A new route to try, starting and finishing at Lymestone Brewery’s Borehole Pub.
Here at RideStaffs HQ, this bit of the year is about planning, some of which is done from a desk chair, but whenever I can it’s done in (and out of) the saddle. At the moment I’m focussing on creating a new route to go with the new venue we’ll be announcing for the Staffordshire Cycling Festival in 2019 & 2020.
Part of our route takes in the climb past Beech Caves, familiar to veterans of previous RideStaffs sportives, but I wanted to see if there was a way to get over to Hanchurch Woods without too much time on the A519, so I thought I’d head out and take a look at Harley Thorn Lane to see if that might fit the bill:
SO I jumped in the car and drove over to see our friends at Lymestone Brewery in Stone and use the brewery as a base for the ride. The idea was just to have a straight out and back ride, check out Harley Thorn Lane then head home. But then I got chatting with Brad at the Brewery and it turns out his family used to farm that land and he had a few other suggestions about where I might go.
Bring a sense of adventure and maybe a spare inner tube!
The climb up to Beech isn’t getting any easier the older I get, but I was spurred on by the thought of discovering new roads so I quickly regained a spring in my step as I turned off the 519. After a short while, the lane ends and a fork to the right takes you onto a track that, depending on your sense of adventure and level of skill, is best tackled on a gravel/cross bike or at least on a good wide tyre. Bumping into a lovely couple walking (but who also cycle) meant I wasn’t phased by the temporary closure of the footpath and rooty singletrack diversion by the Severn trent site further along the path.
After less than a mile, I emerged at a cross roads joining a beautiful road in the middle of Hanchurch Woods. A left turn took me south west on Drayton road until (on Brad’s instruction) I found the entrance to Common Lane, hidden away behind a little parking area adjoining the road.
After another brief chat with a gent called Ecker I set of south on Common Lane confident I knew where I was going and looking out for the right fork in the track by the log seat that commemorates the favourite resting place of one of the woodsmen who worked in the surrounding land in years gone by.
At this time of year Common Lane demands plenty of concentration as you descend in the tyre tracks of the much bigger agricultural vehicles who are the only other users of the space, but it’s lots of fun and eventually brings you out at Lower Hatton. At this point you’re just over a third of the way through the ride and the rough stuff is behind you for the day and what replaces the technical stuff is a series of delightful lanes in a part of Staffordshire that’s as wonderfully quiet as it is beautiful.
The middle third of the ride takes in a series of steady climbs in quiet back lanes through Chapel Chorlton, Standon and then Swynnerton before a wonderful sweeping (mainly) downhill road back to join the Eccleshall to Stone road and the completion of your ride.
If you fancy having a go at the ride, or using it as inspiration for one of your own (there are easy and obvious ways around the rough stuff if you don’t fancy it), head to Strava for a look now.
Oh, and if you fancy a drink at the end of the ride, the Borehole is a great place to relax with a log burner, pint or cuppa before you head home.