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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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Friday, 18 June 2021

17th June 2021: Chirk to Harmer Hill

 It was bright and warm when Dave H and I arrived in Chirk; we met Roy in the car park as we were unloading the bikes.  We went round to The Castle Bistro and Tearooms, where Andy B and Dave M arrived shortly afterwards, although Dave M had come out on the train and was riding back to Chester following the route of an Audax ride that he’s organizing. The weather was fine and dry, but there was a threat of thunderstorms at some point during the day, so wet weather gear was to be taken with us. We chatted about where we should go as we drank our coffees. Dave H had The Talbot at Ruyton XI Towns in mind, but I’d checked their website earlier and they don’t open until 3 pm, so that wasn’t an option. The alternative was The Bridgewater Arms at Harmer Hill and this became our agreed destination.  As we came out of the café, we found Mike Dodd sitting outside, so we would be five for the ride, which I had last done in July 2019.

We left Chirk via Castle Road, crossing the Ceriog River at Pontfaen, then climbing the steep hill into Weston Rhyn. Dropping down into Oswestry, I was conscious of the fact that the last time I’d done this I’d gone twice round the one-way system there trying to find the road out towards Morda, so I was concentrating hard as we threaded our way through the back streets. Success! We were soon headed the right way, taking Weston Lane and crossing the A483 at Mile Oak.

On through Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh we eventually reached the busy A5 at Weirbrook, where we had to wait for a gap in the traffic before wheeling the bikes across the road to a gap in the hedge and the road out towards Wykey. The lanes between here and Baschurch are delightful, being quiet (except for the odd tractor) and smooth, although there are some steepish sections to test your fitness. By now, the sun was shining, adding to the pleasure. Taking the B5067 out of Baschurch, we turn off at Walford Heath and on reaching Merrington, we take the small lane which runs up to Lower Road at Harmer Hill and thence to The Bridgewater Arms.

As we arrived, we were just behind a big crowd of customers who were queueing to get in. The place was very busy inside, so we decided to eat outside, even though it was now quite cloudy and a bit cooler. Drinks and food were ordered. The former came quickly, but the latter took almost an hour to come due to the load on the kitchen. When it finally arrived, the waiter told us that our drinks would be on the house. It’s a pity we weren’t drinking anything stronger than cordials!


Leaving the pub at 2.30, we headed back along Lower Lane towards Myddle. After about 10 minutes, I realised that I couldn’t see Dave or Roy. No wanting to repeat last week’s experience of ‘losing a rider’, I turned around to look for them while Andy and Mike continued towards Myddle. After some time and a number of failed phone calls, I picked up a voicemail telling me that the others, including Dave and Roy were now at Myddle! It turned out that they’d missed the turning onto Lower lane and taken the main road directly to Myddle, arriving soon after Andy had got there.

Taking the A528 we arrived at Burlton, where we would normally have taken a route to Cockshutt via Loppington and English Frankton, but we gave this a miss and continued on the A528 to Cockshutt to recover some of the lost time. From there we go via Lee and Tetchill to the climb up to Welsh Frankton, where we cross the A495.

Some of the back lanes through to New Marton and St. Martins were quite tricky, due to large amounts of gravel lying in the middle of the lane, but we eventually reached St. Martins, passing the parish church before taking the B5070 to the busy roundabout at the A5. Rather than tackling Chirk Bank, we opted to take the canal towpath and the aqueduct to reach Chirk, arriving about 4.45, having ridden just under 50 miles.

ST

See routemap and/or gpx file download

Friday, 11 June 2021

10th June 2021: Tattenhall to Ellesmere

I have just lost my full write-up on this computer, so please accept this far briefer account.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Bob, and also Keith at Alison's. Our wholehearted best wishes go to them both.  The moderate group consisted of Mike Gilbert, Mike Dodd, Steve Hughes, Steve Tan, George, Alan, Dave Matthews and myself. Our route out was via Carden, Tilston and Malpas. On turning south for Higher Wyche and Iscoyd Park, we became aware that Dave Matthews was not with us. Waiting, and attempted phone communication failed to reunite us. As we had also ignored a 'Road Closed' sign there was every chance that Steve Hughes' willingness to ride back to find Dave would have been a fruitless task. The rest of the route took in some of our favourite, sunny Shropshire lanes.

We headed west from Dobson's Bridge to Northwood, Lyneal and Colemere. Out of expediency, we then gave the back route past pretty White Mere a miss, in order to arrive by main road at the Red Lion on time. On our way in we were surprised to catch a glimpse of Dave Matthews at The Kiosk on the lake side of the road having lunch! It turned out that he had taken the direct, main Whitchurch Road in order to catch up, and  couldn't find us at The Red Lion, so had headed for his favourite Ellesmere venue. We ate outside at the back of the pub. The food and service were very good. Dave popped in, and then went his own way home. On Friday, I rang Dave to apologise. Lessons have been learnt, and it won't happen again. The route back was by the pleasant lane up from the north-west end of The Mere, past Haughton Farm. The warm breeze wafted us back to Tattenhall by way of Penley, Holly Bush, Mulsford, Worthenbury, Shocklach, Tilston, Barton and Chowley. Unfortunately, we were a bit too late for a coffee at Coddington. Just over 46 miles in fine weather and good company.

DH


 


See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 4 June 2021

3rd June 2021: Meadow Lea to Aston

 Another bumper turnout of CER members at Meadow Lea confirms the popularity of this starting point for our rides. This week, the mods were Steve Hu, Alan, Roy, Mike D, Peter, Andy B, Dave M, Dave H and yours truly. After the usual umming and aahing about where we should go, it was agreed that we should take a route originally devised by Dave H last year to….you’ve guessed it, The Bhurtpore at Aston. Since I had the route on my phone, I was nominated to be ride leader!

It was overcast with a few spots of rain as we set off, but at least it was warm, so cold weather gear  had been left at home. We set off past Ivan’s house to Vicars Cross and on through Christleton.  As usual, Dave M soon left us as he had other demands on his time. After crossing the canal, we also crossed the A41 to go into Rowton and then crossed back at the end of Rowton Lane, taking Moor Lane into Waverton. There we ran alongside the Shropshire Union canal heading for Beeston via Huxley, Brassey Green, crossing the canal at The Shady Oak.

After Beeston came Bunbury and then south to Haughton. This time we could not take Dave’s loop to Haughton Hall, as the road was closed. At Gradeley Green we turned east on Spring Lane, crossing the Shropshire and Union canal at Swanley before heading south for Ravensmoor and Sound. At Wrenbury we take Station Road, which has to be one of the roughest, most potholed roads in Cheshire, before reaching The Bhurtpore in Aston about 1 pm.

The usual slick operation at The Bhurtpore was missing today, confusion arising about whether we should order drinks inside and food outside and whether we could order together but pay individually. The food also took a while to arrive, but this gave us time to admire Roy’s vintage Brian Rourke bike which is almost as old as our younger members!



The sun had come out and the weather was perfect for cycling as we set off for home. Our progress was halted at Wrenbury Station by two trains which had the grand total of hree passengers between them. Our route back took us via Chorley Bank, Chorley and Larden Green. Just north of Brindley I missed the turning off Cappers Lane and had to drag everyone back a couple of hundred yards. Peter decided that he preferred the other road, so we lost him for a while, catching up with us as we reached Peckforton Hall Lane.

