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, 13 July 2018

12th July 2018: Coton (mod)

A good number of Easy Riders gathered at Cleopatra’s in Holt. The moderates were out in force: David M, Clive, Neil, Dave H, Dave P, Mike G, Andy B, George, Trevor and myself. The start of the day questioned whether the long hot dry spell was over: there was a very light drizzle on my ride to Holt, and Andy told us it had rained steadily in Mold the previous night. However we set off in dry and improving conditions with the Dog and Bull in Coton as our destination.

We crossed the bridge into Farndon, noting that it is due to be closed to traffic for 14 weeks from 16th July, and for some days in that period also to cyclists and pedestrians.  Then we headed to Stretton (where David M left us), Tilston and the Cholmondley Estate, before turning south through Bickley and Marbury, and then joining cycle route 45.  Here the more observant riders admired the Mercian Way statue. We entered Whitchurch on Black Park Road, which is closed to vehicles until 02/19 a sign said, possibly due to badgers undermining the carriageway, though we could squeeze through the barrier fencing.  From Whitchurch we took the road to Alkington, then through Hollingwood to arrive at our destination just before 1 o’clock, with 26 miles completed.
Photos by Mike G

We sat outside seeking shade from the sun at a number of wobbly tables, but the food and drink were fine as usual: we had last been here in May. Clive left early to make his own way back for an afternoon appointment, while the rest of us gathered for a photo.

Our return led us north and westwards to Tallarn Green where a scarecrow festival was obviously underway. We dropped down to Sarn Bridge and turned left to avoid the bank, and made our way on a lovely quiet lane into Worthenbury.  Then it was the usual route back, with half the party pushing on ahead in the traditional(?) race to the finish, this being at Lewis’ café.  We sat on the terrace, enjoying coffee, cakes and the afternoon sunshine, when Ivan stopped on his way home after completing the brisk riders’ route.

Our total distance was 48 miles, covering many lovely gentle lanes in improving weather.  The rain did eventually come, but later that night.


12th July 2018 : Burlton (brisk)

A change from the recent weather meant it was overcast and wet as I made my way to Cleopatra’s where around a dozen CER’s were gathered. There were two routes on offer, Steve planning to visit Coton and mine to the Burlton Inn at Burlton. Everyone with the exception Ivan opted for the moderate option so at 10:30 prompt we set off leaving Steve to round up his group. 

Travelling across the Dee bridge and down towards Shocklach was fine until a lapse in concentration meant I had led us towards the homebound leg of the route instead of the outbound leg! This was soon remedied by turning left at ‘The Bull’ heading to Tilston where, as we passed the church, we saw Nick Holmes. He was  out for a run ,at least we think it was Nick he waved, we waved, it looked like Nick and it was in his locale.

Heading out of  Tilston  towards the A41, we briefly  joined  the moderate group who were probably a bit confused as to how they had managed to get ahead of us. Leaving their route, we  went through Larkton Hill, No Mans Heath and Malpas, and here we crossed the A525 at Iscoyd Park. Onwards through Fenns Bank and Whixall, we picked up a lovely smooth road, thanks to new tarmac, that took us all the way into Loppington before passing to the west of Sleap airfield and finally our lunch stop ‘The Burlton Inn’.

This pub was a first for us both and has a nicely decorated interior. There were  only a handful of customers and our food and drink order was quickly served. My main meal of Steak pie, chips and vegetables, was a large tasty portion and was consumed whilst chatting about family life and forthcoming holidays. Once fed and watered we headed back to Holt  by following a mainly straight northerly route linking Lyneal, Welshampton and Threapwood.

Ivan took over the lead  in Theapwood and set a fierce pace (obviously wanting to burn off the bangors and mash) through to Crewe by Farndon. Here we turned and took an alternative route via a back road into Farndon arriving back at  Cleopatra’s for coffee and cake at about 3:30.

Thanks for the company Ivan,  a good day out covering 57 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday, 9 July 2018

5th July 2018: Aston (mod)

Steve had been chauffeured to Rose Farm by Lynne (my wife), and it was great to have him in the mix again. Lynne was favourably impressed by the company I keep. Perhaps, I had painted too much of an 'old lags in Lycra' picture at home, when describing our Thursday interactions! In a year when their changed circumstances had meant some individuals not renewing their membership, it was great to welcome Colin and Neil as fully paid up new members.

Route-wise, the moderate riders were without a clue, so chose our favourite default destination:   The Bhurtpore. Mike, Keith, Andy, Neil, Dave Pipe and myself formed the moderate group. We took the route through Cotebrook and along the narrow lush lanes, next to the baking brick of Oulton Park boundary. At Oultonlowe Cottage we turned right and took a quiet lane favoured by Ivan and Clive. Andy wasn't keen, having remembered a rough section of tarmac from a few weeks back. As he was on his tank-tough heavyweight steed, no harm was likely. From Wettenhall we made swift progress down Welshmen's Lane, and turned off through the park just before Nantwich centre. The paths were dry and the greenery relaxing as we passed  the ox-bow lakes of the River Weaver, and joined the A530 for only yards before heading south down Coole Lane. We then had a bit of an 85% thrash with the wind in our spinnakers, before turning north-west up Back Coole Lane. We crossed the Whitchurch Road into Aston to a very hoppy aroma. The surprisingly large grain mill in this small village was the source of the heady scent. We, of course were very at home in The Bhurtpore. We sat outside under canvas, and had a good selection of ales and curries to choose from.

Photo by Mike G

The route home took a turn left down Pinsley Green Road, for a change, and so by-passed Wrenbury. At Marbury the revamped Swan looked worth trying for a future lunch break. Ray Hardman used to have a drink and snack on the south side of the church with a lovely view over the    Big Mere, which you can't even see from the road we are on. We should stop and try 'Ray's View' next time. We headed north to Chorley Bank via Norbury and Gaunton's Bank. We crossed the A534 at Brindley, passed Tilly's in Bunbury with difficulty, climbed Tilstone Bank, and headed for The Old Fire Station at Tarporley. We took our bikes through the cafe to the back, and sat at a shaded table. We had our usual friendly reception, and were supplied with jugs of water with slices of lemon. Dave Pipe and I enjoyed ice cream cornets as well as cake and coffee. It had been a hot day, but as I made the final ascent to Rose Farm, I was alone. Everyone had ridden their separate ways home, even Keith to Runcorn. About 43 relaxing miles for me, closer to 90 for Andy, and somewhere in between for the rest of the gang.       


