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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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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

12th September 2019: Aston (mod)

It was good to see a mix of old and new members at ease, chatting and supping at Rose Farm cafe. Michael Dodd had rung me the night before, and I was pleased to see that he had turned up. Our recruitment has been very idiosyncratic recently. Peter joined after Trevor gave us a plug on 'Countdown', and Michael on reading our blog,  figured that Fiona and Elwyn must be his friends from the same Chester gym.  Steve Tan had a possible ride, and Clive had a route to Alsager, but I had a cough and cold and needed moderate pace and distance, even if it meant peeling off on my own at some stage. Fortunately, Andy Whitgreave likes to take it easy, and Fiona enjoys the lack of pressure compared with proper road club sessions. Actually, Andy who is often touring abroad and is cycling fit, enjoys very easy riding so much that he had arrived on a swanky electric bike. It turned out that a route to the Bhurtpore Inn was an acceptable moderate ride for Andy, Fiona and Mike and they opted to keep me company. 

The route was familiar and relaxing: down to Cotebrook, skirting the southern edge of Oulton Park and on to Wettenhall. There were people below, enjoying tea and a bite at canal-side tables, as we crested Cholmondeston Bridge at Venetian Marina. At Reaseheath College, I pointed out where we are no longer allowed to ride through (at point of prosecution). It was very mild, and garment removal was beginning. We were soon passing Henhull Hall. At this point I decided that the ultra swish bikes of Andy and Fiona should not be subject to the grit of parkland in order to skirt south of Nantwich.

The alternative took us to the fine old church at Acton, down Ravens Lane, across to Swanley Lane, past Ravensmoor and into the Bermuda Triangle of Sound Heath. I remember being here with Dave and Liz and Dave's clockwork GPS; our heads began spinning, and we nearly disappeared up our own butted tubing. Andy and I decided that the extra loop south east of Aston would give us a few more pleasant miles before lunch. We headed in the direction of Audlem, and I tried to draw attention to the moated Hall o' Coole. This was the second time I had tried to educate the peasants, a la Brian Mac, but failed to muster any interest! The first time was when we passed Madam's Farm on the Dorfold Hall estate. When we reach The Bhurtpore, I'll tell them to look up the history on t' internet! We turned north west up Back Coole Lane to head straight for lunch in Aston. We always feel welcome and at home in The Bhurtpore. My curry was plain, but contained plenty of decent chicken, and the service was friendly and efficient. It was good to chat to new riders, and get to know each other better. It strikes me that we have been very lucky lately in the personable nature of the riders who have joined us.

The return was intended to be shorter than the 25 miles to lunch. Andy marvelled at the lightness of Fiona's bike, and they wondered how a light, fit rider would fare on a hill against old Andy and an electric motor. I had no plans to return via Harthill, for instance, to test out their imagined joust! Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley, Burland Green and Radmore Green.  I led a little diversion down a backwater to see   Haughton Hall. Steve Tan rang to say that The Fast Lads were back at Rose Farm. As Elwyn was sharing a car with Fiona, and Steve with me, it looked like the partaking of coffee and cake at Tilly's or the Old Fire Station would be a mite inconsiderate. No matter, if anyone in the club needs less cake, its me!  The sting in the tail after Bunbury is the sharp climb at Tilston. This was a chance for the Andy and Fiona contest. I am not sure what happened, but Fiona flew up like a bird, Mike did a Vettel block on Andy, and then they disappeared around the corner. We returned on the narrow lanes to Rhuddall Heath and Tarporley before climbing back to Utkinton, with Andy peeling off for home on the way. We covered a very pleasant and sociable 45 miles on mainly quiet lanes, and managed to find a sheltered route where we hardly noticed the the strong wind. I hope Mike joins us again, when he is not in Germany.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

12th September 2019 : Alsager (brisk)

It becomes more and more difficult to prepare routes which contain "new lanes" these days. There are 790 blogs on our website that have been posted over the last 10+ years. Bryan W used to mark up his OS maps with a highlighter to show the lanes and routes ridden. Maybe he still does! Its a pity that we can't collate all routes from these 790 posts to prepare an electronic version of Bryan's highlighted maps to make the ride compiler's job easier!

Notwithstanding any of the above, I believed I had cracked it today with a brisk run to Alsager down some new lanes. Steve T and Elwyn were up for it, but I had to persuade Neil that the 51 miler was flat and if he were to peel off for home near to Alpraham, he would save at least 5 miles off the out and back trip. He was a little hesitant but decided to give a try. "Oh ye of little faith!*

So we four set off out via Little Budworth on our way to Blakeden Lane to skirt Winsford. Its not a pretty place neither is Middlewich which we had to skirt via the multitudinous housing estates. At Brereton Green, and after 16 miles, we now take the "new" lanes of Moorhead, Brookhouse and Moss End lanes. We now cross the A50 and run west of Rode Heath and south in deep lanes shielding us from the brisk SW winds.

Alsager comes up and we slide passed the Wilbraham Arms, a pub I had used before but service was so slow that today we would use The Plough at the western end of Alsager. Here you can get a full carvery roast at a very reasonable price if so minded. We four didn't indulge, but my small fish and chips was enormous. Lunchtime banter reflected on the present housing market and the fact that it felt like "they were being built everywhere we cycle".

So to prove it, we set off through a housing estate, diving off a little lane and over the M6 and down the lovely lanes of Oakhanger to Winterley. We're back into Crewe suburbia now circling Coppenhall on our way to Church Minshull. I change the course on the fly to get Neil closer to Alpraham to ease his run back to Tattenhall albeit directly into the gusty SW winds.

We three carry on to Eaton and thence into the back of Tarporley where I can't resist a climb up Cobbler's Cross Lane. Elwyn shoots up this even after nearly 50 miles of fairly brisk effort. The Heath Green transfer finds us close by Rose Farm at just after 1500 with 51 miles and a surprising 1938ft of ups and downs.

No cycling problems today, with lots of long quiet lanes in a quiet day for weather, except for the wind that is. As I cycle back to Chester, its full force dulls my "brisk" efforts and I am grateful that home arrives after "only" 79 miles.


* Neil saved six miles!

See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday, 8 September 2019

5th September 2019: Holt (mod)

Today’s meet was at The Gallery cafe, Hawarden, so I set thinking it’s going to be a dry one. Well it was after a little shower, the one that came as all six of us set off to the cafe.  Only two got caught as they rode out: Brian W but he boxed clever and put a waterproof jacket on and Dave M took shelter in a factory on Broughton Industrial park. You know the thing dressed as a cyclist not looking out of place, ha ha, but at least he kept dry. 

So at the cafe was myself, Brian W, Fiona, Elwyn, see I did listen this time on how to spell your name bud, oh while I’m at it he came with us but is really a fast lad so had to put up with us other mods, Peter on the electric bike like Brian’s, Dave M and me.  Dave said he has been out for an early bimble and was heading to Holt for lunch, so as Brian wasn’t riding with us and we didn’t have a  plan we asked Dave if we could tag on. So we set off on a 15 mile route to Cleopatra's via Lower Kinnerton, Rossett, etc. Here we had a light lunch.  We took a route that Fiona and Elwyn knew, liaising with Peter, back to our start, meandering  around the back lanes of Rossett up to the cafe and cars in Hawarden.  

It was only a short ride, about 30 miles due to people chatting and us not having a plan B.  Now I know what Pep and Co go on about having a plan B.  Anyway the day turned out great as the rain went, the sun shone and the company was good.  Today's blog is short and not much info but the reason is a quirky one, as except for at the cafe where big bad Brian was and he knew me and big bad Dave, all the others were new to each other so on the ride it was a case of getting to know each other, being sociable, chatting, etc. I think I know the reason individuals didn’t get to the ride as they were lording it big time as having been put in their place by 1/2/3/4/5 year olds for the last six weeks.  So they have now gone away on a break asking what happened there.


