Gathering at the ICF were CER members keen to make the best of the hot and sunny forecast. Making a welcome return were Clive and Dave P, keen to demonstrate their cycling fitness, though I think Dave was showing off by riding his fixie! They joined Dave H, Keith, Andy B, George and myself in the mod group. Nick and Ivan were planning a brisk ride. Dave H set expectations for his slow riding early on, saying that “My wife, Keith and I had a heavy night last night”. As eyebrows were raised, he clarified that they had all been to a boxercise class.
Our route was to a new destination for me: The Bear at Hodnet. We headed out through Tattenhall and Tilston, and much to Dave H’s disgust, through Malpas. Dave has a strong dislike of Malpas, maybe something bad happened to him there once. Then it was through Higher Wych and towards Fenn Wood. At one point some one thought our route was taking us towards Arrowy. Such was the fear in your author’s mind of the dire state of this lane, that a halt was called and the map consulted. Relieved that we were passing well to the east of Arrowy, we continued. The heavy flooding of recent days had largely disappeared from the lanes, though the mud left behind had dried and created clouds of dust when larger vehicles sped by. We passed pleasantly through Coton and then Prees, before approaching Marchamley from the north – a steep uphill but nothing like as bad as the approach from the south. Then it was a fast downhill into Hodnet, with The Bear in its centre.
The Bear is a large rambling inn with many rooms, one of which has a glass floor revealing an old well beneath. It is said to date back 500 years and there was once a bear pit on the site. Also dating back many years, our CER members settled down to eat and drink. Many chose the two courses for £9.50. We spoke about the move away from diesel and petrol to hybrid and electric cars. Then we settled on a topic we could really get our teeth into, a trip down memory lane. The question was simple, who recorded “On the road again”. The answer was harder to find. There must have been 20 or 30 wrong answers put forward, before finally someone said Canned Heat.
|Photo by Steve H|
It was time to leave. We headed through Wollerton and then negotiated the busy Ternhill roundabout using the pavements. Back onto the quieter roads we passed through Longslow, where we had a photo stop, and then around Shavington Park, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, the parkland scenery and the gentle lanes. Heading north towards Aston, we paused to consider where to take a coffee break. The Bhurtpore was a possibility, but rejected after Dave P said he would have to have a curry if we stopped there. Instead we made for Wrenbury Village Stores, just as the primary school day was ending. We sat outside in the sun enjoying drinks and some food. A mother with her two young sons sat nearby while they ate their ice creams. We struck up a conversation and Keith tried to encourage the boys to leave school and join the circus.
From Wrenbury, the route took us past the Cholmondley Arms, Bickerton, over Harthill and back into Tattenhall. We had travelled 58 miles on a day when local temperatures had reached over 23 degrees. Nationally it was the warmest April day since 1949. And it had been great to welcome back Clive and Dave P to a full ride.