Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Average speed: 11.1 m.p.h.
Distance from Lands End: 323.80 miles
Distance to John o’Groats: 696.20 miles
Number of counties we’ve cycled in today: 4 (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire)
Contributions from the good people of Newent: £22.00
We spent a pleasant evening at the George Hotel in Newent, watching Yorkshire score 34 runs in 4 overs against Lancashire, before rain sadly brought an end to proceedings. There was some or other international football match going on as well, but we didn’t watch that 🙂 We were delighted to note, however, that the local news magazine programme was “Midlands Today”, so we’re definitely officially in the Midlands now!
On anxiously opening the curtains this morning we were relieved to see that the rain had ceased – it was still cloudy but the weatherman was predicting that we would see some sun today. The tandem was in a filthy state after our unscheduled forest excursion yesterday, but ten minutes with a hosepipe and soft brush saw it returned to presentability.
We were keen to get away early in order to meet Clive – our former boss, a valued early client when we set up on our own, and a good friend. We’d planned to meet at lunchtime in Tenbury Wells, and we set off in good time on quiet-ish roads towards Ledbury. Soon we passed the “Three Choirs” vineyard to our right, sadly even if the sun had been visible it would have been several hours short of the yard-arm, and we haven’t yet had a wine rack fitted to the tandem, so we cycled on.
Soon we arrived at Ledbury, an attractive looking town which, like Newent, has an interesting tudor-style market hall elevated on wooden stilts above street level. We carried on towards the first of today’s three main climbs, one of 400 feet and two of 600 feet. The climbing was relatively gentle, however, and the scenery growing progressively more beautiful as we headed towards Worcestershire. Soon we reached Bromyard, and as we paused for a drink at the side of the road we spotted a gentleman decorating the outside of his house. We asked him how far it was to Tenbury Wells. “Dunno”, he replied in a strong local accent, “I don’t think I’ve ever been there!” For the record, it’s 11 miles!
We topped the final main climb of the day between Bromyard and Tenbury Wells before descending into the latter, trying to look nonchalant and cycle quickly in case Clive spotted us en-route to the Pembroke House pub, our designated lunchtime stop. In fact he pulled into the pub car-park just as we arrived. He took a couple of pictures of us with our trusty steed. “Great”, we said thirstily, eyeing the beer garden. It was not (yet) to be, Clive had been spotted by a group of people engaged in some sort of reunion. Noting his evident prowess with a camera they asked him to take pictures of them, thrusting camera after camera into his hands as we watched, parched, from the beer garden! We understand his services are now available for weddings and bar-mitzvahs…
It was great to see him after what had been quite a while, and the conversation meandered pleasantly, assisted (in the case of the Captain) by some excellent local beer. We ate well (thanks CT!) and enjoyed the sun-bathed beer garden. All too soon it was time to leave, cycling as swiftly as we could manage while Clive videoed us from the bridge.
We left Tenbury Wells on Clee Hill. When we noted how steep it was we laughed as we gleefully turned left after a few yards … onto another hill of equal steepness. Still, the afternoon’s cycling was idyllic – rolling green pastures to either side of the road, and warm sunshine. Aware that we only had a few miles to go, we backed off, pedalling lazily, determined to enjoy the lovely conditions and fantastic views.
Even at a slow speed, though, we soon arrived at Ludlow, a very attractive town, where the Tourist Information office succeeded in finding us some accommodation right in the centre of town. Better still, we’re staying in a self-catering apartment with several rooms. This means that we can establish a buffer zone between ourselves and our cycling shoes, a consideration becoming ever more important by the day!
Tomorrow we face the longest day of the whole trip: 72 miles, including two steep climbs at Wenlock Edge and Church Stretton. Steve and David (Jonathan’s brother and nephew) plan to join us at Church Stretton for the rest of the day (looks like it should be mostly downhill), finishing at Chester.