Our first goal was the Midway Truck Stop at Prees Heath, about 26 miles distant. We headed towards Tattenhall, then Tilston, into Malpas from the west, and out to Whitchurch. The main road was closed at Bradley Brook, but a short diversion kept us on track. From Whitchurch we took the Calverhall road, but turned off to pass through the placid Brown Moss Nature Reserve. Then we walked across the busy A41 dual carriageway and into our first stop. No-one was tempted by the Desperate Dan all-day breakfast, though a cooked option was taken by some – all good value, substantial fare.
Re-fuelled we headed on through Tilstock and Hollingwood towards Northwood. During this section the brisk riders (Ivan, Paul, Nick and Clive) broke away and forged a path to our pub stop, 30 miles distant. The rest continued more leisurely through Lyneal and Colemere, to Lee. Here we struck southwards to Lower Hordley and Stanwardine in the Fields, before entering Ruyton XI Towns. Turning left up Little Ness Lane, we eventually crossed the A5 and entered the Severn Valley. Passing the Royal Hill pub (a possible destination for a Chirk ride), we made for Melverley, entered Wales, passed over the Severn on a single track bridge and entered Crew Green. From here it was little more than a mile to our lunch stop.
Apparently the Old Hand in the pub’s name refers to the Red Hand of Ulster, while the Diamond refers to gold trading. For a 17th century inn there are also reputed to be two resident ghosts. The brisk group were well into their lunch as we ordered. In celebration of his coming birthday, Clive generously bought everyone drinks and we settled down to eat. The roast dinner was a favourite, good value and must have replenished quite a few calories. Before long the brisk riders decided to depart, minus Clive who chose a more leisurely return. The strong winds of the morning hadn’t caused us any great difficulties, and we looked forward to an improved forecast for the afternoon.
|Pub phots by SH|
Prior to heading back northwards, we took a short circuit of the hills to the southwest and appreciated the enhanced views towards Llanymynech. Back over the Severn, into England, we headed towards Maesbrook. In the morning we had enjoyed some lovely tranquil lanes and here were some more. Next we made for Maesbury Marsh and then into Oswestry from the east. By this time the schools traffic was diminishing and we headed towards the Old Oswestry Hill Fort.
|Oswestry Old Hill Fort, photo by ID|
Here we met the only unfortunate incident of the day. Cycling up the narrow lane towards the fort, we were aware of a car just behind us. As there were no safe passing places, we pulled into a layby to let it go by. Instead the car swerved towards us and stopped only inches from my bike. A middle aged Mr Angry started shouting about how we were in his way and in the wrong. He climbed out of his car, perhaps to accost us, as his wife looked on embarrassed. We refused to move without an apology, and Mr Angry backed down and reversed away, threatening to ‘kick our tyres in’. That was all the result of our trying to let him pass.
|Chirk Aqueduct, photo by ID|
|Photo by ID|
From Oswestry we continued north through Weston Rhyn and into Chirk for our café stop. We weren’t surprised that the brisk group had already passed through. Large portions of cake and scones were consumed to help us on our way. We left heading for Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon, and then onto lanes to Cock Bank and Cross Lanes. Approaching Holt, Clive announced we had reached 100 miles, and we stopped outside the Spar for further refreshments and observed a minor scrape between two cars.
Between Holt and Aldford a race to the finish started between Clive and Keith, while the rest of us continued, enjoying a pleasant end to the ride with blue skies and fluffy white clouds above. Our starting point was finally reached about 7:30pm with 108 miles completed. I later heard that the brisk riders had also successfully finished their ride an hour and a half before us. We had all been lucky with the weather and enjoyed some new territory, excellent lanes and good refreshment stops.
See route map and/or gpx file download