Long Weekend to Walsall Illuminations in Birmingham 17th - 20th Oct 2008

Long Weekend to Walsall Illuminations in
Birmingham 17th - 20th Oct 2008

Eight of us, on four bikes caught the 9am Ferry from Yarmouth for the start of our 4 day tip. Bob and Paul had planned a long scenic route up to Walsall, taking in some of the picturesque Cotswold Villages, so we all knew it would be a long way. The scenery as we rode was spectacular, the autumnal colours were breathtaking and the Villages were amazing.

We stopped for coffee at a sunny canalside cafe in Newbury, and then travelled on to visit the White Horse Hill just outside the village of Uffington, where six of us took the half mile walk up (and I mean UP to the top of the White Horse, from which we had a 360 degree view, over miles of countryside. Lunch was enjoyed at the canalside pub in Lechlade, after which we continued to our destination arriving at around 7.00pm, so yes, it was a long day. Unfortunately the hotel was very disappointing (you can never tell looking at a website) enough said!

The next day, Saturday, we did an 80 mile ride, which Paul had mapped out, taking a route found in a 'Scenic Drives' Readers Digest book, which passed through picturesque places such as Shustoke, Tamworth, Ansley, Fillongley, Meridan, Balsall Common, Claverdon, Henley in Arden & Hampton in Arden. We stopped for lunch at Hatton Country World, an enormous shopping complex, near the Grand Union Canal in Warwick and then continued on round our route back to the hotel.

Early evening we set out, on foot, to the Walsall Arboretum - which is a large park with a lake in the middle where the Illuminations and Laser Light Show is held. This fantastic festival of lights is held annually in the early autumn for 6 weeks. The queues had to be seem to be believed but the wait was well worthwhile and emerging from the ground a couple of hours later everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle that had unfolded before them.

On Sunday we set out on a 100 mile scenic ride, going west to Bridgnorth, and then on to Ironbridge where we parked up to have coffee and a stroll over and around the first Iron Bridge ever built. We had a little time to explore the historic town, which was the birth place of the Industrial Revolution which changed the world forever. We continued on our way through the beautiful Shropshire Hills stopping at the canalside town of Bewdley for lunch before joining the A442 to Bridgnorth from which we retraced part of our route back to the hotel.

We were very lucky with the weather for the first 3 days but all was about to change. We had planned a long scenic route home, but the forecast was poor so we opted for a more direct route, which in point of fact was, for the most part, very rural and again passed through some great villages. However, at about the halfway mark the heavens opened, we stopped and found lunch in a pub/restaurant called 'Silks on the Hill' in a small village just outside Marlborough. We then continued on towards Lymington just catching the 4.15 boat.
That was not quite the end of our bad weather ordeal, we were advised to stay with the bikes as the Solent as rough, just as well we did as it turns out! A good trip and a great few days away.