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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, 16 February 2018

15th February 2018 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's ride weather prospect was one of blue skies but windy. I decided on fewer clothing layers and, as the roads should be dryish, a lighter bike but no mudguards! (Okay if your in front).

Meeting at Cleopatras in ‘Holt’ there was a good turnout for both groups of riders today.
Out with the Briskers were – Ivan (leader) Steve T, John M and Nick. I had a couple of routes planned but decided on Ellesmere and the Red Lion inn. The other was Llangollen and hilly.

On setting off, I immediately went the wrong way. The route was reversed in my brain and the planned route not switched on via the Garmin. We set off for Cross Lanes, Wrexham instead of Tilston and Malpas, so I decided on a mystery tour going in the general direction of the Red Lion.

Heading down the B5130 towards Cross Lanes, we take a left and head for Bangor on Dee. Over the bridge and head on to Holly Bush. Riding along the A525 passing Horseman's Green, we take a right skirting Hanmer but encounter the muddiest road this year. Bike wash needed again and a wash for Nick who hadn't realised I had no mudguards. Passing Bettisfield, the old railway station is a café and looks very nice with lots of railway memorabilia on display from the road and looks worthy of further investigation. Through the pretty village of Lyneal we take the left fork to pass the Meres.

The lanes we are now travelling were last explored with Clive. The three Meres are The Mere, White Mere and Cole Mere. There is a big construction site after passing Cole Mere going up the hill and it doesn’t seem much different from the last time we passed the site.

Joining the A495, it is a run down into the town of Ellesmere and our lunch stop. Due to my map skills reading we have knocked 7 miles of my scheduled route. This is a pleasant surprise for Steve as he is still recovering from the temperature drop between Antigua and Salop, some 25 degrees. It was colder in the pub than outside, but we were unable to bag the table near the open fire.

A reasonable lunch was provided but we can’t wait to get back in the saddle and the warmth provided by nature.We leave Ellesmere via the A539 along Hollybush lane taking the route towards Threapwood and the usual route back to Farndon via Shocklach.

We arrive back at Cleopatras having only covered 45 miles on such a lovely day, is it nearly spring? Anyway, we enjoy afternoon tea and cake in comfort and leave Steve to await arrival of the Mod’s who do arrive back just as we are leaving to head back to Chester.

Overall mileage was 43 miles around and 63 miles to and from Chester, so not too bad.

Enjoy cleaning your bikes and see you all next week.



ID

Thursday, 15 February 2018

15th February 2018: Hanmer (mod)

A cold sunny but very windy day saw the Easy Riders descend in number on Cleo's in Holt.  It was good to see such a turnout and discussion covered the CER 10th Anniversary Special Ride on 26th April. But today, David M, Trevor and Bryan were doing their own thing; the mods decided on a trip to the Hanmer Arms; and our phalanx of brisk riders were heading for Ellesmere. (Is ‘phalanx’ the right term? Maybe it should be a ‘flight’ or a ‘tornado’? Suggestions on a postcard please.)

The mods were Andy B, Bob, Dave H, George and myself. The route out went through Shocklach, Threapwood and Penley, before skirting The Mere at Ellesmere, and then heading northeast to Hanmer. The wind came from the west and gusted strongly, but unlike the Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang, there were no complaints from the stoical mods. Though they were less sanguine about the steep climbs out of valley bottoms we kept finding.

With 25 miles covered, we arrived at the Hanmer Arms.  It was as good as always, and for those with big appetites and small pockets, the ham and eggs is to be recommended. We chatted about CER’s history and those with long memories tried to recall ‘the who’ and ‘the what’ of previous years, not always successfully.

The return route was only 14 or so miles and was mainly with a tailwind, so we needed to add another challenge. This came from the road surface, though many riders doubted we were actually on a road as we took the route from Arowry to Eglwys Cross and northwards. We had more potholes than road and Somme-like mud. Luckily Dave had packed his patent mudguard de-mudder: a special twig designed for such eventualities.  Soon we were back on tarmac, heading towards Malpas by special request from Dave. From there it was a quick ride to Stretton, down Wetreins Lane and back into Holt.

We arrived back at Cleo's, just as the brisk group were leaving, and settled in for hot drinks and cake, with nearly 39 miles covered. Special congratulations are in order for Bob, who completed an entire ride without a puncture!

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 9 February 2018

8th February 2018: Aston (mod)

Ken came and went (pleasantly).  Some regulars were on holiday. Keith was on nights. The bad-back brigade were indisposed.  Not so incidentally, we wish Clive and Macca speedy recoveries from surgery. Dave and 'Liz sent me a text to say they were preparing to fly to Lanzarote; they were having trouble registering packed panniers as hand luggage with Ryanair!  The weather forecast would have made you pull the duvet over your head, if you hadn't been an indefatigable member of a special cycling club. So, the remnants were:  Bob, Ivan, Nick, Andy B., Mike, Steve H., Trevor and myself. Ivan was thinking of far east Cheshire, and Steve had a route to Goostrey, but in the end we all went out to The Bhurtpore together.

I had chosen the route, so that we would not be battling straight into the forecast wind and rain after lunch. A direct return from Aston would be quite quick if conditions became really unpleasant. We headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the bypass we headed for 'Portal' and then cruised down Sapling Lane, passing the only remains of a Roman villa in Cheshire, as we reached Eaton. We diverted down The Hall Lane, a small lane off Hickhurst Lane on our way to Wettenhall. At Oultonlowe cottage Ivan pointed out an alternative quiet route, which I would like to try next time.  Bob had his obligatory puncture, despite his latest Continental Super Thorn Crusher rubber. The upside is that he is becoming as slick as a Sky mechanic at dealing with punctures, as long as he takes a few lungfuls of salbutamol before starting.
Puncture stop!        Photos by Mike G

After Reaseheath College we crossed the A51 into Welshman's Lane, eventually turning into Welsh Row with its rich variety of attractive architectural styles. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon ploughing through the wind down Coole Lane.  I would normally continue for over five miles south, towards Audlem, before cutting north-west to Aston. This time, we headed in the direction of The Secret Nuclear Bunker, and joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village at Aston.

The Bhurtpore had the usual scrummy ales and curries on offer, and with its friendly atmosphere has always been a favourite of ours.

Decisions, decisions.

Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley and Burland Green. We made a small diversion to see Haughton Hall, and then carried on to Bunbury.  Trevor left us here. We made a group decision to head for The Old Fire Station for a coffee and cake, so I changed my original route from Alpraham and The Shire Horse Centre, to Tilstone Fearnhall and Tarporley. Ivan had been like a cocker spaniel searching for drugs all ride, turning off to join Nick heading for Marbury at one point, only for them to rejoin us shortly after. This time he led the front of the group up Brains Lane to Eaton, while those who already had brains took the usual direct, back route into Tarporley.  Anyway, we all finished together at The Old Fire Station, where we received the normal warm welcome, and a jug of water with a slice of lemon. The weather hadn't deteriorated too badly as yet, but some still had a few miles to go. Mike and Andy were heading for Chester, with Andy set to reach the high eighties before returning to Mold. The basic ride was just on forty miles, and, as so often, the weather had been better than forecast, and warmer than recent days. It was very pleasant having a combined ride, even if the faster guys had had to rein themselves in.                                   

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH 

Friday, 2 February 2018

1st February 2018: Gwaenysgor (brisk)

The ride out to the Gallery Tea Shop was peppered with hailstone and headwinds, so not sure what ride we would be covering. A reasonable turnout of Mods and Brisk riders so my offer of riding towards Prestatyn to the Eagle and Child was good and I was joined by John and Nick.

