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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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Friday, 30 July 2021

29th July 2021: Borras (mod ride 2)

 A good turn out today at Meadow Lea (I saw at least 15 riders), and very nice to see Dave P there, well on the way to full recovery it seems (love the bike Dave). Fiona and Elwyn couldn’t make it, due to a mini cycling break between Ludlow & Hay on Wye (tough life). The main moderate group, approximately 10, set off left, out of Meadow Lea, whereas, yours truly, along with DM, set off right.

I was carrying an iffy hamstring, so Dave’s suggestion of heading west, along the Greenway, directly into the stiff wind, sounded perfect as the Greenway provides complete protection from the wind and he had also planned a virtually flat route. We therefore cruised along the Greenway, unaware of the wind, until Shotton, which took us far enough west that we virtually had a cross tailwind, at worse, for the majority of the ride (ideal). So, after turning left off the Greenway, over the River Dee, Dave led me on a couple of small lanes that I had not ridden before. This included the only real uppy bit, a fairly lengthy drag up toward Hawarden, avoiding the main road.

After taking the little foot bridge over the A55, at the top of the ‘Old Warren’, we proceed through Hawarden and head south, past the site of my infamous; ‘let’s rip the bike of the car roof, by hitting the overhead, max height beam, moment’ (what a plonker- anyway, in the past, if not forgotten). It was at this point that I asked Dave where we were heading for. His response was “Cleopatra’s” which, I was fine with, but saw a chance of gaining some smartie points, by suggesting a different café that Dave had never been to or even heard off (shock horror). Dave was game to try somewhere new, especially as it was so close to Cleopatra’s and therefore only needed a tiny deviation from our route.

Once we got to Rossett we turn right to head up Marford hill and swing around the back, half way up, heading to Borras, so as to be able to drop down into the Acorn café at Commonwood Fishery (they do a wicked vegie haloumi burger -massive! On homemade baps). I think Dave was pleasantly surprised at the scenic and amazingly quiet café location, where upon we ordered fish & chips for Dave and a sweat chilly haloumi wrap for me. I think Dave had watched too much of the Olympic swimming, as mid fish & chips, he proceeded to try and teach a wasp how to do the breast stroke in his cup of tea. Unfortunately for the wasp, Dave’s coaching talents were lacking and the wasp was done for.

So, wasp now dead and great food devoured, we set off again, into Holt and on up toward Saighton.  We take the little side lanes of Churton and Aldford, of course, thus avoiding much of the main road. Before we knew it we were in Waverton, where upon Dave showed me another little bit of lane I’ve not ridden, that took us up the side of the ‘Black Dog’ pub (which by the way, has improved no end with it’s intriguing outdoor pods and much improved food). In Dave’s opinion this way of crossing the A41 is safer & I sort of get his point, as you don’t have to sit in the middle of the road, waiting for traffic to pass, as you do when crossing opposite the antique shop. A41 behind us and my cue to say “thanks and cheerio” to Dave, as I head south to Tattenhall & home. Dave was heading home to Oscroft.

I got home after 57 pleasant miles on the clock at a sedate 14 mph average & only 1400’ of assent, which must have been perfect for me, as there was no sign of any hamstring issues (12 of those miles were getting to Meadow Lea in the first place). Great day out as usual & nice to see everybody. Finally, and somewhat spookily, both Dave & I bumped into old friends at different points on our route (small world again).

NT


Thursday, 29 July 2021

29th July 2021: Marbury (mod ride 1)

We met at Meadow Lea café on a day sandwiched between a Wednesday of downpours and a Friday of forecast steady rain.  Miraculously, this Thursday’s forecast was dry, cloudy with sunny spells but with a stiff westerly wind.  That dictated a north-south route, and I’d worked out one to The Swan at Marbury. Many Easy Riders were at Meadow Lea, so a largish group of ten formed the mods.  Jim joined us for the first few miles, and the rest were Roy, Andy B, Alan, Dave H, Dave P, George, Steve T, Peter and myself.

We headed out to Waverton, then alongside the Shropshire Union Canal and into Tattenhall. From there we passed through Carden and into Tilston, and then took the old Roman road towards Malpas, turning left at Simmonds Green to arrive in No Mans Heath. For those interested, the name originates in the 15th century as “Nomonheth”, and refers to common lane outside specific ownership. We crossed the A41 and then the A49 at Bickley, to arrive at our destination just before 1 o’clock.