From here, the route via Beeston was fairly straightforward, but there were some mutterings at the back about a coffee stop. Options were limited as it was almost four o’clock by now and the Ice Cream Farm was heaving, it being half-term and all that. At the cross-roads between Newton Lane and Tattenhall Road, Red Lane had ‘Road Closed’ signs and bollards blocking the way. At this point, Peter and Andy decided to head for home another way while a motorist got out to move the bollards to one side, so that he could get his car through. For some reason, he didn’t seem to appreciate the ‘thank you’ he got from the cyclists as we nipped through the gap! As we reached the bridge by the marina we were confronted by several trucks and a tarmac laying machine. Initally, a jobsworth said that we’d have to turn back, but eventually we negotiated to walk the bikes past the roadworks.

After that it really was plain sailing. Roy left us at Greenlooms, as he was off to take part in a 10 mile time trial – the ride with us had obviously been a ‘warm up’! At Waverton, Steve Hu left us for home, so that left four Easy Riders to thread our way across the A54 back to Mickle Trafford and the now-closed coffee shop. If only they’d stay open till five!

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 3 June 2021

3rd June 2021 : Coppenhall (brisk)

Those of you who read Jeremy Clarkson’s car reviews in the Sunday Times will know that quite often most of his “blog” initially revolves around something else, with a quick verdict on the car being reviewed that particular week. So with this in mind, I want to review the ride that John W, John M, Ray, Ivan and myself did on June 1st.

Cast you mind back a couple of days and you will recall it was a cloudless, very sunny and hot day with a light easterly breeze i.e a perfect British summer’s day. I had been fed up of having to access the same old (rough) lanes to get out of the immediate area to horizons anew. So I hit upon the idea to start from Market Drayton to find new countryside to ride through - and we were not disappointed.

The ride was “just” seventy miles but what seventy miles. Leaving Market Drayton, we headed south down endless quiet country lanes arriving after 18 miles at  the outskirts of Muxton at the MacDonalds for a coffee. The rest of Muxton is endless estates on the edge of Telford. So heading east then north east we find more endless lanes and attractive rural villages too numerous to mention, eventually arriving in Haughton. Here we access NCR5 towards Stafford. This is 4 miles of old railway line looking green and verdant in the June sunshine. We continue on highway 5 to minimise our transfer through a very suburban Stafford, passing (and smelling) the Bostik factory.

More long lanes take us down recently patched refurbished lanes. Here the only incident of the day is that I find I have a slow leak in my tubeless front  tyre. The sealant works its wonders and soon we are searching Stone's pedestrian High Street for a lunch stop. The “Stone Baked” cafe fits the bill as we eat carbohydrate and sugar-rich repasts to top up our tanks.

The route back takes in more unfamiliar lanes until Baldwin’s Gate and Norton Hales become familiar names as we get back into Market Drayton. The Joules pub (Red Lion) beckons to finish off a throughly enjoyable day’s cycling in lanes anew.

But where am I now, oh yes, today's Brisk Ride to Coppenhall with Ivan and John W. A fast run out through Frodsham and a right at Sutton Weaver takes us to the outskirts of Weaverham via Acton Bridge. Davenham comes up, and we head straight through Middlewich via Warmingham to the Coppenhall's Co-op store.  A £3.50 meal deal does the feeding trick and we head of back through a familar route eventually riding around Beeston Castle.

The only incident of day now occurs. There is a yelp of pain from Ivan as something has caused great pain in his left knee. He can’t straighten it - what to do? Fortuitously, his son-in-law is working in Tattenhall and has a van. Ivan decides to cycle on one-leggedly to the Ice Cream Farm. Son-in-law isn’t able to come right away, so we all ride on to Tattenhall and the safety of Alison’s Country Kitchen to wait. Bizarrely, Ivan managed to cycle at 18+ mph most of the way - Yes, just one leggedly as well.


Ivan bravely cycling one-leggedly

After a welcome cake and coffee, the Rescue Van arrives to take Ivan home and John and I make our way back to Chester with 75+ miles on the clock at a fast 16.8mph average.

Today’s 61 mile ride was utilitarian compared with the Market Drayton one. So, whilst the sun shines, like Clarkson, I would recommend the alternative option of the Shropshire and Staffordshire offering over today's route. It could be extended to make a Special 100 miler. For route details see here.

Today's route is also here.

CA


Update: Ivan reports that his knee is much better this morning and he can walk OK.

Photo :JW

Sunday, 30 May 2021

27th May 2021: Loppington (mod)

 It was a warm, sunny and dry forecast at last. It was smashing to be able to return to Cleopatra's, and sit outside in shorts and short sleeved tops. Catching up with Elwyn and Fiona was enjoyable, but they couldn't join us on the ride. Nick also turned up for a coffee, but was doing his own thing on the day. Most of the other regular lead riders were elsewhere, so my half-baked thoughts of an intricate route to the Dickin Arms were accepted.

The moderate group were Dave Matthews, Andy Barber, Mike Gilbert, Mike Dodd, Steve Hughes, George, Alan and myself. We pottered along to Tilston with plenty of breath to spare for interesting chats. Malpas is best avoided, so my back route to Lower Wych was via Horton Green, Cuddington Heath, and Oldcastle Heath. After climbing up from Lower Wych we turned left, passing the attractive Strift House before drifting south on little lanes to Whitewell. We crossed two main roads without any problems before entering the delightful rural corridor to Whixhall and beyond. Steve did us a favour by phoning the Dickin Arms to ensure that we could be accommodated for lunch. We headed towards Wem by an intricate lacework of lanes near the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal. Mike Gilbert was particularly interested, having spent many happy hours of his childhood on a narrow boat. Mike is an excellent route navigator, but he was unclear where exactly I wanted to go (that made two of us!). The upshot was that we spent a lot of time pleasantly meandering, but becoming behind schedule for lunch. For expediency, I was no longer contemplating Wem, Tilley and Nonely as a route to Loppington, but headed briskly for Poolhead, Lowe and Horton. Steve had rung the pub again as my e.t.a. was passing. They said, that was fine, but we would have to make it before 1.30 p.m. We made it with five minutes to spare! And it was well worth it. We had two adjacent tables shaded by an airy canvas construction, and the food was excellent, good value and served swiftly. We joked with two local ladies, who took an interest in our day out. One of the staff kindly took our group photograph, before we headed home.


Photo by Mike G

The road to Lyneal was a peaceful and lush easy cruise after lunch, then we headed for Hampton Bank and Breadon Heath. All lanes were narrow and quiet and laden with summer scents. At Tarts Hill I turned left with Dave convinced I was heading south for Welshampton, which I would have been if I had turned left again shortly after, but I didn't, and we finished up painlessly in Penley, as planned. From Penley it's a pretty straightforward route north to Farndon. At Holly Bush I became aware that not everybody had passed me as I stopped to sort out my maps. I rang Steve to try and find out who was ahead, after ringing George and finding myself chatting to his wife! Andy had already gone back and Steve retraced his steps to reach me. Andy then rode up to say that Dave had had fixed a puncture, but was intending to cut off for his home before we returned to Holt anyway, so was happy for us to carry on without him. 

The ride continued to be pleasant and steady until Andy started to wind things up north of Worthenbury, as has become a bit of a tradition on this stretch in recent years. I stayed on his wheel, with George, Mike and Alan in close order, I think. It was good to see Alan back to form after his recent breathing problems. Although I gave it a go for a couple of miles or so, the pace was faster than it was sensible to try and sustain for me. I presume that Mike had no idea why suddenly everybody was cycling away at twice the speed we had been travelling all day! Anyway, a couple of calls from Alan ascertained that there was no significant problem, and Steve accompanied Mike back to us at Farndon.

