Wetherspoons gets a bad rap in many quarters, tending to attract the “wrong” sort of person but you’ll be pressed to find anywhere that sells food and drink so cheaply. They own the Royal Hop Pole Inn in Tewkesbury, a town famous for its medieval and Tudor buildings, and this is a beauty. The inside has been extensively refurbished but retains a number of interconnecting rooms for eating and drinking. Upstairs on two further floors are bedrooms and I was allocated a single room on the first floor. Getting my bike up some steep stairs and through five fire doors with vicious springs was no easy task but once inside I found a space for it and was left enough room to swing a cat. The washing was done and I hung it in the wardrobe and leaving the door open pointed the fan at it and left it going whilst I went down for some food. The simplest way of getting food is to order by the App and I did so. As if by magic a pint of Greene king IPA appeared followed quickly by some chicken nuggets with a dipping sauce and haddock and chips with mushy peas. I went back online to order apple crumble and custard and another pint. All was delivered speedily and with good grace and charged to my credit card. It is hard to see how they can sell a pint for £1.59 when most pubs will be charging at least double that, but I suppose the turnover of the Group is huge and they can buy cheaply. Food is about two thirds of the cost of other pubcos.
I stayed at my table making some notes for the blog and people watched. A middle aged couple walked in with masks on. She opened her bag and took out disinfectant wipes to thoroughly clean the table. When the food arrived they un-masked, ate, re-masked and departed. A couple of lairy 40-ish chavs came in shouting and cussing, upsetting the family across the way and I thought it time to go upstairs and do some writing. On the way to my room is a medieval hall, believed to date back to 1380 that has been conserved
and the ceiling above my bed was ornate
Some of the bedrooms contain medieval wall paintings and JDW have done a good job retaining the character of the building which also gets a mention by Dickens in the Pickwick Papers.
Breakfast was available from 7am even on a Bank Holiday Sunday and I was one of a handful of people there at 8. I had scrambled eggs on toast and a couple of sausages, a bottomless mug of tea and a pint of orange juice for just under £7, all very good. I was packed up and struggled to get the bike and kit downstairs by 0930. It was a bit early for most people and I left the town on an empty A38 which I intended to follow all the way to Berkeley. As much of the traffic heading north to south and vice versa now goes on the M5, the A38 is little used. It is wide and has bike lanes marked on the road for much of the way between Tewkesbury and Bristol, so makes for very easy cycling.
It goes up and down a bit but not exhaustingly, so I made very good time to Gloucester where I passed Kingsholm, home of Gloucester rugby
and went right through the city centre, along pedestrianised Deansgate and Eastgate and out the other side.
I started to meet a bit more traffic but most of that disappeared towards the motorway. I passed a very well attended Sunday morning Gymkhana in the middle of nowhere
until 25 miles into the journey I branched off into Berkeley and, as I struggled up the hill into the town the motor/gearbox of the bike was making horrible noises and basically packed up and I had to continue under my own steam. Fortunately I have seen this coming for the last few days and had arranged for Rob to deliver my Specialized pedelec bike to the Hotel in Yatton where I am staying tonight. Even more fortuitously Tom, who I had arranged to meet for lunch in Thornbury about 6 miles up the road had been in Somerset the previous night and offered to bring the bike with him. So it was that we met at the Anchor Inn at about 1245 and made the swap before sitting down to a very nice Sunday roast. Tom went back to his home in South Bristol with the Boardman bike and various other bits of clothing and stuff that I will not need for the last few days and I carried on down to the Severn estuary on the Specialized Vado E, past a massive incinerator
looking back at the old Severn bridge that I crossed and recrossed on my Welsh trip last year, and along the coast to Avonmouth where I crossed the river on the same bridge as the motorway but on a wide cycle track completely separated from the roadway.
From there it was cycle paths and back roads through Portbury and the outskirts of Clevedon to my hotel just north of Yatton. It’s been an easy day of cycling helped by a nice lunch with my son and, for the last 20 or so miles, a bike that works. I’m staying in a Green King Inn, the room’s on the ground floor and the bike is with me. Perfect.