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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Friday, 15 February 2019

14th February 2019: Little Bollington (mod)

I arrived first at Delamere but was soon joined by droves of Easy Riders on what promised to be the best day of 2019 so far as weather was concerned.  The early cold mist soon cleared to leave a glorious blue sky and sunny 13C all day.  It was my first CER ride for 6 months, so it was good to catch up with the gossip and see Steve T back in the saddle. (More of him later)  Steve H kindly offered to lead a ride from his Garmin to Little Bollington, which I notice was visited as recently as last August.  It must be good I thought, not having been there.  Our route out took Dave H, George, Andy, Keith, Steve H, Steve T and me out via Acton Bridge, Arley Hall, Knutsford to Tatton Park.  The good weather had brought out trippers in their droves.  Soon after we passed the Bridgewater Canal, which I was surprised to read is still privately owned with its own website.  Two articles made reference to it NOT being the oldest canal in England, but both left me dangling to know which one was.


Photos by Macca
Our destination for lunch was “The Swan with two Nicks,” NOT necks as I heard. It’s in Park Lane, WA14 4TJ 0161 928 2914.  On its website homepage, it shows a photo of ITV’s free advertising for the current drama “Cold Feet” with Pete on a bike ride.  Though busy with diners, we were soon served an ample sufficiency for £7-8.


Our return took us first via Lymn, then through the disused WW ll RAF Stretton, originally built to protect both Liverpool and Manchester from enemy aircraft.  It ended the War as a R N A S, supplying carriers with anti-submarine aircraft.  Cycling onwards through Whitley, Little Leigh and Acton Bridge, Tanny deservedly won KoM.  We dropped various riders off, leaving just Steve H and me to return to the Station cafe.  The least I could do after this enjoyable ride was buy him a well deserved coffee, having covered 48 miles at 12.5 mph average.  Thanks Steve

See route map and/or gpx file download

Macca

14th February 2019 : Rixton (brisk)

Clive, John W and myself arranged to meet up at the Mickle Trafford end of the Greenway for our cafe start at Delamere station and were joined by Andy B making his way out from Mold. The weather outlook for this Valentine's Day was the prospect of a really warm day but at 09:15 it felt quite chilly. By the time we arrived at the station café at Delamere, we were suitably warmed up.

The brisk riders today were Clive, John W, Nick and myself and a route to Rixton and a pub called the Black Swan was proposed. The only location I have seen another Black Swan is Dawlish town (Devon) but this pub had a good menu and several beers on offer.

Leaving the Moderate riders, we head out back to Hatchmere and Norley via Pytchley Hollow and for the first time met here an opposing car; we got out of the way!! Passing the Tigers Head inn, it is down hill to Acton Bridge and over the Weaver and uphill to Little Leigh. The lanes today are relatively dry and quiet. The low mist has been burnt away and we were enjoying warm sunshine and blueish skies.

From Appleton Thorn, we head down to Grappenhall and follow the Manchester Ship Canal passing an infamous landmark often referred to on road delay bulletins (see photos). 


Thelwall Viaduct on M6 from below

We could have ridden along the Trans Pennine track but today gave this trail a miss. Passing Lymm, we head towards one of the few crossing points on the canal at Warburton Bridge. You normally have to pay a 20p charge for road vehicles, but cycles are free. We have a photo shoot on the bridge before continuing the next few miles to our lunch stop at Rixton.

Warburton to Rixton Toll Bridge over Manchester Ship Canal

The Black Swan is actually in Hollins Green but the pub's website states Rixton, the village nearby. After a decent lunch, we have to return via the toll bridge to Warburton. There is actually a defunct rail crossing a little further along the canal, but due to vandalism and eroding structures, we decided to give this route a miss.

We pass over the Bridgewater canal and to High Legh crossing the busy A50 and on to Great Budworth. When passing the Anderton boat lift, I reflect on this ride that we have ridden over and along side a lot of water today. From Anderton we pass through Winnington before the long drag back up to Norley and Hatchmere crossroads. Clive, John and I say farewell to Nick who was cycling back to Delamere whilst we continue back into Chester

A short ride for a Brisk day out – from the Delamere café to Rixton it is 50 miles, but including our ride out and back home it is 70 miles for me and approx. 76 miles for Clive and John. Some new lanes ventured and a new venue for lunch concludes a glorious spring day out with friends.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos by CA and JW

Friday, 8 February 2019

7th February 2019: Nesscliffe (mod)

Strong winds and heavy rain overnight were forecast to moderate during the day, and so four moderates arrived at the Castle Bistro in Chirk: Dave H, Steve T, George and myself. We debated a route, bearing in mind that a strong westerly wind was still blowing.  Suggestions for The Talbot at Ruyton XI Towns were put on hold after a previous visit found that they were closed for food Thursday lunchtime. (However, having just checked, although closed some lunchtimes, they are now open on Thursdays, and we should plan a visit at another time.)  Instead we settled on The Old Three Pidgeons at Nesscliffe, which I believe we have only visited once before in early 2018.

We started out on a familiar route through Hindford and the Franktons, and then followed a fast and generally smooth route from Hordley to Baschurch. It was then only a few miles through the Ness’s to our destination, though for the first time we were heading into the wind, and the going proved hard.

The Old Three Pidgeons is a free house which has been run by the same family over three generations. It’s a friendly establishment and serves excellent good value food and drink: well worth re-visiting.  The quality of the pub seemed to be matched by the quality of the weather when we came out: blue skies and sunshine, almost spring like.
Photos bt Steve T
Our route back took us north and west through lovely lanes and woodlands to West Felton. The weather for the moment continued fine, through the surface was less forgiving and I picked up a chunk of glass in my rear tyre. That’s the second puncture I have had in a few weeks and having been impressed last time by the use of Keith’s CO2 cylinder, I’d invested in my own and it proved its worth.  We were soon on the road again, through Maesbury Marsh, Oswestry and Weston Rhyn.  Steve T had left us behind as we climbed the hill back into Chirk, so we were surprised not to find him waiting in the café when we arrived. He soon turned up, having diverted to buy sausages – obviously something special.