We set off on the usual route through Harwarden. Ewloe and Northop Hall. Passing through Northop we turn left past the Boot Inn onto the B5126 heading up to Rhosesmor. With a headwind and another hailstone shower it wasn’t pleasant but we continued. By the time we were at Rhes-y-cae the sky was blue but we still had the wind. The roads were very wet, flooded and muddy. Clean bikes again!! Our next climb was Babell and after climbing out of the valley, I succumbed to my first puncture of the year. Soon fixed we were on our way again.

Crossing over the A55 it is now getting close to our lunch stop. Arriving at the inn we parked alongside Mike’s bike who had ridden out from Rhos to join us. Over a hot lunch and a beer, we discuss the merits of going down a 33% gradient. Mike was making a different way home but we three decided to stick with the route and head on down.

The sun was now shining and hopefully the wind on our backs. We stop at the viewing point for photo just in case!! Then enjoyed the ride down on an excellent road surface, getting a max speed of 37mph which was pretty hairy when hitting the hairpin bend.

Photo by ID

We don’t go all the way down but ride through the housing estate towards Gronnant which saves having to lose height, and the ride along Gronant road was helped with the strong tailwind. Keeping on the ridge of the hillside we passed Trelogan and Tre-Mostyn before making our decent onto the A548 opposite the floating wreck moored at Mostyn. We ride along the quiet! ‘A’ road into Flint where we stop for coffee and cake. We were the centre of attraction with some of the customers as they were surprised we all had slabs of cake!! We have just cycled 50 miles and deserved our calorie supplement.

We carry on to Shotton where Nick continues on to Hawarden to collect his car and John and I continue on the Greenway to Chester. Arriving back for 16:30 still daylight and not needing lights. A hilly morning ride covering 4035 feet of ascent at an average of 13mph. Distance ridden for the John and myself was 65 miles and for Nick riding back to the Gallery should be approximately 50 miles.

A good ride on dirty roads, roll on spring and summer. Bike wash first on agenda.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

1st February 2018: Maeshafn (mod)

Hawarden, 1st February – St Brigid’s Day, the start of the pagan Irish festival of spring: Imbolc. Nothing spring-like today: cold, hail, gusts to nearly 40mph. Mod riders - a few brave souls: Andy B, Tom, Keith, Dave H and me, Steve. Where to: Maeshafn.

Into the northwesterly: to Northrop, Rhosesmor and Moel-y-crio. Steep climbs bring advantages – shelter from the wind - but heading south brings greater relief. South to Cilcain and beyond, then west up the valley towards Bwych Penbarras. Before Moel Famau car park, we turn left and down the opposite side to meet the A494.

“Straight on” I say. “Are you insane!” says Andy, knowing mod rides don’t do the double chevrons lying ahead. The hill beckons us on, steepening gradually, then fatally: Tom steams ahead, Dave and Keith fall by the wayside; Steve makes heroic effort to fail 10 yards before the top; Andy, slow and steady, makes it.

18 miles and 1900 feet climbed, recovery is needed – nothing could be better than The Miners Arms - warm, satisfying food and drink and very friendly (landlord did the coast-to-coast).

Easy now. A long downhill to Nercwys, into Buckley, down to Ewloe, “Goodbye Tom”. Harwarden reappears. Overall only 29 miles, but good going. Thanks Andy & Tom for navigational assistance.  Maybe spring will happen next Thursday.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 26 January 2018

25th January 2018: Pickmere (mod)

Have you ever travelled past an interesting-looking or attractive place and thought “I wonder what that’s like”?  I’ve cycled many times past the destination of this ride. It’s often on our routes to the Peovers, Chelford or Wincham, but really too close to our ride starts to be an obvious choice.  So it was that I devised a route for a short winter’s day that involved a long outward ride leaving less than a third of the miles for our return.

Quite a large turnout at Delamere Station Café, resulted in only 4 members joining the moderate ride: Andy B, Dave H, Keith and myself. The forecast was for a dry often sunny morning, but a high risk of heavy rain in the afternoon.  With this in mind I thought it best to ride moderately briskly before lunch in hope of arriving dry.

We took the longer route out to Acton Bridge, passing three “No Through Road” signs to come close to the River Weaver and then ascend Cliff Lane.  We crossed, re-crossed and re-crossed again the A49, before travelling through Higher Whitley. From here it was north-westwards, passing over the old concrete perimeter of Royal Naval Air Station Stretton, south of Warrington. This facility, known as HMS Blackcap was operational from 1942 to 1958, flying Fairey Barracudas, Fireflies and Supermarine aircraft amongst others.

Next we crossed some more modern transport infrastructure, the M6/M62 junction, before starting to loop south beside Swineyard Hall, a moated partly 16th century country house. Continuing our wide circuit of Arley Hall, we entered the village of Pickmere, and swung into the carpark of the Red Lion, before a drop of rain had fallen.

The Red Lion is a Robinsons’ pub with an open fire, a friendly welcome and tasty food.  I settled down with an excellent pint of Unicorn, and three of us opted for baguette and chips at around £7.  A series of historical photos adorn the walls, many of Pickmere Lake in its Edwardian heyday, complete with landing stage, rowing boats and cruiser. Dave remembered this as well as the travelling fair, but it all later fell into decay.  I am told that the cruiser, the Princess Irene, can still be found underwater in the middle of the lake. Despite this and later housing developments, you can still enjoy a walk around the lake.

We left the pub as the rain started and before long it was heavy with a very blustery wind making progress difficult.  But we weren’t going to be under a deluge, because although a lot of water had fallen, we were not under it at the time.  The skies brightened and we then only faced intermittent rain. The route back was direct through Great Budworth, Little Leigh and Norley, the only interest being the indefinite closure to motors of Westage Lane into Great Budworth due to badger earths undermining the carriageway. Keith left us for Runcorn and the remaining three headed back towards Delamere: Dave to his car, myself slightly further on to Kelsall and Andy much further on to Mold.

Overall a very good ride of about 40 miles in generally reasonable weather with a new find in the Red Lion for lunch stops.

Route now loaded on plotaroute.com due to bikeroutetoaster.com remaining down:
See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

25th January 2018 : Knutsford (brisk)

Ten club members gathered at Delamere Station Café on a dry and sunny, if chilly morning. Dave M and Ken were there only for coffee, as they had commitments later in the day, so that left eight riders. These split into two fours, the moderates heading for the Red Lion at Pickmere and the briskers (John M, Ivan, Nick and Steve T) for “The Angel@ King Street” in Knutsford (96 King St, Knutsford WA16 6HQ. Tel. 01565 651165).

Initially we all set off together, but our routes parted at Hatchmere. From there we took one of the normal routes to Norley , Crowton and Acton Bridge. The climb out of the Weaver Valley took us up to Little Leigh from where we headed for Knutsford via Frandley, Antrobus and Bates Heath. Crossing the A556 at Tabley we zoomed into Knutsford, helped in no small way by the following wind, arriving at the Angel at 11:45.

To our surprise, they were already open and serving both food and ale. It’s a Joseph Holts hostelry that has recently had a makeover and it’s now a comfortable, well-appointed place. Ivan and John tried their ‘Two Hoots’ ale and seemed satisfied with it. The food was also of a good quality and at a reasonable price. A place to think about revisiting? Over lunch we discussed knee and back surgery (a subject relevant to several of our members); hearing aids, their limitations and technical developments and, weirdly, tides and why it takes half the time for the tide to come in at Widnes as it does to go out. I still haven’t found out why, but it seems to be peculiar to Widnes (why am I not surprised?).

