Today's Weather
Church Stretton
18 January, 2019, 3:45 pm
real feel: -5°C
current pressure: 1010 mb
humidity: 83%
wind speed: 6 m/s SSE
wind gusts: 8 m/s
sunrise: 8:12 am
sunset: 4:31 pm

Plush Hill Cycles

2015 Batch Burner Challenge

The 2015 Batch Burner will take place on Saturday 6th June.

Entries open on Sunday 25th January at 6pm.

Entry form is here:

Established in 2013, The Long Mynd Batch Burner takes place on the first Saturday in June each year. Organised and run by volunteers the Batch Burner promises to be the most fun and friendly Mountain Bike Challenge event that you can enter.

Batch Burner

The Background

Local councils are pulling funds away from small rural primary schools making it harder for them to survive but with the help of the PTA, the local community and a little bike shop with a big heart we are not going to let them win.

So on 11th May 2013 the first Long Mynd Batch Burner challenge mtb event took place on the Long Mynd in Shropshire. Showcasing 48k and 4000ft of the best of the Long Mynd’s trails it left you with sore legs and huge grins.

A collision of circumstance has brought together the PTA of Norbury Primary School (a tiny rural school located behind the Mynd) with Church Stretton’s local cycle shop Plush Hill Cycles to organise the event. Also building on the work of the local mountain bike community and the major land owner National Trust everything has come together to offer what promises to be a well organised and relaxed event taking in all of the best singletrack in the area.

The event will be a mass start challenge event, so no racing, it’s all about having fun and raising funds for Norbury Primary School (all profits will go to the School). Places are limited to 350 riders in 2014 to minimise the impact on the natural trails and avoid singletrack bottle necks. Your entry fee will include the usual race support and on arrival back at base live music and a barbeque plus a Batch Burner goodie bag. There will be a bar and plenty of cake too.

Pole Bank Trail Re-Surfacing

This week we have had mountain bikers, both local and from further afield complain about how they (in this instance “they” are National Trust and Shropshire Council working in partnership) have surfaced the track from Pole Cottage to Pole Bank and down to the Medlicott junction therefore ruining it for mountain bikers. Having ridden the freshly surfaced track I happen to agree, as a keen mountain biker the trail now lacks any real challenge, sanitized of its natural features, a real shame.

However, we need to get some perspective on the matter. Firstly the Long Mynd is not actually exclusively a Mountain Bike centre, we (as Mountain Bikers) are only a small party of users, and many different people use the hill for recreation and a place of work. So why bother re-surfacing? The path is a public right of way and is a bridlepath. The surface was not conducive to horse’s feet with large loose stones. The main issue is that the path is getting wider over time as users move into the heather in order to avoid stones. We have seen this before in the 1990s when two or three paths become opened up and what was once a beautiful looking hillside looks scarred and damaged. The new wider, smoother path will now also allow access to Pole Bank for less active and less able users.

If making a mile of Long Mynd trail less interesting for some Mountain Bikers means that Pole Bank is accessible to wheelchair users and families then what’s the problem? As a consequence of this work potentially more people will be able to enjoy the view from Pole Bank and more people have an introduction to the great outdoors and might be inspired to get into Mountain Biking.

Re-Surfacing Work at Pole Bank, April 2014

Re-Surfacing Work at Pole Bank, April 2014

The management of Long Mynd is nothing new, many a trail has been surfaced and maintained to improve access and manage erosion. Many people comment on the natural beauty of the area, however it’s no longer natural, if it was not for the bracken burning and the grazing the beautiful heather would disappear, all the bridleways we ride are manmade, evolved from drovers roads and used for access for many years.

These trails and countryside need to be managed for all users, both people that work the land, and recreational users. It’s a job that requires finding a balance between conservation and development work like this. It’s a job that we appreciate as on the whole we benefit from the work. It’s also a job that we are glad we don’t have to do because you can’t please all of the people all of the time, we just hope that they are considerate and appreciate the common goal.

2014 Batch Burner

Batch Burner 2014 Booking Form

Established in 2013, the Long Mynd Batch Burner is returning in 2014! The event will take place on Saturday 7th June, 2014.