Friday, 30 August 2019

29th August 2019: Over Peover (mod)

A large group of riders assembled at Delamere Forest Station Café on a warm bright morning. Once we had sorted out who was riding and who wasn’t and who was ‘brisk’ and who wasn’t, it looked as if there would be six for the moderate ride to The Dog at Over Peover – except that Dave P had arrived telling us that Peter had ridden with him from Chester, but he’d picked up a puncture about half a mile away from the café and was in the process of fixing it.

There followed a lengthy delay whilst we a) located Peter and checked that he could fix his puncture, b) got him to the café with it fixed and c) examined the cuts in his tyre(s) and established that they were too serious to allow him to continue with us. So, in the end, we would be six and not seven.

So it was 11.00 by the time we left Delamere heading, inevitably, towards Hatchmere and thence Norley. By this time ‘we’ consisted of Dave H, Dave M, Dave P, Fiona, George and yours truly. Taking the pretty Gallowsclough Lane in Norley, we headed across the A49 at Cuddington and the A556 at Sandiway. I had been anxious to make up for our late start so had been pressing on. At this point we’d averaged almost 15 mph – a supersonic speed for the mods. Things slowed down a little as Dave M led us over the River Weaver at Bradford Mill and up the rough path under the bridges leading up to Moulton. At Davenham we picked up Cycle Route 573, which runs east towards Congleton, passing through Lach Dennis and Goostrey.

Passing The Crown at Goostrey, we looked but couldn’t see any sign of the brisk riders who had planned to stop there for lunch. Either they were hiding from us or they were lost on the Whitegate Way.

Passing close by Jodrell Bank, we arrived at The Dog in Over Peover at 12.50, having covered just under 25 miles in less than 2 hours. As usual, the food at The Dog was excellent and the service friendly. There was some discussion about the multitude of ‘Peovers’ in this area.  According to Wikipedia, Peover is a rural area in Cheshire, southwest of Chelford and northwest of Jodrell Bank. It contains Peover Superior (also called Over Peover), and Peover Inferior (also called Lower Peover or Nether Peover) and Peover Heath.  Peover is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Pevre", from a Celtic word meaning "the bright one" referring to the Peover Eye, a local brook.

Photos by Steve T

Suitably refreshed and photographed for posterity, we made our way out of Over Peover to Lower Peover. Here Dave M took his leave to ride back to Oscroft by a different route. We pressed on over Plumley Moor, crossing the busy A556 at The Smoker by wheeling the bikes over the pedestrian crossings.  Riding the short distance on the pavement alongside the A556, we turned right into Linnards Lane and followed this into Higher Wincham. From here we took the familiar route through Pickmere, Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh to take us down to the River Weaver at Acton Bridge.

Given the choice between riding up the very steep hill into Acton Bridge, or taking the riverside path to Dutton Locks and the more gradual climb back to Delamere, we stuck by the moderate group motto of ‘never take the hard route when there’s and easier one’ and rode down to the river. Fiona thought she was going to have to swim across the river, but found the crossing at the locks a novelty. She was less impressed by a muddy section of the path as we cycled towards the railway viaduct!

The climb out of the Weaver Valley up first Crewood Common Lane and then Norley Lane is certainly less steep than taking Acton Lane, but it’s quite a long grind, so it was a relief to reach the top and freewheel down to Hatchmere. Here we directed Fiona back through the forest to the café where she’d left her car. There rest of us split up like the Red Arrows, heading back home after 46 pleasant miles through the Cheshire countryside on a sunny summers day.

Thanks to Dave M for his guidance on the early sections of the route and to all on the ride for their company on a classic moderate ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 29 August 2019

29th August 2019 : Goostrey (brisk)

Earlier in the week I had been out with John W and Ivan exploring some off-road routes. As it had been quite dry of late, I decided to trail the Weaver Navigation canal and then Ince Marshes NCR5 from Frodsham to Elton. The Weaver route was OK - the Ince Marshes was dry but a very rough track - for a long way!  Continuing the “it’s been dry” theme, I had put together a route for today’s ride to cycle more of these official cycleways which are best ridden in dry conditions.

I had ridden out to Delamere with John W, and as I was bemoaning the poor state of the road through Delamere Forest, John suggested we cut through to the Station Cafe via the forest tracks. This was an inspired idea as the surfaces were no worse than the roads and it was a mile shorter. So we find ourselves at the cafe with lots of CER members supping in the sunshine.

The brisk group formed around John W, John M, Ivan and myself; I then persuaded Neil and potential member, Elwyn, to join us. We shoot off up the bumpy road to Hatchmere, then turn right into Norley proper. I like to take Gallowsclough Lane here, and usually find horses and riders on this lane - I wasn't disappointed today either. Dropping down the hollow on Norley Road, we turn right down aptly named Waste Lane, where the group are wondering where they are going to now. It is 5 miles of flat riding down the whole of Whitegate Way. This upper section can be muddy when wet, but today it was near bone dry all the way to the outskirts of Winsford.

Riding the Whitegate  Way

Out and towards Middlewich, it is now a long run on cycleway 71 to the edge of Swettenham. More off-road via The Davenport Hall transfer is now employed to get over the Dane River valley and into Swettenham proper. 

Dane River Bridge at Davenport Hall
One more diversion down Sandy Lane takes over the ford and on our way, via Twemlow Green, to "The Crown" in Goostrey. As ever "The Crown" doesn’t disappoint - always a friendly welcome and a very good meal at value prices.

The route back is quite straightforward taking in Lach Dennis and Davenham. As we approach the Blue Bridge over the Weaver Navigation, we drop down the side of it and turn right on the canal path towards Northwich. John W and I had ridden this path on Tuesday but from the opposite direction - so as everyone knows, going the opposite way creates a whole new route. It is idyllic recovery cycling sliding passed the dock and repair yard near Kingsmead, Northwich Rowing Club and the rear of St John Dean’s College. 

The double canal locks transfer at Hunt's Lock takes us through a dreary housing estate and onto Hartford and Weaverham. We power passed Acton Bridge and Crowton towards Kingsley then, as there was quite a strong headwind and ignoring the drag up exposed Norley Lane, we take the hedge protected and delightful Beech Lane, thence Forest Lane, to run into Hatchmere and back to Delamere Station cafe.

So, 50 miles all round, with many miles of flatness (2000ft) via the Whitegate Way and the Weaver Navigation, we take a welcome drink and break for home. For those four of us going back to Chester, it will be 75+ miles today. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Photos JW

Monday, 26 August 2019

22nd August 2019 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Clive cycled over to Rossett and joined me in the car for the last 30 km’s to Chirk. When we arrived there were plenty of bikes tethered to the railings outside the cafe which belonged to the  Moderates group who outnumbered the Brisk by 4 to 1. Dave M had arrived by train for coffee and  planned  to return home by bike. The eight or so moderates, led by Clive, headed off to Baschurch for lunch whilst Nick and I decided to grace Montford Bridge with our presence. 

We got off to pretty poor start due to ‘yours truly’ taking the wrong road from the cafe however we did enjoy a lovely circular  tour of Chirk in the summer sunshine. Eventually we exited the town via the short but steep climb of Chirk Bank and continued south. At this point the wind was against us but fortunately the high hedges provided some shelter as we  made our way into Oswestry. 

Our route through the town was straightforward and we were soon bumping along Maesbury Road before crossing the busy A483. A short unintentional detour then led us directly into Maesbury which is a pretty village with  a river running through it and a canal nearby. Taking a a south west heading we skirted around Maesbrook before hooking back east towards Nesscliffe where cycle route 81 led us into Shrawardine and onto Montford Bridge, our lunch stop.

