It promised to be a fine and very warm day as we gathered at The Castle Bistro. Only four ‘mods’ today, Steves T and Hu, Alan and Andy B. The plan was to go to The Bridgewater Arms at Harmer Hill, a ride we did almost exactly one year ago, but, as we’ll see, the best laid plans…
We left Chirk via Castle Road, crossing the Ceriog River at Pontfaen, then climbing the steep hill into Weston Rhyn. Threading our way through Oswestry, we were soon on the road to Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh, crossing the A483 at Mile Oak. Heading for Eardiston, I missed the turning and as a result, we ended up at the side of the A5, at an extremely dangerous point. After a consultation with a local farmer we returned back along the lane to the correct turning and soon found ourselves at Weirbrook, were we crossed the A5 to a gap in the hedge and the road out towards Wykey. The lanes between here and Baschurch are delightful, being quiet (except for a huge crop spray tractor coming down the lane) and smooth, although there are some steepish sections along here to test your fitness.
By now it was seriously warm and we were eagerly looking forward to some food and drink. Passing through Bomere Heath we reached the A528 where I offered the group a ride straight down the A road to the pub or a slightly longer route along Shotton Lane. The answer was unequivocal – straight to the pub!
At The Bridgewater Arms, Steve Hu went inside to get menus, but he returned with a long face saying they were not doing food today. What to do? As the intended route was to take us through Loppington, we opted to ride the 6 or so extra miles to The Dicken Arms, our lunch stop of only three weeks ago.
We arrived there hot and very bothered, but food and drink was soon ordered and arrived with great alacrity. Once again their lamb tagine was popular and very tasty. This place is very deserving of ‘favoured lunch stop’ status.
Our route back took us through English Frankton, Cockshutt, Lee and Tetchill. We crossed the Llangollen Canal at Onston, we soon reached the A495, but turned off this busy road before we got to Welsh Frankton. We went across country to reach the B5068 where we turned towards Ifton heath and St. Martins. At the school we took the usual B road down to the busy roundabout on the A5 which was negotiated quickly and safely.
At The Poachers pub we turned of the road to take the canal towpath along Chirk Bank. This route has the benefit of avoiding steep hills into Chirk and also giving Steve Hu and Alan the opportunity to cycle across the Chirk Aqueduct, where the team photo was taken.
We arrived back at The Castle Bistro at 3.40, having covered 52 miles at an average speed of just under 14 mph. Once again the Shropshire lanes had delivered – quiet and mostly smooth in some delightful countryside on what was probably the hottest day of the year.
Thanks to Steve Hu, Alan and Andy for their support, company and patience, as I navigated my way around the route. One to be done again, I think!