Day 6 - Presteigne to Utkinton (nr Chester)

With Brian and Juliet Boobbyer at Little Rodd

Leaving with Margaret

This was the easiest day so far. Although it was 81 miles, total ascent was 'only' 3690 ft, at a manageable average of 45.5 ft per mile. We were also blessed with a following wind for large parts of the journey.

I say 'we' because I had company again today. Margaret Cosens, an old Australian friend who was chief bridesmaid at our wedding, was driven down early from Cheshire by her husband Dick to join me for the leg up to Tirley Garth, the MRA (now renamed Initiatives of Change) centre where Elisabeth and I lived for the first 3 years of our married life.

It was hard to say goodbye to Elisabeth, knowing that I would not see her again until my return to Oxford, but Margaret and I left Presteigne just after 8.30. I had decided, with the help of Juliet Boobbyer who knows the area well, to keep east of the Long Mynd, a stretch of high hills north of Presteigne. This meant using the A49 but I had had enough of hills for the moment! We started out on minor roads through Leintwardine towards Craven Arms, mercifully not very hilly. I passed a lady on a bicycle, wearing a fine hat. "Are you going to John O'Groats?", I asked. "No," she replied, "I'm going to church actually."

We made good time along this stretch and even better time along the A49, with a good following wind. But Margaret's bike was starting to give trouble: first problems with her front mech - my minor adjustments seemed to help but then make matters worse (!) and then a more serious difficulty with the crank on her left pedal which was working loose. It transpired that it was not threaded counter-clockwise, as the left pedal should be, so she was constantly working it loose as she pedalled. (Raleigh need a talking to!) We found a friendly man who lent us a spanner to tighten it, and we had to stop several times during the remainder of the journey to tighten the crank up.

However we reached Shrewsbury alright and looked for a takeaway where we could get a warm pasty, but ended up buying a cheese and ham toastie from a snooty French cafe. Then we pressed on north, on B roads to Wem, then using country lanes to avoid Whitchurch, crossing the Shropshire Union canal and then majubg for Malpas and Tattenhall. By the time we reached Huxley, about 5 miles from our destination, Margaret had had enough. She had done magnificently, not having trained for a 77 mile ride like she had just done, and riding a bike that was giving constant difficulties. So she rang Dick who came to fetch her while I pounded on the final 4 miles to Tirley Garth.

All in all a very good day, and I am pleased that I am feeling much less tired than I have done the past two days - and that my knees are causing no problems.

For today's statistics, click here.

Margaret Cosens' personal account:

It's amazing what an overnight stay with old friends can lead to! Two weekends ago when in Oxford to see Elisabeth and other friends, Edward told some of us of his Lands End to John O'Groats undertaking and showed us his route. The idea of joining him for a day - for solidarity with the worthwhile cause,
plus simply for the fun of it - seemed too good a chance to miss. So last Sunday Dick and I arrived at Presteigne in time for a very brief chat with Brian, Juliet and Elisabeth; then Edward and I were off. I wish I could express, and (better) pass on to you, the pleasure of riding mile after mile through those English country lanes. The birdsong, the bluebells, hawthorn, clematis…picturesque cottages, bridges over streams, and the English coat of green as a background to all. (Not racing green, I hasten to add. I've no doubt my presence steadied Edward's pace considerably!). However, in spite of Edward's and others' help, my bike's ever-loosening pedal shaft and ever-tightening gears finally gave me a good excuse to be driven the last five miles home! A wonderful day - I'd recommend the experience to anyone! Thanks for the opportunity, Edward. The cost: one day's worth of sore backside and tingling hands!