Although the Winfield Arms looked closed, it was open, and as we were the only customers, we were quickly served and seated. This venue  is best be described as adequate which is a pity as the village is in a lovely setting on the banks of the river Severn with a bridge designed  by Thomas Telford - it was his first bridge design and was constructed between 1790 and 1792. The lunchtime chatter ranged from education to the transport issues Nick was experiencing whilst planning  his trip to Switzerland and France. 

For our return journey we headed north towards Ellesmere before turning west to Chirk. The high hedges again seemed to be sheltering us from the wind although it’s direction seemed to be more of a help than a hinderance. 10 km after leaving Montford Bridge we passed through Baschurch but found no evidence of the Moderate group. 

Keeping to our northerly course we cycled along some lovely quiet pothole free lanes that linked the small hamlets of Bagley, Hordley ,and Lee, brought us into Ellesmere. From here the last 15 km were through quiet lanes to St Martins before descending and crossing over the Ceiriog River. The final climb up over the A5 had  both of us puffing hard however  we arrived at the  Chirk cafe  shortly after and had recovered enough to manage  coffee and cake.

Todays route was 80km (50miles) with 540 metres (1700ft) of ascent at an average speed of 26kmh (16.25mph)

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 23 August 2019

22nd August 2019: Baschurch (mod)

Chirk proved as popular as ever as a dozen of us sat around mulling over where to go with our coffee and teacakes. Dave M came out on the train and was riding home; Ken and Nick were looking for a brisk route; so the rest of us took up on my suggestion of 51 miler via Baschurch. We set off on time down the Ceiriog Valley road. There was George, Dave P, Dave H, Steve T, Trevor, Andy B, the two e-bikers, Peter and Graeme and myself - so nine of us ground up the hill into the hinterland of Weston Rhyn bound for Oswestry. It soon became clear that the planned route into Oswestry wasn’t going to work with 9 strung-out riders, so at Hengoed, I opted for the Iron Age Hill fort transfer. After successfully negotiating the town without losing any riders, we head due south, and after a brief ride on the A483, run parallel to it in lanes anew.

The area is delightful in that the lanes are pretty good, and the hedges were high to fend off the stiff south westerly breeze. We head south east on a long run of quiet lanes closing in on the River Severn at Severnside, and now heading for Shrawardine passing the hidden ruins of Castell Isabella built in Henry I reign. The route now is to Montford Bridge which was Thomas Telford's first bridge design over the Severn river built around 1792.

We now head north-east with a following wind as 30 miles finds us just west of Baschurch and Moor Farm shop and cafe coming into view. I was glad I had telephoned ahead for a table as the place was packed - always a good sign, which proved correct. The food and service were very good, as looked the pork pies in the adjacent farm shop - but no room in the saddle bag unfortunately! Wiki told me that Agnes Hunt was a prominent local Baschurchian. Along with Dr Robert Jones, they founded the orthopaedic hospital at Gobowen where Steve T and myself have used their excellent services of late.

As we are leaving, we notice that a major equestrian event is to be staged over the holiday weekend on the adjacent equestrian centre. Earlier we had passed a steam traction engine puffing its way towards Shrewsbury - no doubt for another Bank Holiday event. A few drops of rain threaten as we circle around the PGL young person’s adventure holiday park at Boreatton (www.pgl.co.uk). When he was 18, Steve T enjoyed a PGL holiday in France apparently, but enough of ancient history.

The rain soon passes and more long lanes with wind assist find us circling Rednal airdrome and onwards to Tetchill. A North Westerly ever-upwards track finds us at the edge of St Martins. I offer a choice of a largely hill-free route back to Chirk, or the descent and ascent in and out of the Ceiriog river valley and into the back of Chirk. Surprisingly, all elect for the latter as we enjoy this delightful valley with a fairly strenuous climb out.

So, plenty of new and quiet lanes today, and new lunch venue and largely a wind-assist all day, and a light sprinkle of rain. A few more sunbeams would have made the 51 miler a perfect CER day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday, 19 August 2019

15th August 2019: Special Ride Ribble and Hodder Valleys - Whalley to Waddington

We weren't supposed to be here! Last Thursday I had ridden a recce in the Peak District in order to clarify a route for today. Steve Tan had kindly accompanied me, as we rode above Toddbrook reservoir, the one with the damaged dam, at Whaley Bridge. Most of the roads were open, but Lyme Park was strictly closed, and we had climbed over 4,000ft before returning to our starting point at Redes Mere. We had a fine day out, but the many steep climbs made it too hard a route for us to relish riding again in seven days’ time, never mind inflicting on others. Hence, we were now sitting in Tastebuds cafe in Whalley, as part of 'Plan B': to ride an alternative scenic route, this time in Lancashire, and not as severe.

Everybody had enjoyed a relatively straightforward journey, although Graeme's car was spotted coming into the village from the wrong direction, having missed their intended turn through chatting. From well inside the cafe, I thought I had seen Andy pass by. Then he bobbed into view travelling in the opposite direction. I managed to get to the door in time to give him a shout. It felt like the fairground stall where you needed a pole with a hook to catch the passing ducks! We were soon tucking in to bacon rolls, giant teacakes and coffee. The party consisted of Andy Barber, Graeme, Jim, Dave Pipe, Steve Tan and myself.
Photos by Andy B

I had planned to stop and look at places of interest, so first off we visited Whalley Abbey, on the banks of the River Calder. The abbey was founded in 1296, when the Cistercian monks of Stanlaw (Stanlow) moved there from a flood-prone site on the on the Cheshire shores of the River Mersey near Ellesmere Port. It is interesting to note that Whalley has suffered some bad flooding in recent times. I am not sure how this may have affected the site of the abbey.  Next stop had us swooping down the lanes, past Salesbury Hall to Ribchester Bridge. In Ribchester we viewed the Roman Baths and stood above a big sweep of the River Ribble.  A fort had been built here by the Romans in AD72, and it was a crossing point for Chester, York and Lancaster roads.

Back on our bikes, we were soon wandering up a rural cul-de-sac to view the attractive almshouse at Stydd. Built by the Shireburn family in 1728, it originally housed The Poor, and is now converted to four flats. Cue more photographs. We climbed up to Hurst Green, passing another lovely almshouse before passing the gate posts of Stonyhurst College grounds. Turning the corner at the top of the hill and viewing the magnificent baroque building below is a stunning site. Please use Google if you would like to know more; there is too much history to tell here. The list of famous alumni is impressive in itself.  By the time we had whooshed down past Cromwell's Bridge on the River Hodder, and then climbed back up, and passed Bashall Town, it became obvious that we had a dilemma. Despite our modest mileage, our sightseeing and leisurely winding up lush green hills, meant that it was time for lunch already! There was a definite 'Last of the Summer Wine' feel to our progress. To be fair, left to their own natural pace, Andy and Steve would have been miles up the road tucking into lunch at The Inn at Whitewell by now. The Higher Buck at Waddington had always been a considered alternative, and the staff were friendly and the food very good.

