2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 5: Monmouth to Clun

4th July 2013

I seem to remember from my school years that this is the time of year when you get those days when you have Sports Day or you’re allowed to mess around a bit. As you’ll see from statistics, below, we’ve been given one of those days today, even though there was a fair bit of climbing & some windy sections.

We left Monmouth with heavy black skies overhead & everyone with waterproofs to hand. The weather report also spoke of possible rain. However once again we were fortunate (Rodney says I have to say ‘fortunate’ & not ‘lucky’ but I’m not absolutely sure of the difference). However, with the exception of a minor rain flurry as we approached lunch, we had a clear day & latterly lots of sunshine. We’re told that summer weather will start today, so out with the sun cream & shorts.

This was a day of little drama, just wonderful lanes & hedgerows, beautiful villages with lots of picture box houses (many thatched) & miles & miles of patchwork fields & mature woodlands. We didn’t see more than 2 or 3 miles of major roads & I’ve decided the odd brush with a sticking out nettle plant or a mouth full of insect beats white van man any day of the week. That said, the roads in the morning had their fair share of pot holes, but we became quite handy at passing the message down the line, with the use of hand signals. The day can best be described as undulating. This is an expression that Cycle Tour Companies use, universally, to describe anything from the drive out of the hotel car park, to something resembling the north face of the Eiger. Paul D had a far more descriptive term for some of the morning’s climbs, but as this is family reading, I shall refrain from quoting him

  We have to thank Hereford Town Fathers for providing a very effective cycle track to & around their town, but I must admit that I find it quite odd to come from big countryside scenes, to then be cycling through the car park at Sainsbury’s.

Lunch was the best yet. Ye Olde Steppe cafe at Pembridge is a delight, fronting a most unusual church, with manicured lawns & a most unusual bell tower. It also has a fabulous little terrace & the most wonderful, friendly & helpful staff. Great sandwiches, thoughtfully garnished and with a selection of cakes to die for. This was a treat AND we’d cracked the day’s cycling with only about 20 miles left to finish off the day!

Unlike yesterday, there were not the grand designs & structures on our route, although we did come across one little gem. Hopton Castle, close to Knighton, is a sort of poor Lord’s pad, more Barrett Homes than Church’s. Quite small & built on a pidley little mound, it is however the site of an amazing battle in 1644 when the 31 inhabitants, lead by Samuel More, Parliamentarian, held off more than 500 Royalists for 3 weeks, losing 1 man in the battle, whilst killing over 150 Royalists. The brave occupants were ultimately murdered, whilst More survived & became an MP

At one point we travelled past Herefordshire Golf Club, which had a couple of the lads drooling for a game. I don’t think we’d be allowed in with lycra shorts. However, we did find a golf ball at the entrance (a Bridgestone 4 with green markings), so if anyone from the Club happens to read this & has lost this ball then let me know & I’ll send it home. Failing that, I’m willing to sell it to the highest bidder, proceeds to Macmillan Jersey.

Not much else to report, just a wonderful day in the saddle, wandering around lanes, having a great lunch & a fair few laughs. Good to note we’re a third of the way there now (how quickly that came about) & latitude Birmingham.


Awards of the Day

Jersey ingenuity               When Paul D’s mudguard began to rattle & rub he took it off. The immediate question however was what to do with it. With help from Tom, hopefully we shall bring you pictorial evidence of his amazing ingenuity

Quote of the Day

Samuel More                     I understand no message that comes without Drum or Trumpet (I’m going to use that one on Judith)

Philosophical thought of the day

Even on a relatively easy day like today, when you’ve burnt around 3,400 calories, you can have any cake at Ye Olde Steppes cafe at Pembridge you wish, even that great big slice of Coffee & Walnut, all with complete impunity!

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               58.4

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   4 hours 54 minutes

Climbing                               3,229 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

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