The first special ride of the year, and Clive had devised a brisk and a mod ride from Market Drayton to Wheaton Aston, a few miles north of Wolverhampton. We were to meet in Morrison’s café in Market Drayton and here assembled the mod riders: myself, Clive, Trevor, Dave H, Keith, Andy B and Steve T who was unsure whether the join the brisk group. We had all parked in the store car park, except for Andy, who had cycled down from Malpas, considering a ride from his home in Mold as a little too far.
It was cold. The forecast was for a dry, cool and sunny day with little wind, but as we set off clouds were covering any sun. Clive had a problem at the start, insofar as his iPhone had stopped working. However he had taken the precaution of sending me the route, so we headed out, minus Steve T, past Salisbury Hill, before crossing the A529, passing through Sambrook and then joining a lovely straight Roman Road towards Sutton. Here we climbed the hill to admire the view and take photos from the entrance to Fernhill House, “an impeccable restored Victorian country house” according to Savills. See how the other half live...
|Photo by TC|
Next we continued south eastwards, warming up under now clear skies plus a one chevron hill. We took a quick dash along the A5, before turning off towards Wheaton Aston and the Hartley Arms. We were surprised not to see the brisk riders already ensconced in our reserved tables, given they had only a little further to travel than we had. The welcome was good and we took advantage of the pensioners’ special of two meals for the price of one and a few of us enjoyed the Banks’s Mild. Decent food arrived and so did the brisk group having been delayed by a puncture and route finding in Telford. We noted that the pub sat on the Shropshire Union Canal, which could have provided a traffic-free, hill-less route all the way back to Market Drayton. During lunch Clive resolved his iPhone issue and led the route back.
We were joined on our return by Steve T who was playing fast and loose with his group loyalties. We headed northwards through Church Eaton and Gnosall Heath, then towards Norbury. En route at Shelmore Wood we passed BIFoR, the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research Free-Air Carbon Enrichment Facility. This studies how forests will respond to future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Extra CO2, equivalent to concentrations expected around 2050, is being delivered to undisturbed patches of woodland. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/building/bifor.aspx
Travelling on through Adbaston and Cheswardine, after 49 miles, we arrive back at Morrison’s for tea and cakes. Reflecting on the ride, we are impressed by the quiet, generally smooth country lanes and considered revisiting this area for future special rides. Many thanks to Clive for devising this one.