Berwick-upon-Tweed was the base for this years April weekend away, with 17 riders meeting for a few days cycling around Northumberland and the southern Scottish Borders.
Friday, most people were arriving, either staying at the Caravan Site in Spittal, or the Travelodge in Berwick. It was a little foggy, but a few did manage a short "weekend warmup" ride out to Chain Bridge Honey Farm, after which several of us met up in Berwick's famous Michelin starred restaurant, otherwise known as Morrison's cafe. (It was next door to the Travelodge, so very convenient).
On Saturday, we rode as a group, inland, until we hit the Scottish border, then following the border north until we were allowed in at Clappers. Continuing north through Ayton and Coldingham before dropping down to the picturesque harbour at St.Abbs.
After lunch we split into two groups, so that those wanting a few extra miles could stretch their legs a little. However, the road soon became a track, which became a trail, and eventually disappeared alogether, leaving us trecking through three fields, over fences, and even constructing a makeshift bridge over a stream! Luckily a helpful farrmer was on hand to help with directions. A good laugh was had by all (although we're still not sure he was laughing with us, or at us).
Both groups then returned by similar routes through Reston and Chirnside.
Saturday evening was spent at the Leaping Salmon in Berwick, where a surprise birthday cake was presented for one of our members who was celebrating whilst away with us.
Sunday's destination was Coldstream, nominally following the Tweed to Norham Castle, crossing the river via Union Chain Bridge, which, when it opened in 1820 was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world.
After lunch, we again split into two groups, following similar routes back, but at different paces.
Sunday evening was spent in Limoncello's, an Italian restaurant, again in Berwick.
Leaving the best ride of the weekend until Monday, we had an early start riding down to Beal in order to cross the causeway to Lindisfarne. The causeway is fully metalled, but only crossable when the tide is out, so we had limited time on the island. Riding across was a novel experience, the road is at sea level, with only a wooden stilted refuge for those unfortunate enough not to check the tide times.
Again, after lunch two groups returned, etiher direct to Berwick, or via a longer route back to Norham Castle and over the Union Chain Bridge, retracing some of Sunday's ride.
Not wanting to walk the mile and a half back into Berwick a third time, we settled on Morrison's cafe for our final evening meal.
Ludlow was the destination for this years April long weekend. Fourteen members heading into Shropshire, arriving at various times on Thursday and Friday, 4 staying at a local caravan site, and the remaining 10 in the Ludlow Travelodge.
Friday - Just Exploring
With riders arriving at different times, we didn't have any rides planned until Saturday, but that didn't stop a few of us having a short explaratory trip out on Friday afternoon, where we soon discovered Shropshire's hills were long and often steep.
After our ride, we checked into the Travelodge, before meeting the others in the Squirrel for diiner.
We were allowed to keep our bikes in our rooms at the Travelodge, although we had to get them up the stairs first!
Saturday - The Long Mynd
On Saturday, ten of us had decided to tackle the Long Mynd, a heath and moorland plateau, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The views were expected to be spectacular, and we weren't disappointed. We just had to get there first.
We met outside Ludlow Castle, and headed north through Stanton Lacy, Peaton and Diddlebury before lunching in Church Stretton.
It was a tough climb up the Long Mynd, but it was definately worth it. Clear blue skies meant we could see for miles. At one point we saw what we thought was an Ice Cream van at the top, which was just the incentive we needed. (except it wasn't and had left by the time we got there, so we had to make do with fruit pastiles).
Along the crest we watched several gliders flying out from the Long Mynd Gliding club, before the long fast descent down the other side. We needed almost constant breaking, so stopped near Plowden to allow our wheel rims to cool down, before returning to Ludlow, and our evening meal in the Squirrel, which had become our regular for the weekend. It was next to the Travelodge, so that was handy.
Longer than expected, we'd covered 46 miles.
Sunday - Tenbury Wells (Short ride)
Setting out from the Travelodge - Margaret, Harry, Jim & Jackie, Peter R. & Tina, John & Sonia on their tandem, and Peter H. trying out an electric bike.
Riding to Tenbury Wells for a coffee stop at the Riverside café, then Margaret, Jim & Jackie, and Harry rode to Barrington Hall in a roundabout way, the others taking a shorter route back.
