Day 2 – Southern Cider Tour (shortened version)
On the local Herefordshire website there are three listed “cider tours, ideal for cyclists” one of which passed quite close to our house, so that was the route we chose. However the route also took in Hereford and after our previous experience the day before decided to amend the route to avoid Hereford. Ideally we’d stop at each of the Cider Brewerys along the way but the thought of “sampling” and cycling did not appeal, so we opted to call into Weston’s Scrumpy House at the end of the ride which was quite close to home.
Some rain was forecast for the day and it didn’t disappoint. It kept “persisting” it down most of the day. At least the start was dry as we set off down past Weston’s on our way to Much Marcle. It was not long after Ledbury that the sky started to “rain on our parade” ☔. Time for rain jackets, well at least for those who’d thought to bring them.
“It’s only a brief shower” we thought/hoped 🤞until eventually we found the Hop Pocket cafe near to Bishop’s Frome to seek some shelter and refreshments. Sure enough, by the time we left the cafe, the rain had let up. Unfortunately it was not the end of it and it was time to put jackets on again. It was becoming like the movie ‘Karate Kid’ “Jackets on, Jackets Off” except for those without who were ‘content’ to continue with “soggy bottoms” (and tops for that matter).
The next leg was a gentle undulating climb to Burley Gate followed by a sharp steep descent around Ocle Pych. In fact we were enjoying the downhill so much we almost missed the turn to Withington. Continuing on to Longworth and Prior’s Frome we were faced with a number of short sharp punchy climbs before eventually dropping down to Mordiford.
On regrouping at the bottom, there was no sign of Chad and Neil. As we waited, “Postman Pat” pulled up alongside us to let us know he’d passed our two guys mending a puncture. At that point Heather and James headed to the nearby pub to await the return, while Matt, Pug and Mark “kept vigil” on the corner. After a short while, Mark set off back up the hill to see if he could see them only to spot them on the way down. Luckily the rain had eased up by now as we congregated in the beer garden at the Moon pub. “Shall we have a drink here?” someone asked. Tempting as it was, we decided to stick to our original idea and continue our ride.
Questions arose about which route to take home from Mordiford. Should we turn left to repeat the climb we’d done yesterday or keep going on the slightly longer way round. Stick to the planned route was the consensus. Unfortunately Heather mustn’t have heard correctly and missed the main group depart toward Fownhope as she and James turned left towards Haugh Wood.
As we reached the top of the first climb out of Fownhope, we stopped to wait for our “missing” two, thinking they must have been caught by the traffic lights we’d passed on the way. As the wait got longer and longer, Neil decided to phone Heather to check they were OK. “Where are you?” he asked. “We’re over the hill and down the other side” she said “Where are you?” “We’re at the top of the hill waiting for you”. It then dawned on us that we were talking about different hills. “OK we’ll see you at Weston’s”.
After continuing up the next hill, it became clear that Neil’s puncture repair had not been truly effective so he decided to abandon and wait for rescue at Lucksall Cafe while the rest of us carried on. After a few more stiff 15% hill challenges we arrived at the Cider Mill to find Heather and James already there nursing a well earned drink. Well it would be rude not to. 🍻 Chin chin!