Friday, July 28, 2017

July 6th: Market Drayton to Bridgnorth

Our second day started with a great breakfast served by the Four Alls Inn, and we got going by 9:00am. South of Market Drayton, we rode through tiny towns, avoiding main roads. We had been told to avoid Telfords, but the tourist information center the day before had told us that Ironbridge is a good destination, since it was the home of the industrial revolution, and would have lots to do. That sounded intriguing, so we planned to visit.
Near Ironbridge, however, I chose to ignore the GPS and follow the street signs, which turned out to be a mistake. To direct car drivers to big parking lots, the road signs would lead you into Madley, which wasn't at all what you wanted. We recovered by asking a couple of pedestrians, and made it to visit Iron Bridge.
There, we visited the museum of the gorge, which included model displays and a film outlining the area. There was a coop supermarket near the museum, and we bought lunch to eat at the nearby park, which was beautiful and featured a playground.
After lunch and a playground stop, we rode onto the bridge, and visited the tollhouse at the other side.

 From there, the bike route signs pointed us along the old railroad track which then abruptly terminated just a couple of miles down the road, with the bike route sign pointing up the hill, signed for Bridgnorth. We would discover later on that there was a disused rail road path that was mapped, but not signed!

The resultant climb, coming late in the afternoon heat wore us out, and by the time we rode into Bridgnorth we were ready to stop. At the tourist information center, we again found no one to help us, except a couple of staff members who told us that it wasn't in their job description but pointed us at a list of B&Bs in the window. I called a few that all turned out to be closed, and eventually just booked The Croft on booking.com.

Upon checking in, I discovered that I'd left my MoKo travel charger in the Four Alls Inn! I fortunately still had the rapid charger for my Moto G5, but I still needed a plug adapter. Fortunatlely, the inn keeper had a stash of plug adapters (some of which no doubt were left behind by other customers) and simply gave us one. "It's a small town, so I wouldn't even know where you could buy one of these!" he said.
After asking where the nearest ice cream shop was, we walked to it and bought ice cream. Then we walked over to the "cliff railway" in town, which turned out to be a funicular taking us down to the river side, where a 15 minute walk took us to a bike shop next to the Severn Valley Railway. The bike shop told us that the next day's trip to Worcester was going to be hilly, and surprisingly enough couldn't help us with a good route. They claimed that the bike route was no good, and suggested staying on the roads, but all of the roads looked like they would be busy ones not suited for cycling.
I was reminded that the next day was a Friday, so I'd have to start searching for lodging early, preferably today. In fact, Saturday was going to be an issue as well! As a result, I started putting in queries on AirBnB, since Worcester was a big city and I could expect to find reasonable lodging there. I sent a few queries and hoped for a reply.
The Severn Valley railway turned out to be a steam train, though we arrived only in time to catch the last train of the day, with a round trip to Hampton Lodge (the first stop) being the only possible round trip we could do. So we paid for the ticket and hopped on the heritage railway. Bowen wasn't about to pass up a train ride no matter how short it was.
Upon returning from the train ride, the sky started becoming overcast with the thunderstorm in the forecast becoming more believable after the heat of the afternoon. We discovered there was a bridge from the railway station that took us halfway up the hill to where the town castle grounds were, which we took advantage of rather than walking back to the funicular.
The castle grounds/city walls garden turned out to be beautiful, with a mini bridge, wishing well, flowers, and a monument. We walked along side it, and Bowen threw in a coin to make a wish. He started getting tired, so I carried him into town where we looked for a restaurant to have dinner. We settled on Casa Ruiz, a Spanish tapa place that served excellent food in small dishes that suited Bowen. He was very excited about an impending thunderstorm, and quite disappointed that it didn't materialize.

At bedtime, I discovered that I'd forgotten another thing at the Four Alls Inn, which was Bowen's toothbrush. Luckily, I'd brought along the teeth-cleaning gum, so that's what I gave him, but I was determined to buy a replacement toothbrush the next day. I was not having a good tour in terms of leaving stuff behind that I didn't want to leave behind!

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