Organised and run by volunteers the Batch Burner promises to be the most fun and friendly Mountain Bike challenge event that you can enter.

On 11th May 2013 the first Long Mynd Batch Burner challenge mtb event took place on the Long Mynd in Shropshire, to raise funds for Norbury Primary School in South Shropshire. It encompassed 48 kilometres and 4000ft of the best of the Long Mynd’s trails and left the riders with tired legs and huge grins.

The event is organised by the PTA of Norbury Primary School (a tiny rural school located behind the Long Mynd) together with Church Stretton’s local cycle shop Plush Hill Cycles. Building on the work already accomplished by the local mountain bike community and the major land owner the National Trust, everything has come together to offer what promises to be a well organised and relaxed event, taking in all of the best singletrack in the area.

The event will be a mass start challenge event, so it is not a race; it’s all about having fun and raising funds for Norbury Primary School (all profits will go to the School). Places are limited to 350 riders in 2014 to minimise the impact on the natural trails and avoid singletrack bottle necks. Your entry fee will include the usual race support and on arrival back at base live music and a barbeque plus a Batch Burner goodie bag. There will be a bar and plenty of cake too.

2013 Batch Burner start

Last Year’s Batch Burner Start

Batch Burner 2014 Booking Form

Sponsored by:

national_trust_logo1  logovw_logo


2013 Batch Burner Review

The day started early, for a Saturday. I awoke at 7am and wandered downstairs to make a cup of tea. I had slept badly, probably due to the anticipation of the day ahead. I drank my tea and made some toast for breakfast, wondering if I should be having toast before such an event. The weather looked rather changeable. It was dry but cloudy and the forecast was saying that there could be some heavy showers.

After double checking that I had everything I was likely to need, I loaded my bike onto the car and set off to pick up my friend from his house. We added his bike to the bike rack and drove to Norbury Village Hall, which was to be the starting place for the 2013 Long Mynd Batch Burner. After a bit of a detour down some country lanes we arrived at the venue. With still nearly an hour to go before the start, there were already over 100 riders present.

The venue had been professionally set up, with ample car parking in an adjacent field and the registration area in the village hall itself. Outside the hall there were marquees, sponsors’ stands, a refreshment stall and a stage for the afternoon’s entertainment.

Team Bike Stretton!

Team Bike Stretton!

After registering we applied our official numbers to our bikes and found our friends who were also taking part in the event.

At 10:00am we all made out way over to the starting point and listened to some final instructions and guidelines. After a countdown by the children of Norbury Primary School, we were off, on the first leg of a gruelling 30 mile trek up and down the Shropshire Hills.

With a group start of over 200 riders, it was a case of making sure you didn’t crash into one another at the beginning. Some riders got away and were setting a very fast pace. Those of us that have cycled these hills every week smiled wryly, knowing that it was more important to pace oneself for the duration.

Start of the 2013 Batch Burner

Start of the 2013 Batch Burner

After three miles of country road followed by a farmer’s track we arrived at the first of four climbs, a long steep rocky track which took us from the west side of the Long Mynd to Pole Cottage. The mile long climb was around 800ft and lasted for around 20 minutes, but it was tough and some people found it too much and had decided to walk it. I got into a rhythm and although my legs were burning I forced myself to keep going, despite the rocks trying their hardest to disrupt me. This is what I had trained for and I knew I could do this section.

The First Climb to Pole Cottage

The First Climb to Pole Cottage

As we were climbing, the sun came out and I quickly felt over dressed. Finally the end of the climb was in sight and we arrived at Pole Cottage to be greeted by a team of marshals who shouted encouragement at us for completing the section. We decided to regroup and wait for all of our group to arrive there and I was able to jettison one of my layers to one of the marshal’s vehicles.

Pole Bank

The highest point on the Long Mynd


Next followed a short climb to Pole Bank, the highest point on the Long Mynd and the fourth highest point in Shropshire. That meant that there had to be a downhill section to follow and indeed there was. We accelerated down the trail to Shooting Box and then along towards the Port Way. This was fast dry trail and we were soon at the Batch Valley section of the event, specifically Jonathan’s Hollow, a section that had been granted special access for the day by the National Trust.


