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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Thursday, 2 December 2021

2nd December 2021: Pickmere (mod)

I cycled with great care to Delamere Station as the temperature had fallen below zero in the night and by 10 o’clock it was only forecast to have risen to 2 degrees. The roads were largely dry, though patches that looked wet were possibly icy and puddles on the verge were iced over. Others were aware of the risks, with some members staying away and David M coming in civies.  In total we had six riders: myself, Steve T, Clive, George, Dave H and Ray.  

I had looked for a route that would keep to the busier roads where gritting and the passage of traffic would reduce the ice risk.  This took us along B roads, northwards to Kingsley and then easterly past Acton Bridge station, through Davenham and into Northwich. As we travelled east, it seemed to get colder with more frost on the paths. We passed a queue of people waiting for their Covid vaccines. We then crossed the Town Bridge over the Weaver Navigation, one of many listed structures on the waterway, this was built in 1899 and was one of the first electrically powered swing bridges in the country. We avoided the dual carriageway by taking to shopping streets surrounded by more mundane structures, and emerged at the roundabout where we took the B-road to Marston.  We stopped for a quick time check as we were running early for our destination. We decided to extend our ride along Budworth Road towards Arley Hall.  Here we were onto country lanes for the first time and we noticed more frost, so caution was called for. We reached the security of the B road heading towards Higher Wincham and soon turned right into our destination at around 1210.

We’ve visited the Red Lion at Pickmere before, but this time it was busier despite the early hour, possibly due to the approach of Christmas.  We settled ourselves on a large table near to one of their fires and began to warm up. An indication of the cold day was that 4 of us ordered hot drinks. After a bit of a wait our food arrived, mostly reasonably priced bagettes with chips and salad garnish. 

Photo by SHa

Soon it was time to leave. Over lunch Clive had told us of a café at Pickmere Lake and as we cycled through Pickmere village we saw it signposted by two bright yellow bicycles on our left: somewhere to investigate on another occasion. Our return route assumed that ice on the lanes would have largely gone, and so we took the familiar route through Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh. Steve T left us to head home at this stage, and the rest of us took the steep hill above Acton Bridge. We passed through Crowton and climbed up Norley Bank, and before long we were at Hatchmere crossroads. Here we split with Clive and Dave heading back to their cars at Delamere Station, and the rest of us making our various ways home.

Despite the cold it, we had made the most of a fine and sunny day. The total distance travelled from and to Delamere was 33 miles.  

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Friday, 26 November 2021

25th November 2021 : Edgerley (brisk)

Today’s ride starts from Chirk so, for the first time since lockdown, I travel to the town by train. Unfortunately, the service was 20+ mins late and arriving at the cafe it was only to say hello to the other moderately brisk riders. I was the only Brisk rider out today due to various reasons.

My route was planned to be as flat as possible and a round trip 55 miles and 2400 feet of ascent. The plan was ok but you can't remove undulating roads. Leaving Chirk dropping down Chirk Bank before taking the right turn to Western Rhyn, I brake and reduce speed as Dave’s parting words were "Have you seen any frosty roads!" No problem it’s brake, indicate and then up hill. Flattish; not yet!

Passing Gobowen, I am on the long straight through Whittington and Queens Head. From Chirk to this point is only 8 miles, we've had rides only out to the pub here in the past. Taking the left fork avoiding the A5,  I ride down to Elbridge and on towards Knockin. It was only a couple of weeks ago Clive ,John W and I stopped off at the Knockin shop for a coffee, but as I’d only ridden 14 miles it's non-stop today. Onwards via Maesbrook and through Llanymynech passing the village hall used for the Vets 100.

Today the roads are dry and not much traffic. Blue skies and a moderate tail wind is taking me out to Four Crosses and passing over a very calm river Severn. Admiral Rodney's Pillar is on my right and I seem to have passed this monument so often of late.

My lunch stop was going to be the Butty Shack or The Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe but on passing The Royal Hill inn at Edgerley and, being solo, I make a management decision to stop here. Fantastic result :-pheasant, leek and bacon pie, mash and veg and two coffees all for £10.00 ! Also, I was on my way again in 20 minutes enjoying splendid lanes and never out of the big ring so for now my plan is good as a flattish route. Passing through Nesscliffe, the Pigeon looked shut but the Butty Shack had customers waiting.

Royal Hill pub
Canal and Rail by bike


Through Little Ness and en-route to Ruyton XI town, I took a wrong turn and headed up hill, oh dear after lunch -  not welcome. I pass a big white BMW minus a back end then realised I’m going the wrong way. Clive would have advised that he took this direction just to view the car. Back into the town, and passing the only cafe in this location, it is very popular with cyclists as there were probably in excess of 20 bikes outside. Hopefully their wait not too long as my past memory was it was very very slow service.

Now 38 miles into the route, it’s the Rednal airfield I’m skirting round before heading up to Tetchill, Welsh Frankton and St Martins. This last 10 miles had all the bumps and was uphill to St Martins but then into recovery by rolling down the hill, and round the A5 roundabout which takes you back to Chirk.

Arriving back at the station for my ride home it's 14:40 and my decision was if there was a train within time then catch it: had I missed 14:49, I was riding back to Chester. Another lucky break. All done and a very enjoyable day out with my own company and a relatively clean bike after 55miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

25th November 2021: Burlton (mod)

It was very sunny but cold as we gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk. ‘We’ consisted of Steves Ha, Hu and T, Dave H, Alan and George. We were drinking our coffees and debating where we should go when Ivan arrived, having come out by train. He was the sole representative of the brisk riders, the others variously being away or unwell. Ivan was heading for Nesscliffe and was soon on his way.

Steve Ha had a route to The Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and I had one to the Burlton Inn at Burlton. As there was some doubt The Bradford Arms would be open, we opted to head for Burlton. We set off along Castle Road and down into the Ceiriog valley. To avoid the steep climb from Pontfaen into Weston Rhyn, I chose to go further up the valley to Castle Mill before heading uphill. What I had forgotten was that the first 200 metres of the road here is very steep, even though the OS map shows no chevron. Whilst several were equal to the challenge, one or two chose to dismount. Dave H reminded me that it was on this very hill a few years ago that Keith Barlow’s rear mech broke and he had to abandon the ride.

We soon reached Bronygarth and skirted round the edge of Weston Rhyn to pick up the road out to Hengoed. From here we zoomed down the hill to cross the A5 at the roundabout which leads to the Orthopaedic Hospital at Gobowen, where I spent several weeks three years ago. At Whittington, we joined the A5009 and a long run down to Queens Head. Steve Hu was quick to score me 0/10 for this section of the ride as the road was quite busy and the traffic was going past us at high speed.

The roads were now quieter and more to Steve Hu’s liking as we passed through Eardiston, Wykey and the PGL Centre at Boreatton Park. PGL have been running adventure holidays for children since 1957 and my brother and I had a holiday with them more than 50 years ago, canoeing down the River Rhone and camping on the shores of the Med near Marseille. A memorable experience!

We were soon through Weston Lullingfields and Marton, arriving at The Burlton Inn at about 12.15. Unusually, this establishment doesn’t offer ‘light bites’ or sandwiches, so most people had fish and chips or soup. I wonder if it still deserves a place on our list of favoured lunch stops?

