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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, 7 August 2020

6th August 2020: Whitegate (mod)

 After all the weeks of lockdown, it was great to see the throng of East Riders who had gathered at Meadow Lea for the re-start of our regular club meetings. Admittedly, there were some restrictions arising from the Covid-19 protocols, but these did not interfere too much with the greetings and banter exchanged, although handshakes and kisses were definitely out!

After coffees, toast and teacakes Dave H tried to get the rides (plural) arranged. We had agreed to limit the number of people in any ride to no more than four, so Clive had planned a ride to Lach Dennis, Steve H one to Pant-yr-Ochain and yours truly one to Whitegate. Chaos ensued as, apart from the fast lads, people couldn’t decide which ride to join. Eventually, Steve H suggested that the three ride leaders should take to their bikes and see who would follow them.

So it was that Trevor and John (long time no see) Beavis followed me out of the café car park, heading for Whitegate on a route that I’d cobbled together at the last minute. The route took us out on the busy A56 as far as Morley Bridge, where we turned to pick up the road past Manley Mere where, for many years, we used to start our rides. Since we no longer start there, I’d forgotten how steep Cob Hall Lane is and arrived at the top breathless to wait for the others. Sugar Lane led us on to Manley Road and we were soon speeding down Dark Ark Lane and thence to Kelsall and Utkinton. Just past Rose Farm, we turned left and headed for Cotebrook , where we crossed the busy A49. Oulton Park was quiet as we passed by, not even a track day here yet.  We took a left into Park Road and crossed the A54 as we headed for The Plough Inn on Beauty Bank, arriving at about 12.15. 

Now, the pub looked very inviting, but since Trevor had brought sandwiches and John ‘Two coronastones’ doesn’t eat lunch, it was decided to forego lunch until we got back to Meadow Lea. So on we went past the posh houses and Vale Royal Golf Club until we crossed the A559 and found the sanctity of LIttledales Lane. Hodge Lane took us to the A49 where we battled some heavy traffic before reaching Bag Lane and headed for Norley and its stamina-sapping Norley Bank and Maddocks Hill. Who said that Cheshire is flat? 

Post Office Lane took us down to Hatchmere, where responsibilities for navigation were handed to Trevor on the basis that he knows the way home from there better than I do. Down the switchbacks and under the railway and on to Ashton Hayes where we turn right and followed Gongar Lane up the hill into Mouldsworth. Nortons Lane and Morley Lane lead us back to the A56 where we again diced with traffic until we reached Mickle Trafford. John B took his leave here so that he could return to grandpa duties for the afternoon, which seem to consist mostly of losing at Minecraft with his 6 year old grandson and answering endless questions from him. Trevor and I returned to Meadow Lea having completed 35 miles up and down the hills of West Cheshire. 

Thanks to Trevor and John for your excellent company. Maybe we’ll see John again later this year if he can get a pass out on a Thursday. Don’t leave it too long, John!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


6th August 2020: Gresford (mod)

It felt strange after being locked down since March for CER to be meeting up again.  We gathered outside at the Meadow Lea café, with about 10 members assembling.  In discussion with Dave H beforehand, we had planned to form small groups of no more than four members for each ride. Clive, Steve T and myself each had planned destinations. Mine was to the Pant yr Ochain at Gresford, and I was accompanied by Dave H, David M and prospective new member Eric, who had only moved up to our area during lockdown.

We set off towards Tattenhall, passing through Waverton and Hargrave. Then it was out to Carden before swinging westwards through Stretton and Wetreins Lane to reach Farndon and Holt. Into Wales, and our destination was only a few miles away. Being COVID-cautious, we had intended to sit outside on such a fine day on the pub’s terrace looking out over the lake.  However even though we arrived at 1230, those outside tables were taken.  After a brief consultation we headed into a largely deserted indoors, following the pub’s strict COVID protocols. No gathering at the bar today – straight to our allotted table where our orders were taken by masked staff. As usual we discussed many topics, including the Welsh Government’s guidance on our visit which Dave had researched.  Were we in compliance given we came from more than two households, or were we covered by the permission for up to 30 people to engage in sporting activity?

After our lunch we set off on our shorter return journey, down the main road through Marford, Rossett and Pulford, before turning onto the road to Ecclestone. Part way David M struck off to return home via Holt.  The rest of us entered Chester, crossing the Old Dee Bridge, then followed the river past the racecourse, before joining the Greenway and quickly back to our start. Back at Meadow Lea, we bumped into Glennis and enjoyed final drinks and cakes.  An unambitious 40+ mile ride on generally quiet roads in dry, warm and sometimes sunny conditions marked a welcome return to CER’s programme.  Let’s hope for another dry day next week.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Thursday, 6 August 2020

6th August 2020 : Whatcroft (brisk)

So after 20 weeks of no club rides at all, three rides are offered – just like buses!

The Johns (W and M) decide to support me on a ride to Whatcroft – “where, you ask!” but Dave M knew where it was. We head out for the long fast ride through Helsby and Frodsham to Preston Brook and the short sharp hill up to Preston-on-the- Hill. Here, we start the eastward trek to Antrobus and Over Tabley. To get over the M6 and under the M56 link road, we use the Reverse Tan manoeuvre to achieve our entry into the outskirts of Knutsford. 

Here, we turn south on a run down tiny lanes to Lach Dennis. What we notice is that there are a lot of cars on the road these days – so much better over the past twenty weeks when we had the lanes to ourselves and just fellow cyclists. Crossing the A530 and on the way to Davenham, we arrive at Riverside Organics farm shop and cafe. This is near to the hamlet of Whatcroft. They had extensive Covid modifications in place and a lot of covered outside seating. We order up and the food takes only a short time to come as we were hungry after 34 miles.

