This was our first visit to “Hildegard’s” since Hildegard had returned to her native Germany so we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t even know if it would be open. However the new owners had opened the previous Friday as a Bistro and Coffee Shop, now called Cleopatra’s. We were given a warm welcome and were soon tucking in to our usual pre-ride fare. I had come armed with route that we had previously done in July 2011 that, coincidentally, had been our first visit to Hildegard’s after it had opened.
Having been suitably fed and watered we assembled outside. The brisk group sped off (briskly) leaving eight of us on the moderate ride. We were Bryan, Dave H, George, Jim, Ken (joining us for the first time), Steve H and myself. We set off across the A534 and came to our first obstacle, a ‘road closed’ notice. Assuming that it applied to the main road and not the side roads that we would be taking we ignored it and carried on. Sure enough we turned off onto a side road and never came across the closed road. We did however come across our second obstacle. Someone had built a dual carriageway across our route. Fortunately they had also built a cycle path down to a nearby roundabout and back. After the short diversion we were soon speeding past the Industrial Estate before skirting around the south of Wrexham and heading out towards Ruabon.
After Ruabon we had the exhilarating run down past Cefn Mawr and the gradual climb up to the A5. A left and right off the A5 took us up past Chirk golf course and past the entrance to Chirk Castle. A shortcut past the caravan site proved disastrous for Bryan. As we dropped down an unmade path towards the Ceiriog Valley a piece of a tree branch shot up between his wheel and mudguard breaking the latter from its arms. A short period of head-scratching followed until a solution was found involving a zip-tie. How on earth did we manage before they were invented? We walked down the rest of the track then headed up the valley. The next left took us up a single chevroned hill right on the line of Offa’s Dyke and into England. A steady climb took us around the eastern side of Selattyn, then down to Gobowen and Park Hall Camp on to Whittington.
Photographs by Michael Gilbert
Our lunch stop was “Ye Old Boote Inn” at Whittington, a 16th century coaching inn, built to accommodate visitors to the 12th century castle opposite and for travellers heading into and out of Wales. Despite the eight of us turning up unannounced we were served quickly with excellent food, which we were able to enjoy at the outside tables in the warm June sunshine – a rare commodity this year.
The return route was shorter and less hilly and we were soon diving down the quiet lanes of Hindford, Crickett (old and new), Seven Sisters and Trench onto the broad lane to Penley. The route I had would have taken us back via Bangor-on-Dee but several riders didn’t like the main road section there so the majority vote was to return by way of Holly Bush and Shocklach.
The north-westerly wind that had been blowing all day had not caused us too many problems and by the time we got back to Cleopatra’s we had completed a very pleasant 52 miles. Of course when we got back we felt it our duty to test the cakes. Several of us can recommend the delicious Guinness cake!