Photo by AO

Leaving the pub, we headed to Brownheath. This meant that we were going into a headwind, which was already feeling very cold, even though the sun was still shining. But the countryside was looking beautiful and the lanes were smooth and quiet as we rode around Colemere and White Mere, so Steve Hu was scoring the route more highly now. On reaching Welsh Frankton, we decided to avoid the rough and dirty lanes at Hindford by diverting via Perthy and New Marton to reach St. Martins. I held back here to wait for Steves Ha and Hu, whilst the others headed for Chirk via the B5070. When we reached the A5 roundabout, Steve Ha wanted to go back via Weston Rhyn, so we finished the ride by dropping down once again into the Ceiriog valley before climbing back into Chirk.  

44 miles covered and 2447 feet of climb completed as we got back to The Castle Bistro at about 4 pm. Although the sun was still shining, it had already dropped cold (~ 3°C), so it would not have been wise to be much later back. Winter is truly on its way.

My thanks go to my companions for their company, support and general banter.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Thursday, 18 November 2021

18th November 2021: Wrenbury (mod)

 It was a shame Neil wasn’t present when we decided on a route to his much-recommended café: No 18 The Park at Wrenbury.  We were starting from Alison’s in Tattenhall, where we had a good turnout of 12 members.  David M was resting, while Dave P was only riding out with us for part of the route because he had no lights and wanted to get back before dark.  That left 10 riders: Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan, Roy, Trevor, Andy B, George, Clive, Mike and myself. 

We set out south-westwards towards Barton and then Stretton and Tilston. To avoid Malpas we turned eastwards before the hill, towards Cholmondley, at least most of us did. The follow-my-leader system broke down and Trevor and Andy carried on to Malpas.  Assuming they knew our destination and hoping they would meet us there, the main party continued from Chorley Bank, over the Llangollen Canal and into Wrenbury.  We cycled slowly through the village looking for our destination. We found it on the left beside the Primary School, just before the turn to Wrenbury Station.  We had arrived at noon having covered 18 miles in a “moderately brisk” pace.

It looked smart as we entered and they found space for the eight of us, just before the missing two, Trevor and Andy turned up.  Pleased to be re-united, we reconfigured our seating with three sitting outside and the rest around a large table. The food was a hit, with most ordering the Eggs Benedict. There was some disquiet inside when the outdoor party were served well before us, but we passed the time with reminiscences of earlier days in the club and George’s memorable first ride. Food was hungrily consumed and we thought that this café deserved future visits.  The only downside was when I got locked in the lavatory, only to be released by brute force. 


Photos by SHa

Our return took us to Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury, where we decided not to stop at Tilley’s having only covered 10 miles after lunch.  We said farewell to some riders on the return journey and arrived back at Alison’s by 2:30pm, early enough, for once, to take refreshments.

Our total distance was 35 miles, which we had covered in mild, dry conditions.  Something about the day encouraged a relatively speedy ride: the surfaces seemed smooth; headwinds negligible and hills slight. An excellent day out on generally familiar lanes, with a new lunch stop discovered.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Friday, 12 November 2021

11th November 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

Today we met at Meadow Lea cafe and, as usual, a good turnout was evident but only three brisk riders available for today's ride to Audlem. John W, Ray and I set off along station lane to Waverton. We head along Guy Lane passing the Crocky trail and then pass the original “50p shop” at Burton.

We have a call to stop by John, who promptly advises us to remain quiet. It’s 11/11 @11:00 and we pay our respects to our serviceman.

On the way again, there is nothing unique of our route either out or back , so I won't bore you with left or rights as you all know this route, but the autumnal colours of the countryside were fantastic.

Autumn colours 

At 24 miles, we arrive at Crewe Queen’s Park and the splendour equals Central Park NY albeit a little smaller. Gifted to Crewe by the LNWR railway company, it was designed by Edward Kemp and F. W. Webb, chief mechanical engineer and Richard Moon, the Mayor of Crewe in 1888. He also donated a very large house opposite the park which became an orphanage for children after both wars and orphans of the LNWR railway employees killed in action or died at work. Known as Webb house, it later became a railway training venue and one I was fortunate to attend several times during my career on the railway. 

We enjoy a quick coffee overlooking the lake. For reference, it supplies hot and cold food and a large outdoor covered area. Cycling through the park is allowed but, be aware during busy times can be very busy with walkers and children running around.
 
Leaving the park we head to Willaston, Shavington and the leaning tower church of Wybunbury and then into Audlem. The popular Old Priest House is our lunch stop and as usual very welcoming. After our lunch we leave Audlem along the Whitchurch Rd before the right turn at the top of the hill onto Coole Lane. The lanes today are reasonably dry and clean and quiet so not to long we're at Sound and Ravensmoor. Along the A534 through Burland and then Long lane into Bunbury. 

A good day out covering 68 miles as a round trip and as flat as you can have on Cheshire's rolling roads.

Thanks to John and Ray for their company.

ID

11th Nov 2021: Comberbach (mod)

 The starting point for today’s ride was Meadow Lea, and a good number of members turned up.  I think three rides set off: a brisk one, a moderate one with Neil, Fiona and Elwyn, and one I led comprising Dave H, Andy B, Alan, Steve T, Trevor, Peter and Andy W. Daylight hours are shortening now we are in mid-November and there were concerns that we completed our route before dusk.  Andy B, who has the longest ride to our starts, was well-prepared with a new jacket featuring 6 LEDs front and back.



Photo by FOK

I had planned a route to the Salt Barge at Marston, a pub where we had enjoyed many good lunches, but which we hadn’t visited since the start of the pandemic. Our route out took us east up the A56 and then past one of our old start points, Manley Mere.  The road past here was as rough as ever, but it was good to travel the old familiar lanes: the Sugar Lane bend and the climb up past New Pale. A steady drizzle began to fall but then passed on. We sped down into Kingsley and took the quickest route to Acton Bridge. We said goodbye to Peter and Andy W and then we rode on through Comberbach and into Great Budworth. Then we took the lane to Higher Marston and finally crossed the Trent and Mersey Canal to arrive at our destination. Regrettably, we found the Salt Barge had stopped serving Thursday lunches, though the landlady suggested the Spinner and Bergamot in Comberbach. Although we had passed by this earlier, it was not far off our return route.

We passed through Marbury Park, exiting right onto Marbury Road and detouring by just over a kilometre we arrived at our new pub. We were efficiently served and were soon tucking into lunch – the favourite being the small fish and chips. I don’t believe we’ve ever been disappointed by this pub.

Photo by SHa

We continued back down Marbury Road, past the Anderton Boat Lift, over the canal again and the River Weaver, and right at the lights through the new estates of Winnington. Our route out passed several roadworks, none of which particularly inconvenienced us.  Now temporary traffic lights, combined with lots of traffic (and angry drivers!), slowed us and separated us. We finally cleared the congestion by turning off onto Hodge Lane. Then on to a dog-leg crossing of the A49, and a familiar return through Norley to Hatchmere. We sped downhill through Delamere Forest and on to Ashton Hayes. Soon we were on our outward route along the A56. We arrived back at Meadow Lea before 4 o’clock with 46 miles covered and in time for last orders.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa



Friday, 5 November 2021

4th November 2021: Bridge Trafford (mod)

Well a chilly November day brought out a fair few mod riders. Trevor, Jim, Dave M, Dave H, Peter, Steve Ha, Steve Hu, Steve T, George, Andy B, Bavarian Mike and of course Road Captain for the day Alan O. 