The sun was still shining as we retraced our route out of Knutsford, but there were some dark clouds to the west, suggesting that we might encounter inclement weather before the end of the day. At Tabley Brook Farm, we stayed on the B5391, passing the Red Lion at Pickmere (were the mods still lunching?) and on into Higher Wincham. Here we swung right to pick up the A559 through Higher Marston before turning left up the short, but steep incline that took us to Comberbach. Steve had a minor mechanical here (chain off), but this was soon fixed and we cycled along Cogshall Lane to Dones Green where we crossed the A49 into Marsh Lane. This has to be one of the worst lanes in Cheshire. The top coat has been worn away in a random manner, leaving a rough and surface which makes it difficult to find any kind of smooth surface. It’s also slightly uphill which adds to the difficulty.

Turning left at the top of Marsh Lane, the skies darkened even more and the first spots of rain started. At Dutton, we stopped so that John could put on his waterproof. Steve chose not to do likewise, a decision he’d regret later. At Whitehouse Industrial Estate, we took a left turn down Aston Lane. Part of this has now been re-surfaced, so many of the potholes have disappeared and it’s now a nice lane to ride on. By now, the rain was coming down in buckets, with little prospect of a let up. So, rather than going on down into Frodsham, Steve opted to head for home as we reached Sutton Weaver, leaving the others to take refuge in Costa Coffee. From there, Nick headed back to Delamere and his car, and Ivan and John headed for home. As it happened, the rain stopped as soon a Steve left, so the others completed the ride in the dry.

The round trip from Delamere to Knutsford and back was about 44 miles and our average speed was 15 mph. A good ride with excellent company.

See route map and/or gpx file download ( on "plotaroute" as Bikeroutetoaster unavailable at present)

ST

Friday, 19 January 2018

18th January 2018 : Chester (brisk)

It's CER's January Sale - so two blogs for the price of one!

Ivan's Tale

The long-range weather forecast for today's ride was pretty rubbish. Switching on the BBC news to listen to weather forecast this morning to view national and local conditions enabled  me to decide if I want to travel to Chirk and ride. It was not a good view with continual showers and wind all day. WhatsApp was used to consult brisk riders revealed all systems go and meet at Chirk.

I met Steve T at Chester station where there was no train service to Wrexham due line blocked - fallen tree or crossing failure. However, a good friendly coach driver was happy to put our bikes in the storage hold and we set off for Wrexham at normal train time 09:26 arriving Wrexham 10:00 with a train expected at 09:12. All went well and we arrived at Chirk ready to ride.Ken had ridden out to Chirk from home and was already finishing his coffee and ready to ride. A brief hello to the mod riders gathered we set off with a ride returning back to Holt and Chester.

The weather was blue skies and sunny so let's get cracking but unfortunately my Garmin had received an update and my route was direct over the fields! Never mind I had a reasonable idea which direction I was heading and we set off. Turning right onto Colliery Rd heading towards Ifton and the old coal mine. The roads were littered with debris ; we arrived at the only climb of the ride leaving Ifton Heath up to the Plough Inn at the Cross lane (B5068). I remembered this route as Clive led a ride several years back whilst en-route to the Plough and parts of it must be 25% gradients and were muddy and very slippy but we three got up to the top very grateful that the remainder of the ride is "all downhill"!!!

I was without Garmin route navigation and a couple of detours led us passed Dodleston Heath and Threapwood before arriving at Holt where Ken was leaving us to return home to Rossett. Steve and myself decided jointly that lunch at the White Horse might be preferable to Cleopatras.We were the only customers but the food was ok. Whilst getting ready to leave on looking out of the window to the side, it was now raining yet the front of the pub was very dry!! Is that localised weather?

We set off for Chester with blue skies passing Alford to Huntington then Guilden Sutton and joining the A56 for Frodsham and Runcorn to get Steve home. I carried on to the traffic lights near the Helsby Arms and said farewell to Steve. On arrival home with 29.5 miles recorded on Strava but an actual of 38 miles it had turned out to be a fine day to be out cycling although it will take the same amount of time cycling to clean the bikes. Very wet and dirty roads but a nice ride was achieved. Thanks to Ken and Steve who had more confidence in their own predictions than I had.

ID

Steve's Tale

A WhatsApp check on Tuesday suggested that the only brisk riders likely to be out this week were Ken, Ivan and myself. Ken said he was just riding out for coffee. Ivan said he was going to catch the train there and ride back (with Ken) and he further suggested that I do the same.

So it was that I found myself riding down the A56 into Frodsham at some ungodly hour in half light and driving rain – not an ideal start to the day and the BBC forecast was pretty dire. Why do I do this? When my train arrived in Chester, I heard an announcement saying that the 09.26 to Shrewsbury had been cancelled due to a crossing problem between Chester and Wrexham and that there would be a ‘replacement bus service’. On checking with Customer Services, they told me that the driver ‘might’ allow bikes on the coach – things seem to be going from bad to worse! When Ivan arrived at the station we asked the driver who happily loaded the bikes into the luggage space beneath the coach. On reaching Wrexham, our luck was in. The train to Shrewsbury was also running late so we were soon on it and arrived at Chirk station only 30 minutes later than we would have done had our train from Chester not been cancelled

We arrived in bright sunshine just in time to see the ‘mods’ leaving the café. We found Ken inside the Tea Rooms waiting for us. He needed to be home by 12 to 12.30, so we set off straight away, heading east from Chirk towards Pon’t-y-Blew. Ivan’s Garmin was playing up, so we had a wrong turn here and there along the way, but eventually he took us down into the Dee valley at Ddôl and up the other side. The climb up must have been 20% (there are two chevrons showing on the OS map. The lane was littered with branches and twigs that had been blown off in the previous night’s high winds and was quite muddy, making the ascent even harder.

The wind had dropped by now and we continued to cycle in bright sunshine – really lovely conditions. After a brief spell on the B5068, we dropped down to Dudleston Heath from where we struck north-east to Holly Bush. Here, we crossed the A525 and pressed on to Worthenbury (via Mulsford). Then on to Shocklach and Farndon, where Ken left for home – I hope he made his deadline. This left Ivan and I to push on to Churton, where we stopped for lunch at The White Horse. 

This isn’t one of our usual lunch stops as it’s too close to Holt and not on the normal routes we take from other starting points. Whilst the food and service were OK, I don’t think we’ll be adding The White Horse to Steve Haywood’s list. 

The afternoon ride, still in dry, sunny conditions, was straightforward, taking us via Aldford, Boughton Heath and the delights of the cycle path next to the A41 to Piper’s Ash and Guilden Sutton. Passing the end of Ivan’s road he said he’d go a bit further to show me the premises of an upholsterer in Mickle Trafford that he knew about (we’d discussed re-upholstering a suite over lunch). So he came along and actually carried on with me until we reached The Hornsmill (a.k.a . The Brown Cow) at Helsby. This left me with the short, but boring leg along the A56 through Helsby and Frodsham to ‘the edge of’ Runcorn and home. I’d clocked 45 miles at an average of 15.7 mph on a day when the BBC weather forecast was again wrong…. until 10 minutes after I got in and then it p***ed it down!

Thanks to Ivan for the brilliant idea of the linear ride and for the route and to both Ken and Ivan for their excellent company.


