I’ve been wanting to go to The Hinds Head at Norton-in -Hales for a while now as it’s more than five years since my last visit and I remember it as one of our ‘favoured’ lunch stops. But I had called several times on Wednesday to check if they were open for lunch on Thursday, but could get no answer. Consequently, I’d concluded that we’d have to go elsewhere. That was until Ivan told me that he’d been past on Tuesday and that they were open – hurrah!
So the mods (Daves H & M, Alan, Andy B, George and myself) set off from Alison’s bound for Norton-in-Hales. Our first challenge was to get up and over Harthill. As we approached the hill there were ‘Road Closed’ signs which, of course, we ignored. It turned out that they were clearing drains on the hill and the JCB driver was kind enough to raise his front bucket to allow us to get by. Near the top of the hill, a truck was parked across the road and the driver made no effort to move it for us, so we had to walk the bikes past it.
Onward then, with a following wind, past Cholmondeley Castle and Chorley Bank to Wrenbury cum Frith, where the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was raised to allow a narrow boat through. George reckons that it’s the first time he’s seen it up in all the time he’s been with CER! Thankfully, we went past The Bhurtpore in Aston at 11.30, which meant that it was closed. Otherwise I doubt that we’d have got Dave H to go any further!
At Royal’s Green Dave M left us, as he’d decided to go into Audlem to see Jane at The Old Priest House café to talk about arrangements he wants to make for a Special Ride he’s planning from there on October 7th, so watch out on the blog for details in the near future.
Having gone through Adderley, we arrived in Norton-in-Hales and the Hind’s Head about 12:15. The car park was almost empty, but the door to the kitchen was open and the chef was working inside, so I was optimistic. But my hopes were dashed when I tried the front door, where that was a notice to the effect that whilst they are open in the evenings, they are only open at lunchtime at the weekend. Thanks, Ivan!
After a discussion about where to go to find sustenance, we adopted ‘Plan B’ and set off for the five or so mile ride to Audlem where we knew that either the Old Priest House or The Lord Combermere would satisfy our needs. As soon as we cycled up the lane at the side of the pub, the strong northerly wind was evident, and we wondered if it was going to be a long ride home. We arrived in Audlem just as the church clock was striking one and plumped for The Lord Combermere, where we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a fine lunch.
As we were preparing to leave Alan found that his front tyre was very soft, so he set about mending yet another puncture – his third in a week. The problem turned out to be a slight leak from a patch where a previous puncture had been repaired. So, after a slight delay we set off for home using the normal route via Sound, Ravensmoor and Brindley, finding the wind much less strong as the afternoon progressed. A stop was made at Tilly’s in Bunbury for ‘kafee und kuchen’ before heading out on the final leg of our journey.
When we reached Beeston, George left us, heading for The Shady Oak and Waverton, where he’d left his car and at the end of Newton Lane, Andy headed off for Mold. That left a trio of Easy Riders to run the last couple of miles into Tattenhall after a very pleasant day in the Shropshire lanes at a surprisingly perky average speed of 13.5 mph.