Talking Japanese in Herefordshire

For 10 years , a Japanese Professor of Green Tourism at Tokyo University & his party have been visiting Herefordshire B&B Lowe Farm run by Juliet Williams twice a year.

Juliet Williams, Lowe Farm B&B, Herefordshire

Juliet Williams, Lowe Farm B&B, Herefordshire

He wanted to demonstrate to Japan how a woman in farming was supporting farm diversity and actioning green tourism to a high standard.  Following that visit, Juliet was hosted for a series of five symposiums across Japan where she spoke on the benefits and intricacies of creating a rural business to 800 people in south Japan, 500 at Tokyo University, 600 in north Japan and back to Toyko and a further 500 delegates, attracting much media attention along the way,  Juliet’s talk topics included discussion on DEFRA grants, Business training, Green Tourism, Farmstay B&Bs and farm diversification.

Japanese delegates & Herefordshire rural businesses

Japanese delegates & Herefordshire rural businesses

Its quite an amazing story & we know that Juliet is committed to an excellent service – because she has looked after some of our cycling holiday customers too.  At a celebration meal to celebrate the 10 year anniversary we met up over japanese & local food (sushi & hereford beef & strawberries!) to learn more about Japanese culture.  As well as a cooking demonstration, origami, Japanese folk songs and much pantomime in trying to communicate without a common language we had a great time.  

Wheely Wonderful Cycling learning how to cook sushi

Wheely Wonderful Cycling learning how to cook sushi

The tsunami might have receded in our memory – but its very much at the front of this group’s thoughts – they were selling crafts to help raise funds for tsunami homeless, their ideas about green tourism were aimed at encouraging Japanese rural youth to stay & run businesses rather than move to the city.

It made me immediately go & find out about cycling in Japan & once again, my image of urban Japan, was shattered… Here are 7 reasons to Cycle in Japan (from the podium cafe) – all of which surprised me….

Cycling culture -“Think cycling culture and I think of the Netherlands or Denmark. Countries where the bike is a deeply engrained in day-to-day life to go to the shops, to go to work, to get around. Japan is pretty similar. Almost anywhere you go you’ll find kids, workers and grannies tottering around on bikes as part of their everyday life. Not in the ordered way of northern Europe. Cyclists ride without helmets or lights.” 

The convenience  -“Everywhere you go in Japan you will see vending machines and convenience stores. Some might view these as blots on the landscape but for cyclists they are life-savers”

Japanese cycling

Japanese cycling

Hot Springs -Japan is a volcanic place. Alongside the molten rock, hot springs burst out of the ground across the country. The Japanese like nothing more than bathing in these onsen so across the country you’ll find bathhouses and hotels where you can soak and relax

The Scenery -Mountains, rugged coastlines and cherry blossoms. Japan has an awfully large amount of natural beauty. Doing a ride like my fourth day over the shoulders of Fuji-san was as spectacular as any day I’ve ridden in the Alps or Pyrenees

The Food -“A cyclist rides on his stomach”. Or something like that. A cyclist can also stuff himself silly in the knowledge he’ll burn the calories – this is one of the pleasures of riding. In Japan it is particularly amazing as the food is outstanding.

The roads -“From 1991 to 2000 (and arguably longer) Japan plunged into a lost decade of economic output. Spurred on by the construction lobby the country undertook a vast programme of public works in an attempt to rekindle growth. Some of this was deeply harmful such as the canalisation of rivers and the billions spent on pointless coastal defence schemes. But it has also left a network of brilliant roads criss-crossing the country.

The trains – “Jump on a train to the countryside ride to another station and cruise home. If only it were so simple in the UK…”  to see the whole article

So Herefordshire cycling is missing out on a few of these (the trains, convenience, hot springs, cycle routes). But like Japan, Herefordshire excels at the Food & Scenery (we also have cherry orchards & blossom)…So what is it that draws the Japanese to Herefordshire? – It is the farming community, the hospitality and the architecture… come on our Black & White Villages Cycle Tour and find out for yourself.  

Black & White villages cycle tour

Black & White villages cycle tour

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Make the most of the Indian Summer

The forecast is still looking good for the next week or so…so here are a few events & reasons to come & hire a bike & explore the wonderfully quiet lanes around our area.

Ludlow Food Festival is on this weekend – 12 to 14th September – The oldest, biggest & best UK Food Festival.  Try the sausage trail…. as a reward for cycling from our base to Ludlow.Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 16.50.43

H.art – Herefordshire & borders open art studios – open this weekend – until the 14th.  Cycle to Brampton Bryan for the exhibition at Aardvark books & the parish hall (visit the Leintwardine studios on the way) or Lingen to the remote Royal George pub and a another grouping of studios.  Lastly, make a day of it & cycle to Kingsland  and Yarpole churches – both have big exhibitions & outstanding architecture.  Finally cycle over the Goggin to Tania Pearson’s Studio

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Or try a Cycling and Canoeing holiday – we still have availability until the end of September

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Autumn Epic

The Autumn Epic is a European-style cyclosportive, starting in Knighton in the Welsh Marches and taking cyclists through the superb scenery of the ancient county of Radnorshire.

