Saturday, 25 April 2015


My brakes squeeled as I came down the 25% slope off the western escarpment of Long Mynd. In front were a group of club riders riding very slowly in fear of brake failure while to my right I looked out over a wide valley with the River East Onny flowing through it. At the bottom, my brakes were too hot to touch and I was glad that they were still almost new. This was part of a 193 mile ride with my buddy, Andy, that started in Chester and finished in Chepstow.

Our first day took us along flat quiet country lanes to meet the River Severn where it does a loop around the centre of Shrewsbury.  Our only hill was as Andy warned the railway bridge coming out of Chester.  This was nice easy riding to get the body moving prior to the challenges of Long Mynd and the road south.  The journey so far was full of charming villages and rural tranquillity.

The sun, though cool, came out each day and the smiles widened as we realised that we had a following wind.  I thought "It cannot get much better than this".  Long Mynd was our first real challenge and this as where Andy moved ahead.  The club riders overtook but I was happy to extend my distance from two mountain bikers coming up behind.  They puffed and panted at the top then turned left to cycle over some cross country trails.  We joined NCN44 at Lydbury that took us up a hill just as steep as Long Mynd.  We followed this to Ludlow passing the The Apple Tree in Onibury only to turn back, not because we needed a stop but because it looked like a wow sort of pub.

A beer killed the rest of my afternoon's cycling but a chat with a couple of guys taking part in First World War songs and poems at Stokesay Court helped to mellow my mood.  I don't normally drink alcohol while on my bike because it makes me dozy so the remaing ride to Ludlow was really hard.

Ludlow seems to be a centre for food and festivals and here is Andy contemplated missing "The Fringe".

It was just 37 miles to our next stop at Hay on Wye. We cycled through Wigmore, Lingen, Staunton on Arrow and joined NCN825 to Kington. This section dazzled with glorious vistas, rolling hills, spring flowers and kites flying overhead.  Cycling does not come much better than this. At Hay, we join NCN42, the lower west section of Lon Las Cymru, Wales' epic coast to coast from Holyhead to Chepstow that I have done before.  Another epic hill follows as we climb the Gospel Pass.

At the top, a mist partially hid the scenery so we do not see it at its best.  On our left is Hay Bluff at 680m while to our right is Rhos Dirion at 713m.  A long downhill takes us to Abergavenny ready for final climbs to Usk and through the Wentwood Forest to Chepstow.  We ask if anyone can speak Welsh in Chepstow.  Few people do but one guy said he does.  I want to know the English translation for Lon Las Cymru.  I knew Cymru is Wales but the guy does not know Lon Las.  I check Wikepedia and it is Wales' Green Lane.  We have green lanes in Devon but none are 250 miles long

If you want to do this journey, the maps can all be purchased from Sustrans with these links: Shropshire,  Herefordshire and Lon Las Cymru.  Keep pedalling.

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