heading for the Welsh mountains.
Ready for the off

It was slow going at first as we got used to the weight of the bikes and bumpy cycle path surface but we soon found our first sustrans route 47 sign and we were on our way.
On to cycle route 47 by the river
To help keep Mrs Crusader entertained I had recently bought her a new sports watch. One feature of it is that it constantly measures your pulse rate. So today she decided to have it on the heart setting which meant that every few minutes she shouted a random number at me that turned out to be her latest heart rate news. I just said "that's good" a lot which seemed to keep her happy.

The clever Welsh people seemed to have built a lot of good quality cycle track that avoided going over any of the big hills that surrounded us so after nearly 30 miles we still hadn't had to go up any climbs or mix with much traffic. We were therefore both still relatively fresh and in a good mood when we arrived in Aberdare where we found Bradleys Coffee shop in the old Town hall but the wrong way down the complex Aberdare one way system.
There was plenty of good off road cycle track in the early part of the rid
Bradley's coffee shop had a nice outdoor seating area but as the rain had just started again we went inside instead. Unfortunately it was very busy so all the best seats had gone leaving us the ones near the toilet. Nevertheless we still felt a good atmosphere and ambiance (AAA) score could be awarded.
Outside Bradleys
The cake selection was good too having both a fridge with cakes and another display area of traybakes and slices. Mrs Crusader had carrot cake with her Mocha and I had an interesting looking peanut stack with my hot chocolate.

All was looking good until the drinks and cakes arrived and my good mood changed. They had only gone and put the cakes on the serviettes, clearly my campaign had not made it to Wales yet. With use of calming breathing techniques I just managed to hold myself together before deciding to redouble my efforts to cut this dreadful practice out, nationwide. Remember #keepcakeoffserviettes #cadwch gacen oddi ar y gwartheg.
Cakes on serviettes !!!!!
The drinks and cakes were all very good with the peanut stack being the highlight so Bradley's had scored very well and set a high bar for the rest of the Celtic trail cafe contenders to meet.

After lunch we had a slow but steady climb up, this time along some proper roads but after a long decent we soon found ourselves back on tracks this time running alongside the Neath canal. They were fairly poor quality and it had also started to rain so by the time we got to Neath for our second stop we were getting rather tired.
Starting to get cold and wet on way into Neath
I had carefully researched all the possible options for a good cafe stop in Neath and had only found one that sounded like it met my cafe cycle criteria.  However when we got to where it should have been it wasn't there. Even google maps said it should have been exactly where we were, between Barclays and Subway, but there was no cafe or even a gap to squeeze it in. I decided it must be like platform 9.75 in Harry Potter and as I was not from the wizarding world then I was struck in Neath with no refreshment stop. As it was starting to rain again we decided to abandon the second cafe stop and head for Swansea.

The rest of the way was mainly on cycle track along side busy roads which was a bit dull and noisy although we made good progress to our first overnight stop.
Mrs Crusader still smiling (for now) as we reached our first overnight stp
Although most of the route had been off-road and with no big hills the 60 miles had had us on the road for over 8 hours as it is hard to get up any speed on old railway lines and canal paths. Also the tracks were all lined with trees so you rarely got a glimpse of the views available so it wasn't the most interesting days cycling.

Tomorrow things should be better as the only dry day of the week is forecast and we will be going over a lot of hills so some good views and exciting pulse rate numbers are guaranteed.

Map route


Cafe ratings for cafes reviewed on (or near) the Celtic trail
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Café Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Bradleys Coffee Shop
Cafe Espresso


Average Speed
Hours on bike
Meters climbed
Newport to Swansea
Swansea to Fishguard

Fishguard to Tenby

Tenby to Swansea

Swansea to Newport


  Tomorrow's weather forecast
Tomorrows forecast looks best of week

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