Friday, 6 July 2018

5th July 2018 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Arriving at Rose Farm café it was great to see Steve T and Mrs Lynda Heath out for a coffee. Great to see you both and very glad to see Steve so buoyant, you’ll soon be back on the bike.

Today's adventure is not about the bike and speed, it’s much to sunny for heads down and bums up so a meander around sun drenched lanes, good price lunch stop and ice cream were factored for our pleasure today.

Leaving the café were, John M, Nick, Ken, Colin and myself. We headed for Cotebrook and along Oulton Mill Lane and took the first left and right to head us in the direction of Whitegate. Heading into Hartford up Cinder Hill was our first encounter with impatient female car drivers. On overtaking us on a blind right-hand bend there was a screech of rubber as she nearly went head on with approaching motorist then gave us a blast of disgruntlement on her horn!!

Through Hartford and towards Anderton, passing the boat lift dock visited in April but not today, we continue to Comberbach and passing Antrobus Golf Club. The lanes are very quiet and we are enjoying the meander and head down to Grappenhall where we are joining the Trans-Pennine cycle route 62 which we ride until Dunham Massey. The track is very hard and dry but little use by walkers but one elderly cyclist who wanted to run us down in his haste to improve his Strava segments (ha ha).

A well earned pint (or two)

Leaving the trail, we head for the Vine Pub where we enjoy a quality pint in the luxurious garden for £2.00 a pint and BLT buns and chips to follow. Hospitality was good with the chef coming out to ensure our lunch was alright and to advise us that there were alternatives on the menu. It’s too hot to eat a meal and ride was our excuse.

We regretfully depart and go via the little track along side Dunham Masset NT Hall and over the little bridge. There was a call for refreshment stop at the "Swan with Two Nicks" but ruled off-side. Onwards then to Little Bollington and to Gt Budworth where we are stopping for ice cream. Another very popular location but plenty of staff on hand to serve. Fully refreshed we continue our ride homeward bound passing through Comberbach again and to Higher Leigh and the Weaver Bridge. 

Going off road again we saunter along side the river to the locks and have time for another photo shoot for rogue’s gallery and continue through the fields to the lane which takes us up hill towards Crowton. This is a much easier route than tackling the hill up to Acton Bridge!

The Weaver bridge 
We continue to get over Norley Hill and arrive at Hatchmere where we are spitting up. Three heading through Delamere and Nick and Ken riding back to Rose Farm. Another great day out with like minded riders for company with 75 miles covered as a round trip H-H or 55 miles to and from the cafe. Next weeks ride from Cleopatra’s – time for a summer ride to Mow Cop?


Photos by John M and Ivan D

Monday, 2 July 2018

1st July 2018: Chester and N Wales CTC Vets 100

A few Easy Riders took part in the 53rd annual Bert Bailey Memorial Veterans' 100 mile ride on Sunday. You have to be over 55 but this seemed to be a loose specification. These were George, Mike G and myself. Dave P was on carpark meet-and-greet duty at Duddon village hall from before 0800 as well. In addition, there was one tandem entry, that being former CER riders Graham and Vicky Payne. There were a few Watson's Wanders riders also taking part.

Despite Dave M recommending to Laurie Mason (the organiser) that I do not lead a group, I found myself leading out Group 3 at 0830!  There were twelve of us including Graham and Vicki. The other riders were from all over and I knew none of them. My first task a week ago, had been to decipher the the route sheet which was more like a knitting pattern instruction with lots of hieroglyphics. I seemed to have got it about right as we headed for Overton village hall via Holt and Threapwood.

Stamina is needed on this ride not only for the distance but for the mountains of food at each stop. So we all tucked in to cakes after 90 mins riding in the cool morning air. Off again the route was straightforward going via Ellesmere to Queen's Head. Thence into the lovely border lands in South Shropshire.

Lunch was at the village hall in Four Crosses and we arrive just as Group 1 (who had started at 0800) were entering the hall for lunch. On the way down we had also overtaken Group 2 (who had started at 0815). Lunch was substantial, but soon my group were keen to get back on the road again. So off to back to Overton via Crewgreen and Rednal airfield and Ellesmere. Here, all the group fancied an ice-cream so went down to The Boat House by the mere. I decided to make for Overton village hall  for a longer rest. I was the first to arrive of all riders, and had remarkable restraint in not attacking the piles of sandwiches and cake before the others finally arrive.

So the final leg is back to Duddon and it's high 20C and it's hot! We decide to call the Carden Arms to see if they are open - and they were. So we all pile in for a welcome pint. Arriving back at Duddon with just a 100 miles under the tyres, we find yet again we are the first group back.

We collect our certificates and many decide they would like to go home for a shower rather than wait for the other three groups to turn up for the certificate ceremony!

Proof positive!
So, not a challenging 100 miler route-wise but as ever, the Cheshire and Shropshire countryside with a soupçon of Welsh borderlands, makes for a very pretty ride. I had an enthusiastic group behind me who kept as a group throughout the day as evidenced by the 14.8 mph average speed on what was yet another very hot and windless day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 29 June 2018

28th June 2018 : Graig Fechan (brisk)

It's a Hawarden start and its hot so, of course, the brisk riders are out in force for a hilly adventure. 

Ivan took a day off from route planning and settled for my offering of a ride to the Three Pigeons Pub in Graig-fechan. The pub was slightly less than half way so there was some discussion about adding a few more miles, and 1000 feet of ascent! The fact that Clive clearly thought we were mad to be taking on the hill over Eyrys on a steaming hot day persuaded us that we didn’t need to add more hills to the route.

