Touring report: May 2024

Beacon tour to Clearwell, 14 to 15 May 2024 – Paul Balfe

Six Beacon members (Paul Balfe, Alan Weaver, Dave Cole, Rob Parker, Nigel Douglas and Jonathan Turner) recently headed to Clearwell, on the edge of the Wye Valley, on an overnight tour. Here’s organiser Paul’s write-up of the trip…

Another two-day trip was planned and, as always, I was hopeful for good weather. It eventually played out to be a lovely two days. There was a threat of rain for the first day, but after checking four weather forecasts, which all gave a different picture, we decided to leave at our originally planned time. A bit of a drizzle came down as we left Barnt Green, but it then brightened up considerably for the remainder of the route.

When I plan a route, I try to avoid as many hills as possible if we are going to be doing 70-odd miles per day, and with this trip going towards the Wye Valley, Forest of Dean and through Symonds Yat, I think I planned it quite well: fairly flat all the way to the Wye Valley, with our first café stop at Worcester after around 20 miles, including a nice ride along the cycle paths of Worcester. The weather was certainly looking better, although I did send us a bit off course through some thorny trees just past Droitwich – I think they all forgave me though!

We then skirted the Malverns with some nice scenic views and then onto the Wye Valley National Landscape, and it was only in the last 20 miles, after our second café stop, that we hit the hills by Symonds Yat with a lovely 20% rise to Symonds Yat Rock. I checked later and this hill was number 107 in Simon Warren’s Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs – not what I would call it, with Rob, Dave and me choosing to walk up it; no point killing yourself on a tour!

We then arrived at the hotel, which had a remote check-in system. After checking a rather long text message on how to get to our rooms and sorting out bike storage, everyone was happy. After a shower and rest it was then off to the pub for our evening meal, which I had to book a week before, which was strange really as the village we were in, Clearwell, was pretty small.

We woke up the next morning quite early and we were greeted with a fantastic brekkie spread. I had emailed the hotel as I was concerned that they only served breakfast from 08:30 in the morning. My begging email stated that we wanted to leave around 07:45 and asked could they arrange a small continental breakfast for us. They duly agreed and this is what greeted us in the morning at 07:00: a brilliant breakfast and outstanding service, which set us up nicely for the return trip home.

We cycled along a gravel path through the Forest of Dean, followed by a bit of up and down towards Mitcheldean and skirting Malvern again but with no major 20%-plus hills. It was then a lovely ride through Worcester on the canal paths in beautiful weather.

The Beacon tours are quickly becoming a must-do and anyone thinking of joining us should take the plunge. We usually stay in YHAs but this time it was a hotel, on what turned out to be a brilliant two-day tour.

Enjoyed this post? Check out our previous report by Alan Weaver, about a tour through northern Spain.