Jonathan’s Hollow is a narrow trail, which is technical in places. It involved a hairpin turn on a steep slope, at the start and a marshal was warning us of the sharp left turn. Just after this was a tricky rocky section which had been made even trickier by the previous days’ rain. It was here that I had my only mishap of the day, when my front wheel decided to stop dead whilst I carried on over the handle bars. Fortunately I didn’t sustain anything more than bruised knees and a bruised ego. I was soon back on my bike and continued down the windy track to the bottom of Batch Valley.

Next followed a windy singletrack section, climbing up over Novers Hill and down to the back of the Water Factory. Then we crossed the golf course and descended into Cardingmill Valley.

None of us was looking forward to the next part of the route. The climb to the top of Motts Road was extremely difficult at the best of times. There are parts of it that none of us have ever cycled, due to the rocky terrain and the gradient of the track. The wind had increased significantly and this had made it even more difficult. I was happy to walk this part, although even this wasn’t easy fighting against the wind.

Once at the top of Motts Road, we followed the trail back down to Pole Cottage where we had our official food station stop. Much needed nourishment was taken on board in the form of flapjacks, jelly babies and bananas. By this time the wind was bitterly cold and rain was definitely in the air.

Batch Burner Food Station

Official Food Station – Photo by Richard Harley

After our brief refreshment break we set off down Callow Descent towards Little Stretton. A group of us had completed some trail maintenance on this section a week prior to the event. This had made the track much faster, by getting rid of the surface water and ruts that spoiled this particular trail. This section has to be one of the most picturesque parts of the Long Mynd and it is always difficult to keep ones eyes on the trail because of the wonderful view.

Batch Burner Callow Descent

Callow Descent down to Little Stretton – Photo by Gerwaine Draper

At Little Stretton we joined the road for a mile or so of tarmac finishing in a steep climb up to the top of Minton Hill. After a quick regroup, we headed up through the gate and began the climb of Packetstone Hill. The first part of this was not cyclable. I would describe it as resembling a bomb crater, so a dismount was necessary for the first part. Once past this initial section we climbed back on and began the ascent of this steep hill. Whilst I was climbing this section, it dawned on me that we were well over half way and the reminder of the route was relatively straight forward. After all it was over an area that was very familiar to those of us that regularly cycle the Long Mynd.

Batch Burner - Minton Hill

Minton Hill – photo by Gerwaine Draper

Twenty minutes later we reached the top of Packetstone. We decided to regroup again. However at that moment we were engulfed by a squalling shower of rain and hail, made worse by the bitterly cold wind. We therefore decide to wait until we got to the bottom of the next decent before regrouping. We then followed a mile or so of windy singletrack across Yapsel Bank to the top of the infamous Minton Batch. Here stood a marshal warning us of the tricky nature of this part of the course.

Minton Batch is a rocky, uneven, twisting trail that requires undivided attention right from the word go. With the exception of a small wooden bridge that crosses some boggy ground it is an entirely natural descent. In places you really have to have your wits about you, as one mistake could see you tumbling down the bank into the stream that runs adjacent to the trail.

It’s always a relief to complete Minton Batch unscathed and as I tend to take things quite slowly descent wise, I found the rest of my group waiting for me at the bottom.

After a quick drink we continued along the narrow country lane towards Hamperley and then up to Priors Holt. There we picked up the forest trail, which is a mile long stoney ascent towards the West Midlands Gliding Club. Whilst not particularly steep, this section always seems to take longer than it should do. However we knew that this was the last climb for the day and once at the top, it was literally all down hill to the finish.

Batch Burner - Forest Trail

Looking back down the Forest Trail

Another regroup at the top of the forestry and then we set off down towards “Trail 2”, which is a narrow zig-zag descent with several hairpin turns in it. This is a fun track although full concentration is needed down here or it is possible to get carried away and have a nasty spill. At the bottom of this section a kind marshal gave us some encouragement and told us that there were only three miles to go.

