Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

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sean_iow
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by sean_iow »

DAY 6 HAY BLUF TO CROFT WOOD – BACK INTO ENGLAND

This bivi was 1700 feet higher than the previous night and the weather and temperature had been markedly different to the night before. The thermometer showed it had dropped to 8 degrees overnight and Mike complained of having been cold. I’d put my down jacket on and was toasty although I had been a bit worried about the wind at times.

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Now the sun was out it was a cracking spot. We’re only just off the road and we could hear the first of the lorries going past down to the work site further down the pass but they were oblivious to us sat drinking coffee and letting the shelters dry out in the sun. The main advantage of sleeping at the high point is that it would be downhill to breakfast, it was over 5 miles of descending on mainly smooth tarmac and dropping 1300 feet with only a few hundred yards of peddling at the end to get to the café at Hay-On-Wye :grin:

At breakfast we were joined by another bikepacker, I forget where he was going but he wasn’t overly sure, he was navigating using screen shots of a route produced on Google Maps :???:

A quick stop at a garage on the outside of town and we were climbing which I suppose was bound to happen after all the descending to breakfast. We were soon off the tarmac turned onto a delightful green lane.

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Sadly, this surface didn’t last long :roll:

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I think something slightly more damaging than a bicycle has been through. It actually continued to get worse and worse, with us having to bushwhack at times to get round the impassable bits. Once we reached the end we made the executive decision to skip the next section of green lane in case it was the same. This one had been downhill and bad enough, an uphill one would just be an unnecessary slog – were weren’t on a BB200 :lol:

We were trending generally upwards toward Hergest Ridge above Kington.

On the ridge were views for miles. The sun was back today and it was hot going, with stops to apply more sun cream, something the locals don’t need.

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We made a quick diversion to the trig as it’s the rules to take a picture of your bike at every one passed?

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At the top is a small stand of trees, but rather puzzling is that they are, well I’m sure you can see

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This would make a great bivi spot, there’s enough room between them for a bivi bag on the grass and even a bench right next to them. We weren’t the only one confused by them

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Next would be lunch, so we headed off on an amazing descent on smooth but undulating grass dropping 800 feet in under 2 miles at speeds well in excess of sensible but we were concerned the café might close. As it was we arrived in plenty of time. Fed and watered I redressed my knee which was looking a bit suspect with the pink edges but I’d just have to keep and eye on it. Mike had a bivi spot in mind, seen on a previous ride, and that was only 20 ish miles away so it was a leisurely ride along the lanes in that direction.

We stopped at a local shop and sat on the grass outside in the sun for a while relaxing and then eventually arrived at a very posh looking pub for dinner. Wallets braced we were pleasantly surprised to find out that as it was a Wednesday the food was on special, a trick which obviously works as the inside was fully booked. We sat in the beer garden and I bored Mike whilst I pointed out all the poor construction details and bad workmanship in the newly built covered seating area. Why is it that anyone who owns a cordless drill and a circular saw thinks they’re a carpenter? I can confirm this is not the case :lol:

Post dinner we headed out for the bivi spot. On the way we looked for the remains of a hill fort which was another possible but couldn’t really determine if we were there or not, and besides it was too hilly, obviously :lol: The spot we had in mind was an area of beach trees just off route and it was as Mike had remembered, dry clear ground, pretty flat and out of sight :-bd Shelters up we even had time to sit and drink our beers we’d been carrying since the night before :grin:

Our shortest day so far at only 47 miles but 4050 feet of climbing.
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RIP
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by RIP »

Ace that. Nice report and pix. One more thrilling instalment to go?
"My God, Ponsonby, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

The sign outside the asylum is the wrong way round.....

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster
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PaulB2
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by PaulB2 »

Aptly, I think that's a monkey puzzle tree. We have one in the park on our estate that's a left over from the Victorian era insane asylum.
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sean_iow
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by sean_iow »

RIP wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2023 1:57 pm Ace that. Nice report and pix. One more thrilling installment to go?
Spoiler alert, we could have stayed out for another night but we did make it back to Mike's the next day.
PaulB2 wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2023 2:33 pm Aptly, I think that's a monkey puzzle tree. We have one in the park on our estate that's a left over from the Victorian era insane asylum.
Yeah, it's an odd location for them, must be a reason. Named that as apparently monkey's cant climb them, well I think we've dispelled that myth :lol:
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PaulB2
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by PaulB2 »

:grin:
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Verena
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by Verena »

Brilliant write up, enjoyed that Sean.

Favourites are the swimming snake, the crab apple, sunset over the Severn bridge, and of course the Ralph pics.

Excellent adventure 👏
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Mike
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by Mike »

Nice pal one day to go, enjoyed reliving our trip and we were so lucky with the weather :grin:
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sean_iow
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by sean_iow »

I'd like to say I'd been building the suspense but the reality is it's been flat out at work since I got back and that's where I have the laptop. However, I'm WFH this morning....
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sean_iow
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by sean_iow »

DAY 7 CROFT CASTE BACK TO BROMSGROVE

The bivi spot was as good as predicted, quiet, sheltered and the trees kept any damp away.