For once the brisk team outnumbered the moderates. With me were Ivan, Nick, John W and Paul. Off we went up through Ewloe and Buckley eventually emerging on to the A5118 near Padeswood and after a short run turning on to the B5444. Very shortly afterwards starts a four mile, 1000 ft climb up to Eyrys. The slope averages about 5% but (according to Strava) there are a couple of bits at around 19%. I decided to take it easy (not much choice really!) but the others seemed to take it all in their stride. We did however pause for a photograph at the top. 

At the top!
There were a few more less serious ups and down before the very fast 2.7 mile descent towards Llanbedr DC along the winding A494. Speeding down in glorious sunshine I recalled the last time I descended this with easy riders in pouring winter rain. Clive had warned us to take it easy and I did so heaving on my ineffective wet rim brakes. Sighing with relief at the bottom, making the slow right turn I found myself on my back sliding along the road with a car following a few yards behind! This time no such dramas as we gathered to consider why Nick's chain has a habit of throwing itself off the chain-ring at the most inappropriate times. He’s tried almost everything to fix it and the consensus was that it may need a link or two removed.

We join the B5429, enjoying the very pleasant views of the Clwydian Range that distract us from the fact that its a few uphill miles to Graig-fechan and the Three Pigeons Pub where we arrive at 12:15. I notice that the route continues uphill but we forget that for now as we settle for lunch in the shade of the verandah at the rear of pub.

Its a well furnished, characterful pub with extremely pleasant staff and great beer. The menu contained a good range but some of the main courses looked a little expensive. Our choices were mainly soup of day and sandwiches but John W had the Farmers Lunch which was massive and probably enough for two. The conversation turned to youthful misdemeanours with one of our company admitting to once being locked up overnight in police cells. We also learned that it isn’t wise to go cold calling at John W’s house! 

The temperature has soared higher as we set off from the pub. The road continues up hill on a stretch which I understand is known as “the mantlepiece”. Its an ascent of over 500 feet to the top a couple of miles away. Anyway Paul attacks it followed by the rest of us. A gentle incline follows for a few miles along the B5430 before a short climb into Llanarmon-yn-lal. I’ve already quaffed my water supply and call for a halt in the village to get a top up. However, the offer of ice cream is too tempting to resist so its Magnums all round plus a litre of water for me! What a picturesque location. Its a pity that the Raven Inn isn’t open during the day! 

More bumps follow along the B5439 towards Graianrhyd. As a reward, we enjoy the luxury of a couple of long descents between Llanfynyd and Cefn-y Bedd on the B5101 and B5102. Then we motor along a flat run incorporating the traffic free and wooded Springwood Lane running parallel with the A483 which delivers us to the lower reaches of Marford Hill. Now diverting from the planned route we turn left heading to the roundabout. Nick had to return to Hawarden for his car and, escorted by Paul and Ivan, takes the B5102 left (big hill!) towards Hope and onward to Hawarden whilst John and I keep straight on for Chester via Pulford, Dodleston and over the Dee at Saltney. 

The planned route was 43 miles. Nick rode 48 miles from Hawarden and back climbing 4000 feet. John W, Ivan and I completed well over 60 miles including our rides from home and back. Paul had done a circuit via Holt before the start and clocked up 88 miles. It’s worth noting that almost 3000 feet of climbing was done in a section of under 24 miles starting with the climb to Eyrys. 

It’s a lovely route and one worth doing again albeit in cooler conditions. It was a great day out with excellent riding companions. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos by ID

28th June 2018: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Hottest day of the year so far?  Let's climb some hills!

There were a lot of riders out at Hawarden today. The Mods were outnumbered nearly 2:1 by the Brisk group who were going off to "Climb every Mountain".  This left Dave P and Andy B and myself to try to decide what to do. I offered to cobble together a ride loosely based around the one that the three of us had taken in January 2017 to Rhuddlan when the temperature was 25C cooler.

It was good to see Macca out for the first time since his knee operation. Understandably he was taking it very easy, so made his own ride homewards.

So we set off the usual way to Northop. Here I gave a choice of the route out to Halkyn Mountain and the "pretty" route was chosen i.e. the tiny lanes up to Rhosesmor. This afforded us much needed shade as we avoid the "Steve T" section of the lane. Up and over the Windmill, Andy decides we are going left up towards the quarry - so, no matter, I re-route on the fly. Out through Babel we head north towards Lloc then take the left turn down the No Through road to get over the A55. As I rode down the lane I thought I recognised it. This was the lane taken in October 2011 with a section under 6" of liquid manure which required the then riders' bikes to be jet-washed at the Pet Cemetery cafe!

Dave requests we stay "high" so I re-route again and take the delightful lane passing Llyn Helyg to eventually arrive in the middle of Dyserth. We try to find the waterfall, but to no avail, and, giving up, we head ever upwards towards the "Eagle and Child" pub arriving after after 24 miles.

Lunchtime conversation is as varied as ever as we sit under the sunshade out in the garden. However the heat is rising, and we need to get on, so after a brisk climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic vista of Liverpool Bay and the Snowdon range, we head for Llanasa. The pub here is open for business but not at lunchtimes apparently.

Liverpool Bay with fittingly, two "red shirts"
Following the cycleway towards Whitford, we are out and up going towards the Friary St Pio's cafe for a cuppa. A quick uphill diversion via Carmel finds us at the cafe after just 9 miles opting to sit inside to get out of the heat. The route back to the start is predictable and the breeze up on the mountain tops is very welcome. Andy leaves us at the Bluebell pub heading for Mold, and Dave suggests we take the "Steve T" route back down to Northop. Mindful of recent events, we ride downhill with some reserve.

Outside Northop, Dave and I opt for the downhill run into Shotton and the greenway. If we had run back to Hawarden, it would have been 47 miles with 3500ft of climb. So as ever, each ride brings it's memories and companionship moments.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 22 June 2018

21st June 2018 : Barthomley (brisk)

A fine dry day was forecast but with an northerly wind. The ride out from Chester to Delamere for the café start was testament to the predictions. I met John at the Meadow Lea end of the Greenway. Although a reasonable turnout at the cafe, most other riders were opting for a moderate ride to Goostrey so John and I set of for a ride to the White Lion Inn at Barthomley.

