Introducing Steve Thomas
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The Church Stretton circuit, Shropshire
The borderlands of South Shropshire are perhaps some of the best for road riding in all of Britain! The whole area is smothered in a blanket of deserted back roads. Whatever you want you’ll find it in the area; there are plenty of tough climbs, including the legendary leg bending Burway – which was used a few years back for the National Hill Climb Champs. If you’re looking for more rolling terrain then the area between the Long Mynd and the Welsh border is perfect, as are the roads directly to the south of the Mynd.
This ride is a toughie, no two ways about it! There are a few short steep climbs to kick off with, then some rolling terrain towards Clun. A superb drawn out climb takes us over the border to Wales, before dropping back down again, although the flat doesn’t last for long – once you hit Minsterly there’s the climbs over the Stiperstones to face, before the grand finale – the Long Mynd itself!
• Distance: 80 miles (approx)
• Duration: 5-6 hours
• Grade: tough
• Bottom gear: 39×26
• Maps: O/S Landranger 126 and 137
The Route – In Detail
- Starting from Church Stretton head south to Little Stretton.
- Turn right at the pub and follow the narrow lane up to Minton.
- Go straight ahead at Minton and continue to the next crossroads.
- Turn left and ride down to join the B4370.
- Turn right and descend down to meet the main A489.
- Turn left then first right.
- Climb up to Edgton, and then go through the village and descend to meet the B4385.
- Turn left and continue to a T-junction with the B4386.
- Turn right and continue to Clun.
- Turn left in the centre of Clun, cross the bridge and turn immediately right.
- Follow the B4368 over the Anchor and drop down to a crossroads with the main A489.
- Go straight ahead here and on to Abermule.
- From here follow the B4386/5 to Montgomery.
- Turn left in Montgomery and follow the road to Chirbury.
- Turn right then left at Chirbury and follow the B4386 towards Brocton.
- Just before the village turn right on the B4499 to Minsterly.
- Turn right in Minsterly, then right at the traffic island.
- As you reach Ploxgreen bear left and follow the climb through Snailbeach and Stiperstones then on to the corner at Shelve.
- Turn left here, and then left again to climb over the summit, before dropping down to Bridges.
- Go left, then right (by the pub) at Bridges and climb up to a T-junction.
- Turn left and then take the first turn on the right and climb to the top of the Long Mynd.
- Bear left at the top and descend the Burway back to Church Stretton.
Church Stretton is situated on the main A49 trunk road, which runs between Shrewsbury and Hereford, making it easily accessible from the North West, Midlands and the South West. The town is also on the main Shrewsbury – Newport rail line. For times and fares Tel 08457 484950 or go to www.nationalrail.co.uk
At present there is no serious bike shop in town. That said there is Terry’s Cycles, which is okay for basic spares. The shop is in the antiques arcade on Burway Road. The closest serious bike shop is just out of Ludlow at Fishmoor – Pearce Cycles, Tel 01584 876016 www.pearcecycles.co.uk
There are several B&B establishments in and around Church Stretton, as well as a Youth Hostel at Bridges, another at Clun, and a larger Hostel which mainly takes groups and is at Wilderhope, about 5 miles from Stretton, and a couple of small camp sites. For details call the Tourist Information on 01694 723133 or go to www.churchstretton.co.uk
Food and drink
Church Stretton is something of a honey pot for cafes and teahouses. In Beaumont Road there is the Cafe Beaumont, which serves traditional cafe fare and welcomes dirty bikers. On Burway Road there’s the Holly Bush, which welcomes all bikers (only for food at weekends). On Sandford Avenue there’s Finders, the bakers, and the Acorn vegetarian restaurant.
Pub wise there are The Old Hotel, The Vaults and The Bucks Head, all of which are pretty good. Meanwhile in All Stretton there’s The Green Dragon and The Ragleth, while at All Stretton you have The Yew Tree, all of which are pretty good for food and drink. There is also a decent Indian restaurant in town. Out on the route are several pubs and village shops, as well as a teashop in Clun, another in Montgomery and a small farm café at Bridges, which only opens on summer weekends.