We had a good ride of 40 miles with the muddiest wettest lanes nearest to Chirk.  We’d had a mix of light rain, sharp showers and welcome sunshine on an enjoyable day.  The sunshine unfortunately wasn’t an early sign of spring as winter storms are forecast for the weekend.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Saturday, 2 February 2019

31st January 2019: Overton (mod)

A little belatedly winter arrived this week.  It had brought with it a fair covering of snow to my little corner of North East Wales.  I was, however keen to get out on my bike if I could.  I had missed the two previous club rides due to other commitments.  I therefore gambled that the loss of a couple of hundred feet from my home to the starting point at the Ice Cream Farm would have resulted in less snow.  My gamble paid off.  As I drove through Waverton the fields were more green than white.

I pulled into the car park followed by Dave H, also, I was pleased to see dressed in his cycling gear.  We were quickly joined by two further members, not in cycling attire, Steve H and Dave M.  Today, just there for the coffee.  As we amiably drank our hot beverages it became apparent that we were not going to be joined by any further members.

A consultation around the table determined that our wisest course was to head south keeping to the low ground of the Cheshire Plain and try to pick a route where there was a good chance that the roads had been treated with salt.  Overton was to be our destination.

Leaving the Ice Cream Farm, turning left and then right at the crossroads, Dave and I retraced our outward journey back to Waverton.  We then turned south, through Saighton, and Churton bypassing Farndon to cross the A534.  We were bowling along at a steady pace on treated roads and warming up nicely.  Through Shocklach and Worthenbury we stuck to the main B 5069 through Bangor on Dee and into Overton.

The White Horse was quite busy on this cold January day.  We both decided we had earned a full meal and ordered accordingly.  The food duly arrived, piping hot and the portions definitely “large”.  We tucked in with a will and our mothers would have been proud of us as we cleared our plates.  Back on the bikes we decided that the sensible plan was to retrace our steps.  We knew all the route was on treated roads and we had not encountered any of the feared black ice on our outward leg.

We arrived back at the Ice Cream Farm just before 4pm.  Fortunately, as the days are now lengthening in full daylight.  Circa 45 miles covered.  My thanks to Dave for his  company.

GW 

Friday, 25 January 2019

24th January 2018 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Six hardy souls showed up at Cleopatra's for today's rides, four moderates and two brisk, with Dave M out for a coffee only. Whilst drinking our coffee, Dave Heath entertained us with his new line in single use, environmentally friendly, recyclable, foot covers viz:- dog-poo bags! Apparently, he cannot find any ‘off the shelf’ foot covers to fit him. I guess we can look forward to reading Dave’s review on their performance in a future blog. 

Ivan and myself were initially the only brisk riders, but our route out to Ellesmere passed by Nick's house who said he may join us if the ice had cleared off the roads, so we headed off to collect Nick. Whilst crossing the Dee, Ivan had a few cross words with drivers of vehicles who had jumped the red light signal and tried to cross the bridge while we were still on it.

15 mins later we collected Nick in Tilston and headed off around Threapwood before heading south into Hamner. The lanes were all in their winter plumage comprising of deep mud and hedge cuttings, all encrusted with patchy ice.  Although we had to be a little wary of the road conditions, the ice was not as big a problem as the previous week's ride.

From Hamner, we went to  Bettisfield and Lyneal and then weaved our way through the lanes around the Meres, south of Ellesmere, to our lunch venue in Ellesmere at The Red Lion. We all selected the pensioner’s special menu, £7.50 for 2 courses, and consumed this whilst chatting about the latest cycle clothing purchases and the recent cycle accidents we had all suffered.

After lunch we opted for a return route through Penley and onto Hollybush via Bangor on Dee, where we had a photo stop.




Old Dee Bridge - Bangor on Dee

The final leg back to Holt was a fairly brisk affair, with all of us taking turns on the front to maintain a high pace. Coffee at Cleopatra's was a very welcome recovery stop.

Overall, the conditions were damp and  drizzly but this improved in the afternoon. The ride was 73km (45mls), 550 meters (1800ft) of ascent, so quite a comparatively tame ride and thankfully no incidents - a very enjoyable and fortunately uneventful ride .

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo Ken P

Thursday, 24 January 2019

24th January 2019: St Martin’s (mod)

Wednesday had been cold, snowy, icy and bright. Thursday was still cold but overcast, murky and muddy.  We still had a decent turnout at Cleopatra’s, with four moderate riders: Dave H, Steve T, Keith and myself.  Expecting ice, I had planned a route to St Martins which would allow us to travel on roads likely to have been gritted. As it turned out, mud had replace the ice so we were able to cycle along the quieter lanes.

We set out west of the River Dee and headed for Bangor-on-Dee. From here we took the road to Overton and headed towards St Martin’s until we reached Shellbrook Hill where we diverted onto smaller lanes heading for Dudleston, where we stopped for a photo in front of the church of St. Mary the Virgin. We took Gaia Lane, but soon came to a standstill as the route ahead was flooded, beyond which we could see deep muddy tracks – in Clive’s terminology, this would be called ‘agricultural’. We reversed and took a more direct route back onto the main St Martin’s road, and soon arrived at The Greyhound.
Photo by Steve T
The Greyhound gave us a warm welcome as did their fireplace. We ordered and were very quickly served with excellent food.  Three of us opted for the small fish and chips, which was definitely not that small and very tasty. Soon it was time to leave one of our favourite stops. 

We took the road to Dudleston Heath and then struck out north eastwards towards Holly Bush.  We entered Worthenbury by the back way and then passed through Shocklach and into Farndon where we stopped at Lewis’s for coffee and cake.  Here Keith left us to ride back to Waverton, and the remainder continued to Holt.

It had been a dull and muddy day, with light rain for most of the morning, but good conversation and refreshing stops turned it into and enjoyable 35 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 18 January 2019

17th January 2019: Aston (mod)

A cold and icy start, with temperatures only slightly above zero, but sunshine forecast, brought out four moderates among the CER members gathered at Rose Farm. I suggested a ride out to the Bhurtpore Arms at Aston, as our last attempt to visit in November had failed due to a power cut in Aston village.  I was joined by Andy B, Steve T (recently relieved from spousal chauffeuring duties) and Dave H (getting back into the swing of cycling).