There was still time for coffee and cake at Cleopatra's for some of us, before Andy, suitably sustained, set off on his sixteen miles to Mold. Mike told me we had covered 52mls. It was a particularly enjoyable day, given the outstanding weather, beautiful, quiet Shropshire lanes and the relaxing company. I very much appreciated Mike and Steve being on the ball in terms of navigational support. There may have been the odd tactical imperfection, but at least I couldn't have selected a better team, so one up on Pep then!

DH

P.S.
Some of you would have been amused at me banging on the locked door of Cleopatra's having convinced myself that I had lost my debit card when I returned to my car. I found it in my pocketed face mask shortly after the door was unlocked!




Friday, 21 May 2021

20th May 2021: Marbury (mod)

When Dave H and I arrived at Rose Farm, the car park was unusually full. The reason for this became apparent when we entered the café – it was full of middle-aged men eating full breakfasts and drinking beer! What was all that about? 

Dave M and Roy were already drinking their tea or coffee and we were soon joined by Andy B and Steve Hu. This turned out to be the full complement of CER members for the day. It would seem that the strong wind and promise of rain was enough to put others off. Dave M was on chauffeur stand-by duties, so there would be only five riders today.

I’d found a ride down to Marbury which had been led in November 2018 by Steve Ha. The Swan was open and so I’d booked a table for lunch at 12.45. We set off for Cotebrook, Wettenhall and Nantwich in light rain, heading into a strong south-easterly wind. All went well until we’d done about 7 miles and had reached Wettenhall. The gears on my bike suddenly dropped onto the small ring and I couldn’t persuade the chain back onto the big ring. As I stopped to investigate, Andy B arrived holding my left hand side crank and pedal which had fallen off a few yards back! At this point I thought I’d have to abandon the ride, but, fortunately, Andy had a 10mm allen key in his capacious tool bag and we were able to screw the crank back on. By this time it was raining hard and so we agreed to press on and investigate further at the lunch stop, even though the chain was still stuck on the small ring.


Photos by Steve Hu

The rest of the journey to Marbury was uneventful, although we were very wet by the time we arrived. Andy had demanded that there be a blazing fire at the pub and lo and behold there was a big log burning stove next to the table we were directed to - perfect! Drinks and food were soon ordered and were of excellent quality when they came. Dave H ordered the ‘large’ fish and chips which looked as if would have adequately fed two. The staff were friendly and helpful, even if Steve Hu couldn’t follow the directions to the toilets as he doesn’t yet know left from right. Happily, Roy put him right!

Further investigation of my crank problem after lunch revealed that the bottom bracket was loose and moving from side to side in the housing. Efforts to tighten it up were not successful, so we set off back with fingers crossed that it would hold together until we got back to Rose Farm.

Our route back took us via Swanwick Green, Chorley and Brindley. The rain had eased off and the wind was (mostly) behind us, so we made good progress. Passing through Bunbury and round Beeston Castle we arrived in Tarporley where Steve Hu carried on for home whilst the rest of us made the obligatory stop at The Old Fire Station. By the time we came out, it was raining hard again. Roy headed for Runcorn and home whilst Andy, Dave and I headed back to Rose Farm. From there, Andy would have a further 20+ miles in the rain before he reached Mold and home.

41 miles covered in less than ideal conditions and with a ‘mechanical’ which could have been terminal, but a good day out nevertheless.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Saturday, 15 May 2021

13th May 2021: Brimstage (mod)

 A Bakers Dozen CER members turned up at Meadow Lea on an overcast and drizzly morning. It was good to see Andy W along with Dave and Liz Pipe after a long Covid-induced break. It turned out that there would be seven moderate riders, whilst Ivan and John W constituted the briskers.

But where to go, as there had been a last minute change of venue?  I had managed to root out a ride to Parkgate, originally devised by Trevor a couple of years ago and had loaded onto my phone. Consequently I was elected ride leader and set off with Clive, Dave H, Andy B, Alan, George and Peter, turning right out of the café car park heading for The Wirral (or is it just Wirral? – answers on a postcard please).  We zigzagged our way over the M53, past the back of the zoo and over the canal past Chorlton Hall. We were soon crossing the A41 at Backford and heading up Demage Lane towards the railway. The Sustrans path alongside the railway slowed us down with all its gates but we put up with it as the alternative is to cycle up main roads. Then it was on through Capenhurst and Ledsham, across the Welsh Road and on to Willaston. At some point after the Sustrans path, Peter stopped to take a phone call, saying that he’d meet up with us at Parkgate, so we were now six.

As we’d been going along, I’d been having a conversation with Clive about where we were headed and where we might eat. He suggested that we should divert from Trevor’s route at Willaston and head up to Raby Mere. The mere was 'created' some 350 years ago by damming the river Dibbins that once flowed through this part of the Wirral. A mill was built in 17th century and this in turn was powered via a sluice from the Mere itself.  Having made use of the photo opportunity provided by the mere, we pressed on through the outskirts of Bebbington heading for Claremont Farm Café and Farmshop where we hoped to find lunch and, according to Clive, the best pork pies anywhere. 

When we arrived, the place was heaving. The car park was full and the café full of people, so it was agreed that this wasn’t the place for us, although we did take advantage of the facilities. By this time the rain was heavier and more persistent, so waterproofs were donned.

 Plan B was the café at Brimstage Hall, so Clive led us through the housing estates on the periphery of Bebbington and almost all the way to Storeton, before turning south for Brimstage. The cafe turned out to be an excellent choice, being much less crowded and providing us with shelter from the rain whilst we ordered and ate a very satisfactory lunch.

Photo by Alan

The rain had stopped by the time we left Brimstage and we threaded our way through Thornton Hough and Neston to join the boardwalk across the marshes at Ness. From there it was the usual route through the Deeside Industrial Estate to connect to the Greenway. Clive peeled off for home part way along and the rest of us arrived back at Meadow Lea in time for refreshments before they closed at 4pm.

  A very pleasant 39 miles visiting one or two places not seen before. Thanks go to Clive for suggesting the ‘route extension’ and for leading on that section. Thanks to the rest of the crew for their company and support and apologies to Peter for not showing up at Parkgate.

I hitched a lift back to sunny Runcorn from Dave H and was more than a bit surprised when I got my bike out of the back of the Berlingo to find that my back tyre was flat. How lucky was that!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Thursday, 13 May 2021

13th May 2021 : Llandegla (brisk)

Meeting at the rearranged coffee start at Meadow Lea cafe, I knew there would only be two brisk riders, John W and myself, so my route today reflected our choice of riding.

The forecast was showers and it was mizzle rain when it blew in the wind. We set off heading for Christleton and on to Aldford. The stone bridge over the Dee River is being rebuilt after a road collision earlier in the year. You can walk across but no vehicle access (during 0930-1430). The road is very quiet (ha ha) to Farndon due to the blockage. Crossing the A534, it’s heads down to Bangor on Dee.

Our route is heading out towards Minera and, after passing through Bangor, we ride mainly lanes which I’m sure I haven’t ridden before. The weather was OK but we did have one flooded lane at Hafod Lane before crossing over the A483. Photo shows John tacked into the wind and floating through.

Wheel washing facility at Haford Lane

The first real climb is from Minera passing the start up to World’s End and heading up to Gwynfryn. It’s a few years since we’ve been on this climb and at 17% it’s hard work. Joining the A525, it’s down hill for our cafe stop the Llandegla fishery. An excellent location. We had a good snack of sausage and egg baps followed by freshly cooked scone and jam.  Whilst lunching, we had the entertainment of two fishermen landing their big catches.

Necessary Calories 

We continue along the A525 before turning for Llanarmon.The next climb is after passing through the village where you climb up to Eryrys. Another long steep road that had us puffing after lunch. Leaving the village behind, it's downhill again for Mold. Whichever way you visit this town it’s a climb out but at only 7% we can spin out and it’s head down again for Northop and our original starting point of Hawarden.