I’d phoned ahead to The Swan and was told that they were fully booked inside, but that the outside tables were available on a first come, first served basis. In fact, most of the indoor bookings were for a large pre-wedding drinks party, and this group had decided to stand outside in the fine weather.  As we occupied some outdoor tables, we worried initially that if they we ordering food we would have a long wait. However, before long the church bells started to ring and they drifted off to the service.  Naturally our conversation touched on weddings.  The food and drink arrived shortly and were excellent as was the service.  As we prepared to leave at 2pm, Dave H suggested we visit the Church yard which was a pleasant place to sit and look out over a hidden mere.  On reflection, though, we felt that our group would not be a welcome addition to the wedding photos.

Photo by SH

We left taking the lane to Norbury.  This was more like a dried up river bed, covered in gravel and full of deep holes – obviously the scene of a recent flood. We made for Chorley Bank and then down past Cholmondeley Castle to Bickerton. Choosing to avoid the climb to Harthill, we made for Brown Knowl and the road past Bolesworth Castle. We avoided Tattenhall to the south east and headed towards the Ice Cream Farm.  Along the way we said goodbye to some of our group, leaving six to continue, as conversation turned to a café stop.  Dave H recommended the café at Tattenhall Marina which was new to many of us, and which we accessed by a lane alongside the Ice Cream Farm’s overflow car park. It is called The Boathouse and provided us with refreshments including very good scones with jam and cream for the greedy two.  We sat outside overlooking the water, watching the wildlife and discussing the birds swooping through the air after insects.  After some debate over whether they we swifts, swallows or martins, Alan confirmed the latter and pointed out a nest on the side of the café. This is a delightful location, though we were keen to move on as the temperature was dropping.

We left the café by a gate onto Tattenhall Road between the canal and railway bridges. Then we passed through Hargrave and took the twisting lane variously called Old Hall Lane, then Cow Lane and then Martin’s Lane, before joining our outward route in Waverton.  We were soon back at Meadow Lea having covered 48 miles in good weather, and enjoyed refreshments at two establishments well worth revisiting

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 23 July 2021

22nnd July 2021: New Brighton (mod)

On what was arguably the hottest day of the year so far a number of intrepid CER riders met at Ness Gardens Cafe. The group consisted of Elwyn, Fiona, Neil, Dave M, Steve Ha, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan, Roy, Andy B and George. 

Elwyn, Fiona, Dave M, Neil and Steve Ha had all ridden from their respective dwellings having covered 25/30 miles already, so this group set off for home via different routes. 

This left the hard core of George, Steves T & Hu, Roy, Alan and Andy. Alan had a route around the Wirral however this involved extensive use of the Wirral way and the thought of stone chips on Steve’s Hu new bike left him apoplectic with worry. However even in his absence Clive saved the day (thank you Clive). Steve Hu had recorded the 12th March 2020 ride when Clive navigated us around the Wirral on a day of stinging wind and high tides. Today there was no wind, or breeze just 26 to 30 deg C wall to wall sun. 

The group left Ness returning to the coastal path past Nets and on towards Parkgate. Some nifty turns and a short stretch on the Wirral Way had us cruising through Lower Heswall and onto Ireby. A strange sound emanating from Andy’s bike turned out to be a nasty puncture which had damaged his tyre. Despite wacky suggestions to insert £10 notes into the tyre between the case and the tube we were left with an Egg bulge on the tyre. Quick thinking and internet browsing by Alan tracked down a bike shop in Moreton for a new tyre. Once replete with fresh water, a new tyre and having found a £10 in his tyre Andy was good to go at full speed. I just wonder if the 145 mile Audax he did in Suffolk last Saturday had worn his tyre too much. 


Photo by Steve T

Onwards to the Sunshine Cafe at New Brighton, open, quiet, but unfortunately no shade, so back to plan B, Wetherspoons. Despite testing the linguistic skills of the bar man George managed to order two meals in a pure Geodie accent. Possibly as a result of the translation required, Andy's and George's meals were last to arrive. 

Photo by AO

Again fully replete the team of six set off along the New Brighton coastline weaving along opposite the Liverpool City backdrop complete with cruise liner in dock. Then followed the endless turns to take us through Woodside, Birkenhead, Rock Ferry and ultimately Eastham. Another refreshments stop here where the peloton fueled up on Ice Creams and soft drinks. From Eastham it was a short jaunt through Willaston back to Ness Gardens. 

Just under 40 miles on a very warm day with super company. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu


Saturday, 17 July 2021

15th July 2021: Coton (mod)

As usual, there was a good turn out at Cleopatra’s. It was especially good to see Ken who’s making a good recovery – very good if his Strava posts are anything to go by! The mods today were Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Mike D and Alan, with Jim and Dave M accompanying us for the first few miles. Our destination was the Dog and Bull at Coton, somewhere that we haven’t been to since May 2018 when the ride had been led by Steve H, so a visit was well overdue.