Having braved the sheep muck section of Burton marsh Alan O presented a route from Ness towards Chester taking in the stunning sights of the Stanley Oil refinery. 

When everyone was refreshed Steve Ha advised he had an appointment with hills in Wales, Jim and Trevor planned their own route and Peter & Dave M did their own thing. 

Within five minutes of leaving the warmth of the cafe the intrepid crew were riding through Ness and skirting Neston via Little Neston on lovely small lanes. The leafy lanes of Raby were soon dispensed with as we approached Eastham. At this point George was regretting riding so close to Steve Hu who insisted on regaling George with a blow by blow account of all buildings points of interest and history of Eastham. 

A sharp right off ferry road took the group down Bankfield drive and onto the service road which parallels the start of the Manchester ship canal. 


Photos by AO

At Ellesmere Port road captain Alan led the group down to the boat museum and a glance at the Manchester Ship Canal. From here the ride took on a very industrial setting as we rode through the old Shell Stanlow site now owned by Essar. We were surrounded by fuel pipes tanks and some interesting smells. 

A sharp right heralded the return to country lanes as we bumbled through Elton, Wimbolds Trafford onto Bridge Trafford for a pub stop at the Shrewsbury Arms. 

Whilst most of the easy riders were trying to establish the provenance and make up of “Hunters Chicken” Andy B had removed his wheel removed a broken spoke, refitted a new one and re tensioned the wheel. 

At this juncture Jim and Trevor arrived and bribed the kitchen staff to serve them first, on seeing Andy’s plight they also served him first leaving the rest of the group wondering “what do I have to do to get served here” 

Replete with five portions of the aforesaid Hunters Chicken we rode the lanes into Upton Croughton to Little Stanney. This route provided many glimpses of Chester Zoo. A quick spin along the stunning section of the Shropshire Union Canal took us effortlessly to Blacon. At this time Bavarian Mike held the group transfixed with the design and history of the new Crematorium! 

Now all roads were left behind with a blast along the Millennium Greenway, only stopping to notice the improvement in road surface when we entered the privileged land of our fathers. 

As we approached the Toyota park the group finally split up with those returning to Ness Gds and others going further into Flintshire. 

Thanks to Alan for finding a great route and Mike for adding tweaks to keep us mud free and safe. 

Steve Hu

See route map and/or gpx file download


4th November 2021 : Brewood (Brisk)

Four of us were out on a quick 50 miler on Tuesday courtesy of Ivan, and dropped into the "Imagination Lane" cafe for a hot food and coffee. We’ve all been passed this many times on the long drag up Wettenhall Road from Nantwich to Wettenhall not knowing that this cafe existed (well I didn’t) and there is a bike shop! It is hiding in a small industrial estate well before the Venetian Marina Cafe.  Well worth a visit.

Whilst there, I mentioned that the Thursday ride was at Ness, and we all agreed that, given the prospect of a full day of sunshine, we should go somewhere else. I offered to find somewhere for the Brisk riders. So this is how Ivan, John W and myself found ourselves setting off from Market Drayton swimming baths car park bound for Brewood. Those who couldn’t come today missed a truly memorable ride - one worth re-riding at some future time.

Out around the golf club and up Salisbury hill, we run due south down very quiet and dry lanes in the sunshine to Child’s Ercall curving towards the edge of Newport. We ride passed the impressive Harper Adams University buildings. Their website states "it is the leading specialist university tackling the future development of our planet's food production, processing, animal science.”     Well, we definitely need more of this!

Onwards we climb the hill into delightful Lilleshall where John takes the monument’s photo. Full details here

Lilleshall Monument

East and south routing find us going through Sheriffhales, over Watling Street and into Shifnal after 21 miles. Time for a coffee and a short rest. The next section uses NCR81 and takes us around the edge of RAF Cosford airdrome where there is the RAF Museum.  We meander through attractive Albrighton and, at Codsall, head north through the curiously named Coven village and now uphill into Brewood at 38 miles ridden.

I had found a few shops or cafes for an alfresco lunch venue but Ivan though pointed out the Oakley Arms which is a Brunnings & Price pub;- I couldn't eat a meal there and then ride a further 26 miles back to Market Drayton! So the Village Bakery was selected and, although Ivan didn’t like the look of his hot panini, John and I were happy with our chosen fare (and it was ridiculously inexpensive)

Heading north now and back over Watling Street (aka A5), we have long, long lanes to ride to Church Eaton and on to Adbaston. Some of these we have ridden before when on our Special Ride to Wheaton Aston back in April 2019. After Cheswardine, it's a short main road ride back to the car park arriving around 1500 with 64 miles ridden.

We all felt thoroughly mentally refreshed by being out in the splendid countryside going through new areas in the November sunshine. My solar array at home produced an impressive 10 kWh of free electricity (about half the summer maximum level). So thanks to Ivan for chauffeuring us to Market Drayton and for John and Ivan for acting as windbreaks on the route back.

CA

Photo JW

Thursday, 28 October 2021

28th October 2021: St Martin's (mod)

 A forecast of strong southerly winds and an afternoon of heavy rain affected attendees at Cleopatra’s in Holt.  Neil had planned a ride, but dangerous side winds on his route to Holt had dissuaded him.  Dave M and Andy W were only out for the morning.  Others were present in civies, namely Elwyn and Fiona.  If I’ve missed anyone, apologies, but as part of our group were inside and part outside, I wasn’t too clear who was present.  The result was a party of six out for the club ride: Clive, Andy B, Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and myself.

In the absence of other proposals, I picked a fairly short route off ViewRanger, the destination being The Greyhound at St Martin’s. We took the lanes to the west of the River Dee, or Afon Dyfrdwy I should say as we were in Wales. We were fairly sheltered from the wind for most of our way. Somewhere around Roden’s Hall we came up behind a largeish herd of heifers being driven along the road – the kind of thing you expect in the countryside. Without too much success we tried to avoid the cow plops they left in their wake. They continued their progress after we met the B-road and were still marching onwards when we left them for the lanes at Talwrn. We must have been behind them for a couple of miles, but there was no sign that they were heading for a nearby field.  They certainly reduced our average speed.


Photos by AO

At the A-road we dropped down the hill and across the old bridge into Bangor-on-Dee (Bangor-is-y-coed). From here we took the main road to Overton (Owrtyn), and then the main road to St Martin’s (St Martin’s), turning off at Shell Brook onto small lanes to Dudleston Church. Next it was a short distance to re-join the main road and follow it to The Greyhound.

It was mild and sheltered outside the pub, so we eventually decided to sit there, especially in the covered area to protect us from the expected rain.  A warm welcome was offered and a wide menu, but most of us went to the small fish and chips, except for Steve Hu who chose the standard size and received a whale of a fish!

Some rain had started to fall by the time we had to leave.  We turned right out of the pub, then stopped and turned around, then stopped again and turned back.  Our navigator was having problems with directions!  Eventually we worked out the right route and headed towards Dudleston Heath (Criftins), from where we took to lanes heading north eastwards with the wind behind us. We travelled on through Holly Bush. During our return Dave H (who seems to operate a permanent helpline for his family’s car problems) spent a lot of time on his phone.  Eventually, after waiting for him to appear, we left him behind on the understanding that he would meet us back at Holt. We followed the simple route back via Worthenbury, Shocklach and Farndon, to find Dave somehow already seated in Cleopatra’s waiting for us - puzzling.