Lunch hadn't been quick, so after consultation with Steve who had been in this area with me before, we decided to give pretty Chipping and its high, quiet lane out, a miss this time. We wended our way past Colthurst Hall with views across the valley through sun dappled leaves. There was one 'arrow' I had forgotten at Talbot Bridge! We passed Browsholme Hall and turned onto the straight course of the York to Ribchester Roman road. A beautiful, wooded, downhill cruise alongside the waters of The Hodder and past The Inn at Whitewell followed. The inn was a manor house in the 14th. Century, lived in by keepers of the Royal Forest. It is still part of the Duchy of Lancaster estate and owned by the Queen. The strong wind was more in our favour now as we headed for Dunsop Bridge, Newton and Slaidburn with the Yorkshire Dales in sight beyond. The sun was out and the scenery cycling up the valley was delightful. There were plenty of large undulations to tire the legs, mind you! Slaidburn is a lovely village, but there is a sting in the tail if you wish to continue towards Ribblesdale: a hard, hairpinned haul uphill. We neared our turn-off to head over the shoulder of the fell and then pile downhill, hopefully for coffee and cake. Jim announced that he was 'knackered' at this point. I told him that it was nearly all downhill from here, but he was as reluctant to accept my words as if his GP had made the same judgement! There is a good cafe/restaurant at Holden Clough Nursery, less than four miles away, but we needed to get there before last orders at 4.30p.m. The last two miles are an outstanding downhill run. Steve, Graeme and Andy scouted ahead.

Thankfully we all made it, and we received a friendly welcome. The Bakewell tarts were the best Graeme and I had ever tasted. Behind schedule, but suitably fortified, we headed home via Sawley Abbey, the side of theA59, Chatburn and Worston. Just a few, flat miles back now. In the interest of time and Graeme's bike battery, the valley side route through Pendleton and Wiswell was rejected. Despite winding the pace up with Dave Pipe over the last stretch into Whalley, it was still 6pm when we reached the cars. Steve tells me that we covered 49 miles and climbed 2,600 feet. When so many were on holiday, I appreciated the support and excellent company of those who made the effort at short notice.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 15 August 2019

15th August 2019 : Pickmere (brisk)

It didn't rain and the afternoon was quite sunny but it was very windy and gusty. I turned up a little late for the last meet start at the Ice Cream Farm  - NB : It's Alison's Cafe in Tattenhall next time!

Neil was sitting there like Billy No Mates with a coffee wondering if anyone was going to show up today. I said I would be there, but he was starting to doubt that until I actually showed up. No one else turned up, so we two set off via Tarporley bound for Pickmere.

The route was unexceptional passing thorough Eaton, Rushton and Little Budworth on our way to Whitegate. Traffic was very light - unlike the strong NW wind. This was great if it was behind you as I can attest as I averaged 18mph on the route out to ICF over 16 miles.

In Whitegate, I take the forest footpath transfer to access Vale Royal Golf club to introduce Neil to the Dave Mathew's "Golf Club - Weaver"  transfer route. We hang right to cross the Weaver over the massive locks and ride along the pleasant footpath with bike unfriendly gates. Up the hill by the Blue Bridge, we are soon in and out of Davenham bound for Lach Dennis.

A left up Common Lane takes into the by-roads of Plumley and we are soon at The Smoker pub on the busy A556. I'd thought about having lunch here but opted to go on to Pickmere to the Red Lion (part of the same group of pubs as The Smoker). So we arrive around 1215 having left Wincham behind.

Service was very prompt and the fare reasonably priced and wholesome. Neil chatted about his 25 yrs experience of working in Saudi Arabia training the Saudi Air Force pilots and technicians. I reflected on the long weekend I spent in Riyadh and Jeddah in the 1990's and how I was addressed there as Mr Al-Bany ( obviously I'm now of Arabian extraction!)

We are soon back on the bike and heading mainly into the wind as we slide through Great Budworth on our way to Little Leigh and the big hill up to Acton Bridge. At Crowton, we take Norley Lane for the inexorable climb up into Norley and use the Dave Heath transfer via Town Farm Lane to journey on to Flaxmere and Delamere Forest.

There is "just one more climb" up and into Kelsall where Neil carries on via Willington to complete the 49 miles route on his way home. I slide off bound for Oscroft and permutate the best way to avoid the head-on wind back to Chester.

So thanks to Neil for his company today, and 70+ miles for both of us probably.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 10 August 2019

8th August 2019: Parkgate (leisure)

The four leisure riders, Trevor, Graeme, John B and myself chose a day at the seaside in preference to the moderates' choice of the flesh pots of Whitchurch, and accordingly set off in the opposite direction towards Hoole bank.

Swinging round to the east we skirted the zoo, over the canal and up to Backford. The route then followed the Sustrans track alongside the railway, still with all those gates, and on to Capenhurst. Rather than joining the Wirral way here we continued on to Willaston, past the old windmill and up to Thornton Hough. We then cut back west towards the coast to Parkgate and our lunch stop, The Boathouse, which we used for our Xmas dinner a few years ago.

Lunch was very pleasant sitting on the terrace overlooking the Dee and the Welsh hills in the sunshine, but there was a stickiness in the atmosphere preceding the forecast evening's storms.

However, the afternoon continued to be warm as we took to the Wirral Way briefly before cutting through the residential areas of Neston towards the Greenway. Coming in the opposite direction we passed a guy on one of those Boardman bikes - in fact it was Boardman. Clearly with no time to chat he sped off towards his mansion while we negotiated the industrial estate and gained the Greenway. No route finding now as we were blown eastward by a pleasant tailwind back to Meadow Lea. With time for a coffee and cake we watched in horror as the last two pieces of chocolate cake were snaffled up by two rather large ladies in front of us. Then to make matters worse a wasp took a bath in Graeme’s flat white which would certainly have added a little piquancy to the taste had he not noticed and removed it.

Overall a pleasant ride of 36 miles - I suppose we should have gone for a quick burn round Great Barrow to bring it up to 40 but we were greatly disinclined at that stage.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 9 August 2019

8th August 2019: Alkington, Whitchurch (mod)

Well where do I begin? Sorry if I have missed anyone out or upset anyone, but this is my first post. 

Ten mods set out, yes that’s right, 10 heading to Whitchurch via lots of little hamlets of Cheshire and Shropshire.  Well I was just meandering along in my own little bubble, like everyone else, even our leader Andy W, so when we went off course it was our fault for talking to him and he told a white lie saying we are missing Harthill and other little pimples, but guess what, we went via Harthill and any other pimples on route.  Anyway we got our lunch stop at the garden centre lake at Alkington, I didn’t pay attention as to where we were, takes me back to my school days ha ha teachers!!  We went here in sunny June, the time Clive went for a paddle with his bike through a very large puddle and Brian W would not go through it and Clive wouldn’t come back (electric bike). 

Photos by Mike G
The garden centre did us proud as it was very busy with people sunning themselves this time.  Well we got 3 benches easily outside for us to sit.  Later Andy B did say the reason was they were directly in the sun and had no parasols, not like everybody else's, bless us! This is where I knew some of the crew need carers to fetch cutlery, water, etc.  As I said the girls did us proud here, food came quickly, they got cutlery and water for some, obviously they have parents of the same ilk.  We then set off for home when our leader asked if we would like tea and cake at Hanmer lake, soft question really!  This is where I realise some of the older generation shouldn’t drive, those of us there know what I mean - old lady etc parking in the middle of a junction due to us being in her parking spot then detouring to swerve at us and shouting - she loves us I think!!!!!

Well we got going back to Meadow Lea and our separate ways, I know some peeled off for home earlier. Anyway it was a fantastic day, again good mileage 60 plus, then everyone had extra to home, So cheers to Andy W for superb route, Andy B from Mold, George, Dave M, Dave P, Neil, Mike G, Fiona O'Keefe plus her partner who’s name I can’t remember, sorry, it sounded Welsh.  I think North Wales police had an easy day, due to all our Welsh members meeting at the cafe first off.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

1st August 2019: Burlton (mod)

An absolute host of CER members turned up for the moderate ride, comprising of Clive, Jim, Graeme, Andy B, Fiona, Neil, Dave H, Trevor, Steve T, Keith and George. And we were joined by two guest riders, Jerry and Peter who I hope were made to feel welcome. Peter came equipped with an e-bike, so it seems this mode of cycling is gaining pace – literally!

