Tour of Britain: stage five

As predicted, the scenery for stage four was lovely, improved by the strategic placement of some cattle.

This group, huddled behind the cars, looked as though they were taking quite an interest in the race until the helicopter spooked them.

I’m tempted to assume that cows lurk behind every piece of roadside shrubbery.

The Tour of Britain continues to provide participants with a Tour of Seasons, too, which I’m sure they are well and truly over by now. As with stage three, the rain cleared for the end of the race and the Sky train pulled the breakaway back with just under 10km to go. With no red flag to mark the final kilometre – the winds earlier in the day prevented it from going up – Steele von Hoff seemed to start his bid for the finish early but Cavendish passed him for his second consecutive stage win and the overall lead. After this stage, none of the other jerseys will change hands.

Stage five starts and finishes in Stoke-on-Trent, taking in three climbs along the 147km loop with the final climb – Gun Hill, at 116.8km – a Cat 1. If a breakaway gets a decent lead, perhaps we will see a few escapees survive to the end, although the course has been designed to accommodate a group finish.

We’ll have to wait for the final two stages for the chance to spot some cattle local to the route, however we might spot some dairy herds today. Scottie explains:

Oatmeal fans, you’re in for a treat. The Stoke-on-Trent stage, in Staffordshire, is a tight little route but one brimming with local delicacies. Staffordshire has its own cheese, with PDO status and Bertelin Staffordshire is an outstanding example. A cheese with a long monastic heritage, it has a smooth, slightly crumbly texture and a creamy, fresh, lactic flavour. Another local delicacy, unique and still a popular lunchtime or post-pub snack in the area is the Staffordshire Oatcake, a pancake-like flatbread of griddled oatmeal batter, eaten soft and warm – not to be confused with it’s Scottish namesake. Enjoy both with Lymestone Brewery’s Stone Brood honey beer, (4.4% abv) a rich, dark beer from honey from the brewery’s own hives and the finest chocolate malt producing velvety chocolate notes giving way to a balanced bittersweet finish!



One thought on “Tour of Britain: stage five

  1. Scottie says:

    Great to see more cows and beautiful countryside today. Expect more of the same as we roll into Wales, a nation with a long-standing tradition for producing delicious cheeses. The earliest varieties resembled the now famous Caerphilly, but were made from goat and sheep’s milks and immersed in brine. Welsh cheeses were once so prized that they were used as part of divorce settlements. Under the laws of Welsh ruler Hywel Dda cheeses that were washed in brine went to the wife, and cheeses that were hung up went to the husband. Later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, cow’s milk became the cheese-making ingredient of choice. Originally produced in today’s finish, Caerphilly has a recipe similar to those for other crumbly cheeses – Cheshire, young Lancashire and Wensleydale. Being close to the great mining towns of South Wales the young cheese was a firm favourite amongst mining communities as its shallow height and tough coat made it easy to eat with dirty hands down the mines whilst its salty, moist curd helped to replace the minerals lost during the hours spent labouring under ground. Its more mature variant – often kept for up to a year – formed its own tough coat and gradually became harder in texture and stronger in taste with age. By the early 20th century, the production of Caerphilly moved to England because the demand for the cheese outgrew its Welsh production. Unfortunately, by the time of WWII, cheese making in Wales had come to a near standstill – many of the small Welsh cheese producers were run out of business by the larger English factories and today Gorwydd is the only local proucer of Caerphilly. Highly recommended, especially with a pint of the nation’s best-selling beer, Brain’s Bitter (3.7%abv), a rich amber coloured ale brewed with locally grown Goldings and Fuggles hops producing a crisp aroma and a subtle flavour of fine pale malt.
    Alternatively, Celtic Promise is modern vegetarian cheese. Creamy, rich and yellow, with a pungent aroma and slightly piquant taste, this surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese has a semi-soft texture and a moist orange-red rind with a dusting of mould. Washed in cider brine during ripening, what better way to wash down this award-winning cheese than with Black Dragon, an oak conditioned, medium dry cider,(6.5 %abv.), made in Pontypridd, just a few km from tomorrow’s finsh by Gwynt Y Ddraig (Welsh for Dragon’s Breath!) “Lechyd da” (Cheers!)

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