A short stroll along the borderlands – Shelve to Bucknell (32/20,679ks, 370m)

(written by Nancy)

After yesterday’s longer day than expected we knew today’s ride would be short so did not worry about setting an alarm to get up early.  It was lovely to sleep in a bit – we did not get out of the tent until almost 8am and we could see blue sky and sunshine.  No rain overnight but the clear skies that came after the rain meant that the temperature was pretty low but seeing the sunshine makes all the difference in how you feel about the day.  And, even better, we were able to lay the tent and the tarp and all the other wet bits in the sun to dry out while we sat at our picnic table and ate our oatmeal in the sun.  We have not had that experience in some time!

All that doddling around meant that we did not leave the campground until 10:30 – a new record for us.  The original plan was to head to the village of Bucknell, where we knew there was a pub with camping (and rooms, if the weather turned really nasty).  I hadn’t done much research for other campgrounds beyond so while we could go further and reduce the mileage the next day we decided to just take it easy and enjoy the short day that we earned by heading beyond Hope yesterday.

Though short, today’s ride was through some beautiful country, especially when seen in the sunshine.  Beautiful green rolling hills with lots of patchwork from various crops.  We had a couple of steep uphills (one at 15% that went on for a bit) to give us enough of a workout to eat at our usual pace, including a decent one up into the town of Clun, the only real village that we went through today.  At Clun we stopped to see the Clun castle, believed to date from the 12th century.  It is in ruins now but there is enough standing to see what it may have originally looked like.  It sits impressively on a knoll just at the edge of the village.  Funnily enough, the local bowling club’s greens are right beneath the castle – it must be one of the more impressive views for a bowling club in England.

We stopped at a little café in Clun for morning tea/lunch (as I said, it was important to keep up our pace of eating notwithstanding the short day as you never know when your next food will come along).  Eggs on toast called out to us – not quite as good as Dave’s usual eggs on toast with homemade salsa but it wasn’t too bad.  The coffee was just okay – it’s hard to get something less than very milky coffee in some of these cafes.  The waitress who was making our coffee was clearly pretty new at her job and despite instructions from the manager/owner to put less milk in she filled the cups to the brim and then promptly sloshed half of it as she brought them over to our table.  When some other patrons came in to dine and asked what the soup of the day was, she couldn’t remember – she said, “um, it’s leeks and something, I think, maybe carrots?”  They had a laugh and ordered the mystery soup but we had left by the time it was served so I don’t know what it turned out to be.

Another big climb out of Clun on the road to Knighton that went up and up and up and then down and then up and up again.  Questioning the wisdom of the eggs on toast at that point, particularly when we came around another corner and saw the road dip down in to another valley and head up over another hill on the other side.  Pretty country but gosh is it lumpy!  Thankfully, at the bottom of the valley we saw a sign pointing us off to the east toward Bucknell – yeah, we didn’t have to climb back up that other side.

A few miles of gentle downhill along a river and we arrived at Bucknell and the ‘famous’ Baron at Bucknell pub.  The camping area looked pretty decent but with rain forecast tonight Dave went in to see what the rooms might go for.  Well, out he came with a tag for the tent – the rooms (the reference to “luxury” rooms in the advertising is always a clue) started at £100 a night (it is a nice area and all and I am sure the rooms are nice but gosh, who would come way out here and pay that much money for a room in a pub?).  So, camping it is for us tonight.  Thankfully everything is pretty dry from the sun this morning and while the clouds have now rolled in there is no rain yet so at least the inside of the tent and the bags will stay dry for the evening.

I think we will try out the pub for dinner – our budget will probably stretch that far and the menu looks good.  Tomorrow we head to a Warmshowers host just south of Monmouth, about 50 miles or so from here.  Monmouth is back into Wales again – it will be our last time to experience a bit of Wales as we will only be in Wales for a short time the following day before we head over Severn inlet back into England.  Dave was hoping to see the Tour of Britain along the way somewhere but having checked the route again unfortunately we will not be near the finish of the stage so I’m sorry to say we will not get to see it after all.  Ah well, it would probably just make us feel even slower than we already do…  At least we are getting to see some of the countryside as we plod along.

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