After some discussion, it was agreed that we would follow a route to The Burlton Inn at Burlton, originally devised by Dave H and last ridden in August 2017, which I had uploaded onto my phone ‘just in case’. So it was with a degree of trepidation that I lead this phalanx of riders out of Holt to Tilston via Crewe-by-Farndon. From there we rode to Threapwood by way of Chorlton Lane, stopping occasionally to a) check the route and b) to make sure we hadn’t lost anyone. We had a longer stop at Tallarn Green so that Clive could put the route to Burlton onto his phone to make sure that, if the group got split up, then someone else would have the route. From Tallarn Green we cycled south-west to Drury Lane and across to Whitewell, an unusual, but quiet and scenic route. About 12 o’clock, Clive rang the pub to make sure that they could handle our large party, which they said they could, so it seemed that all would be well.

Pressing on through Fenns Bank, we came to Dobson’s Bridge. As Clive and Neil came round the corner and down the hill towards the bridge, there were two horses in the road coming up the other way. One of the horses was startled by their sudden appearance and reared up, almost unseating its rider. The rest of us went past as gently as we could to avoid upsetting the horse (and rider) any further. This was now prime Shropshire easy riding, wafting along in midsummer on well-surfaced roads running through lush green countryside. We were soon through Loppington and arrived at Burtlon just after 1 pm.

Reading Dave’s report of the ride in 2017, he said ‘The staff at The Burlton Inn were friendly. The eating environment is attractive, and the food is consistently very good. It took a while to prepare, because we were such a large group, but this pub is certainly one of our favourites.’ And it all held true on this visit, so it was nearer 2.30 by the time we’d posed for the group photo and got on our bikes again.

Photo by CA
By now the sun was shining and it was quite warm as we made our way back to Penley through English Frankton, Lyneal, Welsh Hampton, Breadon Heath and Tarts Hill. Just before we reached Penley, the ‘advanced party’ consisting of Steve T, Fiona, Neil, Andy B and Jerry stopped at a junction to wait for the others, but after several minutes, they didn’t show up. So we concluded the return route that Clive had put into his phone using ‘Plot a route’ must have taken them on a slightly different route. So we pressed on, assuming that they were well behind us, only to find them ahead on the road at Little Green!

The rest of the route was a brisk, familiar ride north through Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach, where Graeme and Jim left us for Malpas, the former for home and the latter for cat sitting which, funnily enough, he was doing 2 years ago on this same ride!

As we got closer to home on the road from Shocklach, the faster riders (Neil, Andy B and Jerry) pulled away from the ‘advanced party’, spurred on by the fact they we had been overtaken by two ‘proper’ cyclists. Steve T and George vainly tried to keep up and Keith and Fiona following on behind them. The rest of the group rode at their own pace, so our original phalanx was now quite scattered. On reaching Farndon, Clive, Trevor, Keith and Peter all headed for home and the rest arrived back at Cleopatra’s having clocked about 54 miles.

My thanks go to Dave H and Keith for acting as ‘tail-end Charlies’ so that none of this large group got lost or left behind and especially to Clive to doing the same thing, but also for his help on the navigation front. I couldn’t have done it without you!

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st August 2019 : Llangollen (brisk)

There were going to be four us of starting out on this route, but Clive saw some significant climbs in my route so went with the mods. Turned out a good choice considering I had meant a much easier climb out of Ceiriog; I had plotted the wrong road up but hadn’t noticed! I was asked about the lunch stop, (the Mill at Llangollen), but John keenly recommended the Special Welsh Rarebit at the canal-side tea room.

So myself, Ken and John set off in improving weather towards Chirk via the familiar route of Bangor on Dee and Overton. Passing the A5, we skirted Chirk by going to Weston Rhyn and along a delightful lane taking us into the scenic valley of the Ceiriog. Taking turns at the front due to a headwind we soon arrived at Pontfadog. A sharp right turn took us straight into double digit gradients, with some sections between 20 and 25%. A mile later and 800ft higher, we topped out with an impressive view of Llangollen and the limestone escarpment leading to our next climb, at World’s End.

To John’s relief, after bigging-up the proposed lunch, the rarebit in Llangollen was indeed excellent and spot-on cycling fodder. Soon, in increasingly hot sunshine, we set off up to the Panorama road. At the ford at the base of the climb, we chatted to a cyclist who said he had walked across due to the slippy algae on the concrete, so of course we rode across. I crossed first but then heard a splash behind to see Ken lying in the river with his bike on top! Naturally, when you see an accident like that, the first thing you do is get your camera. Fortunately un-injured (bruises perhaps?), Ken managed to pick himself and bike up before I was ready. I requested that he go back in and lie, with bike, in the stream, purely for accurate photo-journalism and the benefit of you good readers. I missed what he said, but I think the gist was a No!

After the rigours of the earlier climb, the climb out of Worlds’ End didn’t seem too bad, and we were soon flying across the moors above Minera with Llandegla Forrest to our left. On descending, John split off and turned left to go to Chester to pick his car up, we turned right then 2 miles later left down a very rough track to yet another ford. This was quite a deep one, so an easy decision to walk. 

We then passed down a beautifully wooded valley following the River Clywedog and Nant Mill. Abruptly emerging at the bypass, Ken navigated us through Wrexham, himself then to Gresford, me to Tilston.

An excellent days cycling with good banter aplenty, my route (Tilston to Tilston) was 58.5 miles with 3,850ft climbing, averaging 14.4mph. This route is 53 miles.


Photos NH and JW

Sunday, 28 July 2019

25th July 2019 : Nantwich (brisk)

Over the previous 48 hrs ‘Whats App’ chats confirmed that the brisk group would be low on numbers for Thursday’s ride from Rose Farm. So a decision was made that the remaining trio (myself, Ivan and John W) would start from Meadow Lea. For several days the Met Office had forecast Thursday to be the hottest day of the year, in the region of 30c, so our discussion over coffee determined our best option would be a moderate paced ride towards Nantwich.

We left at 11:00hrs and headed out towards Guilden Sutton. Here, a buzzard swooped low over our heads, glided down to the road  directly in front of us and picked up a mouse that was hiding in the roadside grass. It was an impressive sight from one of our most common raptors but it was a shame that we couldn’t capture it on photo.

After crossing the busy A51, we rode at reasonably brisk rate through Brown Heath and Christleton. Riding past Eaton Golf Club, we saw Bryan Wade then a few minutes later Andy Barber both, presumably, returning early from Rose Farm. Heading on through Greenlooms, we  joined Cycle Route 70 and followed it to Tiverton  before passing the very empty and sad looking Wild Boar Hotel. We continued the brisk pace through Bunbury  to Burland where we  turned left along the main A534 into Nantwich.

The lunch venue was The Bowling Green pub, a venue not previously visited by the CER .We elected to eat inside to keep cool, the heat outside was now oppressive and around the 30 degrees. The Bowling Green is more of a drinker's pub with a limited choice of food, but they had two draught beers on tap and the  food was reasonably priced and  served promptly. Over lunch we deliberated over our return route, the options being via Wettenhall or  Wrenbury/Tattenhall. We chose the latter.

Unlocking our bikes, the soaring heat felt as though it was burning everything and we were keen to get going but John managed to become entangled in a climbing rose! I know the saying is a rose between two thorns but in this case he was ‘a thorn between two roses’ (Sorry John ,but the roses were really lovely!) which you can see in the  photo.