We rode through lovely quiet "hilly" lanes, Harry leaving the group part way back to find one of his cycle quest clues whilst Margaret, Jim and Jackie had a picnic lunch in the grounds of the hall.
Finally cycling back to Ludlow via Luston and Overton. A short ride of around 25 miles.
Sunday - Bridgnorth (Long ride)
Mark, Jim, Dorothy and Sandra made for an early start on Sunday, with the intention of seeing the bridge at Ironbridge. Heading North East through Middleton and Neenton, we arrived in Bridgnorth at 12:00 to a suggestion of rain.
Stopping for lunch, we decided that Ironbridge was possibly a little too far, so decided on an alternate route back, through Ditton Priors and Culmington before retracing our return path via Stanton lacy from Saturday. 3pm saw it start raining, so we arrived back in Ludlow 50 miles up, and a little damp, but that was the only time it rained the whole weekend. (Apparently it had snowed at home!)
Monday - Clungunford (Short ride)
Margaret, Jim and Jackie, John & Sonia and Peter & Tina met on Ludford Bridge to ride to Craven Arms, via Mortimer Woods stopping for coffee at the 5 star Lion Inn in Leintwardine,.
The group was escorted upstairs to the breakfast room, I think a group of noisy cyclists was too much for the genteel surroundings!! then another picnic lunch on the community centre steps in Clungunford, there not being a café in the area.
Heading on to Craven Arms for an afternoon coffee and back to Ludlow on Cycle Route 44. Distance around 30 miles.
Again the lanes were lovely to cycle on, with lots of quirky cottages, farms and churches to stop to look at. There was very little traffic on the lanes so it made for very pleasant cycling.
Monday - Presteigne (Long ride)
The Bridgnorth Four made an eary start again, heading today in a westerly direction. We didn't really have a plan other than somewhere slightly less hilly.
Passing through Richards Castle, we came across the Gallery Cafe in Yarpole. Run by community volunteers, the cafe, shop, library and postoffice are all located in St Leonards Church. It's definately worth a visit if you're ever in the area.
Leaving the cafe, we carried on to Mortimers Cross, where, only 9 miles from Presteigne, we decided it would be good to venture over the border into Wales. After struggling with camera self timers at the "Croeso i Gymru" sign, a passing "cross country" runner kindly took our photos and we were allowed through passport control.
Pressing on into Presteigne for lunch, we then turned north crossing Offa's Dyke at Rhos-y-Meirch and on to Knighton before returning to Ludlow via Brampton Brian and Wigmore. Another 50 miler.
Tuesday - Yarpole
Time to go home, but a few of us found time for a short ride first.
We enjoyed our cafe stop in Yarpole so much we decided it was close enough for an early morning coffee, before lunch back in Ludlow and the end of out weekend.
Monday 15th August 2016 saw eight riders from Burnley and Pendle CTC arriving at Framlingham College in Sufflok for a weeks cycling around the flat and quiet Suffolk lanes. Around 450 CTC members from around the country were atending to celebtate hte 138th birthday of the National CTC.
Five of our members were staying in the student accomodation, with the remaining three camping/caravanning.area.
Being around 250 miles from Burnley & Pendle, we didn't arrive until mid afternoon, so only had time to unpack, prepare our steeds, and familiarise ourselves with the area before our evening meal.
From Tuesday to Saturday, we had a choice of rides available, rangng from extra short (10 miles), to long (80 miles+). We selected rides in the 30 to 60 mile groups, sticking together some days, whilst some riders elected for different rides on a couple of days. We also made a couple of detours from the given routes to allow those participating in the British Cycle Quest to find the Suffolk based clues.
Our Tuesday ride included our whole contingent, in a trip to the seaside at Southwold, via the "Southwold Direct" 48 mile route. Scenes along the way included St. Mary's Uggeshall church, with its thatched roof, St Andrews church at Walberswick, and included a fish and chip lunch on the prom at Southwold.
Wednesday we selected the Ufford, Woodbridge, and Earl Soham 31 mile route, taking a small detour to Sutton Hoo, where we dropped of a few riders who wanted to look around the site.
Thursday saw our shortest ride of the week, only 30 miles, taking in the undulating countryside of the Deben Valley, calling in at Debenham for lunch (although we had to ask the postman the way!). (That's Debenham, the village, not Debenhams the store!). As it was a short ride, we had time to stop at the pub on the way back.