Leaving the café, we turn right to head out along station lane towards Nantwich. Wind on our backs we cross over the main roads A556 and A54 then A49 at Cotebrook. Up to Eaton and turn left at the sigh post and we are Wettenhall bound. Rounding the corner at Reaseheath College it isn’t 11:30 yet so very good time made over 18 miles.

Through Nantwich and direction Wybunbry, we go through the village and turn left onto Wrinehill Road. This is a good lane to ride along and turning left at Wrinehill village we head towards Betley. It is now a little climb to get up to Balterley but no problems as we still have the tail wind. Arriving at the lunch stop at 12:20 we are soon enjoying the famous steak and ale pie.
When we were riding towards Nantwich and on Fishermans Lane, we swopped bikes to allow me to test the suspension on John's bike; so at lunch time we have the best buy guide on suspension bikes, (look out Marilyn and watch the account!!)

Our route home is via Crewe and on arrival at Crewe Green out of 5 exits on the roundabout only two open to traffic. We navigate the footpath and eventually find our booked route Sydney lane to take us to Maw Green and Bradfield Green. We have experienced only a few occasions of head wind but with J on the front! No problem. At Church Minshull, we head towards Darnhill and up the 10% with a head wind in front and big bus behind, makes you get up quicker! We keep to the outer roads to pass Winsford and keep to the B5074 and on to Foxwist Green and Sandiway. Its then undulating roads passing Cuddington and Norley and at Hatchmere taking a R/H to return to the café at Delamere for a chunk of the delicious looking cake spotted at Breakfast.

I assume we return before the mods as its only 14:40 and enjoy our desert sitting outside in the sunshine. From the café we return through the woods and it is a reasonable route and a good short cut as we came out not far from the railway bridge. It is only a matter now of getting up Goshawk bank but up and over it is now the bumpy road along Manley lane before the main A56 into Chester.

As John and I had been out Tuesday with train assist to Shrewsbury then cycle to Welshpool and back to Chester todays ride was not as taxing but we still had a ride of 76 miles round trip. 

A very good day out on fantastic lanes and no incidents. Thank you, John, for bearing the brunt of the headwind but it still feels hard behind you.


21st June 2018: Goostrey (mod)

The summer equinox, the longest day and the first day of summer, and yet it felt more like autumn.  The temperature had dropped and there was a strong NNW wind. At Delamere Station Café, Ivan and John W were on a brisk ride, Dave & Liz P were on a leisure ride, which left Andy B, Bob, Clive, George, Mike, Neil and myself as the moderates.

We usually cycle out to Goostrey from Rose Farm, so it made a change to go there from Delamere.  The route was largely familiar: out by Acton Bridge, Combermere and Great Budworth, where the through road is still closed to cars because it has been undermined by moles.  Plumley was next, where I noticed that the Plantation Garden Centre had been renamed the Plumleys Garden Centre (perhaps because of the connotations of a plantation). At Lower Peover crossroads, instead of taking the familiar B-road, we went straight on and came across the Tree of Imagination. This is an intricately carved, spectacularly decorated and inventive transformation of a large old oak stump: www.lower-peover.co.uk/lower-peovers-tree-of-imagination/

Photos by Mike G

A few miles later we emerged back onto familiar lanes and headed into Goostrey and to The Crown, a favourite destination. I noticed under the menu heading of “Pub Classics”, they offered Avocado, Feta & Pomegranate Seed Salad!  We all chose more traditional meals from the £6 lunch menu of substantial fare.

The route back took us through Lach Dennis and, even though we hadn’t travelled far from the pub, into the café at Shipbrookhill Farm. Here about half of us chose the ice cream despite the temperature.  After Davenham, we took the rough track from Moulton to cross the Weaver Navigation, not much worse than some Cheshire lanes.  Then, taking advantage of the dry ground conditions, we followed the Whitegate Way towards Oulton Park.  Here we had the only technical difficulty of the ride when a twig got stuck on Andy’s drive belt and pulled it off. Fixing it was a bit more complicated than putting a chain back on, but a lot cleaner.

At Cotebrook, half the party headed off towards Waverton and points homeward. Andy, Mike, George and myself continued northwards towards Delamere, though I turned off to slog up Heaths Lane. We’d had a relatively short ride for the day of the summer solstice, but it was enjoyable. The circuit from Delamere Station was 46 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 16 June 2018

14th June 2018: Coedway from Waverton - Long Ride

A long spell of calm weather seemed to be ending as Storm Hector battered the north of the UK. In Cheshire gale force gusts were predicted, not ideal conditions for a long ride; however it was forecast to be dry. Nine Easy Riders arrived at the Waverton canalside car park for an 8am start: George, Nick, Ivan, Trevor, Keith, Dave H, Paul, Clive and myself.  Clive was a late addition, having shortened his sailing trip in response to Hector.

Our first goal was the Midway Truck Stop at Prees Heath, about 26 miles distant. We headed towards Tattenhall, then Tilston, into Malpas from the west, and out to Whitchurch.  The main road was closed at Bradley Brook, but a short diversion kept us on track. From Whitchurch we took the Calverhall road, but turned off to pass through the placid Brown Moss Nature Reserve. Then we walked across the busy A41 dual carriageway and into our first stop.  No-one was tempted by the Desperate Dan all-day breakfast, though a cooked option was taken by some – all good value, substantial fare.

Re-fuelled we headed on through Tilstock and Hollingwood towards Northwood.  During this section the brisk riders (Ivan, Paul, Nick and Clive) broke away and forged a path to our pub stop, 30 miles distant.  The rest continued more leisurely through Lyneal and Colemere, to Lee. Here we struck southwards to Lower Hordley and Stanwardine in the Fields, before entering Ruyton XI Towns. Turning left up Little Ness Lane, we eventually crossed the A5 and entered the Severn Valley. Passing the Royal Hill pub (a possible destination for a Chirk ride), we made for Melverley, entered Wales, passed over the Severn on a single track bridge and entered Crew Green.  From here it was little more than a mile to our lunch stop.