Leaving Nantwich we followed the cycleway alongside the river to join Cycle Route 74 through  to Ravensmoor and Wrenbury. The canal bridge by the Dusty Miller was up allowing time for another photo. Leaving the canal behind, we were all now taking a turns on the front enabling each of us to benefit from the draught  while maintaining the speed. Tattenhall arrived in quicktime and after a brief chat Ivan and John decided that they would accompany me through to Rossett before making their way back to Chester.

Of course, it would have been unforgiveable to pass Cleopatra's without stopping for drink and cake but as soon as our orders were placed the thunder and seriously heavy rain started. Unable to wait around any longer, we set off on the last leg along heavily flooded roads with zero visibility in pelting rain. 

Arriving home totally soaked but actually still quite warm I had completed 104km at an average of 26kmh. Ivan and John will have recorded similar figures. Thanks guys for a hot , wet, and  very good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos ID

Friday, 26 July 2019

25th July 2019: Audlem (mod)

Ten of us turned up at Rose Farm for today’s meet. Jim and Bryan were out for a short ride, Andy B was in for a short fifty, Steve H in civvies was unfortunately still suffering from sciatic nerve issues (Get well soon). The remainers containing Andy W, Dave H, Steve T, Dave P, Bob, and myself set out for a hot, sweaty ride with thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon return.

Where are we going? What was the rallying cry. Ravensmoor and Norton in Hales were mentioned and I suggested Audlem. Audlem it is, you can lead, that means writing the report and logging the route.

Of we went going via Oulton Park following the sun at a pace so the ’Chatter Box Club’ could have a full discussion on the meaning of life, cycle equipment and other issues. Near Calveley, Andy W decided to return home. At Nantwich we had a tour of the water park before heading south via the A530 and Hack Green where a warm southerly head wind was experienced. Copious amounts of water were consumed.

Our arrival at The Lord Combermere coincided with a number of others all wishing to eat. A long wait was had for the food, and whilst enjoying a drink our discussions ventured onto the demise of the Royal Navy and as we were gentlemen of mature years ’Our Ailments’. The food arrived and was excellent as was the Shropshire Gold.

I planned the route back a few minutes before we departed. It was to head almost due north running parallel with the predicted thunderstorms (I hoped). As we passed through Sound a storm was ahead of us but farther west. The roads were wet and with the heat and evaporation, it became extremely humid. On through Brindley, at Bunbury, Bob departed from us whilst the remaining four returned via Tarporley, stopping for a coffee at the Fire Station café before returning to Rose Farm. Overall about 45 miles covered in dry weather, for those cycling from Chester area 60 miles plus.


Friday, 19 July 2019

18th July 2019: Kinnerton (leisure)

‘Unusual incident on cycle ride’

No it wasn’t Dave setting off without forgetting something, but more of that later!  The three of us, Dave H, Trevor and myself for various reasons were only up for a short ride on Thursday and decided to take the back lanes round Lower Mountain and Golley down to Rossett and then back to Chester, which would be about 30 miles from Guilden Sutton.

All appeared to be going well as we started dropping down past Shordley when we came across a chap in the middle of the road waving us down. He was carrying a petrol powered blower, and proceeded to ask us to carry our bikes as he hadn’t finished blowing the thorns off the road from the cutter up ahead. Naturally we were pleasantly surprised, even astonished at such consideration for ourselves, especially as we had had a couple of occasions to remonstrate with fellow road users earlier. A considerate farmer - now that is unusual. It was about this time that Dave realised that he had left his drink bottle in the café, which was now a considerable distance away, uphill. Fortunately drinks bottles are cheap so we agreed to continue downwards.

We took the old main road back towards town then swung back towards Kinnerton for lunch. Arriving at the pub, Dave realised that his car keys were also with the bottle, which we confirmed with a quick phone call. Plan B was put into action and after lunch, which was decidedly un-appealing, we set off up Kinnerton Old Road and back to Hawarden. Arriving back at the café we had reached our planned 30 miles, but at least the return was mainly downhill. With a pleasant tail wind we soon returned to Guilden Sutton having done 42 miles - we could have gone with the moderates but it wouldn’t have been as much fun!


18th July 2019: Caerwys (mod)

By 10:15, The Gallery coffee shop was packed out. In addition to the 15 (yes, 15!) Easy Riders, there was also another large group (walkers?), so you could barely hear yourself think, let alone hear what anyone was saying to you. We split into Brisk (5), Moderate (7) and Leisure (3) groups, the ‘Mods’ consisting of yours truly, Andy B, ‘the e-bikers’ (Bryan and Graeme) Dave Pipe and Neil, who had brought with him a guest rider, Fiona, who normally rides with Marford Gresford Velo Club.

After some discussion about possible destinations, steepness of hills and distances, it was agreed to ride out to The Piccadilly at Caerwys, one of our favourite pubs. So we set out by our usual route, climbing up through Buckley and Sychdyn, which got everyone nicely warmed up in the morning sunshine. On reaching the narrow lanes around Mynachlog, we deviated half way up the very steep climb, going left along the lane to reach the B5123 at Tyddyn-y-gwynt. This lane is less steep, but you still have to climb the same amount in the end! We paused to re-group near Rhosesmor (re-grouping was quite a thing today), only to find that Dave P was ahead of us and not behind as I had thought!

Climbing further through Rhes-y-cae and Pen-Ucha’r Plwyf we had finally gained enough altitude to give us a nice downhill run across the B5121 and then up the little short-cut lane to Babell, where we re-grouped once more. At Pant we go straight on to avoid the steep hill near Caerwys Hall and approach Caerwys from the north. Incidentally, Andy asks how steep that road really is; perhaps we’ll go that way next time.

For once it was warm enough for us to sit outside at The Piccadilly – see photo taken by a friendly waiter. As usual the food was good and the ‘light bites’ substantial. 
Photo Steve T

Suitably replenished, we head north-west from Caerwys, crossing the A55 at Pen-y-cefn by zig-zagging through several layers of Armco barrier as we do so. This has to be one of the most awkward road crossings that we use. Passing through Chwitfford and Gorsedd, we pressed on through Brynford to begin the climb up the Halkyn Mountain. Reaching Windmill, we pause to admire the views over the Dee estuary and the Cheshire Plain. We start our descent down Middle Mill Road, passing the now-famous location of my ‘off’ 16 months ago. Another minor diversion from the usual route takes us over Wat’s Dyke and on to the minor road leading into Northop.

From here we take the road past Northop Hall and down to Ewloe. In the process, we lose Fiona, as she gets stuck behind some traffic coming around a mini-roundabout. Re-grouping at a bus stop, Neil and Fiona head for home and the rest of us decide to go for a cuppa at The Hawarden Estate Farm Shop.

‘Only’ 40 miles, but with 3000 feet of climb and at an average (moving) speed of 12.5 mph, this was quite a strenuous ride for the ‘mods’.  The batteries of the e-bikes still had charge left in them, even if the legs of the rest of us did not. Thanks to Neil for introducing us to Fiona; we hope that she enjoyed the ride and that she’ll come along again soon for a ride with ‘the OAPs’!


Thursday, 18 July 2019

18th July 2019 :Trevor (brisk)

A usual ride from The Gallery tea rooms at Hawarden would be out towards North Wales but today Clive suggested a ride to Trevor with lunch at the Sun public house.

So, the brisk riders today loaded up their Garmins with the route and, led out by Clive with Ivan, John W, Nick and Ken in tow, we head out of Hawarden for the rough ascent to Bilberry Wood. Navigating the non-cycle friendly stile, we cross over the A55 and pass through Penymndd.

Hope and Caergwle are soon behind us before the continuous climbing through Bryneg and up to Rhosllanorchrugog. The route is still upwards heading for the Panorama walk. The lanes are good riding and not busy and when we pass the Prospect café, the scenery is breath-taking today looking over the Vale of Llangollen with Dinas Bran looking down over Llangollen.

