A WEEK IN GREAT MALVERN
Ann decided to join her sister and mother for a week in Lanzarote,
commencing 20th May. I was invited to accompany them, but declined
on two counts.
1) Effectively, it was only for five days, given the travelling time, and also, our once-a-year trip each
November was quite sufficient.
2) The thought of the company of three females under one "umbrella" was unbearable !
Plan "B" was a solo week in the caravan at Great Malvern, which proved to be a "winner". I duly emptied the refrigerator and drove south for 1 3/4 hours to one of the best campsites, which I have ever used----all mod. cons. available for £42. I had previously visited this area for just a day and then it was to watch a testing stage of the last Milk Race around the town.
Great Malvern town clings to the east side of the Malvern Hills, an A.O.N.B. and walkers' paradise (?), six miles south of Worcester. It has a "natural" border with the River Severn to the north and east, (plus the M5); the M50 to the south; and the aforementioned Malvern Hills to the west. Between the Hills and the Severn is an extensive plain---"cycling for softies territory", littered with sheltered lanes. The majority of the lanes have high impenetrable hedges and there is much woodland and meadowland Cycle immediately westwards and you are soon selecting the largest sprocket and smallest ring for a "cardio vascular experience"---there is no easy option! Nevertheless, challenges apart, this is a delightful area to visit, even if the surfaces of some of the lanes leave much to be desired. Armed with O.S. sheets 149 and 150, borrowed from the local library, the world was my oyster. The eastern plain is basically mixed and arable farming, while extensive apple orchards and hopfields abound west of the Malvern Hills. Here the roads gently undulate---with the occasional "surprise" ! There are a selection of challenges around the north end and the south end of the Hills, but the delightful scenery more than compensates.
On one ride I came across a "senior" O.A.P. who restores Romany caravans, complete with lace curtains and wood stoves. The paintwork was pure artistry. Like myself, he was enjoying a week or so of relief from his holidaying wife and a too-regular overdose of "soap operas"---it appeared that tranquillity ruled OK !!
Another excursion took me across the Severn at Upton-on-Severn, then north towards Worcester where I came across NCR 46, Worcester-Pershore. It proved to be a pleasant rolling ride to 17th.c. Pershore, complete with its stone abbey and black and white properties, really peaceful on sunny Sunday lunchtime.
Tewkesbury, where the Avon merges with the Severn, is a bustling town, again with its share of grade II and grade III listed properties. Pay £2 at the door of the Abbey---seen one and you have seen them all, maybe I am being irreverent !
Ledbury, which nestles in the west side of Malvern Hills, is similarly endowed. I decided to use A449 for a direct route to base which meant a steady initial climb of a mile, followed by a steeper ascent which "went on a bit"---the summit was always round he next bend. The ultimate descent into Great Malvern was both accelerating and exhilarating.
The major problem in this area is locating crossings of the Severn, plus other lesser rivers, and M5. The bridge at Upton-on-Severn is undergoing major surgery. Traffic is restricted to cars, motorcycles, and the humble cyclist. Flow is controlled by timed traffic lights, which create lengthy delays except for the likes of ourselves. It all helps to make this minor 17th.c. town, with its riverside scenario, more acceptable.
Fortunately, I was blessed by warmish and dry weather. I managed 250+ leisure miles during my stay---I have shortened the lives of the "28 and 38" rings. It would be great if this type of terrain was closer to home.