We catch up on what has happened in our lives over the past 20 weeks, but now realise we need to get back. So out and through Davenham towards Hartford Bridge, the road takes us to the outskirts of Sandiway. To get to Cuddington we have to run down the hillside then back up it a bit further along. The route now takes us along my favourite Gallowsclough Lane. We can't find the burial tumulus indicated on the OS map as its under a field of maize – maybe in the winter I will find it. Out and through Norley, it is now a blast through Delamere Forest and back to Mickle Trafford.

So after 55 miles around, it's good to be out in an official Brisk Group today – other group members are either on holiday (Ivan), enjoying a dental treatment (Ray), recuperating at home (Ken), or in the Lakes (Nick). 



CA

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Cafes offering a take-out service

We are still unable to ride as a club, but many CER members are out regularly, riding solo or with another person as allowed under the current Covid rules. Several members have noted that there are a number of cafes who are offering a take-out service for coffee and, maybe, food. These are listed below.
If you arrive somewhere and find that there is already a great throng of cyclists there, it is probably a good idea to pass by and to find somewhere else, not only for your own safety, but to avoid criticism from locals.

BASCHURCH :             MOOR FARM SHOP, Ruyton Rd, SY4 2BA
BULKELEY :                 BICKERTON POACHER, Wrexham Rd, SY14 8BE
CHESTER CITY :          two or three cafes on the east side of Bridge Street, including
                                      THE JAUNTY GOAT at No.56.
CODDINGTON:            MANOR WOOD CARAVAN PARK Lakeside Café, CH3 9EN
HOYLAKE:                   THE PARADE COMMUNITY CENTRE.10 Hoyle Rd opposite                                          the new  lifeboat station.
NEW BRIGHTON:        three or four cafes on the promenade near the Pavilion
NESTON:                     THE REAL FOOD KITCHEN, 21 Parkgate Rd, CH64 9XF
PARKGATE:                 ELEPHANT COFFEE on prom (could be crowded if sunny)
HOLT:                           CLEOPATRAS, The Cross, Holt, LL13 9YG
FRODSHAM:               STONEHOUSE FARM, New Pale Rd, WA6 9ER.
                                     Phone order from the gate.
HAWARDEN:               GALLERY COFFEE SHOP 10 The Hwy, Hawarden,CH5 3DH. 
                                         Open 9-2, Wed - Sun. Go round the back to place your order.
TARPORLEY:               THE HOLLIES COFFEE SHOP, Tarporley Rd, CW6 9ES
WHITCHURCH:           ALDEFORD LAKE, Tilstock Rd, SY13 3JQ

Thursday, 19 March 2020

19th March 2020 : Whitchurch (unofficial social ride)

Given the advice emanating from Cycling UK, it was clear that the current virus situation would affect our official club rides. Dave H has now communicated this to us all recently. However, I realise that we are, as members, gregarious characters who like to know who has been riding where. So this is a short report of the social ride that a few of us did today.

We i.e. Ray, John W, and myself, decided to meet up outside Alison's at 1000 to see who else might arrive. Steve H appeared, and was not going to join us, but rather wait to see if anyone else would turn up* ( see below)  I had cobbled together a 45 mile route out to Whitchurch and back. Thus we set off bound for Tilston via Harthill, Bickerton and Duckington. In Tilston, we had pre-arranged to meet up with Nick.

So the four of us wiggled our way via Shocklach and Worthenbury down mud-splattered lanes to the outskirts of Whitchurch. The feeding station was the tricky bit, and I had posited a stop at the service station on the Whitchurch bypass where there was a Starbucks. Nick mentioned there was also a McDonald's as well. So it was an easy choice - the toasted bun won the day.


Al fresco luncheon facilites ( c/o McDonalds website)
We had to sit outside as they were only taking "Take away" orders, but apart from the fact that the temperature seemed to have dropped, it was fine for us all.

The route back was out through Whitchurch, and then down muddy lanes via Marbury and Bickerton to round Bulkeley Hill on the  way back to Tattenhall. So a pleasant 45 mile route on near traffic-free yet muddy roads. At Beeston, Nick and John headed back to Tattenhall as Ray and I headed back to Chester for 65 mile plus of social cycling. The weather held up with even sunny intervals in the afternoon.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

*Steve reports that no other rider turned up, and the cafe had only three customers in.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

12th March 2020: New Brighton (mod)

We were going to be in for some extraordinary weather today - sunshine all day and very strong winds along with a very high Spring tide in the Mersey estuary. Serendipitously I met up with Steve H at Dunkirk. He was just riding out and back today from Kelsall, so just a 45 mile round trip! At Ness Gardens, a crowd of ten riders would eventually arrive, although John W and Steve H were just out for coffee today. Dave H and Steve T were welcoming a potential new member, Denise, who had arrived in shorts! I had already prepared a Wirral Wander ride of 40 miles, which was gratefully accepted.

So the group, consisting of Steves T and H(NM), Peter, George, Trevor, Dave H, Denise and myself, set off down to the Dee shoreline along by Nets Cafe. Here was the first surprise of the day - a debris-strewn path - a result of a very high tide assisted by a fierce NW on-shore wind. There was a digger out by the Harp pub pushing the marsh debris back off the road. In and out of the Nestons, we wiggle through the big houses of Gayton to arrive near to Poll Hill in Heswall just off Telegraph Road.

In quick succession, as it is largely downhill, we are through Pensby, Irby and Frankby (former Viking villages) to arrive at West Kirby and the railway cut-through to Hoylake and Meols. Hitting the esplanade here, we are greeted with a seething seascape of enormous rollers as it is now about the height of the highest Spring tide. The wind was very strong N Westerly, probably storm force 8-9. It had been hindering us a bit, but not now as we were literally blown down the road towards the sea wall path to New Brighton.

