After a cool-ish start the sun was shining on arrival at Cleopatra’s and forecast was for a fine day. Thanks to Clive sending me a sortable list of CER GPX files, I had found what sounded like an idyllic ride to Oswestry. In April 2011 Clive wrote “quintessentially English summer weather and spring green countryside”. So 7 years later, almost to the day, I set off with Ivan and Nick to see if the route lived up to this fulsome description.
Now this might be a bit lazy but I don’t think I can better Clive's previous blog:-
“So it was down familiar lanes to Shocklach and Threapwood. Exiting to Sarn and crossing the A525 we found ourselves in the beautiful border territory close to Penley. The sharply folded landscape hereabouts marks the border and provided the only hilly challenges of the day. Taking the lane out of Penley, we passed The Trench, shimmy across the A528 at the Seven Sisters and The Cross and on to Elson. The lane to Frankton passes New Crickett and Crickett itself, then onto Ridge and Perthy before exiting onto the A495 west of Welsh Frankton. A short burn brings us into delightful Whittington with its moated castle”.
Honouring the previous ride we too stopped at the castle for a photo. We cruised along commenting that Clive's glowing description of the countryside was fully justified. The only problem was that the beautifully undulating lanes provided numerous dips in which the recent heavy rain had gathered to form a series of deep lakes. They were a bit treacherous and but we managed to cross them all without anyone falling in. We were joined by a red kite circling overhead. We weren’t quick enough to dismount to capture a photograph, but we admired its graceful circling manoeuvres until it bored of us and headed off in search of tastier prey. Its strange to think that the red kite was once regarded as vermin and was exterminated in England, Scotland and most of Wales by the end of the 18th century. Thankfully, that situation has changed and there are more than 300 breeding pairs in Wales and over 200 breeding pairs in England according to the National Trust.
We departed from the 2011 route in to Oswestry so as to avoid the reported busy roundabout at the A5/A483 junction. Instead, we turned right before the A5 and attacked the town from the East along Middleton Road. Scenting the beer, Ivan guided us with laser like accuracy to Wetherspoons. Its probably not one of their finest establishments sited in what looked like a 1970s former main post office. However, as usual the food and drink was good value and the service speedy.
Again I can't better Clive's description “The return ride took us out behind the impressive Iron Age hill fort then past the Gobowen Orthopaedic hospital bound for Hindford and lanes to Overton. This is really beautiful countryside around here and picture perfect” The riders in 2011 enjoyed temperatures 20+°C and whilst it was very sunny and pleasant for us it wasn’ t quite so balmy. I think the springlike weather must have surprised Ivan’s mudguards as one of the stays came loose and repelled all efforts to fix it causing several halts for adjustment. However, eventually it was sorted and we were riding out of Overton towards Bangor on Dee. We took the direct route towards Holt via Bowling Bank and Ridleywood. Nick was in in triathlete mode and led us on a speedy 27mph, 4 mile time trial, to the A534.
We were soon enjoying our coffee the sunshine outside Cleopatra’s and reflecting on a wonderful day out in the countryside. Thankfully, unlike our last brisk ride, the only drama was a wobbly mudguard! Thanks to Clive for his route and hopefully he will be ready to ride it again with us soon. Nick headed off for Tilston and Ivan and I pointed our wheels home to Chester. The round trip from Holt to Oswestry was 49 miles we all had completed about 65 to 70 miles on reaching home.
Photos from John M's phone