The afternoon rain had been intermittent rather than heavy and we enjoyed a satisfying 35 miles.  We reminded ourselves that by next week the clocks would have changed and we would be ending our rides in encroaching darkness. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 22 October 2021

21st October: Waverton (mod)

 It was a glorious sunny day at Rose Farm Cafe if a bit chilly, as winter arrived last night, with some strong winds. 5 degrees when I rode out :-(

 Steve T and I figured the head count to be 16 strong, 5 of those being the fast group and the rest, all bar Dave M, being the Moderate group. DM decided he had to get back home, as he had another cycling meeting to attend, despite my proposed route going past his front door.

 So, today’s moderate group was 10 people, but only 9 bikes :-) Dave Pipe & Liz were joining us, on the E-tandem, which was a first for one of my rides.

Before I get into the who’s who of our Merry band, I would like to thank my 2 volunteer ‘tail gunners’ (the 2 Steve’s) They made me feel almost important, as they kept insisting I carried on forward to lead the group, each time they took it in turn to bring up the rear. This happened with a synchronisation worthy of a Tour De France police escort :-)

 And so it was, that I became the Leader of the moderate group, thanks to that sly old dog (Dave H) He virtually press ganged me into the role, after he threw his arms in the air with a distinct look in my direction, proclaiming he didn’t have a clue as to a route and neither did anybody else- Lol.

Feeling the pressure (not) I therefore proposed a 40-mile local meander, stopping at Walk Mill cafe for lunch, as I thought it would be a bit different for most, which I later discovered was about right. Most had not been to Walk Mill before or at least, not since pre Covid.

 That said and bucking convention, my route, although largely flat, did have a bit of a kick in the tail, which meant the whole route should be roughly 2000 feet of ascent and mostly all after Walk Mill (shock horror :-)) That revelation produced a couple of frowns, but surprisingly didn’t deter Dave & Liz (I wonder why that was - Lol). I later found out that DP was only worried about the downhill bits, as his E-tandem, although good up hill, is a bit slow on the flat, as they struggled, during the first half, when the pace occasionally lifted above 15 mph ( his words by the way :-) For those who don’t know, all legal E- bikes are limited to a max of 15 mph, which means you have to really work hard to go any faster, hence DP’s worries.

 Another thank you too to Allan (one of the good guy’s it seems- Lol) for the unnecessary, but gratefully received, gas cylinder.  I had helped him out last month with a puncture, giving him a gas cylinder after he used the 2 he had. That said, I would love to have a fiver for all those I have helped and never as much as received acknowledgement, let alone a replacement item :-(

 Off we trot ( Allan, Steve T, Andy, Dave H, Dave P & Liz, Steve Hu, George, Mike & yours truly) Turned left out of Rose Farm and within half a mile left again into a mucky, but paved track, that shocked a few of the group. I took the short cut up over the Tarporley ring road that leads into a favourite series of lanes towards Eaton & Bunbury (as usual with my rides, it’s more about the journey than the miles or speed, which I like to think is ostensibly the ethos of CER’s :-)

 Only a mile into the ride and a couple of comments were hurled from behind about the nature of the cyclocross route- Lol. My little uphill track was thrown in purely to avoid Tarporley (rather like DH and his hatred for Malpas :-)) It wasn’t long before the comments became more complimentary about the lovely lanes we were now on, as they were smooth, dry and mud free, until Bunbury, as again I threw in another lane most didn’t know, after a brief detour via Alpraham (Garmin tried to direct me down a road that didn’t exist- Lol)

 Once around Beeston and down to a gem of a hump back bridge at the ‘Shady Oak’, we head left at Brassey Green towards Waverton. However, I decided to detour again, through Hargrave, in order to save the group from the headwinds of the exposed canal road.

 It was at this point I also decided to spend a few minutes at the back & provide encouragement to the ‘old codger’ (you know, the one with the Lilly white legs and a paper version of a Garmin on his handlebars-Lol) He was having a tough day, after the flu, which had robbed him of his legs.

The group didn’t really need me by this point anyway as they had sussed out where they were and knew the next turning to Walk Mill. By the time I got to sit down Liz was already eating, they must have flicked the turbo button on the tandem :-)

 Notwithstanding the admiration for the orangery we were sitting in along with the dulcet tones of the mill stones grinding out flour, the conversation moved on to solar energy/ heat pumps etc. On our table at least. Trevor’s story, from his working days, of an old gent who provided hot water to his house by simply painting an old radiator black and plumbing it from his garden lead me to regale about my days of desert camping.  We used to camp a lot at the Red Sea and showered using a 5 gallon Jerry can in a black bin bag, sat on the roof of my Land Rover (after only 2 hours in the sun, it would sometimes be to hot - Lol) The simplicity of this concept of solar power seem to surprise George (not been around much, bless him- Lol) The poor man would again surprise us later on in the ride :-)

                                                              Photo by AO

Lunch done, we set off heading West past DM’s house (Oscroft) and beyond past the Blue Bell cafe. Just a few miles further on we arrive at the junction near Manley Mere. At this point Trevor decided to bail out on us, realising the hilly section was not far away (some say he is in fact ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ in disguise, due to his wise decisions on when to bail our rides- Lol)

Now heading SW toward Kelsall, on another favourite lane, a few started to ask where we were going, clearly getting concerned about the promised climb of Yeld Lane.

However, just as we were getting close to Kelsall we had to stop as there was now growing concern, in the ‘peloton’, for poor old George. He was apparently saying “hello Steve” to random cyclists going the other way. No sooner had we stopped when George started to jibber about seeing Steve Hayworth, so I decide we better check him out with a few fingers waved in front of his face.  Turned out his eye’s were fine, he was simply having a senile spell, “bless him”. After a shout from the back “don’t be daft you old fool, SH is on holiday”, we set off again -Lol. After only a few hundred yards and true to the spirit of CER’s, I noticed Mike had adopted a riding position just behind George, clearly keeping an eye on the poor man-Lol.

 It wasn’t long before we arrive at said Yeld Lane and DP/Liz were off, showing us the virtue of an E-bike. I decided I wouldn’t challenge their efforts, as I had a few extra miles to do after the ride (kidding myself-Lol) At the top, I shout at everybody, as they go by (hiding behind a bush, admiring the view) to wait at the bottom crossroads while I waited for the ‘old codger’.

To my surprise, he hadn’t climbed off and was spinning that amazingly low granny gear of his. However, the grimace on DH’s face, on reaching the top caused me to day dream a little about what medical support DP might be carrying in that huge pannier - Lol Not sure where he got it from, although the large print down one side says ‘Dandy’s for Hire’ :-)

 The climb conquered, we set about the easy run in to Rose Farm, with just a couple of little uppy bits to go, after admiring the llamas in the field at the top of the infamous Chapel lane, which we promptly descended. Now at the bottom, Allan had a ‘deja- vu’ moment, when I pointed out that this was where he had a puncture last month. He then got off his bike and proceeded to roam around the trees, as though he was doing a rain dance or something. This prompted some inquisitive remarks as to what he was doing. “I left my mini tool behind when I had that puncture” was his response. The fact that it was at least a month ago, didn’t seem to phase his belief that it would still be there- Lol.