Apparently the Old Hand in the pub’s name refers to the Red Hand of Ulster, while the Diamond refers to gold trading.  For a 17th century inn there are also reputed to be two resident ghosts. The brisk group were well into their lunch as we ordered.  In celebration of his coming birthday, Clive generously bought everyone drinks and we settled down to eat. The roast dinner was a favourite, good value and must have replenished quite a few calories. Before long the brisk riders decided to depart, minus Clive who chose a more leisurely return.  The strong winds of the morning hadn’t caused us any great difficulties, and we looked forward to an improved forecast for the afternoon.

Pub phots by SH

Prior to heading back northwards, we took a short circuit of the hills to the southwest and appreciated the enhanced views towards Llanymynech. Back over the Severn, into England, we headed towards Maesbrook.  In the morning we had enjoyed some lovely tranquil lanes and here were some more. Next we made for Maesbury Marsh and then into Oswestry from the east.  By this time the schools traffic was diminishing and we headed towards the Old Oswestry Hill Fort. 
Oswestry Old Hill Fort, photo by ID

Here we met the only unfortunate incident of the day. Cycling up the narrow lane towards the fort, we were aware of a car just behind us.  As there were no safe passing places, we pulled into a layby to let it go by. Instead the car swerved towards us and stopped only inches from my bike.  A middle aged Mr Angry started shouting about how we were in his way and in the wrong. He climbed out of his car, perhaps to accost us, as his wife looked on embarrassed. We refused to move without an apology, and Mr Angry backed down and reversed away, threatening to ‘kick our tyres in’. That was all the result of our trying to let him pass.
Chirk Aqueduct, photo by ID

Photo by ID

From Oswestry we continued north through Weston Rhyn and into Chirk for our café stop. We weren’t surprised that the brisk group had already passed through. Large portions of cake and scones were consumed to help us on our way. We left heading for Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon, and then onto lanes to Cock Bank and Cross Lanes. Approaching Holt, Clive announced we had reached 100 miles, and we stopped outside the Spar for further refreshments and observed a minor scrape between two cars.

Between Holt and Aldford a race to the finish started between Clive and Keith, while the rest of us continued, enjoying a pleasant end to the ride with blue skies and fluffy white clouds above.  Our starting point was finally reached about 7:30pm with 108 miles completed. I later heard that the brisk riders had also successfully finished their ride an hour and a half before us. We had all been lucky with the weather and enjoyed some new territory, excellent lanes and good refreshment stops.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

7th June 2018: Ellesmere (mod)

Twelve riders turned up at the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall on what promised to be a fine summer’s day. Three wanted a brisk ride while three wanted a leisurely ride, leaving six of us (Bryan, Keith, Bob, George, Neil and myself) to indulge in a moderate ride to the Red Lion at Ellesmere.

We set off down Newton Lane, turning right at the end and heading round the back of Bolesworth Castle. Crossing the A534 we sauntered through Brown Knowl and Duckington, crossing the A41 at Edge Green. Then briefly down the Cheshire Cycleway before turning right into Whitewood Lane at Kidnal. We turned left in the direction of Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Green and continued through sleepy Threapwood before crossing into Wales at Tallarn Green.

As we left Tallarn Green we turned right and then left and headed down towards Three Fingers and Little Arowry, before cycling on to Hanmer. The Hanmer Arms has always been one of our favoured stops and after closing down for a while has now reopened. It was not our intended destination today but Bryan decided to turn back here having ridden out further on a CER ride than he has for some time.

The remaining five of us continued out of Hanmer and past Bettisfield Park which was looking idyllic in the warm summer sunshine. We ran for a short time along the A495 before turning off for Bettisfield itself, crossing the Llangollen Canal as we did so. A loop round to Balmer Heath took us back into Wales once more.

Then on through Lyneal to Colemere where a vineyard, which was planted a few years ago, is now starting to look established. A sure sign of climate change. Picking up the A528, we cycled into Ellesmere. The waterfront at Ellesmere was busy in the warm June sunshine so we avoided The Boat House and headed on to the Red Lion.

The Red Lion Coaching Inn usually offers an ‘over 60s’ two course lunch for a reasonable price but on this occasion we were to be disappointed. The normally busy pub was quiet due to a kitchen refurbishment which was in progress. We were given a warm welcome but were advised that there was a limited menu in operation. We still managed to find plenty to our liking and were soon tucking in to paninis, ploughman’s lunches and the like.

Leaving the Red Lion we headed right at the roundabout, up Swan Hill and then left up to Sandyhill. Then it was into Lion Lane, a tiny road alongside Lion Lane Wood which leads on to the A539 at Sandy Lane. After only a short distance on the A-road we turned right into quiet Burgess Lane and headed up to Holly Bush and Worthenbury.  From there we went through Shocklach, Tilston and Clutton along the quiet and flat lanes of the Cheshire Plain before reaching Tattenhall. As we passed through Tattenhall Neil left us to head home and instead of turning right into Newton Lane to return to the Ice Cream Farm the rest of us carried straight on to return to our own cars or home.

49 very pleasant miles on a dry, warm summer’s day (plus our respective return journeys) in classic ‘Easy Rider’ fashion.

See route map and/or gpx file download


7th June 2018: Aston (leisure)

With the moderates heading for Ellesmere, the Leisure group consisting of Jim, with Dave and Liz on the tandem set off for the Bhurtpore Arms for a curry. The route took us through Beeston, Bunbury and then the outskirts of Nantwich. We approached Aston past the bunker (formerly known as secret) followed by a short section of main road, and arrived about 12.30.

The meal was excellent as usual and we were just finishing when Dave H appeared, having had a late start from home. Unfortunately, to gain time, Dave took the ‘crud encrusted shortcut’ only to be beset by mud and nettles, and soon realised why we had chosen not to go that way a few weeks earlier.

The return route was through Chorley, Larden Green and Brindley to have a short break at Tilleys in Bunbury for coffee and cake.

A very warm day, with good cycling of about 37 miles.


Sunday, 10 June 2018

31st May 2018: Spurstow (leisure)

The group consisting of Dave and Liz on the tandem, with Jim and Bryan, joined the moderate group as far as the end of Beeston Castle Lane when we turned towards Peckforton, past the castle gates, and then entered Bunbury by the back passage, so to speak. The Yew Tree, on the corner at Spurstow was our lunch stop, after a couple of sorties past a set of road works when the workers had to move their diggers to allow us past. The pub has been re-furbished and offered a reasonable choice of ales and dishes on the menu.

