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Day 10 – Garstang to Kirby Lonsdale

A fantastic day, that included a large detour through the Forest of Bowland, so a huge amount of climb and the most fantastic views but very hard work.

Some of the climbs were so steep that they had some of us walking up

and a beautiful picnic break

then more hills to climb before lunch

By lunch we had ridden what Sam likes to call a Tenzing Norgay; that is climbing to the height of Everest to celebrate we had some Kendall Mint Cake as eaten at the top of Everest.   We have a similar amount of climb still to do.

more downs and ups after lunch

Sam, Anne and Andrew stopped at an erratic (a stone brought from a different geological area by glaciers)

On the way down from Bowland we stopped for tea in Bentham, and then on to Kirby Londsdale stopping to see the Devil’s Bridge

and what Ruskin called the best view in England and therefore the world.

which we admired

We also met some of Sam and Anne’s friends there.

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Day 9 Hartford to Garstang

A long, tough 71 miles through Cheshire and Lancashire, and probably the least pretty day of the ride as we spent a lot of time going through some of the towns that lie between Manchester and Liverpool.

The first thing of note (at least for me) was passing  Jill’s old house in Comberbach which has been done up

from there high over the Manchester Ship canal

and on to Leigh, where our guide, Pete, was doing some shopping

and so on to Chorley for lunch on Bowen’s a pie and pea shop, though they did run out of gravy and mushy peas, but did have some cream cakes.

and where some of the riders were desperate to become page 3 girls and get onto the third page of the map

After we left Chorley we were back into beautiful countryside, and serious hills.

 

So we are now over halfway from Land’s End to John O’groats!  But at least we have reasonable bikes unlike some riders

 

 

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Day 8 – Ironbridge to Hartford

A very relaxing day that seemed to be concentrated on food rather than cycling; though we did cover 55 miles.

The day started with a good haul up the side of the Severn Valley and over the Wrekin.  Sam was only too happy to tell us all about Coalbrookdale and fact that iron was smelted with coke here for the first time ever in 1709 – giving rise to the industrial revolution.

Once we were nearly up the Wrekin there was a descent that was rather disheartening as we thought that we would only have to climb all the lost height again only to discover that there was no other climb and the rest of the day was pretty much flat.

After a mere 13 or so miles we stopped for snacks and for Norman to catch up as he had managed to get a little lost.

And, so on to Audlem where we had our first lunch (mostly soup with or without cake for pudding) in a very friendly cafe

opposite the church

from there to Nantwich, with a great bookshop cum cafe that was very friendly and in a beautiful old half-timbered building

people had cakes or porridge there – to taste.  But for some that was not enough, and they stopped for more at the Venetian Marina

And we are now settled in Cheshire

but there has been some cycling

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Day 7 – Worcester to Ironbridge

Another brilliant day, and a “short day”. I put that in quotes because at 45 miles it is only 3 miles less than the first day, and that felt like a long and challenging day.  So, a journey of 1,030 miles that started with a single rotation of a wheel and looked almost impossible now begins to feel quite manageable.

There have been disasters (minor) and triumphs along the way.  Julia managed to destroy the gears on her bike yesterday so finished the day on a fixed gear bike (hard work); and Pete – one of the guides – got stung on the hand today.

The other major news for the day is that Caroline has finished her stretch of the LE JOG, and returned to a much more onerous task of finishing her book.  Andrew continues on a bicycle and the tandem has been returned to where it came from.

As for today, not so much dodging showers of yesterday as riding through some jolly cold showers and a mighty strong head wind.  But despite all that a great day; though don’t let anyone tell you that Shropshire is flat.