As we get to the end of this road, it becomes clear that cycling the sea wall path will to be dangerous with the breaking waves and high winds. So what to do - find another way inland of course. This we do by wiggling down No-Thorough roads (which weren’t) and the housing estates of Moreton. We end up along Leasowe Road where Denise takes an unexpected tumble. Although shaken and slightly injured, her bike had sustained a brake/gear lever mounting bracket fracture, and it is wobbling around on the bars. A few cables ties later we are off again heading for the esplanade which has been closed to traffic. Sea water is splashing over the sea wall with somewhat mountainous waves just off-shore. Arriving at the boating lake by the fort, the sea is in a real turmoil as Steve H(NM)'s photo shows. Negotiating the temporary sea flood defences, it is now a few minutes to Weatherspoon’s “The Master Mariner” pub and a very quick and welcome hot repast.

The route back is as per usual i.e. along the western side of the Mersey promenade. The tide height at Gladstone dock is around 33ft today with a tidal range of nearly 30ft of seawater!. The Black Pearl pirate “ship” is no where to be seen, but there was a great pile of driftwood just off the prom though. So we wiggle our way back towards New Ferry where we pause to consider how the SS Great Eastern was broken up here at the Sloyne (see Trevor's photo). The wind was still a problem for us as we cut across the Wirral via Eastham and Willaston arriving back at Ness Gardens around 1600. Peter and Denise stay for a hot drink as the rest of us disperse for home. A 42 mile Wirral circular ride today with plenty of wild weather producing a different aspect of this former Viking kingdom.

Photo by TC

Photo by SH
See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 7 March 2020

5th March 2020: Queen's Head (mod)

Arriving late at Cleopatra’s, having to spend my coffee and chat time sorting out my front derailleur. I was asked by the now formed Mod’s group of SteveT, Steve NM (New Member), George, Andy B, Electric Pete and Bob, whether I knew of a route to the Queen’s Head. Yes, I replied, I have one from about six years ago (2013) when I last took a tribe of CER’s to visit what was a popular watering hole. We bade our farewells to Dave & Liz P who were on their own ride, Neil who had other commitments and the Briskers.
Photos by Mike G
 Crossing the A534 we stopped to admire the flooding of the fields. Having to bypass Sutton Green as the lanes were flooded, we quickly made our way to Bangor on Dee then gentle climbs and dips with a tail wind taking in the lanes east of Overton via Cloy Hall. On to Dudleston Heath, when SteveT decided to try his falling off technique on one of the deeply rutted roads. Fortunately, he was going slowly and no damage done. Also, lots of ‘Muddy Puddles/Wheel Washes’ as highways were still flooded in parts from the recent storms. After a short left and right in Dudleston Heath we made our way onto towards Perthy and Welsh Frankton. Panoramic views of the distant hills were observed as the sun shone. Over the Llangollen and Montgomery canals and onto Rednal where we then followed relatively clean back lanes to the Queens’s Head.

On arrival, the car park was full and another cycling group were having lunch, their bikes were generally of the steel frame (Dawes) variety. Managed to find space for lunch, but because of its popularity food took a little time to serve. That said the quality was good as were the ales and we got away on time. Lunchtime discussions ranged from Cruises and of course Coronavirus.


Rested, well fed and watered we returned via Tetchill and Ellesmere with slight breeze against. Onto Penley and Threapwood, where Bob advised he was ‘Cream Crackered’. Took the direct route back, through Shocklach returning to Holt by 3:40pm for a relaxing afternoon tea, just having cycled 49 miles. Overall an undulating ride, with some appalling road surfaces, but an excellent days riding.

See route map and/or gpx file download

MG

Friday, 6 March 2020

5th March 2020: Tattenhall (brisk)

It appeared that no-one was keen to write up the Brisk blog for the ride to Tattenhall from Holt this week. The brisk group consisted of Steve F, Ray and John W. So John bravely offered not only to put together a ride, but also sent me some notes of the ride itself. His notes are as follows:-

From Cleopatra's cafe, Steve F and Ray rode with me as I decided not to put together a formal route but just  chose to pick directions and go with that.  So I used  the compass on my Garmin to pick likely directions.

First choice was straight on towards a shortcut over A534 and down Francis Lane. Our  jaws dropped at the view of flooded fields which meant taking the main road around the industrial estate and straight on to pass Bangor on Dee. Chose again to alter ride and took first right after going ‘over’ Bangor on Dee onto quiet lanes to Lightwood Green and Penley. 

Here we then headed towards Whitchurch, on some A roads but soon to turn off for Malpas. Unfortunately there were road works plus the cafe there was judged to be too dear! So we diverted via No Mans Heath, then regular route past Cholmondeley and Bickerton. We took the "easy" way up Harthill and a nice fast blast down to Tattenhall to stop at Alison's cafe for lunch. 

We didn't ride back to Holt, but if you ride this route, it will be around 46 mls.

So, as none of us needed to go back to Holt, we took the long way round to Waverton as the less windy option. Before Christleton, we split with Steve at the Piper pub, and Ray & I rode on to the Millennium cycle path where Ray cut off for home. I press on home to get 66 miles under the tyres.

An uneventful ride with tail/side wind on way to Whitchurch then a headwind picked up on way home, so glad of team effort to take turns on the front. Good average speed and a decent  66 miles all round distance and route, with two good riders with me tagging along.

See route map and/or gpx file download

JW

Thursday, 27 February 2020

27th February 2020: Aston (mod)

This write up will have to be brief, as we have been invited out, despite flying to the Canaries in the morning! There was a good turnout at the 'upvamped' Rose Farm cafe despite the continued unsettled weather and drowning countryside . It was good to meet Steve Hughes who is now a fully paid up club member, and is very welcome. Rapid riders Ray and Clive decided to join the moderates at a more relaxed pace than is their norm. The group consisted of Andy B, Mike G, George, Keith, Steves Hughes, Tan and Haywood, myself and the two fast lads.

