Eleven riders (Hilary, Roger, Dave, Carol, Sue and Paul, Brian and Helen, Nick and Marion) headed West on the Bank Holiday Weekend. Our base was the Rising Sun Pub in Middlemarsh a very popular local watering hole, which is midway between Sherbourne and Dorchester. We were joined by Paul G, who came up from his Dorset cottage.
Saturday turned out to be a lovely day after a dull morning. We headed out to Yetminster, which is a very pretty village with stone cottages, for coffee at the On the Boil Café and Gallery. Then South via Rhyme Intrinseca on the NCR 26, which became a track through farmland as it crossed the Dorset Downs where we had our only puncture of the weekend. Eventually we picked up the Frome valley and a quiet Roman road, which led us into Dorchester where we arrived at the old Castle, the scene of hangings in Hardy’s time. After a café lunch we headed back North along the Piddle valley passing signs to Tolpuddle the scene for an agricultural workers revolt.
Sunday was a bit cooler and we headed North to Sturminster Newton where we visited the old water mill which is celebrating its millennium this year. We had a coffee and cake in a local pub and then headed for Blandford Foum along the Trailway, which is an old railway track encountering a marathon running event for the first mile. Beaton’s Tea Shop was our posh lunch stop in Blandford Forum. We a passed over the Stour near Bryanston Private School and headed up onto the Downs, where we were rewarded with fine views North. The climbing was overcome by the promise of tea and cake at the Hambro Arms in Milton Abbas. This is a very pretty village with two rows of thatched cottages built by the local aristocrat in Milton Abbey. A cricket match was in progress on the playing field in front of the Abbey and house, which is now a private school. We almost made a detour to pass through Folly and Plush, not to mention Piddletrenthide, but headed for Mappowder instead (what is the origin of these amazing Dorset names?!)
Monday’s forecast was not good for the afternoon so six of us headed North West to the National Trust’s Tudor Montacute House for coffee. The house was built on the edge of a very picturesque village and was the setting for Greenwich Palace in the TV production of Wolf Hall.
We all agreed the weekend was great fun and are planning next year’s venue already.