Given the weather, I had in mind a longish ride to The Bear at Hodnet. This met with approval from Bob and Trevor as preparation for their upcoming Bert Bailey ride, and Graeme, on his electric bike, was interested to see how his battery power would hold up. We set out for Tilston, and then to avoid the hill into Malpas (in honour of the absent Dave H), we used Cholton Lane to approach the town from the west. Continuing through Higher Wych, we arrived in Coton which was to have been an alternative destination in case of any difficulties. All were happy to continue, and so we continued through Prees and up the hill to Marchamley. We sped downhill into Hodnet and The Bear, having covered 32 miles and most of the day’s hills.
The Bear calls itself “an unpretentious gastro pub”, and as usual we received a good welcome and decent food and drink. There were questions about the pub’s history, which we couldn’t answer at the time, but the following comes from the Bear’s website:
“The Bear at Hodnet is said to date back at least 500 years and is said to still contain the passages used to hide the monks as they came from the church. These tunnels, ending in what is now called the bear pit, may also have been used to transport ale underground in order to avoid tax levied on ale transported over land. Today’s modern bear pit was created by an enterprising publican in the 1970's and contained two young bears until common sense allowed their release. It is believed, however, that during the 16th century the Inn may have had its own bear pit in what is now the car park. The owner allegedly kept the bears in a pit below the bar. It is said that that regulars fed the bears food and drink and some of the bears are said to have died from alcohol poisoning. Apparently bears are infamous for their love of beer but cannot process it to quite the same effect as some of our regulars. The modern bear pit is now contained in an area known as 'Jaspers' named after the ghost of Jasper Neilsen, a Scandinavian merchant, who died of hypothermia in around 1590 after becoming intoxicated and having an argument with the landlord.”
It was time to leave. Graeme had used 2 fifths of his battery so would probably be OK for the shorter and less hilly return. We headed towards Market Drayton and used pavements to avoid the busy Ternhill roundabout, before striking off through quiet lanes and the villages of Longford and Longslow. Then we headed northwards past the impressive gatehouses of Shavington Park, continuing through Aston and into Wrenbury. In the absence of any cafes on the return route, we paused at Wrenbury Village Stores, and enjoyed our drinks and food sitting on their forecourt. Here it became clear how hot the sun was.
|Photo by Steve H|
The way was now by Cholmondley Castle and Bickerton. Graeme decided that it was time to head directly for home in Malpas with concerns that his battery would not take him back via the ICF, and Andy left to take the A534 and head towards Mold. The rest of us took the route by Brown Knowl and Bolesworth Castle to avoid Harthill, and so returned to our start.
We’d covered a total of 61 miles on a beautiful summer’s day.
See route map and/or gpx file download