We set off for Cotebrook, meeting a large cattle lorry on the way up. I caught a glimpse of a fine looking beef animal, and wandered if it was shortly to be slaughtered at Rose Farm. Life and death is played out pretty starkly in the pretty Cheshire countryside, as further evidenced by a fox laid out at the front of a farm ten minutes later. I embroidered the route to Nantwich by meandering on less familiar little lanes to Wettenhall. Our route was via the lovely old church at Acton, and down the quiet lane bordering Dorfold Hall. We continued to Ravensmore and Sound, and completed a loop south-east of Aston, finally arriving at the Bhurtpore with twenty -eight miles under our belt.

A few curries were consumed in a very convivial atmosphere, before we headed back. The route back was intended to be shorter, heading for Larden Green, Brindley and Bunbury. We exchanged a wave with Clive and Ray, who had gone ahead to keep warm, and were sitting in the window at Tilly's. We approached Tarporley by way of Beeston Castle. It had been a battle against the wind on our return, but we had managed the odd flooded section, and completed an enjoyable forty-seven miles in excellent company. Some of us stayed for a well-earned coffee and cake at The Old Fire Station. My sympathy was for Mike and Andy, who still had a blustery ride remaining as they forged on to north Wales.

Photo by Mike G
See route map and/or gpx file download 

DH

Sunday, 23 February 2020

20th February 2020: Minera (mod)

This would be our last visit to The Gallery café at Hawarden before Spiros retires at the end of March. Eight Easy Riders had gathered to wish him well. Jim and Trevor had come in civvies, John W was doing his own thing and Ken had to be home for lunch, but he joined Dave H, Keith, Andy B and Steve T for the ride. We decided that, since Dave was recovering from his gall bladder op and Keith hadn’t been out for a while due to a bad shoulder and the weather was awful, we’d make it a short one today. I’d found a ride on the blog to the Tyn-y-Capel pub at Minera which Steve H had led a year or so ago. At only 30 miles, it seemed to fit the bill for our ride today.

So, off we set out through Ewloe and Buckley (where Ken helped us to navigate the housing estate streets) to reach the A5118 near Llong. Ken peeled off here to head for home, whilst we struggled along the main road into the strong westerly wind before taking the long, steep hill to Pentre, skirting Treuddyn to reach Rhydtalog and Four Crosses. From here it was steeply downhill to reach Minera and Tyd-y-lan opposite the church.

It didn’t look open, but a quick look inside told us that all was well and we were soon settled in the warm pub, drying off gloves and other wet things on any radiators we could find. As well as the normal menu, there was a 2 course lunch on offer for only £7.95. Andy, Keith and I chose this option, whereas Dave went for a Moroccan surprise. He was more than a little worried when the waitress brought him a plate of salad, chips and wraps, but the sizzling sound of a dish of Moroccan chicken soon brought a smile to his face.

As we were eating, the sun came out so that when we set off for home the world looked a much brighter place. However, the wind was still very strong and we did get shot-blasted by a few snow showers as we took the B-road round Coedpoeth and zig-zagged through Pentre Broughton to Gwersyllt, where we joined the busy road to Llay. From there we found the quieter lanes to Penymynydd, where we crossed the A5104.  Andy left us here to take that road back to Mold, leaving Dave, Keith and I to navigate the footbridge over the A55 and then follow the track through Bilberry Wood back to Hawarden.

Yet again we’d started from the café in very unpromising conditions, only to finish the day in fine and dry weather. A short ride today, but good company and the drying weather made it all worthwhile.
ST

Friday, 14 February 2020

13th February 2020: Warrington (brisk)

Ivan had proposed a ride to Warrington and so it was that John W and I met Ivan at the top of the Greenway in the pouring rain for our ride out to Delamere Station Cafe. Around Manley Mere, John was having trouble changing the front and rear derailleurs on his Di system. So he reluctantly decided that riding all day on a fixie was not a good idea, and returned homewards.

The warmth of Delamere Station was welcome and it was very busy with lots of Easy Riders and walkers. Steve T was yet again dragooned into the Brisk Ride Formation Cycling Team as Ivan leads us out  setting off bound for Runcorn via Kingsley. The other side of Frodsham, Steve  offers to weave us through Runcorn in between the railway lines, main roads and canals, to get to the old Mersey Bridge, which he did expertly. Up until this point, the roads were pretty familiar to me but this was all about to change. Steve tells me "it is a bit rough around here". I see signs for Prescot where the owner of the Chester "Sticky Walnut" restaurant successfully opened a gourmet establishment!

On the Mersey Old Bridge
Ivan guides us through suburban Widnes to Upton Rocks then Cronton thence Rainhill Stoops - familiar to you all I suppose. Ivan tells us that it was around here in 1829 that Stephenson's Rocket won the competition for the first locomotive to pull trains on the nearly complete Liverpool to Manchester Railway line; and Yes it was more prompt on arrival times than Arriva North trains! Hereabouts as well was the first railway death - the "man with the red flag" was run over by the train and died.

We motor on passing Burtonwood Brewery and then into the metropolis that is Warrington, now with 209,000 population and a lot of warehouses! After 30 miles, we tie up our steeds outside the Spoons' "The Friar Penketh" where a couple of workers are jet-washing the outside smoking area - the jobsworth won't let us park our bikes away from the pavement here, neither offer to jet-wash our mud covered bikes.