Entering its eighth year, the Epic is held on Sunday, October 5 and is an ideal way to round off a cyclist’s season and make great use of summer fitness.

The Autumn Epic cycle challenge

The Autumn Epic cycle challenge

Radnorshire – the central part of the huge county of Powys – offers near perfect cycling territory, with its unspoilt countryside and peaceful roads.

The Autumn Epic route takes riders on a 155km grand tour – or 133km shortcut – from the Welsh Marches and into the start of the Cambrian Mountains.

Wye Valley near Rhayader - cycling holiday with Wheely Wonderful Cycling

Wye Valley near Rhayader – cycling holiday with Wheely Wonderful Cycling

The entire ride takes place on public roads, most of which are very quiet country lanes. The scenery is stunning and offers some of the finest road riding anywhere in the country, but if riders like it flat then they should probably look elsewhere!

Glascwm Hill

Glascwm Hill

The ride climbs from the first mile and highlights include the Elan Valley reservoirs and mountain road, Glascwm and Abbey Cwm Hir climbs. The route does include a few of gentler interludes, which provide riders with the chance to recover and spin their legs before taking on the next upland range.

Élan valley

Élan valley

The Autumn Epic has been ranked the number one UK sportive for two years running by subscribers to http://www.cyclosport.org. For more information about the route and how to register visit http://www.cyclosportives.co.uk/

So where do we come in?  Well if you don’t want to do it on one day…you can spread it over 3 days on our Radnor Ring Challenge or if you have friends who want to support you – but don’t want to do the whole challenge, they could cycle our Country House Explorers Cycle Tour – based around Knighton – they’ll have a bike and easy cycle route – & can cycle to support you at the start & finish of your ride.

 

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The Best Pubs in the world ….(to visit on a cycling holiday) The White Horse Clun

Here’s another pub to visit in the Shropshire borders.  The White Horse in Clun is one of those pubs you always hope to come across.

The White Horse Inn, Clun, welcomes cyclists on our Shropshire Cycling holidays

The White Horse Inn, Clun, welcomes cyclists on our Shropshire Cycling holidays

Real beer, friendly landlord, people to talk to, no sign of this “gastro pub” nonsense…. but the food is good,  Clun is a wonderful place to stay…and you can cycle & stay on many of our cycling holidays.  If you are really keen on your beer, then cycle our Kerry Ridgeway Cycle Tour (you get to stay at Bishops Castle too, and drink at the Three Tuns), and time it to co incide with the Bishops Castle Real Ale Festival on 11-12 July or the Clun Valley Beer Festival on 3-5 October.

One of the oldest Breweries in the country.  The Three Tuns Brewery can be visited on our Kerry Ridgeway Cycling Holiday

One of the oldest Breweries in the country. The Three Tuns Brewery can be visited on our Kerry Ridgeway Cycling Holiday

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The Best Pubs in the world…(to visit on a cycling holiday) -The Sun Inn, Leintwardine

This is a pub like no other.  Its a Parlour pub.  Which means that you walk into the land lady’s living room and are served your beer there….The beer is brought in from the kitchen.  No beer taps, no modern pub trappings at all.

The Sun Inn, Leintwardine - visit it on any of our Shropshire cycling holidays

The Sun Inn, Leintwardine – visit it on any of our Shropshire cycling holidays

And this is how it stayed until the landlady, Flossie’s death at 97yrs a few years ago.  The pub was taken over by Gary, a neighbour, who had been helping Flossie for a number of years and Nick, who owns the local Hobson’s Brewery.  They’ve done a fantastic job of preserving the parlour, adding an eco friendly bar in the garden and providing a brilliant place to socialise for the village & visitors.  The beer is great – there is no pretentious food – just pork pies from the village  butcher, or fish & chips from the chippie next door.  Try it out on any of our Shropshire Cycle Tours.

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Cycling Challenges – New short break cycling holidays

We’ve been getting a lot more requests for longer cycle rides on our cycling holidays….which we put down on the Bradley Wiggins and Tour de France effect.    So we designed some routes specifically for these customer requests (many thanks to Bob & friends).  The routes have now been tested and enjoyed…

We now have three short break cycle tours  – featuring rides of about 50 miles per day, with your luggage moved and great places to stay each night.

“At the end of a gruelling day’s cycling, the lovely hotels and guesthouses were a very welcome sight. The Radnorshire Arms was our favourite.”

