Richard's Retirement Blog

Ebury Hill

April 2011

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Saturday 2nd April

Got here safely, yesterday. It wasn't a good idea to arrive promptly when the site opened for the season, at 12:00: the members of a weekend rally had had the same idea; so it took almost an hour to get pitched. However, it's a lovely site and I shall enjoy being here - I always do.

The site wi-fi I was counting on doesn't cover the whole site - or anything like. GSM access is patchy. With no functioning laptop battery, getting to somewhere where I can upload everything and let Windows (and half-a-dozen add-ons and security programs) update themselves is problematic. This is a problem to which at present I have no solution.

Yesterday afternoon I rode back to Newport - fifteen miles with a following wind - and collected the Peugeot which I'd left parked at the roadside. Just as I drove into Telford, I got a message: work is finished in the bathroom of my (let) flat, and could I go and inspect it? Just as I got there, I got a message: could I go to the theatre at 4:00 not 5:00? So the afternoon became rather brisk, and not leisurely as planned. But the bathroom is lovely, and the tenants like it - which is important - and work at the theatre is well in hand.

Today I did a lot of chores (why do I always seem to have a pile of jobs to do the day after I move on?) then got a relatively short ride to Harlescott and back; and this evening I went to a very enjoyable concert at Hope Village Hall: Craig Morgan Robson - a female vocal duo. (It was going to be a trio, but one was ill; we wish her a speedy recovery).

Getting there was not without incident: I was all set to go last week, and found out I was wrong when I phoned to enquire the time. Now they must have told me 8:00, but by the middle of this afternoon I wasn't sure, so I looked on the Hope Village Hall website. 7:00! Tea was hastily cooked and eaten, a second cuppa forsworn and washing up ruthlessly abandoned, and by 6:48 I was outside the hall. Which was locked, bleak and lifeless. Eh? A check on the web (mobile phone style) confirmed 7:00, so - the concert must be at Gleanings, that being the home of the promoters and the venue of the course the same group of singers have been running this weekend.

I've been to Gleanings once, and I started quartering the lanes trying to find it. The third time I came to a certain crossroads - it's 7:10 by now - I stopped to give way to a pickup which turned right in front of me - and had Gleanings on the rear. So I followed it. At 7:15 I was back at Hope Village Hall; with plenty of time for a pint (instead of that abandoned cup of tea) before the gig.

Sunday 3rd April

Today, I set myself a target: can I ride thirty miles in a day without knocking myself up? Church Stretton was the chosen destination, and actually, by the backroads route I chose, the round trip was nearer forty than thirty miles.

I set out under pedal power, with two batteries to fall back on. The first stage took me via Upton Magna to Atcham, and the road runs alongside a part of that same Shropshire Canal that I walked by in Newport last week. This pic from Berwick Farm is looking back towards Newport...

... and this, from a hundred yards further on, is looking towards Shrewsbury. The restorers of this canal have a problem: the modern A5 dual carriageway. They could, I suppose, go under, using a drop lock like that in Glasgow - and another one on the outskirts of Shrewsbury where the canal loops back through the road again; or they could re-route. If the latter, this bit of canal will remain derelict.

From the old bridge at Atcham I got my first view of my destination: the two distant peaks in this pic are The Lawley and Caer Caradoc, across the valley from Church Stretton.

When I did my research for Exploring Telford, how did I miss that Crosshouses Station, though now a private house, has been kept substantially unchanged? Here it is.

From Atcham to Crosshouses, and on to Berrington; then, abandoning the direct route, via Easton Mascott and Upper Cound to Pitchford then Acton Burnell, in order to pick up the old Roman road from Wroxeter to Church Stretton and, I guess, Hereford eventually. Part of the road exists, some more exists as a footpath, and some is lost. The pics are Cronkhill (NT) and Pitchford Hall.

Acton Burnell did not exist in Roman times; but the road took a kink to go there in Mediaeval times, when Bishop Roger Burnell of Acton Burnell Castle was the Lord Chancellor and second most important man in England. Burnell's great friend King Edward I called the first English parliament in a barn at the castle, the ends of which still stand.

At Acton I decided it was time to start using battery power, if I wasn't to get too tired too soon.

From the kink point the Roman road runs more-or-less straight to a point just over a mile north of Church Stretton, getting by stages narrower and rougher; there it is subsumed by the modern A49 except for a little bit at the lights in Church Stretton. Not choosing to ride on that reputedly dangerous road, I followed the old road through All Stretton - getting tired and hungry by now. Lasagne and lots of tea were very welcome! Distance: 22 miles; time: 2hrs 15 mins.

The return journey was shorter and quicker, and I was beginning to get cold so I ignored opportunities to stop and take photos. Route: All Stretton, then up the main road this time to Longnor, then Great Ryton, Condover and Atcham, then back the way I came out.

The longest and steepest hill on the whole run is over the shoulder of Haughmond Hill at the beginning and end of the route. Just as I got to the bottom, the battery gave out. No problem - that's exactly why I bought a second battery: so that I wouldn't be left without power just when I needed it most.

Return distance: 18 miles; time 1hr 15min. Forty miles in 3hr 45min is 10.67mph - but that includes short stops to take photos. And I'm still alive, and so far, don't feel as though there will be any ill effects tomorrow. Which is good, because I'll be more willing to trust to the bike as transport; which (did I say?) was the object of setting myself the target. A successful day.

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