The return journey was through the village, turning left by the church to emerge on the A49 just uphill of the Wild Boar Hotel. Then Left at Tiverton and back through Huxley and Greenlooms.
A total of 37 miles.


Friday, 8 June 2018

7th June 2018: Mow Cop (brisk)

After last week's ride to the FOB, this week was going to be hard to follow. With the weather being so great I thought the annual ride to Mow Cop would be good.

Arriving at the ICF with John W, we were soon joined by the group but mainly moderate riders. Ken was out so the two of us set of on a warm and sunny morning. We ride via Beeston, Bunbury and the usual lanes to Nantwich. We get held up at the level crossing and enjoy the quick rest in the sunshine. The barriers raise and the ride is on again heading out towards Wybunbury then Weston and Radway Green. Alsager main road has three sets of traffic lights along a half mile stretch – pot hole filling!! At least road was not closed.  At the lights at Church Lawton, we join the A34 for a short distance before the right-hand turn to Mow Cop, signposted as two miles. From here it begins the gentle rise and arriving into the village we decide to head along to the drag up to the summit. Immediately joining Station Lane, the gradient goes to 14% and increasing. We hit the 24% steep bit and it’s a push to keep going at 2mph!

The T junction looms the top and we head up to the tower. Taking in the views of Cheshire and Staffordshire from this vantage point is spectacular. The tower was built as a summer house during 1754 by the local lord of the manor, more money than sense or cheap labour. It is 355 feet high and gives fantastic views. The best part of getting up here is the easy ride down again and hopefully lunch. We spin down the hill and again get stopped at the rail crossing for the busy Manchester- Stafford line. We wait for two trains on this occasion but again we can proceed and head towards lunch at the Blue Bell at Smallwood.

We can enjoy lunch as the continuing route home is flat and "downhill". Getting back on the saddle again we continue Hassel Green and then ride on the A533 road into Sandbach. The route then takes us through the lanes to Bradwall and towards Middlewich. On through Warmingham it is then Occlestone Green and Wardle. We are stopping for afternoon tea and cake at Tilly's, and arriving at the café, we enjoy the slabs and a refreshing drink of tea and milk shake (mine)

Back at the ICF, we part ways and Ken heads of to Rossett and I back to Chester.Although only the two of us today it was a good day out. The route was 64 miles as a round trip and with the ride out and back it was 83.2 and Ken’s and extra 5-10 miles further. Riding at an average 16.3mph in great sunshine and good company.

Friday, 1 June 2018

31st May 2018: Audlem (mod)

It was great to see Steve Tan and Lesley at coffee.  The fast lads had been up in Bowland, and we had already discussed having two moderate groups on the day. Most weeks recently we have been able to add a 'Leisure Group' ride for those moderate riders who would rather go slightly slower and not too far. This also means that valued senior members can continue to ride with the club, and enjoy lunch together.

This week the 'normal' moderate group consisted of Bob (just back from France), George, Neil (a welcome guest), Mike and myself. Dave Matthews was able to join us for a few miles, before returning for granddad duties.

Steve H was at coffee, but wasn't available to ride. I suggested Little Bollington and  The Swan with Two Nicks, which was accepted, but we actually went as one group with the Leisure riders as far as Bunbury in the end!  At Waverton I asked those at the front if they were O.K. riding the canal route for a change, only for loud , insistent shouts from the mob behind that we turn left. Jim was the main culprit for all this, probably forty years of issuing instructions is a habit he can't break! Bryan was being apologetic to Neil, trying to assure him that we were not usually so shambolic. I couldn't make my mind up if this was democracy in action or anarchy. C.T.C. sticklers would have definitely been tutting! Dave Matthews took his leave, as we meandered through Greenlooms to Hargrave, meeting the tandem before Huxley! Don't, ask! At least this proved  we had been travelling at the correct leisurely pace.  The Leisure Group turned off at Beeston, and the famous five pressed on through Bunbury to Brindley, and then headed east to cross the Shropshire Union Canal, before turning south to Sound via Ravensmoor. We took the quiet lane past the moated Hall o'Coole, and in short order were diving down and driving up to Audlem central. The Lord Combermere staff are always friendly, and the food is consistently good. I do think plates are a better for holding meals than wooden squares though. How many of us, at home, would prefer to eat off a wooden place mat or a small bread board, rather than use a decent sized ceramic plate?  We parked our bikes by the back gardens, and away from the bins, because it is bin lorry day on Thursdays in Audlem. We sat on the verandah in the relative cool on a warm afternoon, and relaxed. We found out that Neil was a keen golfer as well as cyclist. He had only just moved to Cheshire, and had spent a long time with the R.A.F. It was obvious that with flaps retracted he was capable of more speed. Perhaps he will have a go with the brisk group next time.

Our return journey was via Aston and Cholmondeley, but we avoided  Harthill by turning left before the A534 and heading north from Brown Knoll and past Bolesworth Castle. Neil headed home at Tattenhall, where Alison's had customers inside, but a 'Closed' notice on the window. It had been a warm humid day and a cafe stop was needed, particularly with the Welsh contingent set to top 80 miles. George suggested Old Ma's. They were nominally closed, but waved us in. The mature gentleman, who I presume was the owner, was delightful company, and Bob told him that it was the best cup of tea that he had ever drunk! (I think the heat had got to Bob at this stage). Fortified by two slices of bara brith we fairly put the pedal to the metal back to Meadow Lea. Sixty miles covered, mostly just the brisk side of moderate. No thunderstorms, and enjoyable company. Jim and Dave Pipe let me know that their group's ride went really well. Out of initial confusion, organic democracy produced inclusive cycling satisfaction at the end of the day!( As Alastair Campbell may have put it).
Photo by Mike G

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 31 May 2018

29th May 2018: Forest of Bowland (brisk)

This Thursday’s ride was unusual for two reasons, firstly it was on a Tuesday, and secondly, we decided to change plan and have an away day to the Forest of Bowland; that often overlooked area of hills to the east of Lancaster.