There were ice patches in the Rose Farm car park, so we started gingerly following the usual route to Cotebrook, and onwards to Wettenhall, Nantwich and Wrenbury.  Passing Wrenbury Station we arrived at the Bhurtpore as their clock chimed 12 o’clock. Settling in to their welcoming food and drink we remembered how much we enjoy this pub, though only Dave indulged in a curry.  We discussed DIY and the problems of domestic appliances.  In answer to one question raised by an old sale poster on the wall, I can confirm that Imperial measures of area are the acre, the rood and the perch.  The clock chimed 1 o’clock and our lunch hour over it was time to move on.

We took a short loop along Pinsley Green Road to re-emerge in Wrenbury and make our way northwards towards Larden Green. Cycling gently along the narrow Hearn’s Lane we met an HGV that refused to move over for us, despite there being space on its side of the road. After being squeezed dangerously, if slowly between the truck and the road margin I record his details – look out for a white 7.5 toner MX58LBJ!

No more events were to trouble us.  We passed through Haughton and noted that the Nag’s Head had re-opened, then it was through Bunbury and around Beeston Castle, where we were surprised to still see some sheet ice.  We entered Tarporley from the west and called at the Old Fire Station café for refreshments.  As we left we examined the large old CTC badge in relief on the front of the Swan Hotel.

We arrived back at Rose Farm with 40 miles completed on a good winter’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Thursday, 17 January 2019

17th January 2019 : Sandbach (brisk)

The weather was magical – very cold (about 1C when I left home) and very bright with excellent visibilty and a full day of bright sunshine in prospect. The only problem was it had rained during the early hours, and with sub-zero temperatures, I wondered how much ice there would be on the lanes. So I rode somewhat gingerly out to Rose Farm meeting Bryan part way along the long ever-upward lanes to the cafe. Some good news seems to be that the road down the hill outside of the cafe might be repaired in early Feb if the road sign is truthful.

I had cobbled together a flat ride to Sandbach and Nick, John W and Ivan were happy to be in sheep mode today. So we left by turning right out the gates and up Quarry Bank to High Billinge – only a straight mile of 11% climbing to warm up the legs! I promised that this was the only significant hill today. So out via Cotebrook, we skirt Little Budworth onwards to Whitegate. Bowling along Chester Road, Hartford, we turn to cross the main road to access the blue bridge and thence through Davenham.

Lach Dennis comes and goes as we take the main road towards Goostrey, with the Jodrell Bank dish resplendent in the bright sunshine. Going via Twemlow Green, we are soon in the outskirts of Holmes Chapel. We skirt around to the east then briefly down the quiet A54 before diving right down the “Closed” Mill lane passing over the Croco River then onto the old main road aka the A50.

We now have to travel northwards to be able to access the lane to Bradwall Green then a couple of miles into Sandbach. Here, just after a bend, double disaster strikes as both Nick and John succumb to black ice. Thankfully both are OK but rather shaken up by the unexpected fall. We had all been very careful all the way today in reading the road to find dry spots and identifying possible black ice. So we ride on into Sandbach and into the busy “George”.

After ordering our meals, John and Nick were applying first aid to their bleeding elbows and inspecting the damage to their riding gear. The bikes were OK however. The George staff offered sticking plasters, but a hot meal and drinks were very welcome after 28 miles in the balmy 4C heat.


Wetherspoon's "The George Inn" in Sandbach
The route back was straightforward being via Ettiley Heath and Coppenhall to take the well-ridden lanes via Wettenhall to Eaton and thence Tarporley. Nick rode back to his car at Rose Farm with 48 miles ridden, as we three headed for Brassey Green and home having completed mid 70 mileage today. I got home at 1600 where the temperature was now 2C.

As ever we all enjoyed the ride, but the black ice took the shine off it. Hopefully any injuries to John and Nick will quickly heal.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Update on Nick : "A bit sore, thanks. Hip swollen and bruised and strained neck muscles on one side, but I’ll recover. Hope John’s OK"

Update on John W: OK but sore as well.

Photo: ℅ Wetherspoon's website and Rob Davies

Sunday, 13 January 2019

10th January 2019: Aldford (leisure)

A good turnout on a cold January day enabled a small group of leisure riders, Bryan, Dave H and myself to set off independently. I chose a popular route going down to Holt and back to Chester as it gave us a number of options should the weather take a turn for the worse. As it happened it gradually warmed up during the day, but also brought in a thin misty drizzle. The morning was very pleasant though and we chose the Grosvenor Arms at Aldford as our lunch stop. Service was cheerful and speedy and Bryan seemed pleased with the choice of beers. I wasn’t too thrilled with the price of the lime and soda but overall a pleasant lunch stop. The return up through Saighton, where Bryan departed for Chester, gave us the chance to inspect a line of potholes that I reported to Highways before Xmas. I have to say that they have been filled in - they are now a line of humps! Progress of sorts I suppose.

Back at Guilden Sutton after 36 miles and a very pleasant winter’s ride.

JD

Saturday, 12 January 2019

10th January 2019 : Caerwys (brisk)

Today's brisk riders comprising of Nick, Ivan, Ken and myself set off from the Gallery Cafe towards the Welsh hills expecting a grey but mild dry day. It soon became clear that the forecasters had got it wrong. Persistent showers, poor visibility and  slate coloured skies were the order of the day.

However our spirits weren’t dampened as we knew we would soon be warming up on some of the steep inclines ahead on a circuitous route to Caerwys. Firstly, we motored on through Ewloe and Buckley followed by a short blast along the Mold Road before turning off at Llong. We soon passed Gwernymynydd and Loggerheads and as planned eschewed the main road to Llanbedr DC to "enjoy" the  two mile climb to the top of Bwlch Penbarras. Our only photos of the day give a good idea of the lack of visibility at the top. Anyway, having imagined the glorious view of the Vale of Clwyd we launch ourselves into the mist down the pass. It's on hills and in conditions like this that you thank God for disk brakes!
 Bwlch Penbarras
The relatively flat 8 mile run along the vale was uneventful but proved a good test for our winter kit. I regretted my lack of overshoes (damn those those weather forecasters). However, the main problem was viewing the route on the garmin through steamed up and wet specs that no amount of wiping would clear!  Needless to say the view of the Clwydian Hills to our right was more illusory than real.  It was as we stopped to check directions in Llangynhafal that Nick pointed out the enticing Golden Lion Pub which he assured us was wonderful and well worth visiting. Wondering if this was a subtle hint and, becoming concerned about a mutiny on the climbs still to come, I pondered out loud if we should call a halt, have lunch and find an easy way home.  I should have known better as Easyriders are made of stern stuff. My ruminations were given short shrift! We rolled onward and, on reaching Bodafari, sharply upwards! 