We get a table at the window to stand watch over our bikes as our food comes promptly as always from the kitchens. The route back doesn't feature much in the way of railways, but we set off along the Mersey River cyclepath crossing it over the swinging Howley Footbridge where an electric blue-haired lass kindly takes our photo. Cutting through Victoria Park  and more cycle-paths, we head for Hillcliffe where the clue is in the name. It's a long ride up at nearly 10% to Fox Covert Cemetery and thence down the unmade road passing upmarket houses to Appleton reservoir.

Howley Footbridge over the Mersey River
Out via Hatton, we arrive in Daresbury village passing the rectory where Charles Dodgson was born in 1832. Better known as Lewis Carroll, Charles was also a well-respected mathematician and inventor of a Scrabble-type board game when he was not writing the Alice In Wonderland books.

Crossing the M56 we end up at Preston-on-the-Hill where we elect to join the old Chester to Warrington road known as the A56. Steve peels off near Sutton Weaver as Ivan and I ride straight back to Chester. Ivan's planned route would have taken you back to Delamere with 51 miles via Acton Bridge however.

Safely back in Chester, it now getting colder as Ivan I finish up for around 70 miles round trip. A great day out with a good part along roads and areas that I had not been down, or up, before.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos ID

Thursday, 13 February 2020

13th February 2020: Goostrey (mod)

Heavy rain was falling as I cycled to the Station Cafe at Delamere. Several other drowned rats gradually appeared, while others had made the journey by car. It was good to see Dave H looking well, though in civvies recuperating from his recent operation. The plan was to ride out to The Crown at Goostrey, and the party comprised George, Andy B, Bob and myself.

Leaving the cafe the skies cleared and we even saw a spot of sunshine. The route largely covered familiar ground, taking the back way to Acton Bridge and then on to Great Budworth, Pickmere and Plumley. Around Lower Peover, I took a new lane for me - my old OS map showed it as just a track, though on line it appeared as a yellow lane.  It was OK except for the puddles and mud.

Entering The Crown, we were told that we had arrived before a large party of 50 were expected. Grateful not to be waiting for the kitchen to cook their orders first, we chose our food and drink, which arrived and were consumed quickly.

The return route was also familiar taking us through Lach Dennis (a reminder that Storm Dennis was expected at the weekend), Davenham and Hartford. Sandiway, Cuddington and Norley came next, before we reached our starting point. 

Despite the early rain, we stayed dry on the ride, and the weather was relatively pleasant for cycling with little wind. The total route length was 44 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 7 February 2020

6th February 2020: Melverley (mod)

There had been a heavy frost, though a sunny day was forecast, when CER members assembled at the Castle Bistro in Chirk. Ivan and Nick made up the brisk contingent, and we had six moderate riders: Bob, Steve T, Trevor, Mike G, Andy B and myself. Over coffee, Andy was sharing a few interesting facts about working in the nuclear industry: in order to test radioactive contamination, some staff had to provide 4 litres of their urine, in order that it could be reduced down to a concentration where alpha particles could be counted!

In choosing a destination for today’s ride, I remembered that on other rides we had often passed an interesting-looking pub on the banks of the River Severn.  So it was that our destination became the Royal Hill Inn, midway between Melverley and Pentre. We set off on one of our regular routes from Chirk, through Hindford and Welsh Frankton. Caution was in order as we came across patches of ice which we passed gingerly, and sometimes dismounted and walked around.  We hoped these would disappear as the day progressed. We cycled on through West Felton and Knockin, past the radio telescope dishes and beneath the helicopters always hereabouts due to the local military base.  Before long we were seeing signs to our pub.

Photos by Mike G

I can’t explain why it’s called the Royal Hill Inn as the locality is fairly hill-less, but maybe it is connected to the Civil War battles in the Shrewsbury area. The pub itself has an ideal location looking south over the banks of the River Severn towards the Breedon Hills in the distance. The interior retains a collection of small rooms - a servery, a snug and an old parlour. We sat basking in the sun shining through the windows and chose our refreshments.  The main courses are all under £10 and quite adequate – we were told that more chips could be provided if we wished. My pint of Three Tuns was in very good condition. We were discussing rides we had done in the area, when someone turned over a beermat to reveal the fact that the River Severn is 72,355 canoe lengths long! This brought the discussion round to canoe trips.


Soon it was time to move on.  Mike G suggested that we should visit St Peter’s Church in nearby Melverley.  This is a delightful timber wattle and daub structure, built in the early 15th century after Owain Glyndwr burnt down the previous one. In the early 1990’s a major effort succeeded in protecting it from falling into the River Severn.  As a result Melverley was given a “most motivated village” award.





From here we headed north through Maesbrook and Maesbury to join the road through Whittington to Gobowen. Before entering the town, we headed west, past the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital, very familiar to Steve T, and then picked up the lanes to Western Rhyn and the Ceiriog valley.  From here we climbed up into Chirk and back to the Castle Bistro.


It had been an exceptionally good ride. The weather turned out to be excellent once the frost lifted. Apart from some muddy lanes around Chirk, the roads were generally clear and there was little wind. The route held plenty of interest, especially the church, and the pub was a notable find to which we will return. Total distance travelled was 42 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

6th February 2020: Nesscliffe (brisk)


It’s a train ride to Chirk for today's outing, travelling out with Trevor it is looking a very promising day with blue skies as far as the eyes can see. Arriving at the café in the town, the moderates have already taken over with a good turnout. The brisk group today is down to two – Nick and I. The mods are out of the door promptly leaving us to settle up and get ready.

We depart via Colliery Rd and crossing over the A5 to Pont y Blew. The sun is still bright but it is quite chilly as we descend Rhyln Lane. Nick stops to put a scull cap under his helmet and we set off. The roads are dry from Chirk to this point but, on going around a left-hand bend and continuing down hill, we hit ice across the road. No time for warnings but Nick crashes down onto the tarmac. After the shock he is able to get up, bike and clothing intact but his shoulder took the brunt of the fall and is bruised, so we decide to ride back to Chirk.