These three miles were a mixture of narrow road and unmade farmers tracks. Just when we though we’d had the worst of the weather, the heavens opened, while we were crossing an exposed area of farmer’s field. The wind drove the cold rain into our faces stinging like hail stones. It didn’t matter. We were nearly home, after 4 hours, 30 miles and 4000 feet of tough biking.

When we turned into Village Hall grounds we were met with applause and cheers from parents and children. I felt a great sense of achievement having completed what was probably physically the hardest thing I had ever done.

Batch Burner - Bike Wash

Norbury School pupils provided the bike wash!

After checking in, we were given a “goody” bag each and we tucked into a well deserved hot dog and pint, whilst listening to music from Fight the Bear, whose album was the official album of the 2013 Long Mynd Batch Burner.

The event had been superbly organised by Norbury Primary School, with the route planning by Plush Hill Cycles and a massive thank you must of course go to all those involved in the arranging of the event.

I would definitely recommend that anyone who is interested in mountain biking should enter next year’s event!

2013 Batch Burner Route

The 2013 Batch Burner Route

Wheels 2 Work

New electric bikes for Shropshire Wheels 2 Work and competition to name them

Job seekers in Shropshire have the chance to power over hills and arrive fresh for work, thanks to the purchase of new electric bikes (e-bikes) by Wheels 2 Work, part of leading local charity Shropshire RCC.  The scheme has just purchased seven new e-bikes, including three from Church Stretton’s Plush Hill cycles and are launching a competition to name them.

The e-bikes bought by Wheels 2 Work, will be loaned to those in need of transport to get to work, whether to take up a job offer or because they are at risk of losing their employment due to transport difficulties.  The Raleigh Dover bikes purchased from Plush Hill Cycles, come complete with a lithium battery with a range of about 30 miles and safety gear such as a helmet and high viz vest.  Members of the public are invited to submit names for each bike – with preference given to meaningful or funny names.

Chris Mason is a 29 year old manual worker from Clungunford. He was walking up to 15 miles a day in order to work at the Shropshire Spice Company in Clun. Chris joined the scheme in with November 2012 and has been trialling electric bikes for the scheme. The heavily subsidized loan has enabled him to save money for an e-bike – which he bought last week.

Davina Allen, Development Coordinator for Wheels 2 Work, said: “We work with our clients during their six month e-bike loan, giving them support and guidance they need to save money for their own transport.  Chris has been a fantastic client and I’m so pleased he’s now been able to buy an e-bike of his own.  We were really impressed by the service provided by Plush Hills and the quality of the bikes they provide”.

Since opening Plush Hill Cycles have been supplying quality electric bikes and service to rural commuters that demand reliability in all conditions. As a mountain and electric bike hire centre they have been promoting environmentally friendly pedal powered transport to local customers.  Plush Hill Cycles says: “We are delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile initiative that can literally change the lives of people living out in rural areas seeking independence and employment”.

Wheels 2 Work came up with the innovative idea to name their new bikes after struggling to see and remember long serial numbers.  Entrants should suggest a name and explain why it has been chosen.  Davina Allen said: “we’re hoping people respond with some good choices: the bikes could be named as a tribute to someone or just to make people laugh”.  Names should be submitted by 15th April to Wheels 2 Work by  telephone on 01743 237885 or on twitter @ShropsW2W.

About Wheels 2 Work

Shropshire Wheels 2 Work, part of Shropshire RCC, helps around 200 people each year get to work by providing transport advice and lending bikes, electric bikes and mopeds. The scheme was given a ‘Big Society Award’ by the Cabinet Office in February 2013.  To find out more about the scheme visit  or telephone 01743 237885.

Shropshire RCC is a leading local charity working with groups and individuals to improve quality of life and to strengthen communities in a rural county.

Plush Hill Cycles

Plush Hill Cycles is Church Stretton’s local bike shop and is very happy to get involved in anything linking the community and cycling from supporting charity events to help training young people in cycle maintenance, and selling, hiring and fixing bikes of course. For more information please visit or telephone 01694 720133.

Wheels 2 Work e-bike

Allen Timbrell from Plush Hill Cycles and Davina Allen from Wheels 2 Work, pictured with Raleigh Dover electric bike.

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