 We admired, but were not tempted by, the vision of the alluring Dinorben Arms. Knowing that lunch at Caerwys was tantalisingly close, we began the two mile grind over the shoulder of Moel y Gaer and up towards the appropriately named Sodom. Here the severity of the slope caused front wheels to lift from the road followed by loss of traction of the rear! Ivan and I lost all forward momentum and came to a halt.  We found it almost as difficult to walk 30 metres before being able to remount. Nick and Ken and manage to wobble on.  Eventually we crested the top and  after a couple of miles more arrived at Caerwys only to find that our planned lunch destination at the golf club was closed. (apparently awaiting new management). 
Plan B was the Piccadilly Inn where we were warmly welcomed by staff, a roaring log burner and customers admiring  our fortitude (actually they thought we were completely insane to be out cycling).


The place was busy but we were soon served some good food and beer. Ivan's choice of beef and onion baguette was sufficient for 2 but he was man enough for it. Our mood was good as we set off in for the shorter and relatively easier return. There was a bit of a hill up to Pant along a narrow muddy lane,  followed by the run through Pant Asaph and along the undulations of the Halkyns. For the first time since Steve Tan’s accident, we ventured down Middle Lane where Ivan and I pointed out the field were the air ambulance had landed and the spot were Steve came off and lay stricken on the floor. We are still none the wiser as to what caused such a catastrophic crash.

By chance Ian, a local, who had called the ambulance, came out of his house and we had a conversation about the events of that fateful day. We learned that his 4 year old son had seen everything and unfortunately had been quite traumatised for a day or two afterwards. Ian was delighted to hear that Steve is recovering well and asked us to pass on his best wishes. With the light failing we continued down to Northop and along the usual roads to Hawarden where Ken turned off to cycle home in Gresford and Nick returned to his car.  Ivan and I cycled along the river back to Chester and clocked around 64 miles for the day.

The main route was 45 miles and according to RWGPS should have been 3200 ft of ascent but Garmin recorded 4200ft (for my whole ride to and from home) and it certainly felt like the latter. Given the weather, readers may think we had a less than enjoyable day but, the reverse was true. We accepted the weather for what it was and enjoyed the challenge of riding our bikes supported by the company of  good humoured friends. How euphoric will we be when we return to this loop in the summer sun?!

See route map and/or gpx file download

JM

Photos by ID and NH

Thursday, 10 January 2019

10th January 2019: Minera (mod)


A good number of riders gathered at the Gallery Tea Rooms in Hawarden. It was also good to see Dave H out on a bike again – he was joining Bryan W and Jim on a shorter ride and I believe the brisk riders were off to do something incredibly steep.  That left the moderates: Andy B, George, Clive and myself.  I’d been looking for a change to our usual routes out from Hawarden and also a different lunch stop. I picked out a destination almost due south from our start – the Tyn-y-Capel in Minera.

As we set off we immediately found ourselves in drizzle and in one form or another we were in damp and murky conditions all day, albeit relatively mild ones. We headed out through Buckley and skirted around Mold to pass near Nercwys and Treuddyn. We were climbing steadily upwards throughout, but only had to surmount one steep chevroned hill. We turned left at Rhydtalog to reach Four Crosses and our high point of the day at just over 1,000 feet. Then it was steeply downhill into Minera and to the Tyn-y-Capel on the right.

The Tyn-y-Capel sits looking over the valley towards the Clwydian Hills. Apparently the building has its origins as a hostelry for pilgrims making their way over Esclusham Mountain to Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen. It’s also one of the 50 best pubs in Wales according to Wales Online. The large pub has extensive terraces where you could sit in the sun and admire the views on a summer’s day. No such luck today, indeed no views at any point on our ride.  Inside we found good value food and drink.  I had an excellent pint of “The Cat in the Chapel”, which seemed a very Welsh name for a beer.  While we ate, George told us of the “Free Solo” movie he’d just seen about the El Capitan climb in Yosemite, and this led to a general discussion about climbing. We then moved on to Brexit! -  soon it was time to leave.

Our return took us downwards on the B-road by Coedpoeth. At one point heavy rain forced me to stop as the combination of a wet screen and wet glasses meant I couldn’t read the map. We then followed a zig-zag of urban roads through Pentre Broughton to find our way to Gwersyllt. We took the busy road to Llay roundabout, and after the traffic lights, followed lanes back northwards to Penymynydd.  We said goodbye to Clive and Andy, before passing through Bilberry Wood and onto Hawarden car park.

We had covered only 30 miles, but travelled in a less familiar direction from Hawarden which, as Clive pointed out, brought us into the neighbourhood of the rides we used to do from Alwyn Waters.  We also found a good pub, which we will remember for future use.


SH

Friday, 4 January 2019

3rd January 2019: Pickmere (mod)

Gathered at Delamere Station café for our first ride of the year was a decent turnout for a moderate ride: Keith, George, Andy B, Clive and myself.  Also there were Steve T only out for the café and Dave H in civvies. 

The weather was forecast to be very cold with little wind, no rain and maybe some sun.  With early morning temperatures well below zero I expected frost and ice on the lanes and therefore prepared a route which largely passed over roads likely to have been gritted and which was relatively short.  It turned out that a mix of low humidity and some cloud cover meant my fears were unjustified, but we followed the route nonetheless.

We cycled out on the road to Frodsham, Steve T left us as we turned down the hill to Kingsley, then followed the main road to Acton Bridge, and across the Weaver.  Here I suffered a rear puncture, the first for a long time, caused by a small stone chip.  The tyre was changed, with thanks to Keith’s CO2 cylinder, while the others shivered.  I them offered the choice between the original route or the quickest route to the pub: in need of warmth, the short route got it. 