We had an enjoyable day out in the Welsh countryside covering 67 miles and 3500ft of ascent. As is always quoted, the descent equalled or nearly at 3440 ft so really we had a flat ride!

Thanks to John for his continued support on Thursday rides.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos  : ID

6th May 2021: Little Bollington (mod)

 There was another good turnout at Delamere, despite the chill air and the possibility of heavy rain catching us before the end of the day. As it was, we were a bit unfortunate to encounter a shower from the off. Talking of showers, our small moderate group consisted of Rumbustious Roy, Marin Mike and myself. Roy was wearing a “Fat Lad at the Back” jersey, which I took as a personal challenge to my long-established position in the club. 

Our route took us on the quiet lane at the back of Norley Hall. On the swoop down to Crowton, Mike was “doing a Pete Roberts”; I wasn't sure if this was due to sensible prudence on the wet surface, or fear of emissions from Roy and myself. We were closing on the other moderate group, but chose Ainsworth Lane, and the off-piste route to Acton Bridge. The steep climb under the main line to London had the so-called “Fat Lad at the Back” glide up ahead. 

Interestingly, a nurse had told Roy that he was clinically obese, despite his build self-evidently being far closer to that of Ben Young’s rather than that of Billy Bunter. It reminds me of being referred to a Physio recently by my G.P. Practice by way of the infamous “triage” process. Physiotherapy by phone does not sound reassuring. The delayed consultation duly lived down to my expectations: an unconvincing diagnosis by checklist, a couple of obvious exercises, and no improvement in my ankle condition. It looks like we all need to be our own Google Doctors if we are to survive these second-rate experiences, or just pay to see a proper specialist, for whose expensive training we have already paid.  

Anyway, we continued on a fairly straightforward route to Knutsford by way of Comberbach, Budworth Heath, and Tabley Hill. We had the wind at our backs, it was pretty sunny, and all was well in our cycling bubble. We headed through Tatton Park very close to some handsome deer. Bearing in mind the approaching wet weather, we looked in at the cafe to seek a quick self-serve, but there was a queue outside, so we returned to Plan A. As we headed for the park exit a female cyclist approached with a zip lowered on her jersey, displaying her assets to a remarkable degree, particularly given the cold air. She passed with a big smile, probably noting how disturbed we were by this unexpected vision. The new by-pass means that crossing the old A556 south of the M56 is no longer a problem. The route through the delightful Rostherne village to Booth Bank and Little Bollington was quiet and pleasant. At The Swan with Two Nicks we sat outside with a roof over our heads. The service was friendly and fast, and the food was spot-on.

We had a nice back route to Sworton Heath and then used the back wheel of Roy to keep a reasonable pace into the wind along Swineyard Lane. We had more shelter down the little lanes north and west of Arley Hall, crossing the old airfield and passing the private hangar housing two old German planes that sometimes can be seen in the adjacent field or flying overhead on a nice day. Now it was 2.30p.m. And about to be very wet and cold for the last hour to Delamere via Antrobus, Frandley, Little Leigh, Acton Bridge, Onston and Norley. If Mike and I had regretted leaving our gloves at home early in the ride, we were now going to feel a lot more cold and wet, with a strong headwind and sluicing rain. Roy headed for Runcorn before we crossed the A533, but Mike and I parted at Hatchmere with the thought of a heated car at the front of our minds. I haven't shivered so much since Steve Haywood's puncture on his first ever ride with us, in similar conditions. Still, two thirds of the outing had been very enjoyable and in relaxing company. 42 miles covered.

DH


Saturday, 8 May 2021

06 May 2021 : Broken Cross (brisk)

Today’s ride was hastily put together on Wednesday evening after a hectic day with my grandchild at the zoo, and changing the home boiler from oil to gas. My son-in-law did a fantastic job, so no complaints!

I was riding with John W as Clive away sailing. Instead of the meet at Delamere I chose car assist to Crewe and a ride starting from the King George 5th Sports Centre. John and I set out via Bradfield Road to Maw Green and then out to Winterley. The usual undulating road to Malins Bank and Small Wood then takes us towards Brereton. Normally, we would continue along Holmes Chapel Road, but today we’re heading towards Macclesfield with a new riding lane taking us to Swettenham village.

A lot of new road works in advance stages have taken place on my Garmin route and we have to navigate a new roundabout and pick up the route before being confronted with signs advising all access blocked. Not to be put off by signs, we head for the large contingent of yellow earth movers and cranes and John very politely asks if we can progress along the road. Astonishingly, the gentleman worker clad in very orange overalls and safety helmet says “Yes, but watch out for the moving diggers”.

We continued through the site and met a group of cyclists approaching in the opposite direction and John advised them also to beware of big tractors on the move. We enjoy a short 15% descent before having to engage with a 15%+ ascent to get out of this valley. We continue through a pleasant area called Giants Wood Lane covered in white daffodils and bluebells. No photo unfortunately, but wish I had now! Crossing over the A34, it is now a 6 mile climb 5% average to Broken Cross.

Broken Cross, according to Wikipedia, has been a village for over a thousand years. It does not have a cross but has always been a busy crossing place. Also noted is nearby Henbury Woods which we passed through, as it was the first location where the grey squirrel was introduced!! 

Lunch stop was at the “Heavenly Sandwich Bar” and we enjoyed our snack in a sunny bus shelter. As we’d finished lunch, it started to feel chilly so we got our bikes and continued towards Alderley Edge. Within minutes we were sheltering under a luckily large beech tree in full leaf as snow and hail blasted down. It only lasted long enough for John to put on another jacket and we set off again.

Heading along the B5807, this must rank as one of the worst roads in Cheshire. We are going to be heading down the “Wizard Hill” and I advised John that I’ll be taking it slowly. Arriving safely at the bottom and navigating our way through the town and the required Chelsea tractor brigade, we head for Peover and Swan Green.

Now back on customary route we’re into Davenham. It’s a left turn along London Rd and Bostock Green which makes a change from Hartford direction. It’s never pleasant riding in Winsford, but we have to and it's the usual ride down hill and the gruelling up hill. At Glebe Green, we follow the B1074 which runs into Church Minshull. Turning left and head towards the Middlewich Road, then it's Warmingham Lane and into Bradfield Road and thence Crewe.

A good ride today. Apologies for not starting at Delamere and to my other fellow brisk riders, but it was a last minute decision to change to car assist. 63 miles covered and a 16mph average. We endured a head wind for much of the return route. The weather as usual making our trip something to wonder and talk about 

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Thursday, 6 May 2021

6th May 2021: Goostrey (mod)

As we were standing outside Delamere Station Café (officially “Delamere Station House”) listening to Dave H telling us the weather forecast was fine except for showers in the afternoon, some of us looked up at the angry dark clouds building up behind him.  It started to rain as the riders set off.  Steve T and I had both planned a route to Goostrey, and so between us we led George, Mike G, Andy and Steve Hu.

We rode out through Acton Bridge and into Comberbach. By now the rain had stopped. Here we avoided the busy and potholed road to Great Budworth by heading NE and then joining the road to Pickmere. Crossing the A556 and heading into Lower Peover, Mike suggested we stop at the “Tree of Imagination” which was created over 5 years ago and is well worth a look and a photo or two.





The Tree of Imagination

Next was a section of small very rough lanes where we met a road mending crew – they had an impossible job if they were going to try a mend all these surfaces. Crossing the A50 heading for Goostrey, we turned the corner at Boots Green, noting that the lane going straight ahead could provide an alternative way into Goostrey but would need exploring on a dry day as it peters out into a track.