ST

Thursday, 18 January 2018

18th January 2018: Llanymynech (mod)

At just gone 10am, I was the only one sitting in the Chirk Tea Rooms, and contemplating a solitary ride.  A little later Bob arrived, and then Ken, who told us Steve T and Ivan were en route. However Ken, Steve and Ivan were going to be cycling back into Chester.  That just left me and Bob.  We saddled up and we had just mounted our bikes when Keith drove up, having been delayed in traffic. We returned to the Tea Rooms and shortly Keith appeared, and off the three of us headed – but not for long.  Keith’s front wheel didn’t feel stable, and after some investigation we discovered a broken component in his headset, which meant he had to abort the ride – a real shame especially after he had made it out all the way to Chirk.

So it was that six CER riders reduced to two – just me and Bob, heading south to Llanymynech. I had plotted a relatively short route to take account of a strong westerly and a forecast of heavy showers interrupted by heavier rain. We crossed the A5 and headed out through Hindford, Welsh Frankton and West Felton, appreciating some great views of the Welsh hills.  At first the lanes were muddy, full of debris and several times totally flooded, the longest stretch being about 20m of water. Gradually things improved as we headed south, though as we neared our destination an ominous black cloud appeared and the first drops of heavy rain began to fall.  Our speed increased with our determination to avoid a soaking before lunch.  We were lucky and just made it to the pub. 

As usual The Bradford Arms provided a friendly welcome, a warm bar and plentiful good value food and drink – we should visit more often.  While we had sheltered, there had been a real cloudburst.  It was dry again as we left, but as we initially rode back over the same route, the roads had become awash with large areas of surface water. We then passed through Maesbury and Oswestry feeling grateful and lucky to have so far stayed dry.  Then only three miles from journey’s end, Bob uttered the ominous word “puncture”.  Fate was conspiring to give us a drenching, because as soon as the puncture was fixed, it started to rain: heavily and with some hail.  We dropped down through Western Rhyn steadily feeling the dampness spreading through us.

We were thankful to get back to the Tea Rooms and have warm drinks and some food.  We were also grateful for what we both felt had been a really good ride: fine lanes once we were clear of the initial mud, some excellent views, good luck with the weather in spite of the last few miles and Bob’s new jacket had proved to be properly waterproof!  About 35 miles in total.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Sunday, 14 January 2018

11th January 2018 : Church Minshull (brisk)

A very decent turnout today at the ICF with 11 riders turning up plus the tandem. Dave H had a ride planned that headed out towards Whitchurch which seemed to suit almost everybody. As the number of people were on the high side for a single group, I proposed a ride towards Nantwich.  Tom seemed interested so after coffee we turned right heading off in the direction of Beeston whilst the ‘moderates’ turned left.

We soon warmed ourselves up in the weak sunshine and with no cooling wind it felt quite pleasant for early January. Weaving our way through Beeston and Peckforton, we joined the A49 at Spurstow for a brief spell before turning off down Badcock Lane, a big mistake! Flooded potholes and mud made this road feel more like a bridleway than a  modern sealed road. At the end of this road we  crossed the main road at Faddiley and headed towards Ravensmoor and thankfully the roads here were a lot cleaner. 

My initial idea was to stop in Nantwich for lunch, but we arrived far too early as it was still only 11:30. So with a quick look at the map, a new venue, The Badger Inn at Church Minshull, was chosen. The journey from Nantwich was via Reaseheath and Worleston and we were soon sitting in front of the open fire waiting for our food to arrive.

This venue is not new to us and although prices are higher than other venues, it seems to remain good with tasty food, prompt service, and appears to have  regular clientele. With lunch over and our chat over bikes and Christmas concluded, we were back on the road by 13.15hrs.

For the  return journey, we followed a well-cycled route back through Wettenhall to Eaton, climbing Sapling Lane to drop down into Utkinton, onward to Duddon and then crossing the A51. Here we stayed on Rycroft Lane rather than returning to ICF and made our way back home via Chester.

The weather today was quite warm and benign for January on mainly dry roads with both of us commenting on how good it was to be out enjoying the quite lanes of Cheshire. Today's route returning back to ICF was 41 miles, but both Tom and myself probably cycled  another 40 to get back home. A very good ride for Tom who is still struggling with a back problem, hopefully today's ride wasn’t detrimental to his recovery. Thanks for your company Tom.

KP

Friday, 12 January 2018

11th January 2018: Whitchurch (mod)

Despite forecasts of widespread fog, there was a strong turnout by the intrepid Chester Easy Riders membership. It was good to see Tom back on board for a second week. Jim was on a recovery ride, and the tandem was also with us, so a proper pressure-less moderate ride appeared to be the inclusive option. Ken had a separate plan for the fast lads. Dave Matthews, George, Bob, Trevor, Jim, Steve Haywood, Mike Gilbert, Andy Barber, Dave and Liz, and myself constituted the moderate group.

We headed for Whitchurch via Tattenhall, Clutton and Tilston. Crossing the A41 before Chowley was a bit messy with a large group, a car behind us, and two lorries temporarily parked either side of us at the busy junction. At Lower Carden, Dave M. suggested that he could lead those riders who would like to go a little quicker, with the benefit of making two smaller, more manageable groups. So it became one of those rare occasions when we had three groups out simultaneously. I'm not keen on Malpas, or a fan of the climbs up to it, so I intended to explore a new (to me, anyway!) route to avoid it. We were now five: the tandem, Jim, George and myself. Coming out of Tilston we turned left and climbed to Edge Grange on a quiet lane. Before reaching Hampton Post, Jim decided that it was time to turn for home on his recovery ride. We re-crossed the A41 at No Mans Heath. The tandem prudently decide to have lunch here, so the ride leader was left with a group of George! Anyway, George and I had an interesting chat, as we semi-circled down to Whitchurch through Bickley Town, Gauntons Bank, Marbury and past Fox Hall.

Shortly after arriving at the Black Bear, and whilst trying to find out where they were, the others arrived. They had cycled a more westerly route encompassing Tallarn Green and Hanmer. The Black Bear is a consistent favourite with its warm welcome, good service and nice food.
Photo by Steve H

We returned by way of Wirswall, Hadley Hall, Steer Bridge, Swanwick Green, Bickley and Cholmondeley Castle. The climb to Wirswall was more challenging than I remember, particularly on a full stomach! Just after Egerton Green, Dave Matthews headed north up his “secret lane,” (which we all know about!). I wanted to avoid the predictable grind of Harthill, so tried the agreeable little lane at the end of Bickerton Hill leading to Brown Knoll, and then headed north, past Bolesworth Castle. We were soon passing Owler Hall and some of us had a last coffee at the Ice Cream Farm.

The lady running the cafe made sure, once again, that we knew that we were welcome. She stated that she would not be here now only for the custom of cyclists in the early days. We still get a cyclist's discount of course. We thought that Steve and Andy had gone their own ways near the end, but in fact Andy had had a puncture, which Steve had messaged me about, but which I had missed. Just before lunch, I had tried to contact the other group to find their whereabouts, but I didn't get a response. It reminded me of the day, when two of us stopped  to help with a puncture on the way to Whitchurch, and then the three of us failed to find the main group for the rest of the day, despite visiting three pubs that we had previously frequented in the town. In fact, I think it was the first time the group, led by Jim, had used the Black Bear. We probably need to consider sharpening up our mobile communication procedures! Anyway, the weather was great; bright with no wind, with some of us riding over 41 miles, and others about 38. Trevor must have covered a useful 60+ miles, and Mike and Andy more. It was a real pleasure to be out with such pleasant company on such quiet, sunlit lanes, even in mid-January, when so many can only contemplate a shuffle to Costa as the height of their winter outdoor exertions.
                                     