In Great Budworth, we passed along Westage Lane which has been closed to traffic for many months due to the road being undermined by badgers.  This time work was underway.  The badger sett must have been moved, the banks were covered with wire netting to prevent them returning, and workers were finishing off some re-surfacing and clearing overgrown vegetation.

The pub was quickly reached and we ensconced ourselves in front of a warm fire.  The welcome was friendly, and the food and drink were satisfying. While we ate, Keith entertained us with his climb up the North Ridge of Tryfan, onto the tops and down beside the Devil’s Kitchen.  This led to a number of mountain tales from others before it was time to leave.

Our return was equally short, passing through the Flashes and Marbury Park, then by the Anderton Boat Lift, into Weaverham, Sandiway and Cuddington. Some steep hills back to Norley followed. We said some goodbyes at Hatchmere, and George and I continued for a brew.

Choosing the Visitor Centre Café over the station to get some better coffee (it is better!), we soon regretted this as the place was teaming with people, the queues were long and all the tables occupied. There has been some discussion of using the Visitor Centre rather than the Station café to meet due to the coffee. While there were reasons that today was particularly busy, it can also be very crowded some mornings on good days in the school holidays. We need to bear this in mind if we do switch regarding holiday dates.

Overall we had a good ride of 30 miles with a good pub stop.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Thursday, 27 December 2018

27th December 2018: Bunbury (mod)

Worries about attendance at Chirk meant that today’s meet was rearranged to start at Meadow Lea Café. This seems to have resolved the worry as nine Easy Riders turned up: Dave H, David M, John W, Jim, George, Keith, Andy B, Bob and myself. The last six made up the moderate group. John and David were each to do their own ride, while Dave as a non-combatant was looking forward to getting back on his bike soon.

I had thought about a ride to try out the Nag’s Head at Haughton, but Google revealed that it was not open until Jan 7th after a change of ownership and a refit, when it would offer “modern pub fare and real ales in a stylish, 17th-century inn with exposed beams and a lush garden” - and probably also more expensive food.  Instead I aimed for its namesake – the Nag’s Head in Bunbury, a little nearer but in the same direction.

We headed out towards Waverton and then crossed the A41 for Saighton and Bruera where we turned left to re-cross the A41 and enter Tattenhall. Next we had a pleasant run towards the imposing Beeston Castle on its steep sandstone crag, then Peckforton, before Spurstow and finally Bunbury, where we noticed that Tilly’s was not open.

The Nag’s Head is in the middle of Bunbury and offers far more reasonable fare than the nearby upmarket Yew Tree Inn and Dysert Arms. I don’t think that Easy Riders have visited before, but we were made welcome and I think the verdict was that it was worth re-visiting.  I enjoyed a filling pie, chips and veg plus a pint for £8.95. Over our food we discussed life in the services and Bob told us his experience of the Royal Navy.  Then we switched effortlessly onto cat stories!

Our return took us back to Beeston Castle, down past the Shady Oak and on to Huxley, then Hargrave and Greenlooms to join our outward route at Waverton. We said separate goodbyes to Bob, Jim and Andy, so that the remaining three made it back to Meadow Lea.  It was a shortish ride of 32 miles, but very pleasant on a relatively warm, dry, windless and overcast day. It was also the last Easy Riders outing of the year. 

A Happy New Year to everyone!

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Monday, 24 December 2018

24th December 2018 : Ride Statistics

The old saying, attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain, goes “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics” 

Well, here are some statistics.

I had a bit of time on my hands earlier in the year, so I went through all the blogs since the start in April 2008 to try to get some figures together for the 10thAnniversary Ride held on 26thApril 2018.


YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride
20081,1372447
20092,8945355
20102,6405350
20113,4956157
20123,6157648
20133,0255753
20143,7087252
20154,2168152
20164,3258352
20173,8327452
20184,4408850




Totals37,32772252

I continued to log the ride data to the end of this year*. I don't claim the data is 100% accurate as some blogs didn't quote actual ride length so I took a guess. However, the numbers are impressive, especially as the mileage does not include riding out and back to the venue.

If you were to add say 20 miles per blog for the "out and back" leg, then another 14,400 miles need to be taken into account as the total distance ridden if one rider had ridden all of the rides. That person would have ridden 51,767 miles or almost 72 miles per outing.

However, just maybe this figure is in the “lies and damned lies” category!

Enjoy your Christmas Holidays

CA

PS : I believe Bryan W was or still is a professional statistician.

* It doesn't incude any miles that may be ridden on the Dec 27thride.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

20th December 2018: Overton (mod)

Gathering at the Ice Cream Farm were a mix of brisk, moderate and “only out for a short ride” riders. In the last category were Trevor, Jim and David M.  That left Neil and myself out for a moderate ride. I had the White Horse at Overton in mind, as it was a while since I’d last visited and I knew that the landlord had changed.

The route out and back again was through Tilston and Worthenbury, though we followed different lanes each way wherever possible. We arrived shortly after 1200. The gate into the back yard was sealed, unlike previously, so we locked our bikes to a bus stop.  Within we found a warm fire and a good welcome.  The menu had changed from the previous landlord but still provided substantial good value food and the Joules ale was excellent as usual.

As we left Overton it was apparent from the roads that we had luckily missed a heavy shower. Returning into Tattenhall we met the brisk group coming down Bolesworth Road. Neil then left for his direct route home, while I returned to the ICF for a coffee (no cake!). It had been an excellent day’s December riding with a slight wind, no rain while we were out, cool but not cold. The total mileage was just under 40.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

20th December 2018 : Whitchurch (brisk)

Another fine day in prospect today. Ivan and I had ridden to The Vine Inn near Dunham Massey the day before to exorcise his Helsby Road accident. The weather had been very sunny and the pub was very cheap – two pints of ale for under £4!. Today Ivan had prepared a route to the Black Bear in Whitchurch.