We (John W & M, and Ivan) met at Ivan’s house, for an 8.15 depart but we became delayed due to concern over the minimal clearance of the towing bracket on the Discovery, and the view that it wasn’t safe. So due to Ivan’s low and sagging back-end we swapped to two cars; John W’s and my mine.

We arrived a little later than planned at the lovely Lancashire village (after it was annexed from the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1974) of Dunsop Bridge, famed (apparently) for being the dead centre of the UK. So we set off in the bright sunshine and after completing and arduous 50 metres we stopped for coffee/egg baps at the Puddleducks tea room, and chatted to other cyclists there who had cycled significantly further than we had. Finally on our way westwards, after 4 miles we were confronted by the short but sharp climb (16%) up to the Trough of Bowland. It became apparent why Bradley Wiggins used this area for his 2012 Tour de France training.

Descending through a lovely wooded valley we took a left to pass through another idyllic village, Abbeystead, before the start of the next climb, a steady easy gradient to Jubilee Tower, and like the Trough, at about 300m height. In hot bright sunshine we took a breather, sat on the grass and took in the fantastic views across the Irish Sea. With views of Blackpool Tower and Lancaster and across Morecambe Bay to Barrow and on to the spread of the southern Lake District.

 Taking in the view across Morecambe Bay from Jubilee Tower
Recovered, Ivan and John W raced off on the fast descent, John and I wisely left them to it, catching up later after their 70km/hour and more top speed. The ride then took a more leisurely but no less scenic route to Caton by the A683. Taking a quick left and right took us across the picturesque River Lune, where several families were enjoying picnics on a beach there. Heading NE we re-crossed the Lune at Hornby and headed up the B6480, not before a cheeky 20% gradient was put in our way, made steeper by Ivan giving live Garmin gradient readings. The heat was beginning to be felt by all. With John M running out of water, we sped off to our lunch stop, which prevented me from pointing out Hornby Castle, as painted by John Constable.

Fortunately there was a copy of said painting within the 17thcentury Bridge Inn at Tatham Bridge. We sat down just in time for last food orders, ham. egg and chips was the main choice. The Hawkshead beer from Staveley was delicious. Most of us ordered one drink, Ivan sat down with two pints. He claimed it was a mistake by the barmaid. Others who know him better can decide! The pub proved very friendly and leaving was delayed when two locals had a lively discussion on whether B Wiggins was from the East End or Belgium. Turns out it was Belgium. That wasn’t the only fact we learnt here, Ribblehead Viaduct signal station is the only one in the country without mains water!

The consensus was we needed to do an extra few miles on the original plan, so I headed us out of the Forest of Bowland into the Yorkshire Dales, initially to Ingleton.  I knew it would only add a few extra miles, but I thought it unnecessary to mention the additional 260m climb. On arriving at Clapham, we stopped by the beck that runs through the centre of the village to enjoy ice creams. While sat on the river bank a lady was photographing the bridge next to us. Ivan kindly offered to take a picture of her and the bridge, suggesting she should get in the river for better picture composition. She replied that she would do but would get into her bikini. Not believing she had such an item with her, or on her, she disappeared to rapidly return holding a dark blue, floral patterned lower half. Nobody can say cycling is boring!

All calm in Clapham before the Bikini incident
Not quite knowing the direction this was going, the conversation unfortunately took a wrong turn to what cyclists may or may not wear under their shorts. The lady, sensibly, made a fast exit. After that bizarre moment, we thankfully got back to the safety of our bikes to head for Slaidburn, 12 miles away. The next section was always going to be the hardest. After a short distance from Clapham, we had a 4.5 mile near constant climb to Bowland Knotts at 422m height. Although the climb only averages a 5% gradient, it’s a long old, constant slog. However, the views from the top were well worth it.

John Mills arriving at Bowland Knotts
At Bowland Knott
Another fast decent to Stacks reservoir saw John W and Ivan race off, John M and I following behind. After a short climb on the B6478, we then had a fast decent into Slaidburn where we just managed to get to the tea shop before closing (why do they always close at tea time??). Getting there first, John W ordered apple pie with ice cream, Ivan rhubarb and custard pie with ice cream On seeing that John W’s pie was significantly bigger than Ivan’s, John and I naturally chose the apple pie.

A final few miles brought us back to Dunsop Bridge. The cycling in the Forest of Bowland is an absolute treat and highly recommended. Superb scenery and picture post-card villages, with very quiet roads. A great ride with great banter throughout. In total we cycled 56.5 miles with about 5200ft (1600m) ascent

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos by Nick H

Friday, 25 May 2018

24th May 2018 : Sun Bank via Worlds End (brisk)

Riding out to Holt this morning felt a little chilly after the recent warm days. On riding past the Grovensor Arms at Aldford, Colin was sitting on the wall but indicated he was ok. I’d just passed a rider in full wet weather gear and assumed he was waiting for a companion! At Cleopatra’s, a couple of riders were already enjoying tea and brunch breakfast. Soon there were plenty of riders out and the Brisk group today would be – John M, Clive, Colin and me. Fortunately, Colin’s rider to Holt was John M and not the all-weather cyclist!!

Today's route was the Sun Trevor pub via Worlds End and Minera. We set off at 10:30 out along the Borras road. Our ride through Wrexham was to keep to the B5100, which was a reasonable traffic free road except for navigation round the busy roundabout at Sainsburys and B&Q, before crossing over the A483 heading to Coedpoeth. The lanes are now dry and colourful, and we are enjoying being out and not thinking of bike cleaning. It’s not long and we are on the uphill stretch to Minera which is an 8% gradient. As usual of past week’s, temporary road work lights stop us in full pedal flow and we take rest to allow traffic to pass. Off again and to the start of the track over Worlds End. 

Are we nearly at the top!
It has been a few years since I’ve ridden this way and on the last occasion, to remind you how long it was, Bryan peeled off to do his own ride back to Chester and Mike Morley was with us. We head uphill and it is now 15% gradient before going over the brow and heading down to the ford.