 I was now wondering what other eccentricities I was going to experience on this ride however, with only a couple of miles to go to Rose Farm, surely nothing else could surprise me :-) We arrive at Rose Farm with the whole group still intact, minus Trevor of course and just a tad under 40 miles and 2000 feet of ascent completed :-)

 Shortly after ordering  my usual decaf coffee and a lump of their cracking choc cake, George turns up at the table having ordered exactly the same drink & cake (starting to worry about him now, although it could have simply just been ‘Idol’ syndrome- Lol) However and despite me insisting on him having the bigger slice, he begged me to take it off his hands, as apparently he doesn’t eat desserts and as it was his 2nd! lump of cake that day, probably felt guilty about the big slice- Lol.

     Photo by ST

Just as we tuck in to said cake, I begin to realise Mike must have spent too long riding next to George, as he was starting to display the same sort of confusion that George was having earlier. DH mentioned a possible Xmas bash pub, which Mike then queried,  “where’s the Pant-Y-Ochain”? After a bit of a discussion we realised that Mike couldn’t even remember where his own local pub was located, at which point George tried to prompt his memory (couldn’t help but chuckle - it was the blind leading the blind - Lol)

 What a great day with 2 cafe stops, good company and some funny moments.

I decided to take the long way home and made it just before a heavy shower hit, having completed 68 miles and 2600 feet on my Garmin. I spared a thought for Andy, as I watched the rain, who as usual was riding back to Mold- ish :-) and even more miles than me.

 I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did. Of course, there has been a little poetic license employed in this report, although, I still worry about George, bless him- Lol.

Just realised that there were no punctures during the ride :-)

 Til next time

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 21 October 2021

21st October 2021 : Knutsford (brisk)

On a dry and chilly autumn morning, a good turn out of riders were already enjoying tea and coffee at Rose Farm when John and I arrived. A 60 mile circular tour was proposed and Clive had suggested reversing the route. John, Nick and Ray set about the task of reversing the route using smart phones and their garmins. Twenty minutes later with task completed, 5 brisk riders set off with 5 garmins all synced with same route. What could possibly go wrong?

Into Tarporley we ride where a motorist makes a right hand turn without indicating and nearly takes Nick with him; then 50 yards further on, a lady motorist opens her door as John is approaching:- lucky she still had the door attached as we all passed. Turning left at the garage and safely through the town we now head to Eaton. 

We're riding the usual lanes towards Middlewich passing Wettenhall and  Church Minshull and we skirt around Middlewich taking Cinder Lane to Brereton Green. Joining the A50, we continue through Holmes Chapel. Here John decides to ride back to Chester as he's having an off-day and his bottom bracket not sounding good, and after a 130 mile Audax at the weekend, it's not surprising. The rest of us are taking a lane called Wash Lane to pass Shakerly and Dovermere lakes. We again re-join the A50 into Knutsford for our lunch stop. 

It’s Booths supermarket cafe we're visiting and we all enjoy a full English. As we were on the A50 road coming into to Knutsford, we passed a garage advertising diesel at £1.499 per litre. This started a discussion of Tory climate change objectives ranging from boilers to vacuum cleaners!!

Lunch finished, it’s back outside with hats and gloves on and a ride through the town before heading out along Ashley Road and the mega mansions of East Cheshire. The building trade are very active in this area as we pass many white vans parked up along the road. We cross the A50 near Tatton Park for the last time and head for High Legh. 

Passing Comberbach, our direction is Northwich-bound arriving on the hill near the Anderton boat lift. For a change it's down the hill to the lights taking the left turn for Whittington. Ten years ago when we started riding this area it was all industrial buildings but it’s a massive housing estate area nowadays.

Towards Hartford we climb up Burrows Hill then to Whitegate and the last climb up Cinder Hill. As we approach Oulton Park on Park Road Nick stops and calls us to halt. An education highlight is to inform us of the best-kept cattle pen used in the past to hold livestock when roaming the area. It is a NT site. Clive missed the tutorial as he was in the lead and failed to heed the call but as we know he may know the facts anyway.*

Returning at the crossroad at Utkinton, we say farewell to Nick as he heads to Rose Farm to collect his car and the rest of us head back to Chester via Duddon and Waverton.

A good day out in the October sunshine on this 62 miler, and now 80 miles on our garmins to reflect our efforts.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

(* There is a 10th century pinfold ( a pound for stray animals) in Capenhurst)

Friday, 15 October 2021

14th October 2021: Rossett (mod)

Well what a sorry sight greeted Megan and I as we approached The Gallery Coffee Shop start point. Three fast lads and three mods with Alan bemoaning the fact The Gallery was closed due to holidays and “no ride can start without coffee”

 As we waited, Dave Pike’s other half brought news that the Gladstone Library was open and more and more CER riders started to appear.

The fast group departed and Neil who had ridden over also did his own thing. The rest of the group then de camped 100 yds to the library.

Photo by AO

So, having consumed beverages cakes and more than a little culture the 14 strong mod group set off. 

Herding cats/ juggling monkeys or herding jellyfish must be easier than keeping this group together.

Alan led the group out of Hawarden through Buckley and Mynydd Isa down Rose Lane to Llong leaving suburbia behind and into the Welsh countryside.

The lovely experience of whizzing along quiet tree lined lanes suddenly changed when the going went vertical. By the time the group reached the summit of Treuddyn comments such as “is that the climbing for today” and “boy, that was long and are we there yet” resounded from the group.

A quick plunge into Llanfynydd through Frith and then a further drop to The Ffrwd. In Cefn y Bedd we took the back road around Alyn Waters Country Park. Bordering on Llay we took the Gresford Road turning before the railway tunnel to take the old road to Rossett, paralleling the A483 on a road which the farmer was kindling cutting his hedge.

One man down, Andy B succumbed to a freshly cut thorn, prompting Peter to say “that was the fastest tube change I have ever seen”. Always the modest man Andy replied “I’ve had enough practice”

In Rossett we dined under a Teepee at the Golden Lion. Whilst the food service was slow, the food when it arrived was first class. Dave Heath you would have loved it there, and please get well soon.

At Rossett we bade farewell to Trevor, Steve Ha and Peter.

Crossing the railway line, we headed up towards Kinnerton. A quick spin along Lache Lane and tempting close to Chester we turned left again and headed for the The river Dee.

At one point we lost Mike and Andy and the intrepid groups went from seven to five and finally three as Steve T, Megan and myself returned to Hawarden.

Thanks to Alan for devising a not too hilly route from Hawarden.

 SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 14 October 2021

14th October 2021 : Prestatyn (brisk)

Arriving at the Gallery tea rooms it was somewhat unusually locked. Soon, there were a good number of riders, but only John and I for the brisk ride. I knew Clive was out today and not like him to be late. Decision to go to the farm shop for coffee was discussed but then Liz and Electric Tandem Dave arrive and coffee alternative soon arranged by Liz across the way.

Clive now arrived but as John and I had been cooling down for twenty minutes plus, we were ready to ride so Clive forwent his much-needed coffee and we set off on our way.