As Steve's report indicates, there was a paucity of riders out today; maybe the rest of the club were at the shops frantically trying to find that final Christmas present. So Ivan led out John W and myself on surprising wet roads around Beeston Castle towards Peckforton village. We edge around Bunbury onwards to Brindley at a brisk pace. There is then the big loop around to Ashton via Wrenbury. Thankfully the roads are very quiet as we barrel down Sheppenhall Lane trying to avoid the potholes cunningly concealed as puddles.

Crossing the A525, we are on our way to Ightfield and thence the ups-and-downs via Ash Parva and Ash Magna. The Edgeley Road transfer is employed to enter Whitchurch and into the warm arms of The Black Bear pub. It is very busy as the car park attests, yet we get a table and settle down for a well-earned rest after 30 miles. Despite the general busyness, the drinks and hot food come quickly enough. The rest of the punters seem to be locals in various Christmas lunch parties.

On leaving the pub, we notice that there has been a shower of rain and now have wet saddles. The pub landlord offers a tea towel to dry the saddles off. Very decent of him. Conscious that darkness arrives just after 1530 around the Winter Solstice, we set off  just after 1300 up Wirswall Hill passing Hill Valley golf club. At the top, before the rapid descent to Marbury, there is a magnificent view over the Cheshire plain all the way to the Pennines. Jodrell Bank is sunlit in the far distance.


The lane down is hazardous with all the agricultural mud and debris of winter on the surface, and thankfully we exit Marbury without any mishap. The way back to the start is now predictable via Bickerton and Harthill. As we enter Tattenhall, Neil and Steve H come into view. What exquisite timing! Neil shoots home while we three shoot passed Steve and, eschewing the prospect of cake, pedal for home.

So thanks to Ivan, with 46 muddy miles covered along with our bikes well covered with Cheshire mud, this rounds off the last ride for me for the year. There is now one more scheduled ride on the 27that a relocated venue ( see the web site)

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo by John W


Sunday, 16 December 2018

13th December 2018: Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (mod)

You know it’s getting near Christmas when someone mentions the annual Christmas lunch ride. Dave H got the ball rolling by booking us into the Pant-yr-Ochain at Gresford – a popular choice of venue that we have visited several times before for Christmas lunches. Still recovering from his op, he wasn’t able to cycle himself so I volunteered to lead the moderate group. Twenty members were booked in for the lunch and about a dozen of us assembled at Meadow Lea for the ride out. After the brisk riders had set off seven of us (Andy B, Bryan, Jim, George, Mike, Steve H and I) were left for the moderate ride. It was a bright day, which in winter also means that it was a cold day and a strong, biting wind was blowing in our faces as we set off towards Guilden Sutton.

We saved the shortest route for the return journey which only left one option that would get us to the Pant-yr-Ochain in time. Crossing the A51 we cycled through Waverton and then crossed the A41 to take us through Saighton and Bruera. At Aldford we avoided a section of the main road by taking the back road and would have done the same at Churton except that two riders at the front missed the turning. We carried on along the main road to Farndon and dropped down to the bridge over to Holt, reopened now after its recent refurbishment.

In Holt we turned right to pass Cleopatra’s and followed the road straight through Commonwood to Borras. From here we were following the road signs to Gresford and when we reached the village we turned left, passing The Flash to arrive at the Pant-yr-Ochain in good time. We had got there before the brisk riders but to be fair they had gone the long way round.

We met up with several members who, for various reasons, had chosen to arrive on four wheels instead of two. Soon the brisk riders arrived and finally Dave & Liz on their tandem. We all settled down to our meal. Dave had chosen ‘The Pant’ as it had always provided us with good food and this year was no exception. The only disappointing aspect was the standard of jokes in the crackers but isn’t that the nature of cracker jokes?

After lunch Andy B, Mike and Steve H went their own ways home leaving four of us to take the direct return route. We left before the brisk riders, heading through Rossett, and made it to Pulford before they came charging past. Bryan left us here too leaving three of us to return to Meadow Lea via Eccleston, Handbridge and Hoole Lane. We managed to make it back before darkness fell having ridden 32 miles.

Thanks to Dave H for organising the lunch, which I know from experience is not an easy task, and a Merry Christmas to all.

TC

See route map and/or gpx file download

Photos below by Mike G
















Friday, 14 December 2018

13th December 2018 : Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (brisk)

Given there were likely to be quite a few riders today at Meadow Lea Farm cafe, I decided to offer a short brisk ride. This started out as being 37 miles long to lunch, but it was pointed out that we had to get to the Pant y Ochain by 1230, so I shortened it to 33 miles. It then transpired we had to be there by 1215, so more trimming on the fly was necessary.

Ray, Ivan, John M and Nick joined me on a route round the back of Barrow to Ashton Hayes. A shimmy across the A51 found us heading for Kelsall Hill where I took the lower road towards Willington, curiously named Flat Lane, thence via Green Lane, and up a short incline to run down to Willington.

Crossing the A51 and now down Corkscrew Lane, we are heading rapidly towards Tattenhall. Now up Rocky Lane we cross the A41 thence down Dog Lane. By now my bike and I needed a little maintenance, so Ray stopped to wait with me whilst the Frantic Three zoomed on. We had agreed to take stock in Coddington to decide if we had time to take Beachin Lane for the Churton to Holt loop. So by the time Ray and I got to this decision point, there was no one in sight! As Ray and I had lost about 10 minutes, I made an executive decision to head for Barton and then via Wetreins Lane to enter Holt.

Ray and I ploughed on through Holt and out via Borras Road - a long and boring stretch into the wind. There is a short hill at the end and, just before this, I noticed that the Borras Anti-Fracking camp had been disbanded at last. It was now just a short sprint down Vicarage Lane and the Old Wrexham Road to get to the pub where we found the Frantic Three just locking up their steeds. Their official route was the same length as my diversion at 30 Miles.

We were all in time for dinner, magnificently organised by Dave H who enjoyed reverting to his former school master role in reminding all what they had ordered. The Pant staff were excellent as was the food. The few pints of Titanic Plum Porter really put me in the Christmas mood!