Happy at the top of Worlds End  - just before the puncture!
 As we descend Colin hits a sharp stone and pssssss goes his rear tyre. It becomes a group effort in changing the tube due to fancy wheel flanges and poor pump efficiency. Tube replaced and sorted, it is now downwards again and, if you haven’t been here recently, the road has been resurfaced and better today than many main roads. There was a good flow of water passing over the ford but legs up and we’re through.

Our beloved leader with Dinas Bran in the distance

Panorama panorama
Now riding along the Panorama walk, we take the right turn to drop us down to our lunch stop which is the Sun Trevor. Clive and I arrive at the inn and we await the rear flank. Soon there's a phone call and John also has punctured and his pump is not working. I return uphill and pass the only hairpin where John and Colin are walking down to meet me. We inflate the rear tube only to find the front also is deflated. Pumped up temporarily we progress down to the inn and lunch.

Today's food service seems slow, but we enjoy the atmosphere and general chat of the route. Eventually we are ready to go and change Johns front innertube. Fortunately, a camper arrives in the car park and asks us if we need a track pump! John is now fully inflated and we cross over to the Llangollen canal for an enjoyable stroll/ ride to Pontcysyllte.

From here it is the usual return via Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon. A ride through the Erddig NT grounds is a must and thence to Cross Lanes where we ride the final leg home to Holt. It has been an enjoyable ride and full of talking issues centred around solo riding and tube inflation processes.Not the usual mileage today at 40 miles  but a ride full of scenic beauty and 2900ft of climb . Three punctures says it all really but, due to the competence of the group and team work ,everything is accomplished - eventually!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos by John M

Thursday, 24 May 2018

24th May 2018: Coton (mod)

Another fine day attracted a good turnout for both brisk and mod groups; Dave and Liz P were also out, but doing their own route (see below for more info). The mods were Keith, Dave H, David M, Andy B, George and myself, and our destination was the Dog and Bull at Coton (or as Google calls it the “Bull and Dog”).

Our route out involved a big swing eastwards, passing by Tilston, Cholmondley and Marbury, weaving along a variety of quiet little lanes.  We approached Whitchurch from the east on a “closed road”, squeezing past concrete blocks and wire fencing to enter the town.  Then straight through to Alkington and Hollinwood, to arrive at the pub just before 1pm, with 26 miles completed.

The Dog and Bull is a favourite and we were supplied with good substantial food and drink. We discussed audax and end to end rides.  We then debated why CER is not a full member of Chester and North Wales CTC, despite general approval of the new C&NW CTC shirt, which yours truly happened to be modelling.

Photo by Steve H

The return route was through Whixall and Whitewell, then avoiding Sarn Bank to enter Worthenbury and the usually competitively fast return through Shocklach.  David M broke away somewhere along the way to head direct for home.  The remaining five ended the ride at Lewis’ in Farndon enjoying coffee and cakes, where we discovered that the old Dee Bridge connecting Holt and Farndon was going to be closed to vehicles from mid-July for about 14 weeks, and closed to bikes and pedestrians also for part of the time – take note for future rides!  

Our total distance was 47 miles: a great moderate day out, with little wind, warm sunny spells, good food and good company.

(Note from Dave P: He and Liz rode out to the Plassey: a gentle ride of 24 miles.  They will be doing similar rides for the next few meets while they build up their fitness, and anyone who wishes to join them is welcome.)


Saturday, 19 May 2018

17th May 2018 : Chelford (brisk)

The brisk riders today were, John M, John W, Nick, myself and new SGCC member Colin  as a guest rider. The day is a continuation of sun and little wind making it perfect for riding.

Leaving the café, we headed towards Cotebrook passing Little Budworth via Park Lane and on to Whitegate. As usual there seem to be plenty of road closed signs, but as cyclists we are able to pass.
Arriving into Winsford and the Flashes, riding down hill towards the sharp bend there is another blocked road; zig zagging through the concrete blocks we cross over the wooden bridge spanning the river Weaver and join NCR 5 and the bumpy track up to Davenham. Passing through the town we have another two roads closed before Lach Dennis!! 

Continuing along some very quiet lanes, we are on the outskirts of Knutsford and I had tried to route us through without being on the main road. Unfortunately, as we were joining the A5033 into the town, Nick was unable to follow and the hares had taken a right hand turning and pulled up to wait for the tortoise, you’ve never seen one go so fast. In time trial mode, he was zooming past us head down and into Knutsford.  John W had to go at 27 mph to catch and pass him to advise we had turned off. Regrouping, we rode through the very bumpy potholed streets of Knutsford before re-joining the traffic lights on Toft Road (A50). Joining the B5085 the road to Mobberley is enjoyed and on towards Alderley Edge.

As we near this town there is an increase of vehicles which are mainly Chelsea Tractors. There was a little concern of "are we heading up the Wizzard". No, we take a right turn before town and ride the A535 which was fortunately a good road and we were happy going a few miles at 20+ mph to Chelford and the Egerton Arms inn. Not the first time we have visited this inn. There was a reasonable selection on the menu but for a lunch snack perhaps on the expensive side.After our lunch is consumed we get ready to set off, what a pleasure when re-emerging outside it is warmer than inside!!

Our route takes us via Goostrey and Middlewich and on to Winsford via Clive Green Lane. As we arrive in Winsford, we take the lane heading towards the Weaver river and join the cycleway and avoid most of the roads around the town. As we head up Weaver St, most of us will remember the handy cycle shop half way up the hill, now a Chinese takeaway. No more emergency stops here. 

Winsford's Weaver Park
Going via Townfield Drive, we join the little lane that leads to the A54. Nick in the lead, we are soon accelerating along the A54 before turning into Rushton lane and skirt around the walls of Oulton Park. We had decided a tea stop at Tarporley would be welcome, so it is through Eaton before arriving at the Old Fire station Café. John W continues on to Chester whilst the remaining group enjoy drinks and cakes in this excellent café.

Colin leaves us here to cycle home to Mouldsworth and Nick back to Rose Farm to collect his car. John M and I ride out via Brassey Green and Waverton and back into Chester. A good ride on a sunny day, with good companions. Hope Colin joins us again. Good to have John W out to as he is a must to have on the front to pull us along. A round trip of nearly 60 miles plus the ride out and back so another 80 miles recorded 16mph.


Photo John W