A lovely start to the day brought out the numbers meeting at Hildegard’s in Holt. We were even joined by three members of the Wrexham Café Hoppers who disappointingly decided to do their own thing rather than join our ride: next time perhaps? That left 13 paid-up members for the ride comprising Clive, Ivan, Tony, Paul, Jim, George, Andy, Trevor, Mike G, Dave H, Mike M, Ray and me. Clive had come up with a suggested ride of some 44 miles down to Northwood between Ellesmere and Wem and had already obtained the agreement of the landlady at the Horse and Jockey to open up especially for us. While Clive rang the pub with the numbers, we agreed to split into two groups following the same route but with the brisker ride intending to add an extra loop if time permitted.
Clive led the brisk group (Ivan, Paul, Tony, Andy and Ray) off towards Farndon while the rest of us followed with Mike G seemingly undecided on which group to join! It later transpired that he had already done a fair few miles having cycled out from Rhos-on-Sea this morning, which would see him clocking up 70 plus miles by lunchtime.
Clive’s route saw us meandering along the back lanes through Tilston, Chorlton Lane and Threapwood before a sharp right at Sarn Bridge put us on the road to Holly Bush. A little further and we ground to a halt to check where we were heading, at the point where our figure of eight route crossed. Having worked out the correct leg of the four options we were off again to join the A539 for a short section before a blind hazardous right turn on a hill brought us onto a lovely lane we hadn’t ridden before. With daffodils lining the lanes and the sound of newborn lambs announcing that spring was well under way we made good progress, keeping together as a compact group, as we made our way through Westhampton and Lyneal. We arrived at the Horse and Jockey just as the brisk group were locking up their bikes having put in an additional five-mile loop through Lyneal to Loppington and back on the B5063.
|About to leave the Horse and Jockey|
Clive had to get back for a dental appointment so as he set off back home we made ourselves at home in the bar. True to her word the landlady had opened up especially for us but had no other staff to help out. Barmaid, waitress, and cook: it looked as though we could still be there by mid-afternoon. But no: with admirable organisation drinks orders were taken and served, then it was on to food orders for all 12 of us, and before long the landlady was back and forth between kitchen and bar with our meals. Great food, good ale and fantastic service make this an outstanding find: good choice Clive.
Photographs by Bryan Wade
By 14:00 hours it was time to leave as a single group of 12 riders with a photo to record the day. The route back took us north to Bettisfield and Tarts Hill on the way to Penley with the group staying together as we worked our way through the lanes.
|Cloy Hall Farm|
From Penley the planned route took us along familiar lanes even repeating the holdup while the cows were brought in for milking at Cloy Hall Farm. At Bangor on Dee we took to the main road before turning right towards Bowling Bank and the delightful network of lanes back to Holt. A well-earned final break of tea and cake was taken at Hildegard’s before we left to go our separate ways home.
The moderate group had clocked up just over 44 miles by the return while the brisk group with an extra outward loop had done about 49. For those riding from Chester there was an extra 20 miles to add.