In Goostrey we headed for one of the two pubs. Prior investigation suggested they might be open.  However, we found The Crown did not open till 3pm, although the Red Lion was open! Or rather it had an open door. Steve T walked in, wandered around, shouted out, but no-one was there.  

Killing time outside the pub

Our alternative was to stop at the Trading Post for coffee and sandwiches. This didn’t go to plan either. George and I headed for the Trading Post, but lost the rest of the group.  They had been seduced into visiting another stop in the parade of shops – Pastimes.  I think this is a fairly new establishment and provided them with good homemade fare.  This is a café and has some very good reviews on the web.  Although the rain had stopped sitting outside in the cold did not encourage a long stay at either establishment, and soon we were on our way again.  My knee was playing up so we took a slower route back. 

It was on our return that the weather worsened, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and it started to hail. We took the ‘B’ road into Lack Dennis and then into Davenham. Steve T led us into Hartford and crossing the A49 on to the climb up Norley Bank, through Norley and on to Hatchmere. Here, we parted ways, with the rain and hail still falling.

We covered 42 miles on an enjoyable ride despite the afternoon weather. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH (Photos by Mike G)

Friday, 30 April 2021

29th April 2021 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Ivan and John W had been out to the Welsh hills only recently, where the last 25 miles mainly consisted of most of the 6000ft of total climb. So I was surprised to see Ivan’s suggestion for today’s ride out of Chirk. The route was a modest 53 miles with 3000 ft of climb but crucially there was the 12% section over a third of mile up to Selattyn, and the 14% climb over a similar distance at Llanyblodwel. I had indicated to Ivan that "a nice flat route to Shrewsbury would be appreciated today" and this is what I got! So I was in two minds that I might have to detour these hills on the fly. 

So we set off to Weston Rhyn to climb the oddly named Station Road into the centre of Selattyn. So far so good. The downhill run onto Oswestry was restful as was the exit to Trefonen via a 8% climb to the B4396 towards Llanyblodwel. This surprisingly English village sits in the lovely valley of the Tanat River. There are timber-framed cottages and a pub. The church is stunning and we stop to photograph and admire its octagonal based spire which is topped out in curved stonework. 

It is Grade I listed so see here for more info. 





The only way out unfortunately is up and over the hillside. This means a double chevronned initial ascent followed by a longer single chevronned section. I decided that the valley was better viewed at a walking pace! In Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, I recognise the left turn towards Four Crosses. No major hills now Ivan assures me. 

The view in front  of us as we head for Crew Green is dominated by Breidden Hill (366m) and the tower on the top is known as "Rodney’s Pillar”. See here for more info.

Wikipedia Attributed: Dave Croker 2010

Back across the River Severn, we are bound for Shrawardine via Nesscliffe Training Camp. Here, Ivan relying on his Garmin routing, takes down a scruffy lane that ends up in half a mile of the Shropshire Way.  We were lucky the weather had been dry for a while, otherwise the mud would have been horrendous. BTW - I have used a perfectly good lane to avoid this in the past!

Montford Bridge comes up at 32 miles as we ride over the A5 and then a long a short section of it to access the picnic and rest area where there is a well-established truckers and bikers cafe with loads of outside space. We sit under cover by a radiant heat lamp where the helpful sign urges customers to "use the ashrays when the floor is full”. The food is plentiful and very much needed after the cold of the Welsh hills.

The route back is a near straight track NE through glorious Shropshire countryside down long lanes. No time to stop in Rutyon-XI-Towns as Ivan and John shelter me frorm the northerly winds as we hit Queen's Head. There is then the long drag towards Babbinswood and Whittington before hitting Gobowen. Ivan heads right round the roundabout as I shout out “Turn Left” - which is the way indicated as his route. Ivan and John catch me up as Ivan explained he wanted to go to St Martins. I said that was definitely out as it was an unnecessary “up”.

We are back in Chirk a little after three o’clock and decide to head homewards towards Chester only to enjoy a massive traffic jam on the outskirts of Chester due to an accident on the A55 by-pass. Nonetheless, I survived the day and rather pleased I persevered with the ride. So thank you Ivan for the route and John for the wind sheltering throughout the day, and all at a surprising 15mph average.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos CA and JW

29th April 2021:Nesscliffe (mod)

 A dozen riders turned up at the Castle Bistro in Chirk, a good showing for this venue some distance from Chester. Dave M had come only for coffee and was riding home, but the rest made up the brisk and two moderate rides of the day. Steve Haywood had come armed with a ride to the Burlton Arms at Burlton and I had dug out a ride down to Ye Old Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe. After some discussion, Steve went off with Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and Peter, leaving Mike G and Andy with me for the ride to Nesscliffe.

We took the standard route out of Chirk to the A5 roundabout and then took the lane down to Hindford, passing the holiday cottages at Henlle Park. As Steve Haywood has also reported, the lanes between Hindford and Welsh Frankton were pretty rough, but after such a long dry spell, we were challenged by potholes, hard mudbanks and deep gravel rather than by puddles and deep, wet mud. I’m not sure which is worse.

Soon we were whizzing down the lane from Lower Frankton, over the Montgomery Canal and into Hordley and Bagley. The smooth and quiet lanes of Shropshire were a delight as we made our way through Weston Lullingfield and Baschurch, arriving at Nesscliffe soon after mid-day.

Ye Old Three Pigeons was well set up for dining outside with plenty of tables on the patio and a covered area in the garden where a group of young mothers were celebrating someone’s 32nd birthday. Can any of our members remember our 32nd?

Lunch was preceded by drinks, with Mike and Steve indulging in Three Tuns, our first taste of hand-pulled beer in over a year - delicious. Lunchtime conversation turned medical and it seems that all three of us are ‘pixies’ – those taking apixiban anti-coagulant medication – as a result of clots or potential clots.


Photos by Mike


As we set off back, Mike volunteered to adapt the homeward route to go a bit further west before heading north into the wind, so we headed to Melverley, via Wilcott and Pentre. The intention was to visit St. Peter’s, the ancient timber framed church which sits right next to the River Vyrnwy. Unfortunately, there was a funeral in progress when we arrived, so we had to give it a miss. Next time, perhaps.

The route back took us along some beautiful and quiet lanes running close to the Vrynwy, before re-joining my originally planned route just south of Ball. After passing the industrial estate south of Oswestry, we threaded our way through housing estates, emerging on the north side of the town on cycle route 455 near the Old Oswestry fort.

By now it was turning chilly and rain was threatening. Fortunately, it held off until we were dropping down from Weston Rhyn into Pontfaen, so we had only the short climb up to Chirk to put up with it.

A very pleasant 46 mile ride on a bright if chilly day. Thanks to Mike for leading on the return leg and to Andy and Mike for their company and support.

ST

Thursday, 29 April 2021

29th April 2021: Burlton (mod)

 Chirk was the start point for today’s meet. In the rear courtyard of the Castle Bistro gathered several CER members. There was a brisk group, and two moderate groups to be led by Steve T and myself, plus David M who had arrived by train and was planning to ride back home.  I had prepared a route to the Burlton Arms at Burlton (coincidentally Dave had planned for the same destination), and my group comprised Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and Peter. The forecast was cool, cloudy with sunny spells and northerly wind and some chance of showers.

We set off following the main road to the A5 roundabout, and then on into St Martins, where seeking respite from a pot-holed and busy main road, we broke away onto the lanes.  At Perthy we crossed the main Oswestry-Ellesmere road and continued past White Mere and Colemere to Northwood. Here we headed south past Horton and Loppington to Burlton on generally good surfaces where we made good progress.

