The second day of our cycling trip was always going to be our longest day of cycling, but in truth we didn't know exactly how many miles we expected to cover. We were starting part-way along our planned route which would also take us into Newark on Trent rather than to our Farm Stay, which we knew was on the outskirts. We guestimated that this could be anywhere between thirty and anything more miles!
We had supplies though - remember that pie we bought in Melton Mowbray - and I'd commissioned MOH to make a flask of tea using the in-room tea and coffee making facilities. That it seemed gave him some trouble, when he dropped the spoon into the flask so cue lots of comedy moments and not much help from me!
We paused for a last look at Scalford Hall as we cycled down the sweeping gravel drive, this time with fresh legs and it was no easier to be honest. It's a lovely looking place and the staff here couldn't do enough for us, and they all seemed to know we'd arrived by bike!
The hotel is set in eight acres of landscaped gardens and they bill themselves as providing "a refreshing change from contemporary venues" and it certainly had more character (in a good way) than some of the modern and purpose-built hotels we've stayed in.
It was built around 1900 as a weekend hunting lodge by Major Mann Thompson, a close friend of Edward VIII and it's rumoured that the King would regularly visit with Mrs Simpson and it's where they conducted a large part of their scandalous courtship. The soon to abdicate King gave Major Thompson and ornate fireplace as a gift which still remains at Scalford Hall.
Later in 1944, Colonel Colman who sounds like a character straight of the Cluedo board, but is in fact a member of the family behind the famous mustard of the same name, bought the hall and lived here until his death in the late 1960s.
So quite a place.
We cycle back along the way we'd come yesterday and much to our delight we cycled back past the sheep, who were once again pleased to see us. This time we stopped and took some photos, this one is still making me smile as it's as if they're posing but in all probability they're just wondering where the food is.
How can those faces not make you smile?
On the other side of us the horse wandered over, again no doubt to check out the food situation - and all of them were disappointed - there was no way I was sharing my pork pie, or treacle tart with these guys. The little pony was braver and got closer to us and proceeded to show us his best side, or so we thought...
Just as I was putting the camera away I looked up and spotted this smile!
And while we could have spent much more time here being amused by these animals, we also had quite a distance to cover so we literally got on our bikes and headed off. There were the pretty villages again and soon we found ourselves back at the lock and the towpath.
Our challenge was to find the disused railway line which would take us onwards to Newark on Trent Thankfully a jogger jogged past above us and we were able to spot where we should be. It was a misty and chilly day and our plan was to find a bench and tuck into our lunch and have a well deserved cup of tea.
The pie was just as good as we hoped it would be, and the restorative tea did it's job too and we were back on our way.
The route was easy to follow - we were on National Cycle Route 64 - until the path was closed. Very closed. No pictures for some reason, I was clearly more concerned about navigating our way past the closed path. We headed off and along our favoured detour only to find ourselves on the edge of some major roadworks. With advice from the banksman we retraced our tracks and onto his suggested route - we realised we weren't far from the town when his directions included a large supermarket, so that was pleasing.
In the end we skirted around the closure and found our way back onto the cycle route and then by chance we were at Barmby Gate where we knew we needed to turn left. Quite vague directions but they worked and we cycled up over the A1, across a level crossing and onto our Farm Stay, where we were able to let ourselves in and have that all important first cup of tea!
Our route in the end was just shy of 35 miles (or 56 km) which is definitely my longest cycle ever (so far!)
Next time: A look around our Farm Stay