After loading his bike in to his car, Nick is off home for some pampering hopefully. I decide to ride my route so set off again taking extreme care when approaching the bend. It is probably 15 minutes since the accident and the ice has gone! For the rest of my ride I did not encounter any further icy patches. Unbelievable and unlucky. When Nick was gathering himself together a tractor, quad bike and two cars passed over the ice, so I can only assume busy traffic grated and dissolved the ice/slush.
Along Glyn Morlas Lane and through Ifton Meadow with the only category climb of 15%, its onwards to Ifton Heathand along Cross lanes towards Dudleston. Its now across country to Welsh Frankton and Hordley. The lanes are very quiet of traffic and it’s a pleasure for me to be riding alone and at my own pace enjoying the vistas as I cannot remember these lanes, but our leader has explored most lanes between Chirk and Shrewsbury so my memory is fading!

I pass through little villages of Lower Hardley and Bagley and approaching Lullingfields its similar to Newmarket as there is a grand stud stables and foal fields along with gallops. Dropping down to Myddle, I can remember a Clive route from Battlefield passing through this town but whenever you go down roads, there is always an up to challenge you.

The lunch stop today is at Nescliffe and a pub called The Old Three Pidgeon’s. I don’t think I’ve visited before but is a very old-world inn with a lot of history and a resident ghost that luckily was not behind the bar. Service was very friendly and my lunch was served very prompt and I was soon back on my bike again. My departure from my lunch stop took me along Nescliffe woods and the verge was covered with snow drops and crocus, I’m soon knocking on Knockin village and to Maesbury Marsh before skirting Oswestry.
The Pub
Another Solo Rider
I thought my route took me via the Fort, but I was passing the old works on the B5069 Gobowen Road and crossing over the A5 at Park Hall. At Gobowen, I wait at the station as the gates are down and the 1452 service from Chirk is arriving so I have an hour for my next service home. Between Gobowen and crossing the A5 again, at Whittington Road, I espy a group of riders, who I suspect were the Mods on their way back into Chirk via St Martins.

For me it was Weston Rhyn and Chirk Bank arriving back into town too early for a quick train home so amused myself at Stanton House and a relaxing 50 minutes. Unfortunately, not accompanied on the ride today, and I hope Nick isn’t too bruised, but an enjoyable 52 miles covered, although the planned route was only 46 miles, on I’m sure some new lanes in spring-like sunshine all day. Its a route I would enjoy riding again with some brisk riders to join me.
ID

Saturday, 1 February 2020

30th January 2020 : Market Drayton (brisk)

Today's ride is from Alison’s cafe at Tattenhall. Another good turnout of CER riders, and for the brisk ride today we were a group of 5. A ride to Market Drayton and a visit to the Red Lion, Joules establishment was on offer. With the hope that the roads are not as muddy as last week, the first half hour of today's conversation was the bike and gear wash after lasts weeks ride.

John M, John W, Steve F, Ray and I set off via Burwardsley Road and onto Dark Lane then onto Bolesworth Road and over Bolesworth Hill, dropping down to Brown Knowl then along Bickerton Road. Heading out to Wrenbury and passing the Dusty Miller inn, the canal bridge was down so it was then onwards towards Aston.

Beeston Castle in the sunshine
John M and Ray make a detour shortly after the crossroads deciding on a shorter ride to Audlem. We three continued on our route. As previously wished for, the lanes today were drier and the weather although overcast was warm. After a further few miles along decent lanes we are entering Market Drayton and lunch.

The service  at the "Spoons pub, the Red Lion, was quick and food reasonable and we are back out in the saddle again. Heading East, we head out  and up to Norton in Hales then into Audlem. A quick check of the café there confirmed our two "slackers" had departed for home. Through the town and up the hill before the right-hand fork thence to take us to Nantwich. Passing through the town and exit via Welsh Row, we continue to Acton and Swanley Lane and the usual route to Bunbury and Beeston.

We head on back to Chester after 53 miles around and having enjoyed 80+ miles of good cycling. As we pass the Rugby club on Hare Lane, and after so many pot holes, I hear a "psssssssss" sound and ride the rest of the short way home on a flat tyre

Another good ride, weather very warm and miles covered at a 16.5mph average. Still got to wash the bikes and gear though!!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo ID

Friday, 31 January 2020

30th January 2020: Marbury (mod)

A ‘quiet’ weather day was forecast and about a dozen riders met at Alison’s in Tattenhall. Prospective new member Steve Hughes turned out. That means that with four Steves, the Steves have now overtaken the Daves and Johns as the most common first name in the club! It must have been a popular name 60+ years ago. There were seven riders in the mod group: Andy B, Andy W, George, Neil, Bob, new Steve and myself. A couple of weeks ago at Rose Farm we had considered riding to The Swan at Marbury, but a bad weather forecast made us change our plans.  Today, with better weather we chose this as our destination.

The route out was to cover 27 miles, with about 13 after lunch.  We headed towards Clutton and into Tilston. From here we shimmied into Threapwood and then south eastwards to Fenn’s Bank before picking up the Alkington Road into Whitchurch. I would normally describe the surfaces as very muddy in parts, but after last week’s experience I’ve redefined what ‘muddy’ means.  Our aim was to pass straight through Whitchurch, avoiding the one-way street by the Black Bear which we often take from the wrong side.  We explored the side roads and footpaths of Whitchurch, but still ended up travelling the wrong way up this road!

Marbury was reached by 1pm. I read from the Swan’s website that “Marbury has 11 National Heritage listed black and white Medieval/Tudor buildings, including the Swan’s own outbuildings. And a 16th-century church that overlooks the splendid Big Mere”.  As we settled down for our meal, we considered the more exotic items on the menu – eg thyme & sea salt beer bread, Delamere goats cheese salad, crispy bon bons, beetroot & candied walnuts – though the most common choice was the fish finger bap. Topics of conversation covered the worst weather conditions in which we’d been cycling, maybe for contrast with the benign conditions today.  Views were positive about The Swan, so we expect to return here in the future.