With 24 miles covered, we were the first customers to arrive at the Burlton Arms, and only customers until a couple turned up later.  We settled in the garden and ordered our food.  The landlady said they’d been fairly busy since reopening with the good weather.  However, there was no real ale because Robinson’s had underestimated demand after the lockdown!  Conversation was rambling as usual, including a long discussion between Dave H and Steve Hu about places in Lancashire, which meant little to me, though my ears perked up when Steve said he’d been “served with an afternoon tea on a garden bench made out of lollipop sticks” – it appeared that it was the afternoon tea on the bench, not Steve.

We hadn’t been too cold sitting down, though it was good to start moving again and warm up.  Our return took us through Marton and north through Lower Hordley. We took a minor lane to Lower Frankton and crossed possibly the steepest hump-backed bridge in the country, made more challenging by some hidden potholes. After Welsh Frankton we took the lane to Hindford. Always a rough lane, this had got worse with potholes, gravel and mudbanks – definitely ‘Clive-esque’, and it would be much worse in the wet.  Saying which, we were then hit by a rain and sleet shower as we took the lanes to the NW of Gobowen.  Arriving back at the A5 roundabout, I decided to diverge from the planned climb back into Chirk on the B5070, and instead make for Western Rhyn and then drop into the Ceriog Valley for the much more pleasant entry into Chirk.

Photo by Alan

Forty-four miles completed, Dave H and I stopped for a drink back at the Bistro where we met Steve T, Andy and Mike back from their ride. A good day for all.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Sunday, 25 April 2021

22nd April 2021: Ellesmere (brisk)

 The sunny weather certainly brought a big CER crowd out to Lewis’s in Farndon, and it was good to see Ken out. While the moderates had the tricky job of divvying up the numbers, the brisk group was a straightforward team of John W and myself. For the sake of quickly deciding a route I offered my 56 mile round trip to Ellesmere. As there was initially no route to actually follow (the route was based on a start/finish in Tilston), we set off through Holt and down to Cross Lanes, and of course missed the left turn to Bangor on Dee, resulted in an extra few miles. From then on the ‘usual’ route was followed to Overton, but before arriving at  St. Martins, we turned left onto quieter roads. Instead of taking the B5068 directly to Ellesmere, we crossed to cycle some lovely lanes to the south, eventually heading on to Ellesmere itself.

Against John’s advice favouring the Texaco garage, we headed to the lakeside café for lunch. As this was only doing menu-based meals and the kiosk not serving very much at all, we back-tracked to the garage for a welcome sausage roll.


Leaving Ellesmere to the east, we passed a strung out group of cyclists – one of the moderate groups! We then headed around the Fenns, Whixall mosses on excellent roads to Bronington. Leaving here towards Hanmer, the road was truly awful, deep gravel, and probably unpassable in winter (thought I’m sure Clive would give it a go!)

Hanmer in the sun proved a nice stop for an ice cream while we watched a couple of open water swimmers freeze in the lake. From there, it was a well-ridden route northwards towards Threapwood and then on to Tilston, completing a 54 mile route, where I left John to go onto 80 or so miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 23 April 2021

22nd April 2021: Ellesmere (mod)

Gorgeous, but chilly start and the venue was Lewis’s cafe. A quick head count revealed 20! This included a new face, to me at least and, it appeared, was a genuine ‘L’Eroica’ cyclist, complete with handlebar moustache (very dapper indeed). With so many, I think we split into 4 groups, with a few going off doing their own thing as usual. I had a backup route to the Boathouse cafe at Ellesmere, which opened on the 15th, so something a little different, especially as I had modified my existing route with a few stunningly smooth new lanes, much to Fiona’s delight- Lol. As usual, it took a while to actually get the groups sorted. It was reminiscent of the school playground and the captains of the day, picking their football teams in turn - Lol, which left me with a right rum lot (just kidding- Lol)

Off we trot (Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Andy, Mike & yours truly, so only 2 women in the group- Lol). We set off at a nice steady pace, although it felt a bit tough at times, on the front. There was a light headwind, virtually all the way to the Boathouse. The route out inevitably meant finding a way around the infamous Hanmer lanes and was well received, up until that point, as the more colourful lanes came into focus- Lol.

At least there were a few smiles on arrival at the Boathouse, as we waved goodbye to John & Nick, just leaving. Mike had not been to the Boathouse before, so he found it interestingly different & a tick for me- Lol. We settled into the rear garden benches, only to find the Boathouse was fully booked and only the kiosk available for take away. This meant a limited choice on food, but we all managed to get something and of course a stunning lakeside view.

A good mix of conversation ensued, which included Andy’s realisation of a larger water bottle, after spotting my 900ml bidon, which he proceeded to try on his bike (where has he been all these years- Lol). It turns out, you just can’t please everybody, despite me slaving all night over the route and lunch stop- Lol. Not to mention any names, but one of the disgruntled was female and the other one lives with her-Lol.

Photo by Elwyn

The return leg was short and fast at times, with a nice tailwind, although there were a few very short steep bits. One of which was particularly tough, due to us all being in the wrong gear when we rounded the corner, only to spot a horse up ahead. Momentum suddenly lost, there was nothing to do but grind the wrong gear, out of the saddle. Mike had to turn around and head back down to get his gears sorted- Oops. I was pushing so hard and nearly stationary, that I thought I was going to snap the chain. Of course, I got the blame for that as well, having only just dried my tearful eyes from the earlier abuse; “that was more like a sea bed, not a road” was one of the comments shouted from behind, after leading the group through what I like to think was a more authentic Cycling lane - Lol.

Anyway, the little kickers now behind us and no sooner than wink, Shocklach was upon us and the traditional wind up to the finish, accept I was sabotaged, having been moaned at for the pace. Traditionally it is every man/ woman for themselves. However, I considerately slowed down and got jumped, can you believe and left behind (despicable trick- Lol).

All joking apart, it was a gorgeous day, with great company. And for the first time, all of the group arrived back at the start for a final coffee, after 41 colourful miles- Lol. The surprise was the total ascent of nearly 700mtrs, no wonder I felt a bit tired riding home. I thought this was a flat-ish ride originally, so nice one everybody, especially Mike, as he has a lot less miles in his legs than most of us in the group.

See route map and/or gpx file download

NT

22nd April 2021: Whitchurch: ride 2 (mod)

It lifted the spirits to see such a big turnout at Lewis's. Jim was riding out with a mutual friend, and Dave Matthews had made the effort, but like Electric Peter they were not out for the day. It was great to see Ken in such good fettle, but he still needs to avoid group rides for the present. It was heartening to see so many of the Welsh contingent. It was not possible to catch up with everyone, whilst trying to sort out who would like to go where, but this should be possible in the weeks ahead. I totally overlooked the eccentric figure in vintage cycling gear with a waxed moustache. I had clocked him, but presumed that he was the owner of the shop opposite. He then introduced himself as our old mucker Runcorn Roy. It turns out that he has a garage full of vintage bikes, and his choice for the day was a cool Carlton with Weinman centre-pull brakes and period Michelin tyres. He has successfully entered events on this machine.


Photo by Alan

Our moderate group for my meandering route to Whitchurch, constituted jolly Steve Hughes, Vintage Roy, Alan and myself. They were warned that the pace would be slow, but were very relaxed about this. Alan was having some breathing issues diagnosed, so was particularly happy to have a truly easy ride.