Nearly at the top
We take an exit off the walk and head back down into town and join the very busy tow path with pedestrians and the barges and make our way to our lunch stop. The Sun Inn was as accommodating as usual. It was Ken’s birthday today (one off that well known Beatles track) so a celebratory round and a good lunch was had. Happy Birthday from the Brisk group Ken, and cheers.

Back on our bikes and onto the canal path, its towards Cefn-Mawr and the usual route for Ruabon and Bersham. Whisked through Wrexham by Clive with all his knowledge of tracks, we haul our bikes across the pedestrian crossing bridge over the A5156 and pass the Pant-yr-Ochain. This was a coincidence as it was in a conversation with our club leader at the start of today’s ride from Hawarden.

At Gresford, we stop for a coffee at Alf Jones cycles cafe. We say farewell to our birthday boy in Rossett as us four head on to Dodleston. Nick peels off to head back for his car at Hawarden. Clive, John and I continue to Ferrymans Lane where we go our own way home.

An excellent route and company. The route as a round trip would be 50 miles to and from the café but riding out from Chester an average of 60+ miles covered and 3317ft of ascent but it all equals out with the descents!! - as we’re so often told.

A good day out for the Brisk group.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo by KP

Sunday, 14 July 2019

11th July 2019: Dunham Woodhouses (mod)

Secure, inexpensive parking remains a problem at this venue. Steve Tan and I found  a suitable position alongside Hatch Mere. It was good to meet Graeme face to face at last. Trevor and Graeme had other commitments on the day, so the moderate riders were Bob, Keith, Steve T, Neil and myself.

We decided to try one of Ivan's favourite, cheap beer haunts: The Vine at Dunham Woodhouses. The route towards Knutsford, via Great Budworth, was familiar, but Steve had discovered a route under the new road which avoided the usual dangerous crossing of the A556 at Holehouses. At Knutford we headed north through the Deer Park at Tatton. Another route now was possible, because of the new by-pass, and we were able to swoop through the pretty village of Rostherne and head straight for Little Bollington. We were tempted by The Swan with Two Nicks, a familiar and trustworthy venue, but continued in order to try The Vine, and perhaps catch Ivan and John.

Ivan and John were a little soggy, having arrived before opening time and catching a heavy shower. Then Clive arrived, having made a fast, late run from home. It was very pleasant to be together, and the service was indeed very friendly, as promised by Ivan. I can't vouch for the cheap ale, as I didn't think it would help my recent gallstone issues!

The return route was via the Trans Pennine Trail, and a path through long grass to Lymm centre, of which Ray Hardman would not have approved. From Lymm it was my original back route via Sworton Heath, and the lacework of tiny lanes north-west of Arley Hall. Somewhere near Cogshall Hall there was the magnificent sound of a bird that Steve identified as a Song Thrush. Keith peeled off for Runcorn near Crumleyheath Farm. We headed for Acton Bridge via Little Leigh. The double slog: up from the river, and then up to Norley, this time via Cookson Green, is not an end-of-ride challenge that Bob relishes, which I can totally empathise with. Nevertheless, we had enjoyed some lovely, quiet Cheshire lanes, pretty villages, Tatton Park, and a new lunch stop. All at an easy pace for 47 miles in good company.                                                     

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 13 July 2019

11th July 2019 : Dunham Woodhouses (brisk)

Today is a Delamere Café start and I meet John W at the Mickle Trafford end of the Greenway to ride out. Riding out via the A56 to Manley, it is a nice surprise to find Dark Ark Lane has been completely re-surfaced; a good start to our ride then along the undulations of Delamere road to Hatchmere and the station café.

The Brisk group had met up on Tuesday and enjoyed a Clive route to the Leopard pub at Nantwich, so today Nick had ridden out for a coffee before riding back home and Clive was expecting to meet up at our lunch destination The Vine at Dunham Woodhaouses. The Mod’s were also discussing this as their venue and route master and club secretary Mr Heath was map setting as John W and I set off.

From Hatchmere it was the usual route out via Crowton and Acton Bridge. Passing the Leigh Arms (once a lunch stop!!) we ride uphill to Little Leigh and Antrobus. After High Leigh we head over to Broomedge. We were passed by a breakaway sprinter on the road before the crossroads and after he had passed us, we stepped on the pedals and whizzed passed him before having to brake for the lights. He then enjoyed staying on the rear of our wheels before peeling off near Woodhouses.

We arrived at the Vine at 11:40 and the premises was shut so a couple of extra couple miles around the village ensued before arriving back for our lunch. As we were waiting for our apple crumble pudding the Mods arrived and also Clive.

In the Vine- waiting for lunch

It was good for both groups to meet up for lunch at the same venue. Clive was soon fed and watered and the three of us head back for home leaving the remainder to enjoy their first visit to this Robinsons hostelry. We head out towards passing under the canal bridge and the track which passes by another venue The Swan with Two Nicks. We follow Clive’s route out from Booth Bank and it’s a shorter ride via Sworth Heath, Appleton then to Hatton and Preston Brook.

We take the main A56 from Frodsham back to Mickle Trafford, where Clive and John head for home. A round trip distance of 64 miles was covered (Delamere route was 48miles as a circular) and the day’s weather was generally dry (arrived home dry) but we had suffered a couple of showers during our adventure today.

A good ride ride again and no incidents. Thanks to John and Clive for their company today.


Photo ID

Friday, 5 July 2019

4th July 2019: Harmer Hill

I’d found a route that Clive had led last August from Chirk to The Bridgewater Arms at Harmer Hill and had loaded it onto my phone ‘just in case’. This turned out to be a good thing, as the CER group gathered at The Castle Bistro consisted of me, George, Trevor, Andy B, Graham and Neil, with neither our usual moderate ride leaders nor any of the brisk lads present. Neil had ridden out the 27 miles from home and declared that he was worn out and would only be having a coffee and then riding back home. So that left the 5 if us asking ‘where are we going today’?

So, Harmer Hill it was. We set off via Weston Rhyn and down the B road to Oswestry. Entering Oswestry, I found some difficulty in seeing the thin blue line on my Viewranger map and so we were soon swept up in the one-way system around the town. Looking closely at Clive’s original route, it seems that there’s a very direct route through which puts you on the road out towards Morda, but we missed that and spent quite a while working out which way to go. I must ask Clive how he did it.

Eventually, we were on Weston Lane and heading across the A483 at Mile Oak and thence on to Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh. On reaching the busy A5 at Weirbrook the map showed us going straight on, but there was no road on the opposite side of the A5! Fortunately, Trevor remembered that you go through a gap in the hedge opposite (another Clive dodge?) which puts you on the old B- road out towards Wykey and the PGL  Holiday Camp at Stanwardine.  The route here has quite a few steepish climbs which allowed Graham’s e-bike to show its impressive paces. Taking the B5067 out of Baschurch, we turn off at Walford Heath and, after a short run along the A528, we soon find ourselves at The Bridgewater Arms.

The barmaid (landlady?) didn’t seem to take too kindly to 5 scruffy, sweaty cyclists appearing in her nice pub and ordering our drinks and food had the feeling about it of appearing in front of the headmistress. However, with the offer of two meals for £8.95 and food quickly served, we were not unhappy with the outcome.

We were soon on our way on what was now a very warm and sunny afternoon. Unlike Clive last year we did take the back way through Myddle to Burlton and what a beautiful little lane it is, under the sandstone cliffs.

