Bridges Weekend 2010

Friday 28th May – Monday 31st May 2010

Bridges Youth Hostel, Long Mynd, Shropshire
(Ordnance Survey Map Number: 137 Grid Reference: SO 395 965)

9 Ladies go wild in Shropshire:
The Ladies Weekend 2010.


The two Sues set off from Chester a little later than planned, but it was a glorious day so we were not too concerned. 

We met Welna in Farndon, and carried on through Shocklach to Bangor on Dee, where we chanced across some old cycling pals I know - Paddy and Eileen.  (should've taken a photo - but I was having a couple of bites of my buttie - although when I next looked it had all gone).  We had to pass up the tempting offer of a cuppa with the couple (now moved to Bangor) as time was not waiting and we still had a way to go!

We continued past Bangor Racecourse, passing a lady in a horse and trap, and on to Overton where a Lotus was being delivered to two very excited gentleman.  We passed them later on the road (they were going the other way, I should add) and waved cheerily!

At Ellesmere, as I took a quick photo of the sign, another lady going the other way asked if one of us was Sue, and that someone called Maxine was floating round Ellesmere waiting for us.  A quick text and descent to the lake where we met Maxine and stopped for a bite of lunch.

Now the four of us carried on through the lanes till we hit the hills at Pontesbury, and climbed up and over to Bridges Hostel, at Ratlinghope (pronounced 'Ratchup', apparently), and we met up with the other ladies and Angela the warden.
57 Miles Chester to Bridges (53 from Dodleston!)


The weather, as promised, was dismal to say the least.  We posed for a quick photo before heading right out of the hostel and up the road. 

We were soon properly climbing, and all had a nice walk through the trees!  Over the cattle grid to the climb for real - although once on top it was undulating and would have been lovely apart from the force 9 gale and horizontal rain!  It was a proper grimace-and-lean-into-the-wind job! 

Descent to Church Stretton,
Carding Mill Valley down on the left

We separated on top, and the faster ones dropped down to Church Stretton while I checked that the others were still upright - which they were, and Angela beaming at the back saying 'isn't this marvellous' (I think retirement does that to you!) and we also finally descended into the town - walking down as the sheer drop to the right can be unnerving - especially in the wet.

It was pouring as we got to the town, and no sight of the others.  Hoping they had found a cafe, all we had to do was find the cafe they were phones are great!  We eventually met up in the cafe in the Antiques shop (which I remember from 16-17 years ago!) which was warm, welcoming and great coffee! 

Then a text came through from Jo - I thought she was driving to meet us but no! she had braved the climb over the Long Mynd solo and was hunting for us.  We split up again - some ladies had discovered a bike shop not yet open and begged for new brake blocks, Jo needed a brief warm up in the cafe and the few others were getting cold so headed off to the next stop.

Piggies in the hedge!
Later again the five of us stragglers set off to Acton Scott (working farm) up a gentle hill then a steep turn off, in the mist passing some topiary pigs on the way! 

We seem to have spent even longer at Acton Scott - some had paid for full entry and were exploring cow sheds and piglets, and we headed for the cafe for lunch (I think it was about 3pm by now!).  Just as I was rounding people up for a photo (now we were all finally back together) Maxine discovered a puncture!

Acton Scott schoolroom now cafe
Tube fixed, and photo taken, we set off down a fabulous descent to the main road, followed a B road to cut the corner, then an unavoidable few miles on a very quiet A road to come around 'underneath' the Long Mynd.

Then the rain, which had gone away for most of the day, found us and drenched us on our final few miles back to the hostel.  Showers were good, though!


Cuddly sheepdog pup
Much better weather (not raining!) sent us out through the lanes heading to Montgomery.  we were climbing within a mile, but not a very long climb, where at the top we met the fluffiest sheepdog pup (which we wrestled into a pose for the photo!).  We then had a glorious descent down and along the valley, through farms and with wonderful views of the Stiperstones to our right and hills straight ahead. (not that we were heading for!)

Heading into Montgomery - Castle on the hill.

Montgomery Castle
Montgomery was as pretty as I remembered, and we resided in a cafe for a reasonable amount of time, before visiting the castle.  It is a good place to see where you have come from, and where you are going!

Chirbury - Winged wheel plaque on right of pic

We headed out on a very straight B road towards Chirbury, where I found a CTC sign (see here for information about this, including an updated version of this sign with me!).  We were now entering hilly lanes, and although there were ups, it cannot be denied there were some fantastic downs, too.  We explored a stone circle (Mitchells Ford) and finally ended up at The Bog (honest! click on the name to follow the link) with 5 minutes to spare before they shut up for the night.

The Bog


One final upward fling before the very best 4 mile descent (spoiled only by cattle grids) to the hostel.


Time to go home.  All our goodbyes said, Sue, Welna and I headed back on a different track, alongside the Stiperstones, a lovely little lane (after the first climb!).  We passed a rabid dog, who came hurtling out at us as we passed a farm, and retraced our way back to Ellesmere (for chips!) and on home.  I think it is fair to say all enjoyed the weekend and have many fond memories?!

Well earned breather at Ellesmere!