Day 1 –9/7/2010 – Cheltenham, Gloucestershire to Grindon, Peak District, Staffordshire. 115 miles.

Route plan for the day’s ride:

After a good breakfast, I set out on my tour with some trepidation, wondering whether my equipment would be durable enough to last! It didn’t help than my front tyre had developed a flat overnight, before I even started riding! Fortunately I was able to quickly fit a new inner tube and I was soon off and heading northwards in sunny, warm British summer weather.

I took fast “A” roads until Worcester – I was keen to reach some less familiar territory. By Lower Broadheath, about 30 miles in, I stopped at a pub for a lemon and lime, such a refreshing drink. I met the owners whilst wheeling my bike into the garden. They told me they were actually closed (it was 10am), but nevertheless kindly served my drink, telling me I looked like I needed it! The weather was very warm and I wasn’t yet used to the weight of luggage I was hauling.

“So where have you come from this morning?”
“Wow, that’s miles away!”
“I think it’s been about 30 miles”
“Where are you heading for today?”
“Well today I’m off to the Peak District but I’m camping overnight and then heading up to Scotland on a cycle tour.”
“That’s crazy! Are you doing it for charity?”
“No, just for enjoyment really.”
“Enjoyment? You really are crazy!”

Despite the owners’ conviction of my madness I enjoyed my drink, and when I left they told me I’d be welcome to pitch my tent in their beer garden and use the showers if I passed by on the way back. Not that they were one bit convinced I’d reach my intended destination!

Beyond Lower Broadheath, the riding was very pleasant and scenic, along minor roads and ‘B’ roads through Martley towards Cleobury Mortimer. These were roads I had covered before, but only once (a return trip to Abberley at 92 miles was the furthest I ever rode in a day on my old mountain bike).

I soon reached Bridgnorth, but didn’t stop for food (although it was lunchtime) and instead pushed north until I reached Shifnal where I had another lemon & lime at a hotel. The charming young waitress was very impressed that I’d already cycled 75 miles and gave me a complementary refill.

The Midlands didn’t provide the most interesting cycling, being fairly built up and pretty flat. I was glad to reach Stone, where I refuelled with chicken ‘n’ chips before pushing through Cheadle and finally on the country road into the Peak District. It was my aim for the day to be inside the border of the Peak District National Park, so it was with great satisfaction that I arrived at the millstone that marked the boundary. The scenery really began to improve (and was much hillier) thereafter.

The border of the Peak District National Park, Staffordshire

The border of the Peak District National Park, Staffordshire

Just inside the Peak District

Just inside the Peak District

A couple of miles later I saw the sign to a campsite at Grindon, and at 8:30pm was pitching my tent for the first night of my tour. I walked down ordered a “lupus lupus” ale at the local pub in Butterton. I enjoyed it but didn’t find anyone to talk to, and soon walked the mile back to my campsite.

My first night's pitch at Grindon campsite

My first night's pitch at Grindon campsite

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