Loppington and Cockshutt follow in quick succession. At Lee, Trevor decides to leave us in order to put in some the extra miles as training for the Bert Bailey Memorial ride that he and George are doing this Sunday – good luck. lads.  We soon reach Tetchill, after which there’s the long climb up to Frankton Hill. Then along the back lanes through New Marton to St. Martins, where the parish church bells are ringing as we passed through. Then we navigate the busy roundabout at the A5 and take the B road into Chirk with Chirk Bank offering us a final challenge for the day.

The run back took us less than 2 hours, possibly because I didn’t get us lost as much! 50 miles ridden on a grand day with excellent company. I hope my fellow riders will forgive my navigational mishaps – I’ll have to see if I can make the thin blue line a bit thicker next time so that it’s easier to see.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 28 June 2019

27th June 2019: Hodnet (mod)

We gathered at the Ice Cream Farm on a day forecast to be warm and sunny throughout – what a change from recent weeks. It was good to see a couple of faces who hadn’t been around for a while: Andy W and Bob.  Also, there were David M, Andy B, Trevor, Neil, myself and a new member Graeme. On such a lovely day it was surprising to see no brisk riders, and none of the usual suspects among the mods. David M and Andy W went their own ways, which left a riding group of six.

Given the weather, I had in mind a longish ride to The Bear at Hodnet. This met with approval from Bob and Trevor as preparation for their upcoming Bert Bailey ride, and Graeme, on his electric bike, was interested to see how his battery power would hold up. We set out for Tilston, and then to avoid the hill into Malpas (in honour of the absent Dave H), we used Cholton Lane to approach the town from the west. Continuing through Higher Wych, we arrived in Coton which was to have been an alternative destination in case of any difficulties.  All were happy to continue, and so we continued through Prees and up the hill to Marchamley. We sped downhill into Hodnet and The Bear, having covered 32 miles and most of the day’s hills.

The Bear calls itself “an unpretentious gastro pub”, and as usual we received a good welcome and decent food and drink. There were questions about the pub’s history, which we couldn’t answer at the time, but the following comes from the Bear’s website:
“The Bear at Hodnet is said to date back at least 500 years and is said to still contain the passages used to hide the monks as they came from the church. These tunnels, ending in what is now called the bear pit, may also have been used to transport ale underground in order to avoid tax levied on ale transported over land. Today’s modern bear pit was created by an enterprising publican in the 1970's and contained two young bears until common sense allowed their release. It is believed, however, that during the 16th century the Inn may have had its own bear pit in what is now the car park. The owner allegedly kept the bears in a pit below the bar. It is said that that regulars fed the bears food and drink and some of the bears are said to have died from alcohol poisoning.  Apparently bears are infamous for their love of beer but cannot process it to quite the same effect as some of our regulars. The modern bear pit is now contained in an area known as 'Jaspers' named after the ghost of Jasper Neilsen, a Scandinavian merchant, who died of hypothermia in around 1590 after becoming intoxicated and having an argument with the landlord.”

It was time to leave. Graeme had used 2 fifths of his battery so would probably be OK for the shorter and less hilly return. We headed towards Market Drayton and used pavements to avoid the busy Ternhill roundabout, before striking off through quiet lanes and the villages of Longford and Longslow. Then we headed northwards past the impressive gatehouses of Shavington Park, continuing through Aston and into Wrenbury. In the absence of any cafes on the return route, we paused at Wrenbury Village Stores, and enjoyed our drinks and food sitting on their forecourt. Here it became clear how hot the sun was.
Photo by Steve H

The way was now by Cholmondley Castle and Bickerton.  Graeme decided that it was time to head directly for home in Malpas with concerns that his battery would not take him back via the ICF, and Andy left to take the A534 and head towards Mold.  The rest of us took the route by Brown Knowl and Bolesworth Castle to avoid Harthill, and so returned to our start.

We’d covered a total of 61 miles on a beautiful summer’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 21 June 2019

20th June 2019: Special long ride to Stone (brisk & mod)

Brisk Ride

The skies were ominously dark as we all set off from Waverton at 0800. There was a brisk ride led by yours truly, and a moderate ride led by Steve H. However, as there was no rush to get to Cafe Bon Sol in Whitchurch, we all set off together towards Tattenhall. It became clear at the back road to Bolesworth Castle that we should formally split up. The Brisk Group consisted of Ivan, Ray, Ken, Steve T, Nick, and myself. Mike G decided to joins us as well just as John W appeared (he had not turned up at the start due to bike issues). So up and over the various hills with very black skies, we duck and dive our way to Bon Sol just before the rain starts. The cafe had opened up a little early to accommodate us and bacon baps were very much in evidence. 

As we are ready to leave, the Mods arrive ready for their protein top up. Mike G decides to swap teams as we head out to Ightfield and on to Market Drayton. Nick gets a rear wheel puncture as it starts to rain, but tyre fixed, we seem to outrun the rain. There is then a long run down quiet lanes to Eccleshall. Out through pretty Eccleshall, it is now a long loop north passing HMP YOI Drake and Swynnerton Training camp (a WW2 former munition factory, now Army training camp) via Cold Meece and Yarnfield (where we have ridden to in April 2016). It’s really downhill now into the suburbs of Stone at 51 miles, 1230 and The Poste, a Wetherspoons pub. 

As ever Wetherspoons doesn’t disappoint and we are soon fed and watered and preparing to leave as the Mods arrive. The weather hasn’t warmed up and rain threatens as Ivan leads us onto Barlaston and the start of 12 miles of canal side riding. Both Ivan and I notice that there has been a lot of housing and offices built where derelict factories once were. We had both been on the June 2011 Long Ride to Stone (with Mike G) and really noticed the difference. We pose for a few photos along the way, ending up at the Harecastle Tunnels - one now working, the other closed but both 1.5 miles long.

Photos by Nick and Ken

It's a long pull up to the busy A34 roundabout at Talke, at 669 ft the highest point of the ride surprisingly. Downhill into Alsager, we are soon out and crossing the railway at Oakhanger, eschewing the White Lion at Barthomley, on our way into Nantwich. An unconventional approach via St Mary’s churchyard finds us at Costa Coffee ready at 81 miles for a top up. We are all ready for the final familiar leg of 21 miles back to Waverton. Steve T, who threatened to jump ship at lunch, is still riding confidently as 101 miles comes up at nearly 1800. Surprisingly, there were 4500 ft of climbs! The Mods are 90 minutes behind us and just leaving Nantwich, and, as Steve has Dave H’s car keys, he joins Ken, Ivan and me for a pint in the Ring o Bells in Christleton. 

So a great day out, and my thanks to an enthusiastic riding group who took turns on the front right to the end. We managed to dodge heavy showers (as had been in Chester apparently) and only picked up a little rain - it could have been warmer, but hey almost the Summer solstice so why would we expect it to be sunny and warm!


Mod Ride

The mods rode the same ride as described above, so I add here only a few incidents that demonstrate the slick professionalism of our mod outings. Both groups were to cycle as one to the first stop at Whitchurch.  Unfortunately heading up to Brown Knowl, Dave H's front mech slipped sideways and necessitated a quick fix, but delayed 5 of us arriving at the cafe.

The rest of the morning was uneventful and we enjoyed the lanes to our lunch stop.  There was good value fare at Wetherspoons and after we took the long canalside ride, though I think we joined it a little earlier than the prescribed route. 

Photos by Mike G
Everything was uneventful until we left the cafe in Nantwich. But somewhere before Swanley bridge, Mike at the front and me as the last man lost touch with Keith, George and Dave. After waiting and some phone calls, Mike, Andy and I continued on the planned route, eventually arriving at our start point to find the rest of our group already there.  They had taken the more direct A41 for part of their return.

I think we all enjoyed the diversity of the route, the well-planned stops and our luck with the weather.  Many thanks to Clive for his planning and organisation.