With two sizeable groups heading for the National Trust park, a smaller band of brothers (and one sister) set off for Upton-on-Severn. With the scheduled leader not attending, it fell to Captain Stealth to lead the way. With much discretion, we set off North on Worcester and Tewkesbury Roads, opting for the rough road to Sandhurst. The leaders ‘gravel’ bike (ugh) was unperturbed over the multiple holes and missing surfaces – a benefit of big tyres and low psi: a revelation.

A short stretch of A38 for the wiggles to Wainlodes. Over the Severn and towards Forthampton it was generally recognised that the stiff tailwind was most helpful: so it was not the new steed after all. The return could be a different matter.

Leaving the Shire, we took in the wonderful lanes around The Ramplings, encountering several chevals which demanded care and attention. A cunning turn to keep to the southwest of Longdon avoided the stiff climb on the main road. Another surprise turn onto Queen Hill and a gentle wind-assisted climb followed – stealth being our watch-word we were looking to take our destination by surprise.

A full frontal surge into Upton was unexpected, and to complete the trick we took the Worcester road, then a double left to reach the destination from the north – no-one expected that! Bang on 11am and 25 very pleasant miles.

Service at Clive’s Fruit Farm was rapid and we were all done and departing by 11.35am. The group split, with most heading home via Corse Lawn, the leader meandering his merry way to Hollybush, Eggs Tump, Blackwells End* and a well earned pint of fine HPA at the Royal Exchange, Hartpury. And all this with a tail wind – yes, a rare occasion where the wind was always from the rear! If you see what I mean…

*A small diversion on a dead-end lane, just to see what was there, took in Hill House and an interesting sculpture. Just goes to show what can be found if you go looking in the nooks and crannies of our wonderful county.