Taking the usual route to Northop, it’s out to Ewloe and along Holywell Rd and into Northop village. Whichever way you depart Hawarden it’s uphill, but I think up the Green to Lixwm is possibly the worst as it’s 10 miles of gradients.

Once over the top we’re heading for another slog from Babell to the main road to Caerwys. We take a right on the B5122 and then left towards Pen-y-cefn. We start the steep down hill ride into Rhuallt with John showing no caution on a rough and mossy lane. Into Rhuallt, it’s along the B5229 into Rhuddlan. We then taking the Clwyd riverside cycleway route into Rhyl.

A55 from the Rhuallt footbridge

We were out on Tuesday and, although we picnicked outdoors at a Waitrose in Alderley Edge, it now gets a little chilly sitting outside, so I had looked for suitable stops around the area and the Cookhouse at Prestatyn got my attention with a carvery at £5.50; so it was to this hostelry that we visited. Plenty of sitting space for 3 but it was busy. Only John and I enjoyed the carvery with Clive sticking to panini and soup.

The route out of Prestatyn is through the golf course and camp sites and along the coast between Talacre and Point of Ayr where we stop for a photo shoot at the miner and pony wood carving. Onto the main coast rode it is head down and blast with a good tail wind taking us to Shotton before joining the Greenway and home to Chester.

Point of Ayr's coal mining installation

Although the start of the route endures some little rolls, i.e. 20 miles !!!, we covered 73 miles as a round trip with 2964 feet up and 2865 down. The route back to Hawarden would have been 54 miles.

Bryan always commented at the end of all rides that the elevation levels out; well said sir! 

A good ride, dry weather and excellent companions to ride with.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos JW

Friday, 8 October 2021

7th October 2021: Special ride: Audlem to Ellerdine Heath (mod)

Because of the restrictions and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we have not had a Special Ride since October 2019, so it was a real delight when Dave Matthews offered to lead a Special Ride from Audlem to Ellerdine Heath. Jane at The Priest House Café had opened early to accommodate the CER riders who gathered for the ride. The ‘mods’ consisted of Daves M & H, Steves T & Hu, George and it was a real pleasure to also see Andy Whitgreave, who was making his first sortie with CER since the start of the pandemic.

After coffee, tea and refreshments, we set off at about 10 o’clock on the Woore Road out of Audlem heading up hill for Norton in Hales and Loggerheads. From there, Dave took us down to Knighton and Newport, where we started heading west for Great Bolas and eventually arrived at Ellerdine Heath at about 1 pm, having covered 32 miles.

Following some excellent refreshments at the Oakgate Nursery and Café and having fiddled unsuccessfully to cure a strange noise that my bike was making, we struck out for home. The route took us via Stanton to the fearful hill at Marchamley. To make things even more ‘interesting’, the road surface on the hill was badly broken up and wet, so the only person to successfully ride all the way up it was ‘super – Steve’ Hughes. The rest of us got off and pushed!

Having recovered our breath and calmed the hearts, we followed the route through Ash Magna and Wilkesley entering Audlem from the east on the A525, arriving as the church clock struck four.

An interesting and entertaining day out on delightful lanes, many of which were new to us on a day when the early autumn weather was kind. Thanks are due to Dave M for devising the route and to the rest of the mods for great company.

Photo by SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST

7th October 2021 : Audlem to Ellerdine Heath Special (brisk)

There were about 10 riders at the Old Priest House cafe in Audlem - about a third of CER membership - a pity more didn’t come and support Dave M’s Autumn Special Ride from Audlem to Ellerdine Heath. Well those who did enjoyed a glorious day out down lanes anew in warm dry autumn weather.

I decided to fashion a slightly longer brisk ride based around Dave’s excellent route. The brisk three, Matt, John W and myself, set off in the opposite direction to the Mods to avoid the slow slog up to Norton-in-Hales before the even longer slog up to Loggerheads. In fact the first 9 miles were all uphill. The other side of Loggerheads we split off left now down many lanes anew. The autoroute function on Plotaroute tried to send us down an unmade lane so we backtracked a little to divert via Croxton. We take Ginger Lane out of Croxton and you’ll be pleased to know that, as we have now very slowly cycled this once-metalled deep-lying lane,  you don’t need to unless you are on a gravel bike!

We'll be alright -it's only one mile downhill 

Bishop’s Offley and Tunstall come and go as we now rejoin Dave’s route just after Shebdon. We now slavishly follow his route across the flat land via Sambrook and Great Bolas arriving at the Oakgate nursery by 1230 after 33 miles.

We are shown to our reserved table and our ordered food arrives promptly and is of excellent quality. After discussing veganism at some length, Matt and John move onto the intracacies of saddle design vs Audex length vs comfort levels. I chill out in the sunshine.

Just as we are about to start to depart, the Mods turn up mumbling something about “getting lost” or perhaps I misheard what was said. Anyway, we set off as per Dave’s route towards Stanton and onwards towards Marchamley Hill. 

I had already decided to go around this hill towards Hodnet and then to Wollerton to rejoin Dave’s route at Fauls. We continue to follow the official line to the other side of Ightfield where Matt succumbs to a puncture - a very nasty thorn is the culprit. We divert off piste now to enter Audlem via Coxbank and Kinsey Heath i.e. the way the Mods left Audlem.

Audlem's staircase locks


Overall, an extremely enjoyable day's 58 miles cycling down largely dry lanes in ideal autumnal weather with like-minded cyclists. You should have made the effort!

See route map and/or gpx file download 

CA

Photos JW


Thursday, 30 September 2021

30th September 2021: Queen's Head (mod)

Having just returned from a wild and storm-tossed week in the Highlands, I did not relish a ride in today’s forecast weather: heavy rain and winds. Neither did I expect much of an attendance in Chirk given the weather and the distance needed to drive there, given the recent petrol shortages.  I was pleasantly surprised when six members turned up to join me. David M was there, having planned to arrive by train and cycle back, he had been put off by the earlier rain, and came by car. We discussed next week’s special ride from Audlem that David was going to lead. Those joining today’s ride were Steve T, Dave H, Alan, Andy and Mike.

At 10am, the rain wasn’t as bad as forecast, but was persistent and the wind was gusty. Dave was having trouble with his front tyre valve.  The diagnosis was that the valve core needed tightening, and a combined operation took place to fix it in the café’s courtyard.  Problem solved we set off.  We often leave Chirk by way of Hindhead, which involves a lot of badly surfaced and potentially very muddy lanes – not a route we wished to take on such a wet day.

We set off down Chirk Road, but by The Poacher’s Inn we turned towards Chirk Bank and then to Weston Rhyn to make for the long southerly lane heading past the Old Hill Fort and into Oswestry. A bit of suburban navigation took us to Middleton Lane, where a pick-up towing a sheep trailer forced us into the verge – we’d just been saying how polite the other motorists had been who’d stopped and given way to us. From here we passed through Maesbury, and Knockin, where Dave reminded us of the local store – the “Knockin Shop”. We passed the radio telescope and turned eastwards at Kinnerley, and then started to head back north through West Felton before arriving wet and bedraggled at our destination after 23 miles.

It was good to get out of the wet, though we’d have preferred the radiators to have been on to help dry our gear – but it wasn’t a cold day so we couldn’t really grumble. We spoke about the shortages of fuel and lorry drivers, the absence of foreign holidays, dreams and how chickens are now raised. Food and drink were consumed and soon it was time to leave.  