Today we opted for another ride out to the seaside. This time to Aldeburgh and Thorpeness. Again snacking at the chippy for lunch. Detouring to collect another BCQ clue, three riders then rode up to Dunwhich before returning via Tuesdays route.
Today was our longest ride, taking the 62 mile "Windmill Trail", although only two of our number rode it. (The others taking a shorter option). It was quite windy today, a necessity really, for the windmills, but making the going a little difficult at times.
Given the longer distance, we upped the pace a little today, which also allowed time for several stops. Coffee for elevenses, and and emergency halt to rescue a frog that was having difficulty crossing the road. Lunch was in Ixworth, and afternoon coffee and cakes in Debenham on the way back.
Throughout the week, riders had the opportunity to submit photos for the annual photo competition, which each rider allowed to enter five photos each day. Burnley and Pende were lucky enough to win the "Best Photo for Wednesday" and the "Runners Up Photo of the week".
A sad day, we had to pack up and go home.... - Until next year!.
The Minibus arrived at 9:30am on Thursday morning to pick up the first of 6 riders, taking them to Heysham for the Isle of Man ferry. With the rear seats removed, it easily accommodated the six of us with bikes, panniers and other assorted luggage. By 12:30, we arrived at the Ferry terminal at Heysham, with plenty of time to spare to enjoy our packed lunches before boarding for the 2:15pm sailing, where we met three more of our riders.. It was a calm day. Perfect for the crossing.
It was a 3.5 hour sail, but we were all in good spirits, spending sime time on deck watching Heysham disappear before relaxing in the bar, discussing the 4 days touring ahead. Two of our riders were taking part in the British Cycle Quest - A sort of treasure hunt, so our routes were planned to take in the locations for the islands six clues.
The Ferry docked in Douglas at 5:30pm. Our hotel was only a mile down the coast from the Ferry Port, so we just had a short ride down the prom before checking into our rooms, meeting the final member of our contingent, and sitting down for our evening meal.
Friday was our first complete day exploring the island, and our destination for the day was Port Erin. We headed south down Marine Drive, which was a gated road, so no traffic - Just how we like it. However, the gates did present a small problem for our tandem riders, as it wouldn't fit through the pedestrian gate. We had to lift it over. Thankfully there were only two. The views along this section were great, with rocky cliffs and amazing strata.
Heading inland at Port Soderick, we stopped for a light lunch at Castletown, and the first of our BCQ questions, (after full Manx breakfasts, we didn't need much fuel yet). CTC labelled bollards next to some railings marked the perfect spot to secure our bikes. After lunch, and replacing a broken gear cable we headed west through Port St. Mary, and on through Cregneash to the tip of the island where we spotted seals basking on the rocks between us and the Calf of Man.
Heading north we reached or destination, Port Erin, where we boarded the Isle of Man Steam Railway for our return journey to Douglas. 25 miles covered.
Our destination for Saturday was Peel, and we headed cross country taking in Parliament Hill (or Tynwald), the origin of the Manx Parliament. The return trip was via Cronk-y-Voddy for our next BCQ question, and then along part of the famous TT circuit, but unfortunately the weather was against us, with rain and sleet seeing us arriving back in Douglas a little earlier than expected. 33 miles covered.
A surprise was awaiting us back at the hotel, however, as we discovered that the Raleigh Pro Racing Team had taken over our cycle storage and were having a turbo trainer session prior to the Pro race on Sunday. The team staff were most accomodating though, and our bikes were soon saftely stored away for the evening. We even got a good look at the Pro racers bikes, sleek, red and yellow carbon machines, weighing less than one of our helmets!.
After the rain and sleet, it turned into a glorious evening, and as we were back at the hotel early, we passed the time before dinner with a casual stroll along the prom for a coffee.
Sunday was to be our longest ride. We split into two groups, the first jumping on the Electric Tram to Ramsay, whist the second group rode the coast road following, for the most part, the tram track. Calling to look at Old Lonan's church, for another BCQ question.
We then took a slight detour to look at the famous Laxey Wheel before continuing on to Maughold for another BCQ question, before heading into Ramsay for lunch at the Leisure Centre by the harbour.