We headed for Crewe-by-Farndon before turning left towards Tilston. At Tilston we headed east for Duckington before climbing the lovely, little lane on the side of Larkton and Bickerton hills. Next up was Cholmondeley Castle, and on to Wrenbury via Chorley Bank. The sky was blue and the sun was bright. It was a fine day to be cruising through the Cheshire countryside. Our route then followed the national cycle route 45 on its quiet, undulating course past Oss Mere, Black Park and Blake Mere into Whitchurch.

Lunch was taken outside at the back of the White Bear, after we had obtained decent sandwiches from Walker's across the road on the advice of two friendly young women, also having a drink, who worked for MacDonald's. Steve Haywood's group were then sighted on the pavement eating, thirty yards up the hill. They seemed quite happy tucking in, warmed by the sunshine. Our conversation at lunch covered Steve and Roy's interesting description of great routes in north-east Scotland. I didn't have a note pad, but one of the routes they had tackled was, I think, The North Coast 500.  Steve had been on a motorbike. Alan was talking about promising young British riders, and also about the recent amazing four stage wins of Mark Cavendish in The Tour of Turkey. Perhaps I need to subscribe to Eurosport, as I can't usually access any cycle racing that is programmed on my television.   

Our route back climbed out of Whitchurch up to Wirswall, and the smashing view across the plain in the direction of the Peckforton Hills. Roy told us a tale, although once again, I am not sure that I am up to the Boris standard of forensic recall. Roy had accompanied a female cyclist as far as Shrewsbury before deciding that he had better return to Runcorn. His journey back had taken him past the cemetery on the road we had started out on from Whitchurch. For some reason, I can't recall, e.g., he had given all his money to this woman for personal services, or perhaps all the pubs had closed, he finished up using the cemetery tap to fill his water bottle! 

We headed for Malpas after swooping down to cross the Llangollen Canal near Marbury and riding across theA49 to Bickley Town and on to No Man's Heath. Avoiding the centre of Malpas we dropped down to the Bishop Bennet Way. Here, we dropped in briefly to my favourite Renaultsport specialist, Birchdown Autos at Peacock Farm. The little lanes north of here were really cushy as we drifted down to Shocklach with the sunlit Welsh hills to our west. I put the pedal to the metal on the straight fast run to Farndon. Pedal to the metal as in a Morris Eight, rather than as in a Noble M600. It was quite chivalrous of my companions not to sweep by, but of course, Alan was having to take it carefully. Talking about being considerate, Steve is the perfect support rider for bumbling about and exploring less obvious routes, as he always knows exactly where we are, and is available with discreet prompts. What he doesn't do, is interfere, question your sanity, tell you that he has a far better alternative, and offer unwanted advice, which experienced riders can't always resist giving at times. I know I have been guilty of this on someone else's ride occasionally. 

Steve Tan was waiting at Lewis's so some of us had a coffee and chat before heading home. I felt guilty about not offering Roy a lift home, particularly as a couple of past rescues in his Big Van in atrocious conditions will live in my memory for ever. I know, however, that without my carrier, three whole bikes and three passengers in my Berlingo requires a great deal of rehearsal, and plenty of extra straps, and that's without mudguards. I was also worried about damaging his special steed. Of course, if conditions had been bad, it would have been done with six wheels off. I hope his missus managed to get across from M&S to save him the long ride home. Interestingly, Steve Hughes told me that cyclists had been fined £120 by police around Holt for breaking Welsh rules, so I am glad that I rang Helen and gave Cleopatra's a miss, hopefully for the last time.

Forty idyllic miles in excellent company, and in great cycling weather.

DH

22nd April 2021: Whitchurch: ride 1 (mod)

 A good number of members turned up at Lewis’s of Farndon, well over 20 was the guess. Lewis’s was chosen because Covid restrictions in Wales had ruled out Cleopatra’s, the scheduled venue for the day, though Lewis’s gave us a very good welcome. Sun was forecast for the whole day, but unfortunately the seats at the front in the sun were already taken, so we gathered at the side. Among the members here was Ken, who we were all pleased to see out again, though he was cycling back home.

Confusion initially reigned over who was going with whom to which destination, though in good CER fashion, eventually three mod routes emerged led by Neil, Dave H and myself.  There was scope for further confusion as both Dave and I were headed to Whitchurch. I led off with George, Mike G and David M. We first headed south for Shocklach and then Cuddington Green to approach Malpas from the west. It was a pleasure to join a virtually traffic-free B5069 as the road was still closed to traffic by St Oswald’s in the town – the second time in two meets I had led along this stretch.  In the town we had our first stop for delayering:  despite the sun, it was a cold start and we had a slight headwind, so extra layers had been initially worn.

We left Malpas and took the road to Higher Wych, then turning by Iscoyd Park to pass by Whitewell Church and the only stretch of really rough road on the route (it wouldn’t be a proper CER ride without some bad surfaces). Somewhere along this section I had the rare sight of a hare crossing in front of me.  The days where there was ‘a hare in every field’ are long gone. Crossing two A roads, we passed Alkinton Hall and headed into Whitchurch.

Now I remember Dave H saying that he had phoned the White Bear in Whitchurch to check it was open and I remember him saying there was an outdoor terrace at the back.  I therefore headed to a pub I remembered had a terrace.  This turned out to be The Wheatsheaf, which was closed.  Consulting locals, we were told of several possible pubs. We tried the White Bear, which indeed was open, but not selling food.  The Black Bear, an old favourite was not due to open until May 17th.  Someone had suggested the Horse and Jockey, said to be “close”, but actually out by Grindley Brook.  We concluded that a pub was out, but there were plentiful cafés to sample. Food and drink having been purchased we settled on the steps outside the Civic Centre in the sunshine. While here, we saw Dave H’s party arrive, but they went their separate ways.  Before heading off, more delaying took place, and bare legs were seen.


Photos by Mike G

From Whitchurch, we took a traditional CER exit, travelling the wrong way up Claypit Street, then on to Wirswall. I notice that we pass a house called "Witts End". At Wicksted Hall we paused to take in the wonderful view over Marbury’s St Michael’s and Big Mere. We crossed the A49 at Bickley and took the road up to Cholmondley Castle, where David M left us, and then on to Hampton Post (and a final shedding of clothing). Most of the return was very pleasant with the sun and the wind behind us, and from here it speeded up as we passed though Duckington and Tilston.  Finally, Wetreins Lane took us back to Farndon and Lewis’s.  Here waiting for us were Neil’s party, and, a pleasant surprise, Dave and Liz Pipe with their tandem.

Only 37 miles travelled, though on a really good ride with excellent company and conditions.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 16 April 2021

15th April 2021: Coddington (mod)

At last! Some semblance of normality today, with more cafe’s & pubs open, if only outside service. However and more importantly, the Welsh mob were finally allowed to join the English Mob (relaxed pandemic rules). Meadow Lea was the venue & a quick head count, as I tried to get my group together, revealed 18 all told and there wasn’t the usual fast crowd, although Clive was there. Anyway, after some confusion on departure, we finally get 3 groups in order, as Jim & his good lady were doing their own thing, which prompted Dave M to realise he wanted to do his own thing as well, which we later discovered, was to go back home, as we road past him on his driveway, 30 mins later - Lol. 

So, Clive led off with the fastest group.

Steve H led off with George and Peter. 

While I lead off with the remaining 5, which included our ‘senior man’- Dave H (minus his paper Garmin - Lol), Mike & the Welsh contingent, Elwyn & Fiona (to be fair, they only live 200mtrs over the boarder, but rules are rules-Lol.


