I set off this morning with mostly grey skies and a bit of very fine misty rain about, which came as a bit of a disappointment considering only half an hour before the breakfast room was flooded with sunshine. Still, this cleared up within the hour and I made quick progress along the mostly flat, empty and well-surfaced roads through the Herefordshire countryside. Early on I passed through Leominster, stopping at a cycle shop to pick up some new mitts, having managed to leave mine at Bristol (together with some socks). The shop owner was obviously familiar with end-to-enders, as he immediately assumed this was what I was doing, only wondering in which direction I was making the trip!
At around 11am I arrived into Ludlow, an extremely picturesque market town with some great architecture. As I was making such good progress, I wandered around for an hour or so, visiting the large castle in the town centre, dating back to Norman times. The weather by this time was extremely hot and sunny. It therefore came a bit of a surprise when, two miles further down the road, there was a sudden heavy shower, with lighter rain persisting for another hour or so.
The next 20 miles or so took me through some very sparsely-populated areas, with only a handful of tiny hamlets throughout. After the longest climb of the day, I came to the large village of Much Wenlock, where I was relieved to be able to buy some lunch, as it was now after 2pm. Shortly after this came a fantastic descent into the Ironbridge gorge. At the bottom I crossed by the Iron bridge itself, which was open to cyclists and pedestrians. After a brief stop was a long and occasionally steep climb up the other side of the gorge. Eventually this led through the village of Little Wenlock.
Passing through the Wrekin hills there was then another fast descent to the town of Wellington. Shortly afterwards I arrived in Shawbirch, just north of Telford. Due to the V music festival, I had found it impossible to book a B&B in the area for a single night, so I was staying at the local Travelodge, making this by far the most expensive stop on my trip (more than twice as much as last night, and with no breakfast provided!) Still, at least the carvery next door was cheap (£3.50) and convenient.
Distance: 61.0 miles
Total ascent: 1478m
Cumulative distance: 396.7 miles
Interactive route map and profile: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1814