After lunch we settled into our route back. The morning had been quite mild, but the afternoon was almost warm and snatches of sunshine were to be seen. The wind that had been against us in our southward progress, now speeded us on our way. Lots of flying insects testified to the unseasonal temperatures. Our route took us to Bickley, Bickerton, Brown Knoll and Bolesworth, before returning to our start.  Around 40 miles covered in good conditions, a decent pub stop, and good company – not bad for Steve’s first ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Saturday, 25 January 2020

23rd January 2020 : Ellesmere (brisk)

I rode out from Chester with John W today for the meeting at Cleopatra's café at Holt. This was my first CER ride of 2020 and my focus was only riding a bike!! On arrival at the café, there was another good turnout of nearly 20 riders for today. The weather was predicted as grey but it was quite colourful in the café!

For the Brisk group, Nick had come with a route and I had posted two routes on Ride with GPS; the route selected was a forty-six mile round trip to Ellesmere and the Red Lion. Ken joined us for coffee but not able to ride today and Clive was sailing in Conway Bay and Menai Strait. Our chosen selection of riders today were John W, John M, Nick, and Steve T and Steve F and Ray plus me!

Leaving the café, we head out to Tilston and along the lane’s via Ebnal crossing the A41 via the cycleway twice at No Mans Heath. It is straight lanes linking into one another to Hanmer before joining the A495. The fun started AS SOON as we turn into New Road heading towards Bettisfield; New Road in 1500 BC, but today it has more craters than the moon and more mud than Clive would have enjoyed.

We pass over the old Whitchurch/Ellesmere railway bridge and the Bettisfield café, I haven’t called here with CER but it is a lovely café to visit, it looks like more building work being carried out on the station. We ride on towards Lyneal and pass Colmere and to the A528. Instead of the usual run-down hill into the town today, we cross over and pass White Mere and arrive via Blackwater Marina arriving at our lunch destination The Red Lion.

Arriving at the roundabout at Ellesmere were Dave and Liz on their tandem, and we arrive at the Red Lion together and the Mod’s have also arrived in advance. With 20 additional lunches, our food was a little slow today in presentation. Making things more drawn out is the 3/2 course menu with some riders having starters delaying main course then we have to wait for the spotty dick sponge and custard deserts. Wow!!!!

Magnificent Seven minus One

Leaving Dave and Liz to finish their meal in peace, we eventually leave the pub following after the departure of the moderate group we head back to the roundabout and head up Swan Hill and Ellesmere Lane.

At Penley, we happen upon two moderate riders Keith and Peter (E-Biker) but they were okay and so we continued on. We are soon at Sarn and Nick leaves us to head home and we continue along the drag road from Shocklach to Farndon.

It was a brisk pace from Shocklach to Barton Road and Steve T did very well in maintaining the link. Steve F was the pacemaker, as Steve T left us at the junction to return to Cleopatra's, the remaining five riders continue to Chester via Churton and Aldford.

Anyone in this group hoping for a moderate ride on the return home must have been disappointed, both Ray and Steve kept up a fast pace to Huntington and into Chester. A 46-mile round trip from Holt to Ellesmere and 22 miles average to and from Chester, gave a 68 + ride on a mostly grey day and the worst mud lanes I’ve ridden this year! But throughout, we had no incidents and lots of chat and enjoyment for our effort.

Very glad to be out with the bunch.


ID

Photo ID

Thursday, 23 January 2020

23rd January 2020: Ellesmere (mod)


Another dull grey murky Thursday in January and yet still a large number of Easy Riders turned up at Cleopatra’s – one of the biggest turnouts I can remember and all but one was cycling.  We split into brisk riders, moderate riders and the tandem, and coincidentally we all decided to lunch at the Red Lion in Ellesmere. With this destination in mind I found a route from our archive and nine moderates set out: Neil, the two Andys, Peter, Bob, Daves H and M, Keith and myself.

We rode out along the minor lanes to the west of the River Dee and found plenty of evidence that these had recently been fully under water. We headed for the old cobblestone bridge into Bangor-on-Dee, although some enthusiastic members had to be called back from shooting past on the A-road. At some point the clouds cleared and we enjoyed sunshine, with little wind and mild temperatures, it felt like Spring. We headed towards Dudleston Heath, crossing the A539 between Overton and Penley, and then into Ellesmere.

We had arrived first and quickly placed our orders. A little later the brisk riders and the tandem arrived together. Service was quick and friendly and soon we were on our way.

Photo by SH

Our return route headed south by the marina and then by White Mere and Cole Mere, to pass through Welshampton. Heading northwards, we lost Keith and Peter, and after some backtracking and confusion, decided we had no alternative but to continue on our route.  After some attempts they broke radio silence and we found they were OK and making their own way back to Holt. A reminder that we should each try and keep sight of the rider behind us, and also to keep our phones on and have the list of contact numbers.

The return route, north of Welshampton, was also notable for having both the worst and longest section of bad surface I’d ever ridden over. The pervasive mud made the experience one to try and forget. Heading generally northwards we made for Worthenbury and then the usual route back through Fardon.  Surprisingly we met up with Keith and Peter as we waited at the lights to cross the Dee Bridge.

Back in Holt several of us popped into Cleopatra’s for coffee.  Despite the potholes and the mud, we agreed it had been a good 40 mile outing.


SH

Friday, 17 January 2020

17th January 2020: CER Blog Readership

Bryan Wade told me recently that our blog is read with great interest by members of the Chester and North Wales CTC. In fact, at their New Year’s Day outing, they were updating him with events from recent blog postings!