Photo by AO

The weather forecast had promised a respite after lunch: showers and sunny spells were anticipated.  But we didn’t notice any change, though as we followed the Montgomery Canal, we did appreciate the smooth road surface. When we then crossed the canal, it was by the steepest humpback bridge I know, and then we were in Welsh Frankton. Determined to avoid the muddy lanes mention above, we took the lanes to Old and New Marton, and arrived in St Martin’s just as the schools were closing. Navigating the congestion, we headed down to the A5 roundabout and again made our way to Weston Rhyn, in order to drop down to the Ceriog Valley and take the more pleasant route back into Chirk. 

Back at the café, Andy, Mike and I stopped for a drink and said goodbye to the others. We had completed 38 miles, and although it hadn’t rained heavily throughout the day, it had been fairly persistent; but that shows you don’t need good weather to have a good time.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 24 September 2021

23rd September 2021: Norton-in -Hales (mod)

I’ve been wanting to go to The Hinds Head at Norton-in -Hales for a while now as it’s more than five years since my last visit and I remember it as one of our ‘favoured’ lunch stops. But I had called several times on Wednesday to check if they were open for lunch on Thursday, but could get no answer. Consequently, I’d concluded that we’d have to go elsewhere. That was until Ivan told me that he’d been past on Tuesday and that they were open – hurrah!

So the mods (Daves H & M, Alan, Andy B, George and myself) set off from Alison’s bound for Norton-in-Hales. Our first challenge was to get up and over Harthill. As we approached the hill there were ‘Road Closed’ signs which, of course, we ignored. It turned out that they were clearing drains on the hill and the JCB driver was kind enough to raise his front bucket to allow us to get by. Near the top of the hill, a truck was parked across the road and the driver made no effort to move it for us, so we had to walk the bikes past it.

Onward then, with a following wind, past Cholmondeley Castle and Chorley Bank to Wrenbury cum Frith, where the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was raised to allow a narrow boat through. George reckons that it’s the first time he’s seen it up in all the time he’s been with CER! Thankfully, we went past The Bhurtpore in Aston at 11.30, which meant that it was closed. Otherwise I doubt that we’d have got Dave H to go any further!

At Royal’s Green Dave M left us, as he’d decided to go into Audlem to see Jane at The Old Priest House café to talk about arrangements he wants to make for a Special Ride he’s planning from there on October 7th, so watch out on the blog for details in the near future.

Having gone through Adderley, we arrived in Norton-in-Hales and the Hind’s Head about 12:15. The car park was almost empty, but the door to the kitchen was open and the chef was working inside, so I was optimistic. But my hopes were dashed when I tried the front door, where that was a notice to the effect that whilst they are open in the evenings, they are only open at lunchtime at the weekend. Thanks, Ivan!


Photo by AO

After a discussion about where to go to find sustenance, we adopted ‘Plan B’ and set off for the five or so mile ride to Audlem where we knew that either the Old Priest House or The Lord Combermere would satisfy our needs.  As soon as we cycled up the lane at the side of the pub, the strong northerly wind was evident, and we wondered if it was going to be a long ride home. We arrived in Audlem just as the church clock was striking one and plumped for The Lord Combermere, where we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a fine lunch.

As we were preparing to leave Alan found that his front tyre was very soft, so he set about mending yet another puncture – his third in a week.  The problem turned out to be a slight leak from a patch where a previous puncture had been repaired. So, after a slight delay we set off for home using the normal route via Sound, Ravensmoor and Brindley, finding the wind much less strong as the afternoon progressed. A stop was made at Tilly’s in Bunbury for ‘kafee und kuchen’ before heading out on the final leg of our journey.

When we reached Beeston, George left us, heading for The Shady Oak and Waverton, where he’d left his car and at the end of Newton Lane, Andy headed off for Mold. That left a trio of Easy Riders to run the last couple of miles into Tattenhall after a very pleasant day in the Shropshire lanes at a surprisingly perky average  speed of 13.5 mph.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 23 September 2021

23rd September 2021 : St Martins (brisk)

Those of us who lead rides find it increasingly difficult to devise a route which is not a wholesale repeat of a previous ride. As time passes, and it's more than 12 years since the inaugural ride to Frankby in April 2008 and 900+ rides, the unique permutations of start point and lunch point reduce. So when Ivan asked “have you a route for Thursday" as he had a “complete loss of suggestions”, I thought, so have I! So I looked through previous rides but not with much conviction. I then consulted the advertised wind direction and wind speeds. It was perhaps going to be north westerly and quite strong. So the decision was made - let’s go south westerly then the wind will be across us and perhaps behind us at some stage.  So that’s how today’s brisk ride towards Oswestry came about - no magic and a lot of autorouting on PlotaRoute.

The Brisk group today had five riders - a 66% increase over the last month’s usual duo or triplet. John W, Ivan, Ray and new rider Matt, were happy to be lead astray from Alison’s towards Oswestry. Out via Barton and Wetreins Lane, we ride the Wrexham Industrial Estate ring road at some speed to skirt Bangor on Dee to get into the tiny lanes towards Dudleston Heath via Lightwood Green. I can’t remember the last time I took this lane to Hindford, but it was a joy to ride despite the twists and turns and sometimes rough surface. John’s now running low on fluid so the Premier mini-mart in Whittington was a lucky find for a top up.

The original ride (which now most of the riders have on their Garmins) is showing a run down to Sainsburys in Oswestry, but I decide to change the route to cut this bit out. So they are all riding blind and playing follow-my-leader as I take them through The Park towards Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital. A right and a left passing Derwen College, finds us nearly back on track riding towards the St Martins road. This road is ever upwards and it’s a relief when Stans Superstore comes into view at the top of the hill. 

Ivan and John have used Stan’s before but the last time they couldn’t gain entry as a serious crime had taken place and police were everwhere. This time there was no such problem except for the personal problem of choosing what to buy in the “£3.50 meal deal”. Across the road, there is a small memorial park to the miners of St Martins who worked at the nearby Ifton coal mine - the last one to close in the area in 1998. We sit in the sunshine enjoying the facilities in this surprisingly busy area.

Time to go again and a very pleasant ride to Overton, despite the very nasty dip with it’s 10% gradient at the border between England and Wales. Equally the ride back to Worthenbury is enjoyable despite bad road surfaces. With this in mind, I eschew the rat-run back to Holt in favour of Chorlton and Tilston with the pleasure of Carden Hill. This part of the ride back was slightly difficult for Ivan as his Shimano Di2 Ultegra gear train had run out of battery and thus little opportunity to change gear, nevertheless he didn't seem to slow down at all!

We were back in Tattemhall about 1445 after almost 58 fast miles (16.5 mpg avg). As Alison’s was due to close, we head for home. John, Ray and Matt split off as I persuade Ivan to seek out the Tattenhall Marina cafe. We arrive to find the road barred but sidle around this to seek out the cafe. It looked shut and as it was getting cold and the sun had gone in, we decide to give it a miss.

Arriving back in Chester environs, I remark that I will have about 86 miles on the clock. Ivan encourages me to add a loop to at least ride 90 and maybe 100 miles. However sanity (and aching legs) prevails along with the thought of a hot shower, a hot coffee, a comfy chair and the Times crossword "chez moi”.