We were heading for Manor Wood, lakeside cafe (roughly 42 mile round trip with 500-ish mtrs of assent- so flat, although Dave didn’t think so- Lol). We set off to the North, unfortunately on to the A56 for a mile, to get around the myriad of brooks & streams to the east of Meadow Lea (no other choice to be fair). Fiona & I decide we need to warm up, so I tapp out a pace until the right turn for Great Barrow and on to a good stretch of smooth B road. I then lead the group on a slight detour and get us into a few lovely lanes, in order to point out the fabulous Blue Bell cafe to our senior man (the best cakes in the land and lovely food in general, popular with the “blue rinse” brigade and “wives that lunch”). The detour also allows us to get across to Oscroft, where we say hello to Dave again- Lol.


Still finding it a little chilly we head on past Okells, which provided a point of ref for Mike, who now knew where he was, although apparently Okells is a tricky place to find, according to Dave. This made me chuckle, as Okells sits right on the mighty A51, can’t miss it (probably owns a car without sat nav- Lol). At this point I take a few lanes I don’t usual ride, but the roads were so good thus far, I thought we better throw a few rough ones in for Dave’s benefit. This also allowed us to ride past my favourite pond, with it’s resident black swans. We push on past the 50p shop and on towards Beeston and the section of the route with a few light hills. This allowed Elwyn to stretch his legs and show us all how to do it with ease, for those who were still close enough to see him - Lol.


We take the easier route, around Harthill toward Duckington, down Brown Knowl and right, onto a cracking lane to Tilston (now a favourite of Fiona’s it seems, as I catch her up, knee out, enjoying a couple of quick switchbacks -Lol). It was shortly after, much to Elwyn’s delight, that I get discovered watering a shrub (What a lovely lady, not sure what she was laughing at though). Only a mile or two later, I get a cramp in the groin, luckily we were close to the cafe.


We arrive at Manor Wood and proceed to soak up the sun for an hour, which was lovely and gave me time to stretch out my cramp. Some interesting conversations ensued, especially the one about what could possibly be the missing ingredient in the cancelled the x3 Welsh Rarebits ordered. Dave proceeded to asked the young girl “ how can you run out of cheese in a cafe” to which she said “oh, we have cheese” - no bread then? - butter? Can’t remember who guessed it, but it was of course Worcester Sauce. Anyway a great cafe stop apart from the inexplicable; ‘let’s have a go at Tanner’. Totally uncalled for, something you’ll never see me doing, so unfair; it’s definitely WaVerrrrrrton by the way- Lol.


Anyway, at this point I decide I shouldn’t ride back to Meadow Lea, as it would mean at least another 20 miles back home and my groin was not feeling good, despite the stretching. Fiona and Elwyn head off home to Lavister and I ride to the other side of Tattenhall, in order to  make sure Dave and Mike are on the right road to Waverton, before turning back home myself. I had exactly 50 miles on the clock, once home and a fraction under 500 mtrs assent.


What a gloriously sunny day, if a bit chilly at the start. Good day out, enjoyed the company and again sorry to Dave and Mike for having to bail on the finish & hope you guy’s made it back ok.


NT


Thursday, 15 April 2021

15th April 2021: Malpas (mod)

A crowd of CER riders milled around outside Meadow Lea café, and for the first time this year, we were able to welcome our Welsh contingent.  Fourteen of us were out for a club ride and our supremo dictated that this meant three separate rides.  I volunteered to lead a group out to Malpas, though with no clear idea of where we would stop for lunch.  I was joined by George and Peter.

We set off in bright sunshine though with a cold air temperature, through Waverton, then Greenlooms to arrive in Tattenhall. From here there was an opportunity to take Holywell Lane to Clutton without its usual winter-months flooded and muddy stretch. On to Tilston and then into Malpas by the back way though Chorlton and the Wrexham Road. Church Street was closed to vehicles, so we climbed uninterruptedly up the hill and on to The Cross.

We passed the Fire Station Café which didn’t have any tables, which was just as well because we ended up at the Snack Shack on the corner of High Street and Chester Road. Here we settled around a small outside table and enjoyed reasonably priced and tasty food as we basked in the sunshine. Well worth remembering this place.

The return route took us north up to the top of High Street and then down the long descent along the old Roman road. This is a great way to leave the town swooping downhill, though unfortunately speed needs to be controlled to avoid some bad surfaces. We went through Tilston again and on to Stretton, where we turned off down Wetreins Lane. 

From here it was into Farndon where Peter departed for a more direct journey to his home via Holt. George and I carried on to Churton and then across the bridge at Aldford, where workmen continue to repair the parapets swept away by floodwater earlier this year. We rode through Bruera and Saighton until we reached Waverton where we reversed our outward journey to Mickle Trafford.

We were back at Meadow Lea quite early by 2:30pm, partly a reflection of how quickly our lunch was served.  The day had warmed up and with very little wind it had been perfect cycling weather. The whole route was just under 40 miles, slightly more on the outward leg. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


15th April 2021 : Whatcroft (mod)

It was great to see half the club’s membership at the newly extended Meadow Lea Cafe. The cafe was very busy which was also good to see. The usual Brisk contingent was missing today for various and nefarious reasons, so I was pleased not to end up as Billy No Mates for my moderate ride proposal to Whatcroft. Steve H and Alan joined Steve T and Andy B for a 50 miler  to the River Farm Organics cafe just outside of Davenham.

We five set off bound for Delamere Forest via the usual route towards Manley and Mouldsworth. Although chilly, it was exhilarating being out in the bright sunshine in the greening countryside. As we wheel around the back of Mouldsworth, Alan is not feeling at his best, thus he decides to make his own ride with Steve H as support. We hope he was OK. 

Delamere Forest is strangely quiet as we meander through towards Norley. Up and down around Pinfold Hollows now finds us at the A49 north of Cuddington onwards towards Weaverham. The road out here is through acres of new housing as we approach Winnington and the Tata Chemical Europe works. Over the Weaver river and canal, there is a short sharp hill to attack alongside Anderton Boat Lift before rolling down to Marbury Country Park. Again the park is quiet - I suppose everyone is now shopping!

We run the full length of the park rather than cutting through it to Wincham and then “enjoy” the Wincham Industrial  Estate and Business Park before turning to Lostock Graham. Crossing the busy A556 and passing through Lostock Green,  we are not far now from Lach Dennis and Riverside Organics farm cafe at the Whatcroft lane turn. It is very busy but has a lot of outside space available. So we sit and wait for our filled panini and coffee setting the world to rights as per usual, and, as per usual the cafe does not disappoint.

As we head off to Davenham  Steve decides to cut for home via Hartford as he had cycled out to Meadow Lea from Runcorn today. Andy and I head towards Moulton and the recently “improved “ rough track down to Meadowbank. We now meander along the Whitegate Way which again was quiet. At Cotebrook, I offer a route up onto the hill above Willington. This is as a change from the usual route around to Rose Farm, and, I know that Andy just "loves hills". Bowling along the top, there is the wide expanse of the Cheshire Plain before us. We now head off down the steep descent of Chapel Lane and thence the fast run to Oscroft.

I offer Andy a more direct route back towards Christleton via Platts Lane and Hockenhull Platts and the “Roman Bridges". It is only really passable on a bike in dry weather and the bridges are not Roman but medieval.

Wiki tells us “ Platts Lane originally formed part of the medieval road from London to Holyhead.[7] In 1353 when  Edward, the Black Prince, crossed the bridges, he ordered that 20 shillings should be spent on their repair.[8] In the 17th century the surface of the road was disintegrating so badly that posts were set into the road to prevent the passage of carts, and it could be used only by pedestrians and horses

At Christleton, Andy heads for the hills of Mold and I also head for home. The route around is 50 miles but I have over 60 today. My thanks to Andy and Steve for sticking with me, and I hope that Alan got home OK.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA