84 miles and 3,280 feet ascent.
Day 5 was, like yesterday, also a higher mileage day on flatter terrain. It was also a day on A roads, following the line of the Welsh border past Ludlow, over a high point in the Shropshire Hills AONB, then bypassing Shrewsbury to reach our campsite at Whitchurch. We were keeping our fingers crossed that the A413 and A49 were not too busy.
Today in three words: leafy lanes, half-timbered buildings and blue skies !
What actually happened:
The morning started badly but soon picked up to be a great day. After a humongous 95-mile day yesterday (wrong turnings …) and too little sleep thanks to the rowdy young cadets from HMS Ledbury keeping us awake in our bunkhouse (cheers lads !), I felt decidedly ropey first thing. I managed to stomach a bacon bap in Leominster – hardly energy food but it absolutely hit the spot – then things looked up from then on. Energy returned to my legs, helped by the gloriously warm, sunny weather.
The scenery through Herefordshire and Shropshire was just gorgeous. Leafy lanes, livestock in the fields and old timber barns in farmyards. We stopped at Ludlow with its half-timbered buildings, castle and quirky shops. A place to return to with more time.
We met Matt and Louise Mead for lunch in Church Stretton for a lovely meal outside in the garden soaking up the sunshine. Matt and his son, Joe, cycled LEJOG last year and were full of useful tips. They also have a VW California which is how they found me via my blog. A nicer couple you couldn’t wish to meet. And they very generously donated the cost of our meal to the Maggie’s Centres – plus a jar of honey (from Matt’s own bees) for our porridge. I let Duncan carry the weighty jar; he carries the heavy stuff with his young legs.
I need to tell you a couple if things about Duncan. First, he is much younger and fitter than me. He powers up hills, standing up out of his saddle, Tour de France style, engaging turbo boost and leaving me in his wake. Meanwhile, I slog up the hills, tortoise style, while he patiently waits at the top. So now you now know why I gave him the tent and honey to carry. Maybe I need to load his panniers with a few rocks just to even things out ?
The other thing about Duncan is that – being in his 20s – he can do multiple things at once. Not only can he take selfies while cycling but he can also follow Google maps and make reservations for lunch. Oh to be young(er).
We’re really enjoying our end to end journey through this fine country of ours. Already we’re over one third of the way up the country and the strong West Country accents and distinctive architecture have given way to brick-built buildings and accents of the north. As Matt commented, it’s surprising how quickly you move on a bike, even though it feels as though you’re travelling at a snail’s pace.
The high points:
- Meeting new friends for great company and a lovely lunch in the sunshine
- The scenery through Herefordshire and Shropshire
And the low points:
- Feeling really ropey first thing – not though sleep or energy
- The busy A49