It was a wet start to the day but it had already brightened up by the time I rode the short distance to Meadow Lea. I had in mind a ride that we had done back in May 2019. I figured no-one would remember it as it was before the pandemic. Who remembers life before Covid anyway? Several riders said the suggested pub wasn't the best and the alternatives close by weren't favoured either. A suggestion was made that we could go to our old favourite, the Bhurtpore at Aston. It would require a short detour off my route but only a simple case of turning off in Wrenbury then retracing our steps to pick up the route again after lunch. Oh how I wish I'd stuck to this idea.....but more of that later.
Brisk riders were again in short supply today (although John did appear briefly before disappearing again). With David M just out for a coffee eleven of us (Alan, Andy B, Andy W, Clive, Dave H, George, Mike, Richard, Steve Ha, Steve Hu and myself) set off through Guilden Sutton to the A51 and across towards Waverton. Rather than turning down Martins Lane (we would be coming back that way) we carried straight on before turning right to head through Hoofield. As we approached the road junction at Huxley another similarly sized cycling group came up from the right. I carried straight on thinking I was bringing my group with me but halfway along this road I suddenly realised that I was now leading the wrong group. At the turning to Beeston I let them go then had to wait while the rest of my group caught up. We dropped down to the Shady Oak, up past Beeston Castle and over to Bunbury where we turned south to Brindley and Swanley. There is a sharp right turn here, just after zig-zagging over the Llangollen Canal. Just before the turning we had all been together but halfway towards Ravensmoor I realised that we were missing three riders. There was no sign of them behind us and we had gone too far to go back looking for them. The consensus was that we should carry on. Fortunately one of those missing was Dave (with Alan & Steve Hu) who has been to the Bhurtpore more times than anyone else. If anyone could find their own way there it would be him.
And so to our little detour. As the rest of us approached Wrenbury I looked down at my Garmin and noticed a short cut that would take us a quicker (I thought) way to Aston. As I turned I heard Clive mutter something like 'Very adventurous, Trevor'. I should have paid heed to it but no, on I went. At a cross-roads we passed a 'no through road' sign but it did say 'except cycles' so I went confidently onwards. The nice tarmac road brought us to a farm where it suddenly stopped and became a loose stone track which dropped down and disappeared round a corner. We had come too far to turn back now so down we went, round the corner where the loose stone track became a muddy track and disappeared into murky water some 20m across. How deep it was was anybody's guess. It was certainly impassable. I could see a bridge over to the left but no sign of how to get to it. At this point Clive decided to admit that he had been down here before. He also mentioned that in winter it was almost impossible to get through. Well, Clive, it’s not much better in July! A quick search and we discovered an overgrown gap in the hedge which led to an overgrown (with nettles) path, which led to the bridge which thankfully got us over the water. A short ride up the track and within a few minutes we arrived at the Bhurtpore. A short time later the lost three arrived.
So what of the conversation over lunch. First I got an earful from the three 'lost' riders for having left them behind. It's contrary to the club's rules. But they should think themselves lucky as then I got another earful from the others for leading them down paths not intended for bikes such as ours. I was glad when lunch was over and I could get back on my bike.
|Photo by TC|
We turned left out of the pub and rode to Wrenbury along the road I should have taken before lunch. Our return trip took us along quieter lanes to the back of Cholmondeley Castle, through Bickerton and over Harthill. Then it was down through Tattenhall, turning right towards Hargrave and joining our outward route at the end of Martin's Lane
We arrived back at Meadow Lea having done about 50 miles. I won't be leading next week. After today's debacle I probably won't be allowed to.