The route back was even more frantic as we sped down Marford Hill and then into the back of Chester via Eccleston. Going back to Meadow Lea would have been 44 miles as the sun went down.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 1 December 2018

29th November 2018: Marbury


Everyone riding to Rose Farm had had a struggle against the wind and rain. Maybe that’s why relatively few cyclists turned up: Clive, John W, Ivan and myself, plus David M who was only out for a short ride.  We were joined for coffee by Steve T who had some weak excuse for not coming out. I had a route in mind to the Bhurtpore at Aston, and so it was that three brisk riders and one moderate set out – giving me the chance to practice leading from behind!

The start of our ride was foul: very strong gusty winds and heavy horizontal rain.  After ten minutes this moderated to the simply unpleasant. We pressed on buffeted by a south-westerly wind, passing through Cotebrook, Wettenhall and Nantwich. We passed through Ravensmoor and Wrenbury, before pulling into the Bhurtpore car park.  Eagle-eyed Clive had noticed something wrong – no lights on. He popped into the pub to discover the whole of Aston had suffered a power cut, and we could only have cold food.  A quick conference came up with the alternative of The Swan at Marbury, which we could reach with only a short detour.

Photo by ID/JW
We rolled into Marbury and posed for a photo outside The Swan.  This has recently undergone a major refurbishment overseen by Jeremy Brunning, one of the founders of the Brunning and Price pub chain. I think we were all pleased with the place, the welcome, the beer and the food. We talked about the LLandegla mountain biking centre and about Ivan’s new jacket – very warm, very windproof, very waterproof and very expensive.

Leaving the pub we took School Lane to Gaunton’s Bank, a filthy muddy potholed road. Thence headed north to Chorley Bank, where Ivan’s impetuosity in the front led to him missing the turn and head for Cholmondley.  John chased after but, by the time he was caught, they had gone so far that they decided to head directly for home. Clive and I continued through Bunbury and past the Shady Oak.  Here Clive headed home, while I passed through Tarporley to reach our starting point with 42 miles covered.


SH

Friday, 23 November 2018

22nd November 2018: Caerwys (mod)


This was a cold day with a frosty start and an easterly wind (‘blowing in from Siberia’ in the favourite phrase of the forecasters). Six moderates turned up at Hawarden: Dave H out only to collect Xmas lunch monies; Trevor who had ridden out to test his new rear mech and was then riding back; and the day’s riders: Bob, Andy, George and myself.  There were no brisk riders – maybe they were put off by the cold weather, but more likely they were either recovering from an epic ride earlier in the week, or had separately planned a longer even hillier route from another start point.

I’d suggested a ride out to the Piccadilly Inn at Caerwys, though someone mentioned a café in the same town so we chose to head there instead. Starting by climbing up to Buckley to warm everyone up, we then headed to Sychdyn and the steepest climb of the day to Rhosesmor. It had turned into a fine day, cold by bright with good views and some sun. The east wind was slight which would be good news for our return.  We travelled on over Halkyn Mountain and through Babell to approach Caerwys from the north. The café in on the corner of the main road as you travel south through the town, and it’s called “On the corner”!  It is a small busy place with a typical menu of good value food and large mugs of tea: two of us chose from the ‘all day breakfast’ options.

Returning we said goodbye to Bob at the café as he was heading directly home.  The rest of us made for the A55, with a small detour to avoid fresh hedge clippings.  We wheeled our bikes across the busy road and headed to Chwitffordd and then back south to Pantasaph and Windmill.  Here the weather took a change for the worse with murky cloud descending and the temperature dropping. Andy left us to head home before we dropped down towards Northop, which left George and I to make our way back to Harwarden at the height of the school traffic rush hour. It had been a good day’s ride in reasonable conditions which covered 40 miles.


SH

Friday, 16 November 2018

15th November 2018 : Sandbach (brisk)

After an hour's riding covering 15 miles, I was ready for a decent cup of coffee and the Delamere Park cafe certainly provided that (compared to the station cafe) . We shall have to see if the coffee improves in line with the anticipated make-over. 

The weather was much better than advertised, being sunny intervals as opposed to blanket cloud. This put a spring in my pedalling feet for the 52 miler to The George at Sandbach. Our group today was a lonely three consisting of Nick, Ken and myself. John M was out but not feeling 100%, and Ivan was at home recovering from being de-biked by a passing car at 18mph in Helsby on Tuesday. He is recovering well though. The bike was unscathed!

We follow the Mods out  and branch off at Flaxmere and take Norley Lane, where the vista over the Cheshire plain is resplendent in the November sunshine. It is now a rapid succession of Croxton, Acton Bridge, Weaverham and Winnington to pass by the Anderton Boat Lift. I take the Comberbatch bypass as the locals are anti-MAMIL, and circle round to Pickmere.

Onwards, passing The Smoker pub (named after the local brook), we speed through plummy Plumley and "upper-class"  Lower Peover. The crossroads in Goostrey are blocked up, but pavements are then very useful. Up the side of the Dane Valley,  we are soon through Holmes Chapel and negotiating a housing estate to exit on a very narrow "Broad Lane" and thence on-track, via various tiny lanes, to enter Sandbach Market Place and The George.

The George is a Wetherspoon's establishment and was packed at lunchtime but we got a table; and as ever, the quality, service and price was very good. It was a listed coaching in apparently. The town was granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I in 1579 and Foden truck manufacturing started at the end of 19C and closed down in 2006. The Market Crosses are worthy of note as well ( see photo)

Sandbach Market Crosses
After a lunchtime diet of Brexit, we are ready for the return via Elworth and Occlestone to circle around Winsford. I favour the tiny Blakeden Lane which runs behind the County Police HQ to take a short stretch of the A54 before turning for Little Budworth.

At Cotebrook, Nick takes the short return to Delamere via the Fishpool Inn and will have completed the 52 miles circuit. Whereas Ken and I take the usual route back via Utkinton and Waverton. Ken will have more than 90 on the clock today and I had just over 80 miles. 

So thanks to Ken and Nick today for taking the wind off me at the front. Hopefully Ivan and John will be back to their usual full strength next week.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo by KP


15th November 2018: Marston (mod)


This was our second start from the Delamere Visitor Centre rather than the Station Café. Steve T tells us that the Station Café refurbishment will be finished this weekend, so next time we depart from Delamere we can try it out and maybe decide which of these two adjacent starts is best. Dave H was present collecting Xmas meal choices and feeling much better but not riding today.  This left half a dozen moderate riders for a route to the Salt Barge at Marston: George, Keith, Steve T, Bob, Neil and myself.

