Five of us met at the Raven transport cafe just south of Whitchurch for today’s Special Ride. It’s a big place with good cheese on toast and coffee, so this set me up for the day’s 61 miles. We i.e. Roy, Dave H, Dave P, Steve and myself, set off promptly in the early morning mist bound for Calverhall. It was a bit chilly, but I was hopefully that it would warm up. We take New Street lane and the long 5 miles to Market Drayton. Out eastwards briefly on the A53, we dive off up the long rise to Hales. We are looking for the Offleys - be it Bishop’s, Rock, Hay, Marsh or Brook. Clearly Offley was an important local - perhaps a corruption of the Mercian King Offa? At Bishop’s Offley, I can’t resist a detour through a steep sandstone canyon then down Jackson’s Lane to Walk Mill valley. Soon we turn at The Star pub, our lunch stop on last year’s 100 miler, bound for the last Offley i.e. High Offley, which is just next to Grub Street - an oddly named hamlet in the middle of the countryside. We are running south now with a bit more sun on our way into Newport. Out through Edgmond and we have completed the 34 miles to the Sutherland Arms in Tibberton.
Photographs by Clive Albany
Just as I arrive there’s a text from Steve who has a puncture. I ride the mile or so back to assist and a while later we are all sitting around our pre-booked table. The food comes promptly and is of good quality and price. Suitably revived, we set off in the sunshine westwards ho. At Stanton under Hine Heath, we intercept the NCR 45 that will take us back to Whitchurch. Dave H enquires the name of the hills up ahead, and I’m not sure but I determine it’s Marchamly Hill at 160m and there’s a single chevron on the OS. Dave P makes it despite his fixie rig, the rest of us grind up through the trees. At 15:44, we have to wait for the 15:49 train to pass at the Prees Station level crossing. The way back is easy to the Raven where good cake and a coffee is just £2. This ride has taken us through acres of good Salopian valleys and fields, and you would be hard pressed to find better riding locally.