With only 74 days to go, before the Grand Depart in Yorkshire, there is still time to get in the mood and take a cycling challenge, so you too can experience what the Peleton is going through. Shropshire Cycling Challenge

Shropshire Cycling Challenge - 3 day tour over the Shropshire hills to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ironbridge

Shropshire Cycling Challenge – 3 day tour over the Shropshire hills to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ironbridge

Wye Valley  & Welsh Borders Cycling Challenge

Radnor Ring Cycling Challenge

Wye Valley near Rhayader - cycling holiday with Wheely Wonderful Cycling

Radnor Ring  Cycling Challenge - 4 day cycling holiday

And if you would like a longer tour, try our Brecon Beacons cycle tour or Lon Las Cymru cycling holiday.   We are always happy to adjust the mileages to suit you….we’re just waiting for someone to say they want to ride as far as the the daily Tour de France average (110 mpd).

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Checking the routes for our cycling holidays

We are often asked … Do you cycle all the routes featured on your cycling holidays?  The answer is yes (and a lot more besides).  The only problem is that we usually have to do this is the “off season”…not in the summer…  We also have to keep reviewing the routes to make sure that our route notes are up to date.

Here’s a few photos of us testing out routes last spring.  We were working on two tours; The Welsh Border Cycle Tour 

Cycling in the Clun Hills above Knighton

Cycling in the Clun Hills above Knighton

Clun Hills above Knighton

Not choosing a cycle route

Church at Bucknell

Church at Bucknell, pub round the next corner

and The Stagg and the Georgian Vicarage

Bridge at Titley

Lovely cycle route – but this was a dead end – no good for cycling holidays

Cycling signpost above Lingen

Making sure that the route descriptions are clear

Everywhere we cycle round this area is beautiful…. the trick to a good cycling holiday route is making sure that; the gradients are not off putting;  inns & teashops are at regular intervals; there is lots of interest on the routes and most of all its fun.  Have a look at our cycling holidays.

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New Prices for Children and Teenagers on our Cycling holidays

New children’s prices – now available for teenagers up to 16 years

We’ve had a bit of a review of our prices this year to accommodate older teens at a better price, and in doing so, it meant our prices for prices for children up to 12 years became even greater value too.

Child & teenager prices are based on sharing a family room or family suite with two adults.  If you prefer, older children can be accommodated in their own room throughout the holiday at a small extra cost – ask for details.

Children & teenagers can cycle any of our holidays… but if you want some advice, remember you can always ring us on 01568 770755

Our easiest tours…which are suitable for younger Families are the Family Farmhouse tours…try our  Six day Farmhouse Cycle Tour for a real cycling adventure – with lots to do en route.

Family Farmhouse Shropshire

Farmhouse Cycling Holiday in Shropshire

Teenagers, prefer our Cycling and Canoeing holidays and longer tours like The Welsh National Cycle Route and The Radnor Ring Challenge.

Cycling holidays in the Elan Valley

Cycling in the Elan Valley on the Welsh National Cycle Route

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New cycling holiday for food lovers

Leisure cycling  (about 5 miles an hour) burns about 300 extra calories an hour.  So you can afford to treat ourself on our new cycling holiday – The Stagg Inn and the Georgian Vicarage.  You cycle about 20-30 miles a day, and stay overnight at The Stagg, the Uk’s first Michelin starred pub.

This is where you stay…having worked up a great appetite to sample The Stagg’s wonderful food.

The Stagg Inn and the Georgian Vicarage. Three days great cycling around Herefordshire and the Wye valley, whilst staying at the most beautiful Georgian vicarage & dining at the Michelin starred Stagg Inn. bliss.

The Stagg Inn and the Georgian Vicarage. Three days great cycling around Herefordshire and the Wye valley, whilst staying at the most beautiful Georgian vicarage & dining at the Michelin starred Stagg Inn. bliss.

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The Best Tearooms in England and Wales….visit them all on our cycling holidays

Tea & Cake (and food in general) can make or break a cycle ride.  Get the right amount of food at the right time and any ride seems absolutely perfect, mess it up and forget to eat, and you’ll never want to get back on a bike again.

Farmhouse Teas on Black and White Villages Cycle Tour

Farmhouse Teas on Black and White Villages Cycle Tour

We spend a lot of our time telling our cycling holiday customers where to find the best places to eat – so here are our favourite tearooms

The Green Cafe in Ludlow

next to the River Teme & Dinham Bridge.  their buttermilk scones with greengage jam are brilliant, and the kids love the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.  On our Ludlow Country Estates Cycle Tour.

Rocke Cottage Tearoom, Clungunford.   A 30s style tearoom.  On our Quietest Cycle Tour under the Sun.

The Garden Tearoom, Kingsland.   Roaring fire and great cooking, with views of the village church…how English is that? On our Black and White Villages cycle tour.

Erwood Station, near Hay on Wye, is always a life saver…it’s on one of our longer tours.  The Wye Valley Cycle Tour.  Over the hill, through fabulous mountain scenery to this disused train station, for a welcome tea and cake.

Tea on the wye valley cycle tour

Tea on the wye valley cycle tour

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