After lunch we headed further north to Andreas for our final BCQ question of the day, before returning to Ramsay Tram Station to meet the other group of riders, who had been up to the northern tip of the island "Point of Ayre".
The challenge was now set. Who would be the first group back in Douglas? - Those catching the 4:40 tram, or the riders, leaving at 3:45? No doublt was in anybody's minds, it would take the riders a good three hours, and the tram would win by an hour. How wrong they were! On pulling into Douglas station, who was waiting to greet them. Arriving in Douglas 5 minutes before the tram, the riders had won!. You can see the shocked expressions on their faces if you look closely at the photos.
Monday was our final day, and not wanting to stray too far from Douglas, we took a leisurly ride back to Laxey for those that hadn't yet seen the wheel. A light lunch by the sea, and returning along the TT course past the Grandstand.
We stored the bikes at the hotel for the rest of the afternoon to have a short look around Douglas, and enjoyed a Fish and Chip tea before returning to the Ferry terminal for our sail home.
It was a late sailing, arriving back at Heysham at 11:30pm, where the minibus was waiting, getting the last rider home by 2:30am Tuesday morning.
The 2015 CTC Birthday Rides were held at Newton Rigg Agricultural College just outside Penrith in Cumbria. The rides are held in a different region each year and are run by CTC Holidays with help from the local member group volunteers. This year around 250 members attended to celebrate the 137th birthday of the National CTC.
Seven Burnley and Pendle members attended the event, some staying in the en-suite accommodation with breakfast and evening meals provided, others making use of the caravanning facilities. There were a variety of rides each day ranging from less than 20 miles to 70 miles plus. The area around Penrith is a superb cycling area with access to the Lake District and the much under- appreciated Eden Valley. Our members generally tackled the shorter rides but nevertheless had superb rides around the quieter villages in the Eden Valley, the Ullswater area, and around the Mungrisdale area.
Entertainments were laid on each evening including a ceildh (video evidence available!) the Solway Saxophone Quartet (the joint was jumping!) and Murray the Magician (consensus -somebody was outside to let him out of the tank.)
We spent the weekend of 24th to 26th July cycling around the Yorkshire Dales from our base in Hawes.
On Friday we rode over to Sedburgh via Appersett, Garsdale Head, where we took a break for lunch.
Whilst there we met an old member by the name of Derek Silverwood, he'd ridden over from Rimington that morning, and had stopped there for his sandwiches before heading back. He seemed to know most of the long term club members?
After lunch we made the return trip passing through Millthrop, Rash, Gawthrop and Dent, mainly following the River Dee before dropping back into Hawes where we visited the local Chippy for Tea.
On Saturday we were joined by several more riders, and we made the controversial decision to tackly Buttertubs (King of the Mountains: Stage 1: 2014 Tour de France). Heading up through Thwaite, Angram, Keld on our way to Kirkby Stephen for lunch.
Taking a more relaxing ride back to Hawes, through Outhgill and Aisgill, before relaxing for the evening in the local pub where we had an excellent meal.
An early start on Friday, April 17th saw us arriving at Hesket Newmarket in the northern Lake District for a long weekends riding.
Hesket Newmarket is famed for it's pub "The Old Crown", the first registered co-operatively owned Pub in Britain. And our B&B was next door!.
We had three days of riding planned, starting on the Friday, with a trip out to the coast at Allonby where we could see right across the Solway Firth to Dumfries. Of course heading to the coast means it's largely downhill all the way. Which means it's uphill all the way back. I don't think we'll ever forget that long drag we finished with, before dropping back to Caldbeck, and Hesket Newmarket. Of course we then had to finish the day with a meal in The Old Crown.
Saturday saw us taking a circular route around Blencathra and Skiddaw, passing through Mosedale, Mungrisdale and Threlkeld before we joined the old railway line into Keswick, which is now resurfaced as a track for walkers and cyclists.
Keswick was heaving with tourists, as expected, and it was nice to hit the open lanes again as we headed back up towards Hesket Newmarket. Passing past Bassenthwaite, back through Caldbeck to our base, before returning to The Oddfellows Arms for dinner.
Sunday was a shorter ride. Heading east to Greystoke and the Cyclists Cafe for lunch, just outside the grounds of Greystoke Castle, home of the legendary Tarzan.