That prompted a discussion at lunch during the brisk ride last Thursday about how often the write ups are read and by whom. A quick scan of the blog viewing statistics suggests that most posts are read between 30 and 60 times, but at least one has been read over 200 times! This is the ‘mod’ ride on December 27th 2018 from Meadow Lea to The Nag’s Head at Bunbury, which has been viewed 210 times!

On a wider note, our blog is viewed by an international readership. The tables below show a typical week’s readership and the total since the blog was started about 10 years ago. Only the top eleven countries are listed in each case.

One Week
Since the beginning
United Kingdom
244
United Kingdom
149212
United States
111
United States
112674
Switzerland
52
Russia
18653
Germany
46
Germany
14689
Netherlands
39
Ukraine
6943
France
29
France
6299
Ireland
29
Ireland
2987
Spain
20
Netherlands
2881
Austria
11
Vietnam
1420
Not identified
11
Poland
1167

The USA readership is understandable, as there is a huge population there with many places called Chester, but I’m at a loss to understand why we have readers in places like Russia and Vietnam!

ST

16th January 2020: Utkinton circular (mod)

A bad weather forecast hadn’t prevented a good number of Easy Riders turning up at Rose Farm Café, however many were not out for a ride.  A blustery morning was expected to turn into a very wet afternoon with southerly gusts of over 40mph. Ideas for a longer ride possibly to The Swan at Marbury, were rejected in favour of a morning circuit ending back at Rose Farm.

The moderate group consisted of four riders: new member Steve F, Peter, Dave H and myself. We set out through Cotebrook and on to Wettenhall before turning SE to Bunbury, Peckforton and Tattenhall. So far it had stayed dry, but the rain started as we left Tattenhall. Steve F headed for home as the rest of us turned towards Huxley.  Beside the Inn at Huxley, a lorry splashed a verge-full of muddy debris over us. More was to come as we took Wood Lane towards Utkinton – the surface was almost agricultural and we tried to avoid mud, potholes, hedge cuttings and carriageway wide flooding.

Rose Farm café was reached after 27 miles – not much for whole day, but not bad for a morning’s ride. The three of us all enjoyed lunch, and prepared to make our ways home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

16th January 2020 : Wrinehill (brisk)

A dozen riders turned out today at Rose Farm, quite a surprise given the weather forecast was for very high winds and heavy rain from late morning onwards.My proposed route was a 45 mile (74km) ride to the Hand and Trumpet at Wrinehill, riding into the wind in the morning and hopefully with a tail wind on the return.
Clive was happy to tag along, and for the second week in a row, we press-ganged Steve into joining us. He’s a glutton for punishment but loves it really! As the three of us left Rose Farm, it was still unclear where the moderates were heading although a route out to Ravensmoor and a wander around the local lanes back to Rose Farm had both been mooted. After Steve confirmed with Dave H their return rendezvous arrangements, we headed off south to take on the challenge of Tarporley high street and its crazy on-street parking system. Emerging unscathed, we turned off left and head down Common Lane passing the flooded pit I used to fish in when I was a wee boy. 

Crossing over the A51 down and up through Tilston Fearnall, we weaved a route through Bunbury and Spurstow to arrive in Burland. Here we followed the main road into Acton then took Ravens Lane to the main A530 into Nantwich. The route from Acton to Nantwich was a deviation from the planned route as it reduced the amount time spent riding through the town traffic.

Passing over the Shropshire Union Canal, I forget to turn right, so Clive took control and we followed him through a housing estate to pick up the the cycleway running alongside the River Weaver. Finally we left Nantwich along Audlem Road, part of which is closed to traffic, with a small army of workers resurfacing the road. Here we were ordered to dismount and then walk past various pieces of heavy equipment.

Once remounted, we made our way through the lanes of Wybunbury and on to Wrinehill to our destination, "The Hand and Trumpet". This  hostelry is run by Brunning and Price and reflected the group's usual decor, food and drink. Lunch chat included our perplexity concerning the wide international readership of the blog and the regularity of which they are read. Steve concluded the discussion by indicating he was going to undertake further research, with that matter concluded for now we departed. 

Light rain had started to fall as we dined, but at least it fills the potholes making them easier to spot! Our return route initially headed north before zig-zagging its way on back lanes through Hough briefly touching Shavington before re-entering Wybunbury for the second time today. By which time the rain had  stopped. 

At this juncture, Steve received a call from Dave H to enquire his whereabouts and ETA back at Rose Farm. It appears the moderates had opted for a wander around the local lanes and they were now having lunch back at Rose Farm. Steve provided the revised ETA and we continued on along flooded lanes into Nantwich along London Road where we crossed the River Weaver once more to exit the town on Welsh Row. At the aqueduct on Chester Road, we shuffled off to the right skirting Rease Heath College and heading for Wettenhall, we stop again for Steve to advise Dave that he has enough time for another coffee and cake before we arrive.


Checking in with base control -still smiling despite the wind and rain!

A little further on with Clive in the lead and beyond shouting distance, he took the Kings Lane turning to return via Oulton Park instead of the planned route which followed Hickhurst Lane through to Eaton. No matter, so we followed as both routes are broadly similar in both mileage and ascent. After climbing up and over Utkinton Lane, Steve turned off at Rose Farm while we continue on towards Chester  and home.

If anyone had taken any notice of today's weather forecast they would not have ventured far. Luckily for us we stayed mainly dry, although it was breezy in the morning with strengthening winds in the afternoon. So moderates take note, we had a good ride out today and actually managed to get back home in daylight. 77kms (47miles) was the total for today's route and I clocked up 106kms (66miles) plus more for Clive. Thanks to Clive and Steve for their company on a good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo by KP