Now it looks as though summer might finally have arrived, what better excuse to get out in the saddle and enjoy the long, sunny days. And, of course, that little bit of extra effort can fully justify a well-deserved stop en route for a refreshing drink and tempting slice of cake. The 15 mile stretch of Route 54 between Burton on Trent and Lichfield is an ideal ride at any time of year and the route is well endowed with welcoming cafes, tearooms and pubs. Here are some of our favourites, riding north to south.
SKINNY KITTEN, 23 Main Street, Barton under Needwood, http://skinnykittencafe.co.uk 01283 711217
Great little cafe right on the route and almost at the half way point between Burton and Lichfield. Quirky and friendly, with delicious sausage sandwiches and cakes, classy coffee and always interesting soundtracks from the musical owners. Very bike friendly with secure racks round the back. Popular with cyclists, particularly on Sunday mornings. Open every day 9-5 (Sunday 10-4).
There are also two attractive pubs in the village main street; the Middle Bell http://www.themiddlebell.co.uk and the Three Horseshoes http://www.3horseshoesbarton.co.uk Both serve excellent meals, welcome cyclists and have space in their gardens for bike storage. The Royal Oak, at the junction of The Green and Dogshead Lane is renowned for its beer.
CRACKPOTZ CERAMIC CAFE, 57 Main Street , Alrewas, http://www.crackpotz.co.uk 01283 792666
An interesting stop, especially if you have the time to hand paint a piece of pottery from their large range of ceramics! Although it can get busy during school holidays, cyclists and non-artists are made very welcome. Tea cakes are particularly tasty. Some space against front wall where bikes can be left relatively safely. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5, plus Mondays during February and October half terms.
THE VILLAGE RAINBOW, 136 Main Street, Alrewas, http://www.thevillagerainbow.com 01283 791373
A welcome new addition to the village is this original shop, selling design-led gifts, jewellery and fair trade products. It also contains a small tea room. Untested, as yet, by the local Volunteer Rangers, it’s on our ‘to-do’ list for the summer. Open Monday-Saturday 9.45-5.30 and 10-4 on Sundays.
THE GEORGE and DRAGON, 120 Main Street, Alrewas, http://www.georgeanddragonalrewas.co.uk 01283 791476
This historic building boasts one of the rare CTC Winged Wheel Plaques just above the front door. Landlord Graham welcomes all cyclists and you will be served with a good coffee any day from 11am, as well as the usual range of food and drink.
KINGFISHER CAFE, Fradley Junction,, Alrewas http://www.kingfisherholidaypark.com 01283 790407
A short detour from the route will bring you to the picturesque Fradley Junction, where the Trent and Mersey and Coventry Canals merge. The Kingfisher Cafe is just past the pub and actively welcomes cyclists, with racks outside the front. Tea cakes are also good here too; there’s WiFi and the cafe encompasses a small shop selling basics. Open 10-5 weekends between November to February (same times everyday March to October).
CANALSIDE CAFE, Fradley Junction, Alrewas 01283 792508
You’re certainly spoilt for choice at Fradley Junction, with another cafe just across the canal. Again, there is plenty of space for cycles around the cafe. Full English breakfasts are rated highly here. Opening hours are 10-3.30 daily.
CHAPTERS RESTAURANT AND COFFEE SHOP, 19A The Close, Lichfield http://www.lichfield-cathedral.org/Visiting-Lichfield-Cathedral/chapters-restaurant.html 01543 306100
And with Route 54 passing right by Lichfield Cathedral, where better to admire this magnificent 12th century Gothic edifice than from the unique 13th century walled garden of the Chapters Restaurant in the Cathedral Close? There’s plenty of room inside too when the weather is inclement and Chapters always extends a warm welcome to cyclists, including Sustran’s local Volunteer Rangers for their monthly meetings. Open 9-4 (winter) 9-5 (summer) Monday to Saturday and 10-4 Sundays.