So once again, many thanks to the group for shepherding me around, and for Ivan’s kind comment that it he didn’t think it would be possible to find a route which brought quite so much enjoyment.


Ifton Miner statue

Explantory Plaque

Link to Ifton Colliery info here

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos : JW

Friday, 17 September 2021

16th September 2021: Coddington (mod+)

 Meadow Lea, as usual, had a good turn out, in lovely sunshine. Nice to see Keith & Mike, who we haven’t seen for some time, which brought my rough head count to 18, could have been more.

Unusually, ride groups seemed to naturally form, which seemed to revolve around perceived pace of the proposed rides on offer. The usual fast group of Ivan, Clive & John rode off.

Dave H rode off with the easy rider group and I lead the moderate group of 7, which was 8, but we lost Dave M before we even got out of the car park. Apparently he only rides south from Meadow Lea, so when we turned North, he jumped ship to Dave’s group- Lol.

So it was Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan and the new man (Tony) all heading to Manor Wood (Lakeside Cafe), great spot on a nice sunny day. The plan was for a slightly higher pace than norm, but all staying together, on a virtually flat route, except for Chapel Hill ( shock horror- Lol) I did inform the group before agreeing to follow me that Chapel Hill peaks at 16% and averages around 8-9% for 1.4 k - a piece of cake really- Lol. Several of the group had not ridden Chapel Hill before, which provided some conversation as we set about some of my favourite lanes.

We quickly got to Aston, which entailed a minor U turn, as it would appear the road had moved since I last rode through there- Lol. On up to Kelsall, when I heard somebody shout out “ how far to Chapel Hill”, “ 1 mile” was my response. After a couple of groans, Fiona piped up “can you let me know when we are about to turn into said hill” Just as I was about to inform Fiona, there was a shout of “puncture” from behind, which was not ideal, right at the foot of the climb.

Alan was having his second puncture of the day, as he had one before getting to Meadow Lea, I believe. After finding a small scrappy hole in the tyre, it was decided to apply a patch to the tyre before replacing the tube.

All fixed we set about the climb, which everybody seemed to enjoy, even Alan, who was the most anxious about it, but got up it without too much difficulty. After pointing out the llama’s in the adjacent field, we head along the Sandstone ridge for the fast descent to Cotebrook, which put a few smiles back on most faces.

We swiftly get through Eaton and on beyond Tarporley, with the sun still shining. At Brassey Green we turn left, down to the Shady Oak pub and my favourite hump back bridge. This leads us into our last little uppy bit, to the foot of Beeston Castle. Right turn takes us off toward Tattenhall, which we bypass by taking a couple of lovely narrow lanes ( or at least most of us did) We catch up with the offending individuals, just a mile down the road, thanks to Tony chasing them down and guiding them the right way. No names, but one of them was female and the other is tall with bonce like a bowling ball- Lol Now across the A41, the next shout from behind was “ how far to lunch”, which I think was Steve T, who was feeling peckish and to be fair, so was I. With the group informed that we were 2 miles away from our destination, we motor on past Aldersey Golf Course, Cuddington and arrive at Manor Wood, Barton, after 28 miles.

Surprisingly, we had the place to ourselves, which is very unusual, for such a nice spot by the water, complete with pink water lilies


Photos by AO

Lucky old me managed to bag the last Welsh rarebit, which I did offer to Fiona, after she was told she had missed the last portion. However, she turned down my magnanimous offer ( well that’s how I remember it, she probably tells a different story- Lol) Food all served and conversation in full flow, I find myself feeling like the odd one out, when the conversation turns to divorce. After a query as to why he had moved home, from a cracking spot by the Pheasant Inn, Tony informed us that it was due to divorce and that it was his second one ( still smiling though) This lead to  Fiona / Elwyn revealing they were both also double divorcees. There’s me, having recently celebrated our 38th Wedding Anniversary anniversary hence, the odd one out- Lol. However, I was to learn that I haven’t apparently learnt anything in life, as Fiona pointed out. Whereas Tony accepted his 2 ‘errors!’ in life ( his words) Fiona considered hers a fulfilling learning experience, inferring that my 38 years has taught me nothing about marriage- Lol.

                           

All joking aside, lunch was now finished, even Elwyn, and the conversation went to who was heading back and unusually, nobody was. This lead to a lengthy discussion on possible routes home.

4 headed right toward the Cock ‘O’ Barton and onward to Wetreins Lane and Holt, in order to get across the River Dee and head home to Lavister & Chester for some. I turned left with Steve T & Tony, who I left only a mile later, as they went left for Bumpers Lane ( Churlton) and me to Tattenhall. I ended up with a total of 47 miles and less than 500 ft of ascent, despite Chapel Hill.

Great day, with some good banter amongst friends-Lol.

By the way, the Welsh rarebit wasn’t actually that good ( to much mustard cream-Lol)

Cheers all.

Neil.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

16th September 2021 : Knutsford (brisk)

The Brisk group was thin on the ground again today at Meadow Lea - just Ivan, John W and myself. We set off in sunshine bound for Manley then upwards over the hills to Kingsley. Here, I learnt via Wiki, that one famous local was Paula Radcliffe! Off to the Weaver Navigation, the path is a bit muddy but OK. At the lock transfer, Ivan becomes engaged in conversation with some silver walkers i.e. older than us! There is a massive tracked crane in the Weaver sitting on a large metal raft and more hardware up by the swing bridge, so maybe the rotting boats and barges are going to be removed at last.

Comberbatch comes and goes as does Antrobus, until we arrive at the Tabley Interchange at J19 of the M6. We fly over the M6 via the farmer’s bridge to take Moss Lane. This has to be the worst “surfaced" road in Cheshire as we bump away along it. We now run down along side Tatton Park and into Knutsford proper. I had selected Booth’s Supermarket cafe for luncheon and it didn’t disappoint on price, quality or quantity.

The route home is south out of Knutsford down the quiet Sudlow, Pinfold and Back Lanes before turning west to Lach Dennis and into Davenham. Here on Tuesday, I nearly become a cyclist sandwich between a parked car and a moving car which had overtaken me extremely closely. The elderly lady driver had no idea what she had done when I caught up with her a little further up the road.

We exit Davenham via Moulton and via the gravel track down under the railway and over the Weaver Navigation. Here at the locks, there are “fishermen” using strong magnets on lines to drag the canal to ensnare metal artefacts - strange hobbies these days! Up the road we take the Whitegate Way and stop at the community cafe for a well-deserved Magnum ice cream.


Real fishermen!


Weaver Locks



                                                       Whitegate Way

In and out of Little Budworth and Cotebrook, we then take the very familiar route back to Christleton via Utkinton. At Duddon, we notice a farmer flailing the hedge. In Christleton, I notice John’s back tyre is looking decided flat. A massive thorn is extracted from the tubeless tyre and John plugs it and re-flates and off we go again. However at the other side of Christleton, the tyre is slowly deflating once more. Upon inspection there was a tiny hole in the side wall where the large thorn had been extracted. Luckily, the tubeless sealant was persuaded to do its magic and get John home with unfortunately now a useless £40+ tyre.

 The culprit cf to a Garmin

Once again my thanks to John and Ivan for dragging me around the official 59 miler which turned out to be exactly 70 miles when I got home.


CA

Photos JW and ID