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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Wye oh Wye

Day 12 Tuesday 16th Sept

One of the things that makes the blog particularly difficult is remembering what happened during the day. Fairly basic stuff you would think  (especially for someone of my age, no doubt some of you are thinking) and not necessarily something to make a fuss about. But it is more than the odd 'senior moment'. We're all finding that it is very difficult to even remember the day of the week, let alone what we did where and who said what. It's probably, we think, because our brains are fully occupied, processing the new things and places we are seeing, whilst all the time dealing with the business of cycling (checking the road ahead for potholes, looking at the traffic, navigation, assessing the latest pain, taking in the views) all this while coping with the never-ending craving for fooood. 

During a normal day, we're up early to pack and sort our bags (always difficult as we have such a small amount of space to deal with), then eating breakfast, before cycling. Generally we'll be on the road for 10 to 12 hours, then when we've arrived we need to shower (!) then probably do some hand washing of kit before heading out for more food. By the time we've done that it is often after 10pm and we're all ready for sleep, but will generally sit down and go over our maps looking at tomorrow's route. At some point in all this, I need to squeeze writing the blog. So, it's all pretty full-on.

Shropshire rural road rolls into the distance

Today when we set out it was foggy and cold, so it was lights and reflective gear. We had heard the news that another JOGLE rider had been killed on the roads in Scotland, so we were feeling a bit low. The fog was patchy and beginning to lift as we flitted through the Shropshire country side, giving the whole landscape an ephemeral character, with brief glimpses of hills, ridges and trees. We rolled in to Church Stretton, where John H quickly identified a Cafe that we had stopped in 10 years ago; it's now called Ginger and Green. So we went and had an excellent second breakfast!

Coffee house in Church Stretton where we also stopped in 2004

When we came out, the world had changed! Blue skies greeted us (we'd only been in the cafe for half an hour, honest). So after a quick application of sun cream, we were off, now able to see the beautiful hilly scenery around us. We went straight in to a steep climb up towards Hope Bowdler, then meandered towards Wenlock Edge which was to be our next challenge. We had a slight navigational incident as we turned off towards Hatton then realised that we were actually looking for Harton. One wrong consonant could have led us seriously astray.  A case of in-consonant navigation...

JR with Gaer Stone in the background on Hope Bowdler Hill

Then, as we started the climb, we noticed a sign at the side of the road "Road closed for 3 days for resurfacing from 16/9/14". Today? Once again we had been lucky with road works as it looked like the work team had not got there.

Top of Wenlock Edge

The climb was tough, but on the other side we plunged down into the most gorgeous valley, deeply incised and lined with trees, with scattered settlements that seemed to only have allowed buildings of character to be built; a real oasis of quiet and green. We rolled through this feeling better about life with every rotation of our wheels. Then we were out and moving on towards Ludlow, where we stopped for food (surprise!). Outside the shops we bumped into a couple of younger blokes who were also on a JOGLE; supported by the partner of one of them. We compared notes and swapped tails before wishing each other good luck.  May see them again on Saturday as they are also hoping to finish then. From what the support said, by then they too may be carrying their own stuff (for if we old'ns can do it, surely they can too?....).

Meeting another JOGLE rider in Ludlow

We had an excellent run out of Ludlow, boosted by bananas, sunny weather and good roads, making Leominster in what seemed like very short time. There, we followed signs to a picnic site next to the Priory that didn't exist, so ended up using a well placed bench at the Priory itself for a very large (too large infact) lunch, finishing off lots of bits and pieces. unlike Ludlow, our exit from Leominster was a bit sluggish, but we eventually settled in to steady progress through rural Hertfordshire, rich in agriculture and endowed with many magnificent trees, particularly oaks, their distal perspectives enhanced by a slight mistyness from the heavy, humid atmosphere. 

10 miles from our destination, at Mordiford, we stopped at a Pub for a nice cooling lime and lemonade, much needed, and then carried onwards over more hills to our destination at the services at the end of the M50, just short of Ross on Wye, where were due to meet John H's wife to be picked up. 

We had time for coffees and a hot chocolate before Fiona arrived. Then began the business of fitting the three of us, our bikes and kit into one Landrover Defender. With a bit of imagination and push we managed it and were off to enjoy the splendid and generous hospitality of John H's family.

Playing sardines in the Defender!

Quote of the day. John H on arriving at our destination: "if we went through Mordiford, which is on the Wye, and arrived at Ross on Wye, which is also on the Wye, then how come we just went over all those hills

Best bits
JH the rural splendour of Shropshire and Herefordshire
JC we had an excellent run out of Ludlow; the road had just the right amount of up and down, not too steep, to allow us to maintain speed.
JR going through the hidden beauty of Hope Dale on the southern side of Wenlock Edge.

Stats for the day
Distance 64 miles
Average speed 12.2 (max 35.1)
Total climb 1300 m
Energy 3531 cals

JC 3
JH 2
JR 2


  1. Sadly guys John H's comment about splendour of the countryside reminds me of an amazing Victoria Wood sketch with Julie Walters. Speaking between two midlanders talking about their holiday to Benidorm the great quote is "we loved the splendour and majesty of the countryside but we couldn't stand the bacon" - a true Brits abroad quote!

    Anyway, ramble over. You are certainly blessed with the weather. Looks fab... Not far now!

    1. Funnily enough, Pete, the two Johns both had bacon butties in Church Stretton and thoroughly enjoyed them ......