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Coffee consumed we knew exactly where we would be having breakfast and even knew what we would be having. It was however, 10 miles away in Ludlow and they weren’t a flat 10 miles either. Once again, the weather was on our side and we set off in the morning sunshine. As we descended out of the woods the first issue was a locked gate on the route Mike had taken previously. The accompanying sign wasn’t very welcoming so we decided to go round. The night before we’d been slack in filling our bottles and both needed more water. Not long after the locked gate we came across a tap on the front wall of a house The bivi Gods take with one hand and give with the other :grin:

Our route took us up through grass fields, the sort where it’s steep enough to be hard work but flat enough to have to keep riding. This draggy climb seemed to go on forever but it then deposited us into Mortimer Woods with super-fast gravel double-track descents although there were also climbs. At one point my front wheel just slid out on a very fast downhill, I went several feet sideways but somehow recovered. Mike was just in front and had heard the slide and was expecting me to be on the floor or in the ditch at the side. I’m still not sure how I saved it :shock:

After all this fun we arrived at CSONS café at the Mill on the Green, right next to the river. No time was wasted getting our orders in….. The Veggie.Obviously as we’re not vegies we added bacon to it :lol:

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I can say hand on heart that this is the best breakfast I can ever remember eating, the flavours were incredible, but a look at the menu shows why.

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That’s quite some list, including Gunpowder :shock:

Whilst we were relaxing over a second coffee the weather had decided we’d had it too good for too long and the rain came in, only light but enough to need the waterproof. This was even more inconvenient as the next section was pretty much all up hill, we’d be gaining 1500 feet in the next 9 miles. Ludlow being on the river meant that the climbing started straight away and it was steep but at least it was on the tarmac of quiet back roads.

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At one point on this road there were two vehicles caught behind a tractor hedge cutting, I think that’s as close as it gets to bedlam round this way :lol:

We were aiming for Cleehill and as we rode ever upwards we were riding into the cloud. The rain was still light but there wouldn’t be any grand vistas from the top.

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The radar is actually more visible in the photo than it was on the day. Having made it to the trig point we dropped back down slightly to the car park and a pop-up café in one of the old buildings. I had to get the barista out of bed to open up :lol:

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It was pretty grim in there but at least it was out of the wind and rain. The graffiti suggested we order a ‘Tasty’ spliff but we opted instead for hot chocolate.

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The owner was hoping for more passing trade but the conditions weren’t really sight seeing weather so the tourists stayed away.

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Maybe the lack of trade was the downfall of the previous owner who had sadly passed away.

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There were a few RIP Mitch painted on the walls outside so he was obviously missed, or given the conditions should that be mist :grin:

Mike had contacted Hux to see if he wanted to ride out to meet us and spend a night out, at this point we were still considering another night out. We picked our was off the hill down steep tussocky soggy ground which was rideable (just) in the conditions. Hux had wisely decided to wait for us at the bus shelter at the bottom. I’d not seen Hux since the HT550 in 2018, I can’t believe it had been over 4 years!

Hux had ridden out in very heavy rain, thankfully now stopped, so we’d actually had the better weather on our side of the hill. Looking at his bike he either had the worlds smallest bivi kit or he was planning on going home for bed :grin:

This was now close enough to Mike and Hux’s homes to be sort of local so navigation would be easy. They actually took the opportunity to explore some bridleways, as we were not in a rush, so new ground for all three of us. We were aiming for Bewdley for dinner which was about 20 miles away. We’d be passing the famous hut on the way which I’d wanted to visit since I’d first seen it on the forum.

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I won’t give away the location. It’s amazing it’s survived all this time. We did consider biving on the veranda but after 6 nights out we felt we’d done enough. Dinner was fish and chips sat outside the pub by the river. Hux bought the first round of drinks, 3 pints of Neck Oil… £19 :shock: We could hear steam locos in the background, winding down after a day entertaining on the Severn Valley. Sitting there chatting was a great way to end the trip, although there was the small matter than Mike’s house was still 20 miles away. We called it a day after 2 pints (I missed out on buying a round :grin: )and headed off. Passing Hux’s I was rewarded with a jar of his own honey, we’ll his bee’s honey to be precise, he doesn’t spend his days going round collecting nectar :lol:

It was now just back lanes, a pump track (my first time on one and I crashed trying to exit over the lip of a berm) and some quiet bridleways. As we entered one track a van pulled up and warned us of a bloke up ahead who was out if it and violent and to take care. We never saw him, I assume he’d wandered off looking for trouble, but it did add an air of anticipation to the next few miles. We were passing the pub we’d been to for dinner the night before we started and would be in time for one last drink. And with that supped it was pretty much downhill to Mike’s and we were done.

58 miles and 5600 feet for the day.

The total distance varies depending on who’s device we looked at, I could get 2 miles more than Mike in the first 10 some days, but the total on Strava was 468 miles and 23400 feet of climbing.

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A great trip which included a few spots on my bucket list so well worth the cost of an injector in the services to get there :lol: Thanks to Mike for planing it and also to all the other characters we rode with, met up with and just bumped into along the way.
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psling
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by psling »

The End!
Nice one Sean, well worth the wait for the final installment :-bd
Great mix of terrain, trails and weather keeps it interesting over several days - inspirational, I shall be poring over maps later....
We go out into the hills to lose ourselves, not to get lost. You are only lost if you need to be somewhere else and if you really need to be somewhere else then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by RIP »

Yep, that's what it's all about, brilliant trip, brilliant write-up, lots of funny moments, interesting spots, with a sprinkling of Sean jokery :-bd .
"My God, Ponsonby, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

The sign outside the asylum is the wrong way round.....

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by fatbikephil »

Top stuff Sean, enjoyed following all of that. Makes me want to go down there!
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Mike
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Re: Sept with Sean (and Andy, and also Reg, Verena, Hux and Ralph)

Post by Mike »

:-bd well done that man, brought it all back to me fella even though it was only last month feels like ages ago now. So shall I start looking for a new venture for us in ‘24 be rude not to ;0)
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