Anyhow,  we set off from Worcester this morning with what we were promised was a cheeky little climb, but proved to be little without being cheeky.

and so to Bewdley for elevnses

From there to Much Wenlock for lunch; though 40 miles is rather too long before lunch for me – so I did broach my emergency rations and some had lunch at the halfway house pub (Sam and Anne) before getting to Much Wenlock.

and from there the final five miles to Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale.  Once the centre of the industrial revolution

and now a peaceful little town

 

with the worlds first iron bridge

 

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Day 6 – Tintern to Worcester

Another brilliant day with fantastic support from Pete and Rob.

We started by going up the Wye valley

and then crossed over (back) into England

and up the first of what Pete calls “cheeky little hills” but which we give much ruder names as they are tough cycling challenges being long and steep.  Fortunately we had a tail wind most of the day which is a great help.  The reason most people do Land’s End to John O’groats is to take advantage of the prevailing wind.

We stopped at the top of the second climb for snacks and a group photo

Followed by the cheekiest of the day’s climbs to Cinderford. By lunchtime the weather had darkened and we dodged showers

At lunch we saw this

and I promised to tell you what it is.  It is …. a bee shelter.  Before modern beehives made of wood bee hives were made of straw and needed to be stored over winter in dry sheltered places, hence the bee shelters.

After lunch a fast dry cycle with an excellent tail wind all the way to via Upton on Severn

Worcester

 

 

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Day 5 – Wells to Tintern

We have now cycled over 250 miles since the start!

A varied 54 mile trip today. A steep spectacular cycle through Cheddar Gorge.

Then down to Chew Water which as an RSPB reservoir was covered in birds.

Lunch stop was on the Bristol Downs after a vertiginous pedal across The Clifton suspension Bridge.

The day ended with a breath taking journey across the Seven Bridge

and so into Wales

and then a long scenic decent into Tintern Abbey

and then a relaxing evening.

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Day 4 – Tiverton to Wells

Another fantastic day.  The longest but flattest to date, and we added an extra 6 miles to go and see our cousin Rob and Philipa.

Started off with a beautiful ride up the River Exe

and on into Somerset

with its beautiful wide open views

Where Norman did some “churching” at High Ham which is very beautiful

and then our 6 mile diversion to visit Rob and Philipa  for fantastical cake and tea.  Thank you very much it was wonderful

and so to Wells, tired but happy with bums a bit sorer than they were.

72.5 miles of cycling (with the extra) and 800m of climb, which is the longest ever day of cycling for Anne and Norman.  Here is the route

and just to prove we were cycling here are some of us…

 

 

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Day 3 – Launceston to Tiverton

A most beautiful ride today with fantastic weather.  Tom started the day with a snake bite (a double puncture caused by going over a kerb), but that was fixed before we set off.  So, we started off by dropping down into Launceston with a beautiful castle

and town gateway

Then over the Tamar and into Devon.  We really knew we were in Devon when we stopped for our tea break and were given these:

All still happy at lunchtime

and here we are cycling in the afternoon

We are now in Tiverton and going out for dinner with our cousin Susie.

53 miles covered, and another kilometre climbed

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Day 2 – Truro to Launceston

After a relatively easy first day we had a tougher day today; both further and hillier.  With big climbs throughout the day providing some wonderful views.

Norman was first to arrive at our late morning break, but having not found the ride enough of a challenge took on a bigger one…

 

In the afternoon we had a  lot of rain, but the views were still fantastic, especially over Bodmin Moor, but we all enjoyed the riding

A satisfying total of 55 miles and 4,250 feet climbed.  We have each cycled a total of over 100 miles.

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Day 1 – Lands End to Truro

Great group with fourteen  riders of which six are our team, and here we are at Lands End with the sign showing it is just 874 miles to John O’Groats if you take the shortest route.

Today we have cycled 48 hilly miles, and our Geordie guide describes the steepest ones as cheeky, certainly they check our progress.  But it is so beautiful with fantastic views of places like St Michael’s Mount

and the most fantastic hedges full of montbretia and heather

We all completed today’s challenge successfully, and enjoyed the tea and cake on arrival at the hotel.

Less than 1,000 miles to go!

 
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