Our route out was across Acton Bridge and then heading north to cross and re-cross the A49 and pass through Higher Whitley, Antrobus and Pickmere before arriving at our destination. The Salt Barge is a favourite and we were not disappointed with a friendly welcome, decent food and drinks. While last week the mod’s lunchtime discussion had centred on engineering in the energy industry, today we brought our collective expertise to bear upon trust law and tax. If this serious trend continues what might we cover next week!

Our return took us through Ashton’s and Neuman’s Flashes, meeting a lot of vehicle traffic on these footpaths and cycle tracks. We passed Marbury Park to reach Comberbach and Little Leigh, returning through Norley to arrive back at Delamere.

An uneventful ride after last week’s punctures, but through lovely November weather: dry, often sunny, mild and with little wind.  We covered a little over 35 miles, which didn’t really justify the cakes that tempted some of us back in the café.


SH

Friday, 9 November 2018

8th November 2018: Llanymynech (mod)


Four moderate riders assembled in the now-named ‘Castle Bistro’ in Church Street, Chirk: Keith, Trevor, Bob and myself. The morning had started poorly with rain and low cloud on the hills. However by the time we were ready to leave, the rain was ceasing, although the day would remain murky and the lanes wet and muddy.  Our destination was the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech.

We took a common route out from Chirk, crossing the A5 roundabout and making for Hindford. Before we made it to Welsh Frankton, the long dormant curse of ‘Puncture Bob’ struck, and we stopped while he fixed his rear tyre.  While this was happening we watched several tractors pulling slurry tanks that were far too wide for the lanes pass by.  Next we saw a white builder's van speed towards us and stop.  “Have you seen a silver car?” they asked. Apparently the car had clipped their wing mirror and they were trying to chase it down. We couldn’t help them, though as we resumed our ride, we met them in their search again.  I think we were all grateful not to be the subject of their ire. We continued onwards through West Felton and Maesbrook, before joining the road into Llanymynech and cautiously driving through some fresh hedge cuttings.

Llanymynech is on the England Wales border. If the old Lion Pub had still been open we could have chosen between two bars in England and one in Wales. When many Welsh counties were “dry” on Sundays, you could always get served in the “wet” English bars.  We however were after a very much open pub.  We have visited the Bradford Arms several times before and were settled comfortably besides an open fire, while we all tucked into fish and chips. For some reason the conversation focussed on the energy industry – oil, nuclear and solar.

Soon it was time to leave and we tracked back through the hedge cuttings before heading north to Maesbury and approaching Oswestry through quiet lanes from the east.  For once we were ahead of school closing times and the traffic was light.  As we passed by the old hill fort, several riders remembered the altercation with the angry old man who tried to run us off the road on this year’s long ride. No such problems today, as we make our way towards Weston Rhyn.  A few miles out from the village, the curse strikes again, this time in the front tyre. Trevor leaves us to catch his train while repairs are made.  We exit Weston Rhyn via the High Street which takes us down to the Ceriog valley and a much more pleasant return to Chirk than the main road.

We head straight to the car park, where we meet the returning brisk riders. A good ride in reasonable conditions: 20 miles before lunch and 16 after.


SH

8th November 2018 : West Felton (brisk)

A showery damp day was  forecast by the Met Office and six riders turned up for the brisk ride, John W, John M, Ivan, Clive, Nick and myself. The ‘moderates’ planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and, coincidently , the ‘brisk’ group, courtesy of Ivan, planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Knockin, but  the day  became the day of the detours. 

The rain was falling as we left Chirk and headed up the Ceiriog valley and into Glyn Ceiriog. Turning left across the river, we climb to the high point of the day Graignant (350 metres) where we stopped to take a photo. Alas, the  autumn colours, although lovely,  just needed a little sunshine to make them spectacular. 

Yes, there is another hill over there
Onwards through Selattyn and before climbing the hill to the Old Racecourse, west of Oswestry, we came to a stop as our road was blocked due to  tree-felling operations .  We dismounted and carried the bikes past the obstruction before riding through various unpronounceable Welsh hamlets. On reaching the bridge over the canal and river about 1.5 km outside Llanymynech, we found the bridge closed for maintenance. The bridge repair operative made it very clear that no-one was going to pass. Even though, in our view, it looked as though we could dismount and walk across. A roadside discussion ensued to determine a diversion; this resulted in turning away from the bridge and heading into Four Crosses along the main road to rejoin our route in Llanymynech. This detour only added 4 km .

The road into Knockin was flat but John M was feeling a bit under the weather and struggling to keep up, so John W held back to keep him company while the rest of the group, totally unaware of John’s issue, carried on to the pub. On entering the Bradford Arms car park, it was evident that a large funeral wake was in progress and we were politely told that they could not accommodate us. After another discussion, we  decided to divert to the Queens Head at Queens Head although poor John did not relish the extra miles to the lunch stop.

Leaving Knockin we headed out through Woolston to West Felton where, at the crossroads,  the Punch Bowl inn came into view. We were relieved when the landlord confirmed that they were still serving food given it was 2pm and we had ridden 61 km. The Punch Bowl has a nice friendly atmosphere and everyone appeared to enjoy their lunch so it is venue well worth adding to the CER lunch list. 

We were back on the bikes by 3pm and heading to Rednall, here we  rejoined our original route. John M had recovered during lunch and we all cycled together for the remaining 22 km to Chirk. On arrival at Chirk, everyone went there separate ways; Clive and John M to their cars, Nick and myself opted for a coffee prior to our drive home, Ivan and John W chose to ride home rather than wait an hour for the train.

The original route is 86 km but because of all our detours we rode 84 km with 1199 meters of ascent, John and Ivan’s mileage was obviously a lot higher.

A lot happened today with plenty of disruption to our planned route.However, I subsequently took a closer look at the OS map which revealed the diversion we took at Llanymynech could have been shortened to just 400 mtrs by using a canal towpath and aqueduct to cross the River Vyrnwy!  

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo KP