The clocks went forward at the weekend so this is the first ride of the year in British Summer Time and we’re meeting at Chirk. The forecast is for fine, dry weather, warmish and little if any wind: indeed it’s the only dry day forecast for the week! A good turnout then? Not a bit of it: with only three of us present by 10:30 it was going to be a very select group indeed. None of us had prepared a ride so with the maps out, as we finished tea, we planned a circular route that would take in some of the lowland areas east of Oswestry and some of the hills to the west. Steve wisely suggested we ride anti-clockwise to get the hills in early.
With the route agreed, the group of John, Steve and Bryan set off south at a moderate pace to Weston Rhyn and on to Selattyn where the real hills started. While Steve and John forged ahead I struggled on the hills but the views and sound of the new born lambs more than made up for the heavy going. By Llawnt we were back together for the descent to Llansilin, slowing as we past the site of the crashed Wellington bomber (January 1943). A few miles further and we took a left turn onto new lanes south to Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain by way of an exciting, and not to be repeated, encounter with a heavily laden tractor coming up a narrow chevroned lane as we came hurtling down desperately trying to brake on the wet and muddy surface.
Good time was being made as we approached Bryn Tanat Hall on the A495 where we planned to cross the Afon Tanat on the footbridge, shown on the map, to the public road on the other side. Well it was just possible to see the bridge in the Hall gardens by standing on the wall outside but access was clearly impossible other than over the manicured lawns and through the house gardens. A diversion was called for so we retraced our route back to Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain and followed the B road to Llanymynech adding a few extra miles but still arriving for lunch at 13:00.
The mechanic at the local garage advises that the best real ale pub in Llanymynech is the unlikely sounding Bradford Arms so that’s where we end up. A traditional pub, with workers at the bar, plenty of banter, three cask ales on tap and substantial good value food. We stick with the excellent Black and Golden Sheep ales noting for next time Ditch Chaser brewed down the road at the Six Bells brewery Bishops Castle. Well worth another visit I’d say.
John decided that he would make his own way back, at a somewhat faster pace than the outward leg, as he was riding back to Chester. Steve and I sorted out a pleasant route on lanes we had done before. It was 14:00, or thereabouts, when we left the pub and before we knew it John had shot off heading south to Four Crosses! We hoped he knew where he was going as there was no chance of us catching him. Steve and I headed east to Maesbrook, then north to Maesbury Marsh, Maesbury, Whittington and finally, skirting Gobowen, back to Chirk from the south. Although we had ridden all these lanes before the route, as a whole, surprised us both comprising a delightful set of lanes with little traffic and almost completely flat.
We arrived back at Chirk by 15:30 in plenty of time for coffee and elderflower cake with 40 miles done. A superb ride of contrasts from the lambs on the upland hills to the lowland lanes with the first signs of oilseed rape in the fields.