It was very sunny but cold as we gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk. ‘We’ consisted of Steves Ha, Hu and T, Dave H, Alan and George. We were drinking our coffees and debating where we should go when Ivan arrived, having come out by train. He was the sole representative of the brisk riders, the others variously being away or unwell. Ivan was heading for Nesscliffe and was soon on his way.
Steve Ha had a route to The Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and I had one to the Burlton Inn at Burlton. As there was some doubt The Bradford Arms would be open, we opted to head for Burlton. We set off along Castle Road and down into the Ceiriog valley. To avoid the steep climb from Pontfaen into Weston Rhyn, I chose to go further up the valley to Castle Mill before heading uphill. What I had forgotten was that the first 200 metres of the road here is very steep, even though the OS map shows no chevron. Whilst several were equal to the challenge, one or two chose to dismount. Dave H reminded me that it was on this very hill a few years ago that Keith Barlow’s rear mech broke and he had to abandon the ride.
We soon reached Bronygarth and skirted round the edge of Weston Rhyn to pick up the road out to Hengoed. From here we zoomed down the hill to cross the A5 at the roundabout which leads to the Orthopaedic Hospital at Gobowen, where I spent several weeks three years ago. At Whittington, we joined the A5009 and a long run down to Queens Head. Steve Hu was quick to score me 0/10 for this section of the ride as the road was quite busy and the traffic was going past us at high speed.
The roads were now quieter and more to Steve Hu’s liking as we passed through Eardiston, Wykey and the PGL Centre at Boreatton Park. PGL have been running adventure holidays for children since 1957 and my brother and I had a holiday with them more than 50 years ago, canoeing down the River Rhone and camping on the shores of the Med near Marseille. A memorable experience!
We were soon through Weston Lullingfields and Marton, arriving at The Burlton Inn at about 12.15. Unusually, this establishment doesn’t offer ‘light bites’ or sandwiches, so most people had fish and chips or soup. I wonder if it still deserves a place on our list of favoured lunch stops?
|Photo by AO|
Leaving the pub, we headed to Brownheath. This meant that we were going into a headwind, which was already feeling very cold, even though the sun was still shining. But the countryside was looking beautiful and the lanes were smooth and quiet as we rode around Colemere and White Mere, so Steve Hu was scoring the route more highly now. On reaching Welsh Frankton, we decided to avoid the rough and dirty lanes at Hindford by diverting via Perthy and New Marton to reach St. Martins. I held back here to wait for Steves Ha and Hu, whilst the others headed for Chirk via the B5070. When we reached the A5 roundabout, Steve Ha wanted to go back via Weston Rhyn, so we finished the ride by dropping down once again into the Ceiriog valley before climbing back into Chirk.
44 miles covered and 2447 feet of climb completed as we got back to The Castle Bistro at about 4 pm. Although the sun was still shining, it had already dropped cold (~ 3°C), so it would not have been wise to be much later back. Winter is truly on its way.
My thanks go to my companions for their company, support and general banter.