DH                         

For the route of the sub-group led by Mike G & Dave M:
See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 5 January 2018

4th January 2018: Rock Ferry (mod)

Our first CER ride of the New Year saw 8 members meeting at Ness Gardens with Clive, Bob and Steve H coming just for coffee and N Y-well wishing.  Macca had promised a Wirral ride covering some previously un-ridden “roads” by CER and in anticipation, Ivan, Mike G, Steve T, Tom and Macca set off north to Parkgate.  This ride should have been billed as “Edwardians at leisure” as we soon arrived at the site of the outdoor swim baths; today it was packed, not with human “bird watchers” but with RSPB members all staring out onto the Estuary, hoping to see for raptors hunting vermin escaping the very high tide. (see photo)

Photos by Macca

Onwards and eastwards brought us flying past Raby Mere, the site of Edwardian pleasure gardens, boating lake and tea-rooms up until the late 1960s, if my childhood memory serves me correctly.  Continuing through Mill Park, followed by Carlett Park, we arrived on the banks of the very high Mersey at our 3rd Edwardian playground – the long gone zoo, bear-pit and pleasure gardens at Eastham Ferry.  In bright winter sun, we headed north to the 21st century equivalent at Port Sunlight River Park, built on a 15 year old landfill dump and opened in 2014 (see photo 2).


Hearing stomachs rumbling I called 15 minutes to the pub, at which the speed increased noticeably.  We cycled for the first time ever along the old Edwardian sandstone promenade at Rock Ferry, which usually has a 6 foot drop to the “beach”, where thousands came from Liverpool to sunbathe and swim.  Today, as you see from photo 3, we nearly had to swim ourselves.


The Refreshment Rooms looked after us as well as ever.  Only open 5 years, it has gained from early-on a deserved reputation for serving excellent food as well as local beer, both locally sourced.  Its “Mission Statement” posted in the Gents, even declares that staff are locally sourced.
Though I had previously promised by e-mail a ride of 70 odd kms, the accurate BBC weather app I always use showed we were due 80 kms westerlies from 2pm.  After a hurried lunch, I elected for the shortest route back to Ness as we set off straight into that headwind. Bebington Station, Sunlight village, Clatterbridge, Brimstage, Raby, Willaston, then up and over Mill Lane took us back to Ness; we still covered an enjoyable 58 kms. (Well I still think of myself as European) at an average 18 kph.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Macca



Thursday, 28 December 2017

28th December 2017: Overton (mod)

Deep midwinter: sleet had fallen on frozen ground overnight. It was freezing and the roads were icy.  So it was in hope rather than expectation of a ride that I strapped my bike to the car and drove out to Cleopatra’s in Holt. Steve T, Dave H, Keith and Ken had all driven out with the same feeling. David M was also there but in civvies, ostensibly to lend moral support, but really to flog the new Chester and North Wales  CTC vests (discounted to a great value of £20 for a limited period only!).

We considered the options for the day: anything between just riding over the bridge to the café in Farndon and returning, to one of our more usual routes to Hanmer or Whitchurch. As the sun rose we determined to ride out towards Shocklach and decide then based on the condition of the surfaces.  We found that although some sections had been melted by the sun, others remained covered with crunchy frozen sleet.  We reasoned that the smaller less-used lanes would be unsafe, but that we could follow more major roads through Worthenbury, Bangor-on-Dee and into Overton. Cycling gingerly we made slow yet safe progress and eventually arrived outside The White Horse just before opening time having covered only 12 ½ miles.

We were grateful when the doors were unlocked and we met Stuart from Orkney, the temporary landlord. We received a cantankerously friendly welcome.  Five steak pie and chips were ordered and we settled down to wait, having been told that Stuart was on his own and it would take a while. Our conversation was a typical mix of the idiosyncratic. Dave proudly brought a twig out of his bag and claimed it was a specialist twig used to remove mud from under mudguards; Steve told us that his name was shortened to “Ste” by Scousers; and Dave, Steve and Keith revealed yet more insights into the strange world of Runcorn. We were just becoming absorbed in the finer details of 1:50k and 1:25k downloadable maps, when thankfully, five plates of substantial food arrived, the talking ended and the eating began.  Some time later we said our farewells to Stuart and hit the road again.


Photo by Ken P

We hoped that sunshine and the slight rise in temperatures would allow us to take a different route back. And so it seemed after repeating our outward route to Worthenbury, we gained the confidence to head into Malpas, then Tilston.  At Stretton we stopped outside Stretton Hall for a photo and decided to return via Wetreins Lane.  This turned out to the iciest ride of our day, but without mishap we made it back to Cleos having covered just over 30 miles. Except for the road surfaces, it had been a beautiful day and we all were grateful to have made the effort: a suitable finale as the last CER ride of the year.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st December 2017: Ravensmoor (mod)

The shortest day of the year required a relatively short ride. From Rose Farm we have favourite nearby destinations such as the Bhurtpore at Aston or the Crown at Goostrey, but I felt in need of a change.  I’d often cycled past The Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor without stopping, although I was told this had been popular with Easy Riders some years ago. The prospect of 35 or so miles seemed popular, and so six of us set off: Dave H, Keith, Jim, Trevor, Ken and myself.

We didn’t get very far, in fact we didn’t make it out of the car park, before someone from the shop asked us to move our cars out of the main car park to make room for shoppers.  Dave and Trevor duly obliged before we could hit the open road.  Then it was out on familiar lanes through Cotebrook, Wettenhall and Nantwich, to then make a loop around our destination so as not to arrive too early. The morning had been pleasant with generally no wind, mild temperatures, even a little sunshine, though with some filthy lanes.

So it was that with 20 miles covered, we arrived at The Farmers. In spite of a large Christmas lunch party being booked, we received a friendly welcome and before long were tucking into substantial meals.

The return was along similarly familiar lanes, though we diverted to avoid the usually messy lanes north of Brindley, and passed through the village of Haughton and an appealing looking pub, The Nag’s Head, which Dave identified as part of the Ribble pub chain (though a long way from the Ribble Valley). This really is a better alternative lane to the one we usually take, and for the sake of a few hundred meters of main road is worth it. We then passed on through Bunbury, by Beeston Castle and over the steep humpback canal bridge beside the Shady Oak.  Here Ken revealed that he had learnt to swim in that canal. Corkscrew Lane took us into Clotton and so back to our start.  Overall we covered almost 38 miles for the day, and enjoyed a pleasant ride as our last outing before Christmas.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 15 December 2017

14th December 2017: Christmas Special Ride to Christleton (mod)

A pleasant enough day for December saw 8 riders heading off from The Gallery at Hawarden bound for the CER Christmas lunch.  While Dave H had ably organised again all the arrangements for the meal.... and thank you for doing that so well......Trevor had a circular route avoiding entirely the city of Chester.  Dave H, Trevor, Chris, Mike, Jim, Keith, Steve T and me initially went SW to give us a good 2+ hour ride to the lunch; our route was Burton, Rossett, Holt, Aldford and then NE up the only incline of note on the day at Saighton College and thence to Waverton and Christleton.

Photos by Macca

We were joined by 10 other members at The Ring o Bells for an excellent lunch but only 3 seasonal hats and one Christmas jumper were in evidence – more effort needed next year says Santa.  A couple of hours later, well replenished, it saw us departing before more snow and ice came in.  Back at Hawarden I had 63 kms on the clock in the dark.



