History, hills and hospitality …

Five days in, having reached Market Drayton in Shropshire, we now have 288 miles under our belts. Friday, Bewdley to Market Drayton, was a 67 mile, coats on and off sort of a day. Mostly warm, if not sunny, but with some sharp showers to dampen enthusiasm not to mention our under carriages. Hilly terrain climbing out of Worcestershire, through Kidderminster, with just a few miles in South Staffordshire, brought us to Shropshire. Although, mostly a rural county, a mix of grassland and cereal cropping, our lunch stop at Ironbridge harks back to this, self claimed, seat of the Industrial Revolution. The first bridge built from iron in 1779 still proudly straddles this scenic gorge in the Severn valley.

On the Ironbridge at Ironbridge, Shropshire

A series of busy A roads necessitated some lengthy detours, but revealed adjacent quiet lanes and quaint villages with some chocolate box, half timbered and thatched cottages; much safer and infinitely more pleasant to cycle along.

Day four, Gloucester to Bewdley was largely a journey upstream alongside the Severn. A swift detour around Gloucester’s compact city centre, first laid out in Roman times, culminated with a very brief look inside the City’s magnificent cathedral, what incredible heritage we a fortunate to have. The recently cleaned stonework leaves one awestruck at the skill and ingenuity the stonemasons and builders of old.

By way of contrast, a couple in a small village just south of Tewkesbury invited us to join their coffee and cakes event on the green to celebrate the addition of a seating area paid for by the fund Tesco has made available since charging for carrier bags. With time pressing we didn’t avail ourselves of the refreshment.

We took a chance on the intermittant small ferry boat that takes passengers across the Severn at Even Lode, saving a long detour to get to Tewkesbury. Although the regular ferryman wasn’t due in for another couple of hours, the handyman at the waterside pub volunteered. It was altogether a precarious adventure getting the bikes, bags and us in and out! The ecclesiastical theme continued with a quick look in Tewkesbury’s stunningly beautiful and serene Abbey.

A picnic lunch on a bench by the Severn in the centre of Worcester rested weary limbs as we watched the passers by and a huge bank of swans. Upstream, via quiet lanes and canal tow paths we passed through Droitwich and then Stourbridge, which was horribly busy with traffic, finally arriving at the best bed and breakfast in the country. The fabulous Kateshill House at Bewdley, a third visit for Gavin and me. Keith, so impressed with the Tudor named rooms, amazing furnishings and friendly reception, thought we should spend the rest of the trip there.

Approaching Stourbridge on the Canal towpath

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