A very special thanks must surely go here to Bryan Wade for all he has done for chestereasyriders, not only over the last 12 months but for the last 9 years since he founded the club.  We all hope the next 12 months bring him and Erla good health and happiness, wherever they are. 


Macca

Sunday, 10 December 2017

7th December 2017 : Bickerton (brisk)

Eight riders  assembled at Delamere Station cafe and were joined by Bryan, Dave and Liz, for coffee. Dave M also arrived on his bike and was buying a Christmas Tree - good luck getting that home in one piece Dave!

Three of the eight riders were keen for a brisk ride despite the threat of Storm Caroline heading our way. So taking account of the prospect of strong north westerly winds I decided on a route that would take us west as far as Alford and then south to Tilston before turning north east after lunch.

From the cafe Steve T ,Paul and myself headed out to Hatchmere then left through Ashton before crossing A54 into Oscroft- no sign of Dave and his Christmas tree.

Our good pace on familiar roads meant the journey from Oscroft through Waverton and Alford was soon covered , it was surprisingly pleasant given  the wind and cold forecast had not yet materialised. In Churton we turned left down Pump Lane into Coddington , at the junction of Mill Lane and Broxton Road, we decided to see if there was route through Carden Park Golf Resort as this would provide a nice shortcut into Tilston. The  Hotel and golf course all appeared very quiet and the way through the estate was easy to navigate providing the  short cut we had hoped for. Still enjoying fine weather and dry roads we made easy work of the lanes through Duckington and Bickerton before  arriving at our lunch venue.

The Bickerton Poacher has had a facelift since I was last here and seemed all the better for it. The staff were very welcoming, we were quickly seated with both drink and food orders taken at the table, the food arrived promptly and was excellent. Lunch topics included Christmas travel plans and Paul’s new Tifosi  cycling glasses bought from Evans cycles for £16:00, including three interchangeable lens -bargain!

Back on the road our route through Peckforton and Bunbury passed quickly but it was here that a brief senior moment meant I missed the turning to Bunbury common so we had a small detour through Alpraham and Long Lane. Fortunately it went unnoticed by both Paul and Steve and only added  a little more mileage. 

With a little help from ‘Caroline’ the ride back through Eaton to Delamere passed without incident. Here we all parted company, Paul and Steve both cycling home while I had an easy drive home. 

Although today’s route was on roads familiar to CER riders we had a pleasant 44 mile ride, in part due to the absence of the threatened weather. However, in our haste to beat ‘Caroline’ we didn’t stop for a photoshoot.


KP

Saturday, 9 December 2017

7th December 2017: Lymm (mod)

Steve Tan and I arrived together by car at Delamere.  I cursed under my breath as a rich pensioner in a posh Mercedes got in our way as we tried to cross the bridge on our bikes. Keith had ridden from “not quite 'Upper'” Runcorn. At the station, Dave Matthews was operating a Christmas tree-trusser. I acknowledged some of our fast lads, but I'm not sure I caught them all as they moved like rapid wraiths to cafe tables bereft of calorific temptations. It was good to see Paul again, his super- slim form ghosting past our chairs on his way to the toilet. It was a reminder to the likes of Keith and myself of how you could move in a cafe without bumping into things, if you didn't possess the bulk of Big Daddy! The rich, Mercedes-driving pensioner entered the cafe in a classy coat and scarf, and announced that he couldn't be persuaded to ride. It was Bryan. I was in the dog house with Keith, as I had arranged to bring my bike rack to save him from a dangerous, dark ride home at the end of the day. I had left it in the garage, and he would just have to “go whistle”! I was having trouble fitting overshoes, having already given up on new Boardman XL items, that even Lynne couldn't zip up on me at home. Dave Matthews wouldn't touch them as they lacked graphene, pure silk or high modulus carbon fibre content, and their aerodynamics had not been refined in McLaren's wind tunnel. To be fair, he did recommend his BBB shoe covers which are just pull-on, and I later investigated their website. George and Bob had travelled together by car, parking at Mouldsworth in order to clock up an extra seven miles for the day. It's all about “small margins” as Dave Brailsford would say!  Dave and Liz then appeared in civvies having been holidaying in Cyprus. They thought that the strong winds would be a risk on the tandem, particularly if Dave had found it necessary to wear his vintage oilskin cape. You could do without a big yellow spinnaker when cycling in high winds! Steve took his chance with the fast lads, and Dave Matthews road to the first cross roads with us, but still had Christmas tree business to complete.

I had a rough idea of a route to Lymm and back, and I had booked The Spread Eagle Hotel in the centre for 12.30. I had in mind to find the odd new lane, and avoid any rural rat-runs. We were just four: George, Bob, Keith and myself. On our way out we went down a little lane to the west of Norley village, passing the attractive Norley Hall, before heading down to Crowton. We then cycled down Ainsworth Lane past some delightful properties, including that of Mick the master sweep. Our first stiff climb was under the main line to London, and past The Cliff, to Acton Bridge. Bartington was followed by the quiet Hall Lane with Cogshall Hall on our right, crossing Northwich Road at Frandley. We meandered to Arley Hall by the smallest lanes that I could find, and gingerly conquered the wet cobbles before the postcard pretty pond, and black and white properties at Arley Green. We cruised on along the narrow, tree-lined estate road, before reaching Cann Lane. We were soon over the M6 and then turned off, into the wind, on virgin lanes for Chester Easy Riders. On reaching Swineyard Hall we were on a more familiar back route into Lymm. We reached our destination almost bang on time, and were able to take our bikes to the private space at the back. We had a choice of where to sit and chose the snug, small room next to the bar with a roaring open fire. I had a skillet of seared chicken breast with a nice sauce, red peppers, onions, and rice and chips. The service was friendly and prompt, and we had our usual convivial conversation. Bob did include a disquieting story or two of an evil Welsh policeman in his village! As we unlocked our bikes, Bob announced that his lunch had been the worst he had eaten since joining the club! Keith wasn't too impressed either. I don't know if George was being diplomatic or throwing up in the corner! I must admit that I felt a bit deflated. 

We set off for Grappenhall, and our second set of cobbles for the day. We were sometimes alongside the Bridgewater Canal, before turning up toward Appleton Thorn. Bob was unfortunate to have yet another puncture despite his Specialized Thornsucker Puncture-Prone Mk.2 tyres being quite new.   
Steve Tan rang to let me know that he had returned to Delamere early, so was going to ride back to Runcorn. We passed the Young Offenders Institute and headed down Arley Road. Turning right at Barber's Lane, I decided that it would now have to be straight back in order to return in daylight, and beat the forecast wintry showers. We headed for Little Leigh, via Antrobus and Frandley, then Acton Bridge, and through my favourite hamlet at Onston. At Crumleyheath Farm, Keith had taken his leave for Dutton and 'not really Higher' Runcorn. He would have to pay penance by riding along rough surfaced Marsh Lane. The sun was slipping away below the tree tops as we climbed up Norley Bank. A wintry shower just caught us before Hatchmere, and I turned my back light to its 'Blackpool illuminations' setting. George and Bob carried straight on through for Mouldsworth.  I covered nearly 44miles, the others must have managed around 50 or more. The distance was just about the limit for a moderate ride on a short winter's day given our starting time, and the possibility of a puncture. As usual I enjoyed the company, and the lovely, quiet Cheshire lanes. I did, however, make a note to ring Jay Rayner, asking him to make at least two visits before I suggest a lunchtime venue in future!
                                                                                                                                             
DH

Thursday, 30 November 2017

30th November 2017: Loppington (mod)

Six Easy Riders assembled at the Tea Rooms in Chirk – Bob, Ken, George, Keith, Dave H and myself.  Not as many as in recent weeks, but it was very cold and Chirk is a long way out for many. What was to be our destination?  A north wind was blowing, so an easterly or westerly direction was preferred.  We wanted to avoid any icy roads, so climbing the hills to the west was ruled out.  This meant an eastwards route of not much more than 40 miles given the short days.  Surveying the map, the village of Loppington seemed about right and previously we had enjoyed its Dickin Arms, although we had never ridden out from Chirk.

We headed out through Western Rhyn and passed by the Oswestry Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. (In case you had ever wondered, these two were pioneering orthopaedic specialists: Sir Robert one of the first surgeons to focus on fractures and Dame Agnes the first orthopaedic nurse. Forty years ago I was treated with a Robert Jones bandage when I fractured my patella.)

We then took to east bound lanes through Welsh and English Frankton before arriving at the Dickin Arms. Two incidents ‘enlivened’ our morning.  On a little back lane we found the road blocked by the work of a ‘white-lining’ team – they were very apologetic for causing us to carry our bikes past on the verge, but we did wonder why it was worth painting white lines on such a narrow road.  A little later, Bob suffered a puncture and mended it while we all shivered.

The Dickin Arms was especially welcome on such a day with a large fire, a friendly barman, good beer and good food – a little more pricey than our usual, but well worth it – the Italian meatballs were a favourite. It should go on our favourites list.

Our return took us through Lyneal, Colemere and Ellesmere and several lanes before hitting the main road at St Martin’s. On our route we were surprised to see a dog being taken for a walk by a woman driving her car alongside it!  The main road from St Martin’s took us quickly back to the Chirk Tea Rooms, except for Ken who still had to cycle back to Rossett.

It had been a very good day. Despite the cold were had lots of blue sky and great views, and but for a few muddy spells, we rode on smooth clean quiet Shropshire lanes, and we lunched at a great pub.  Overall about 37 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH



Friday, 24 November 2017

23rd November 2017: Aston (mod)

It was another good CER turnout, with 14 taking coffee at the Ice Cream Farm.  Clive was in civvies suffering from some aches and pains, and Jim and Trevor were just out for a local ride. This left a decent number of riders and for only the second time since August that we had both a moderate and a brisk group. 

The moderates consisted of myself, Ray, Bob, Dave H, George and Bryan.  Dave had unfortunately left both his jackets behind and purloined a bin bag from the ICF, modified it for wear and was proudly modelling it, until Brian spoilt our fun by offering his own spare jacket. So now properly equipped we headed off towards Aston and the Bhurtpore Arms. 

The last couple of days had been wet and stormy, and had left some very mucky roads and a gusty WSW wind.  Fortunately the conditions were leavened by some decent sunshine. Our route out passed through Churton, Tilston and Cholmondeley.  We also passed three lanes where the tractor were out cutting hedges and leaving a trail of sharp thorns behind. We nonetheless arrived at the pub without incident.

Another excellent lunch at the Bhurtpore with good food and a bewildering array of real ales.  Dave recollected another pub with a similar layout – but was that the Wheatsheaf, or the Greyhound, or the Piccadilly? We couldn't be sure and generally confused we moved on to the budget, then housing and planning in Cheshire, but these didn’t prove to be cheerful topics. Fed and rested we prepared to saddle up, when the effects of the morning’s hedge cutting were seen in Bryan’s rear tyre.  He efficiently replaced his inner tube while the rest of us stood around unhelpfully.

Photo by SH
Back on the road we passed through Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury before returning to the ICF.  Some made direct for home, while the others couldn’t resist tea and sweet things – though not cakes as Dave complained – these seemingly having disappeared from the ICF counters.  A good day, and good to have Bryan with us.  Just over thirty six miles covered in total.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Thursday, 23 November 2017

23rd November 2017 : Audlem (brisk)

I had uploaded the route from the ICF to Audlem that Trevor led in August, thinking that this might be a sensible route, given the wind direction (southwest –ish). During coffee, Ken asked if I had a route and when I told him, he said he’d got the same route on his phone. So Audlem it was for the brisk riders, who were Paul, Ken, Andy B, Nick and myself. This is the first time that I’ve had the route on my phone in front of me (as opposed to in my back pocket), so I had the challenge for the first time of following the route on the map as we went along. (Clive makes it look so easy!) For the most part, this was successful, although we did deviate from Trevor’s route in one or two places.

The five of us set off down Newton Lane and followed the usual route via Beeston Castle and Bunbury. At the far side of Bunbury, Trevor’s route had followed Long Lane through Haughton and Radmore Green, but we took the earlier turning south via Capper’s Lane and Brindley. In any event, both routes converged at Ravensmoor and we made our way to Audlem via Sound, Brown’s Bank and Copthorne, arriving in Audlem at about 11:55. 

The choice of lunch venue was either The Lord Combermere, where we ate last time, or the Old Priest House Café, where we haven’t been for some time. I suggested the latter and when we walked in there was absolutely no-one else there. Bingo! we’ve struck lucky, I thought. Then the nice lady asked if we were with the party who’d booked for lunch, which, of course, we weren’t. Oh dear!

But not to worry; “ I’ll put you in the front room”, she says. “Would you like beans on toast?” This was more of an instruction than an offer, so we all said ‘yes’ and also agreed to wholemeal toast. We did, however, get the choice between tea or coffee, so it wasn’t all bad. Lunch soon arrived, as did the party of cyclists in the big room who seemed to be celebrating someone’s birthday.

Wrenbury Canal Bridge - KP Photo
Beans on toast don’t take long to eat, so we were back on the road by 12:45, this time following Trevor’s route more faithfully. We left Audlem, initially on the A525, but quickly turning off for Swanbach and Wilkesley before turning north towards Aston. We passed the Bhurtpore Inn (and the moderates eating their curries) at 13:10. From there, it was up through Wrenbury and a stop at Wrenbury Mill for the team photo – except nobody had told Nick, who flew ahead up the road towards Chorley Bank. After what seemed like light years, Nick came back for the photo and our onward journey via Gaunton Bank, Norbury and Cholmondeley Castle. 

At Clay Lane, Nick peeled off for Tilston and home and the rest of us enjoyed the run down the A534 to Bulkeley, Peckforton and Beeston, from whence we retraced our steps to the ICF. Ken took his leave at the end of Newton Lane, which left Andy B, Paul and myself to avail ourselves of refreshments there.

46 miles at an average of 15 mph on a day when the blustery wind seemed to be in your face, whichever direction you were travelling. An additional insult was the state of the roads; although we never strayed from tarmacadam, I have rarely seen bikes more muddy that those which were parked outside the ICF at the end of the ride.


ST

Friday, 17 November 2017

16th November 2017: Mickle Trafford to No Man's Heath (mod)

Anyone who stuck their head out of the window this morning to check the weather would have been forgiven for leaving their cycling gear in the wardrobe. However the forecast led me to believe that it was going to be a good day and by the time I was down to Meadow Lea the heavy rain had already given way to drizzle. Thirteen other members had also checked the forecast so the café was already busy when I arrived. Three of us had rides in mind but a few people expressed surprise when I suggested a trip to the Wheatsheaf Inn at No Man's Heath. We had been there in January when the landlord had told us that the pub was closing in February. However on a recent ride down to Grindley Brook, Dave P and I had noticed that it was open.

Ken decided to do his own thing and Jim wasn’t riding, so twelve of us (Dave P & Liz on the tandem, David M, Dave H, Keith, George, Andy B & Andy W, Clive, Bob, Steve H and I) emerged from the café to find that, as promised, the rain had passed and the sun was trying to push its way through the clouds. We set off through Guilden Sutton and out along Wicker Lane. We crossed the A51 and headed down to Waverton where we turned left to take the Martins Lane route towards Tattenhall. After passing through Tattenhall we started to go up round the back of the Bolesworth Estate and it was here that the whole group thing started to unravel. Dave P, still recovering from his operation earlier in the year was struggling up the hill and the group soon got strung out. Dave H and Keith volunteered to stay with the tandem and offer encouragement, George and I ended up together in the middle with the other six somewhere up ahead. I wasn’t too worried as everyone knew where we were going and so we crossed the A534 to Brown Knoll. Here we joined the Old Coach Road  and followed it all the way to our lunch stop, crossing the A41 just 200 yards from the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The first six had already ordered food when George and I arrived and it wasn’t long before the other four arrived. We were all back together again. It transpired that the pub had in fact closed in February but had reopened in May run now as a community pub, an arrangement that has saved many country pubs from closure.

We split up again after lunch with Dave & Keith opting to keep the tandem company again and David M heading straight home. The plan for the rest of us was to cycle up into Malpas then on towards Tilston. Dave H had suggested a detour which would avoid the hill up into Malpas and the inevitable littering of parked cars through the village. So halfway up the hill we took Dave’s Detour and turned right to pass through Ebnal before regaining the Tilston road at Kidnal. Why had we never done this before?

We continued on our return journey passing though Tilston and crossing back over the A534 at Barton. At Coddington we turned left towards Churton then back through Aldford, Bruera and Saighton to Waverton. From here we retraced our morning's route back to Meadow Lea having covered 40 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC


Friday, 10 November 2017

9th November 2017: Street Dinas, St Martins (mod)

A total of 15 Easy Riders crowded around the table at Cleopatra’s, the largest turnout for some time, though Macca and David M were not out for a club ride.  I had in mind a route to The Greyhound at Street Dinas, just outside St Martins, which seemed to find favour.  We were slow to get started and I wasn’t sure how many would be joining the moderate group, so I set off and waited across the bridge in Farndon to see who had followed me: Dave H, Keith, George, Bob and Ray, plus Dave & Liz P.  Good to see this pair out on the tandem again, and though they didn’t follow our route, we did meet up again at our pub stop.

A forecast of a dry day, was betrayed initially as we left Holt by rain. The route took us out through Threapwood and Penley, then around Dudleston Heath.  Too many rough, potholed and muddy lanes were traversed, but at least the rain had ceased. We arrived at The Greyhound luckily just before a large party of 15 placed their orders. The Greyhound is a favourite of ours, with good value food and drink: George was almost overwhelmed by a massive baked potato, and the ‘light bite’ fish and chips were a plateful.

The return took us direct to Overton and on via Holly Bush to Worthenbury and then a return by our outward route. As George, Bob and Keith made their way back to Holt, the rest of us enjoyed the comforts of Lewis’ in Fardon.  A good November outing with 39 miles covered and a fine dry afternoon with some blue skies.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

9th November 2017: Calverhall (brisk)


Fifteen CER members gathered at Cleopatra’s on an overcast, blustery day. Too many people for a single ride, in spite of the fact that Dave M and Macca would not be joining us for a ride today. So, after some discussion it was agreed that there would be a brisk (ish) ride for John M, Andy B, Nick, Clive and yours truly. But where to go? John M had a route to Maesbury and both Audlem and St Martins were mentioned, but by the time we were leaving, no decision had been made. The weather had turned for the worse whilst we were having coffee, with fine drizzle coming down – so much for the Met Office forecast! Finally, it was decided that we should go to Audlem and Clive led off along Wrexham Road. But Andy was nowhere to be seen! After some hesitation we decided that he must have gone with the moderates and we pressed on, taking Francis Lane down to the A534 via the muddy track and turning east on the main road. As we turned off on the B5130 towards Shocklach, Andy B appeared right behind us! He’d set off with the ‘mods’ thinking it was the brisk ride. Keith B put him right as they crested the hill out of Farndon, so Andy figured that the ‘briskers’ must have headed out this way and he’d legged it down to the junction to catch up with us. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud of him!

The route took us via Tilston, Bickerton and Cholmondeley, across the A49 and into Wrenbury and Aston. Due to the drizzle, the roads were greasy and in many places muddy, where the local farmers had been dragging the muck from their farmyards and fields into the road. Somewhere along here (I’m not sure where!) we came across a ‘Road Closed’ sign which, of course we ignored. As usual the ‘hazard’- a small but deep hole which was being examined by several workmen- was passable on a bike. In order to pass the hole, we had to ride between some narrowly-spaced traffic cones, which we all managed to do without either falling off or knocking one over. Cycling on passed the Bhurtpore Inn, we eventually reached Wilkesley, where a turn to the left would have taken us to Audlem. But Clive felt that, given the wind direction and the fact we hadn't done that many miles, we’d be better going in the other direction. The options were Market Drayton (7 miles) or The Olde Jack Inn at Calverhall (direct 4 miles or 7 miles). The latter got the vote, since it was after 12:00 and ‘lunch time’ according to Andy.

Oh dear!
We were soon seated in the comfortable surroundings of the pub with a drink and food to replenish our energy stocks. The conversation ranged from a discussion of the merits of lead-acid, lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur batteries, how the toll fee system on the new Runcorn/Widnes bridge works (or might not) and how distracting touch screens are in cars compared to the simple switches we used to have years ago.

By the time we left the pub, the drizzle had stopped and we headed northwest from Calverhall, but now into the wind. The route took us through Ightfield, Ash Parva and across the A49 at Prees Heath. The A49 here is a dual carriageway and Clive negotiated it by cycling a short distance against the traffic on both sides of the crash barrier. The rest of us took a more conservative approach, walking the bikes across. We continued on through Tilstock, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal at Brickwalls. Climbing Fenn’s Bank, we crossed the A495 and A525 to reach Whitewell. From there we threaded our way through the lanes to Drury Lane before turning down an unmade road/track to Dymock's Mill, which lies at the bottom of a steep, but narrow Wych valley. Here, a lady warned us that there was a lorry on the road at the other side of the valley which was trying to reverse up the steep  hill. It had come down, ignoring two signs that the road is unsuitable for HGVs (see Clive’s photos) and was unable to turn round at the bottom, so he was reversing up the narrow lane. 

If only the driver had noticed the notice!
If only there was some traction!


We waited for a while to see if the road would clear, but eventually we pressed on. The lorry was sliding about on the mud and going nowhere. We walked the bikes passed it, through the smell of burning rubber and clutch and up to the top of the hill at the other side (this is where the photos were taken). I suspect the lorry is still there, unless they got a very large tractor to pull him up the hill.



Getting back in the saddle, we headed for Cuddington Green, Shocklach (where Nick peeled off for home) and the usual thrash back to Farndon where John M headed home. We’d passed Liz and Dave P on the tandem at Shocklach and they told us that the ‘mods’ were going to Lewis’s in Farndon for tea and cakes, but when we arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. When I finally caught up with Keith and Dave H in the car park in Holt, it turned out that some of the mods had not heard this and they’d all gone back to Cleopatra’s.



In any event, we had an excellent ride of 51 miles at an average of 15 mph in fairly reasonable weather and very convivial company. Thanks go to Clive for leading with much appreciated local input from Nick.


ST

See route map and/or gpx file download