The route out took us east to Tilston, Duckington and Cholmondeley before turning in a more southerly direction for Bickley and Marbury with the wind behind us. Jim and Dave M had left us when we reached Stretton Hall.

The sky was overcast, but it was still quite warm as we made our way into Whitchurch. At this point, Steve Hu left us, as he had to go home to take delivery of a new Colnago bike and to berate his builder about some ‘snagging’ issues with his new house. We threaded our way through Whitchurch and found the road out to Alkington without any difficulty. From there we followed the quiet lanes through Hollinwood to Coton, arriving at the pub soon after 1 o’clock with 27 miles completed.

Although the pub was quiet, there seemed to be only one member of staff who apologized in advance that he might take a while to get to us. In the event, the service was quick and, as we sat outside enjoying the food and drink, the clouds dispersed and we were bathed in warm sunshine.

Suitably refreshed, we made our way back through Whixhall, Whitewell, Tallarn Green and Worthenbury. The countryside was looking its best and the lanes were mostly quiet, although the silage cut was in full swing and we came across a few large tractors with even larger trailers full of grass cuttings. Happily, there were no incidents or difficulties with them.

On reaching Shocklack, Alan and Steve T had pulled ahead of the others, but the usual sprint to Farndon didn’t materialize, possibly due to the fairly stiff north westerly wind blowing down the road and the soporific effect of the warm sunshine.

We reached Cleopatra’s about 4 pm, having completed 47 miles and, surprisingly climbed 1850 feet. Thanks are due to Steve H for the route and to my companions for their company.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST

Thursday, 15 July 2021

15th July 2021 : Whitchurch (brisk)

Today’s ride heralded the welcome return of Ken to CER. Ken had obviously been looking after himself very well as evidenced by his performamce in today's Brisk Ride to Whitchurch. Along with Ken, there was Ivan and John W. For John, this was an amble ahead of a 300km Audax ride this coming hot-weather weekend.

Where did we go? - well, the start of this ride brought to mind a management training film about a family that decided to go out to the local town for a traipse around the shops and have lunch out. On the way back in the car, gradually and one-by-one, they all question why they went in to town. It turned out that none of them wanted to go but didn't like to say so. The message was clear - and exactly that - be clear in what you are going to do i.e. communicate.

So with this in mind, we set off around the Wrexham Industrial Estate at high speed. Approaching Cross Lanes, I ask Ivan are we now taking a left passing the cheese factory or straight on. He says “I don’t know - it’s your ride!” I was under the impression that I was following his ride to the Panorama and he obviously thought he was following my ride to Whitchurch!

So a quick re-compute and we are now off to Whitchurch via all the small lanes to Penley. Grange Road out of Penley is in a very sorry state and would be best avoided in winter time. Equally so are parts of Tarts Hill lane leading down to Breaden Heath. A shimmy through Bettisfield takes down to Norwood and good quality lanes. 

Here we pick up NCR455 which will take us via Waterloo, Welsh End and Alkington into Whitchurch. Here also Ken picks up a rear wheel puncture. We plump for a sumptuous al fresco lunch at Sainsburys with their £3.50 meal deal. Finally the sun comes out as it had been very cloudy and cool all morning.

Earnest discussion at lunch time (who's Ernest?)

The route back takes us out to Marbury and looping round to No Mans Heath. We bypass Malpas via Ebnal and on to Kidnal. Here the “official” route takes you through Tilston and thence down Wetriens Lane back to Cleopatra’s. I suggest a drink at Manor Wood Caravan Park near Barton. We arrive in hope to find an “unavoidably closed” sign on the door. So back-tracking, we end up at Cleopatra’s for tea and cake courtesy of Ken celebrating his return to CER.

The route round is 49 miles, but all of us clock up 70+ miles today as we cycle homewards in the sunshine.


CA

Photo by JW

Thursday, 8 July 2021

8th July 2021: Audlem (mod)

It was warm but cloudy when a large group of moderate riders assembled outside Rose Farm Café. Other members present were John W and Neil, each planning to do their own thing, and Jim in civvies. The mod group were somewhat at a loss as to where to go and who should lead.  David M stepped into the confusion and offered a ride to the Lord Combermere at Audlem.  Following him were Dave H, George, Andy B, Alan, and Clive, plus the three Steves (T, Hu and Ha).

We rode out through Clotton, Huxley and Tiverton to join a very quiet A49.  As we left the 30mph zone we turned right into Dean Bank towards Beeston village and suddenly were in the midst of traffic flowing both ways.  Why this was, was a puzzle to all. Next, we passed through Bunbury and headed towards Haughton.  By the time we reached the ornate Old School House, a gap had opened up, so while the lead group passed through Haughton, the followers turned right towards Brindley. After a phone call, we decide to meet up in Ravensmoor. The lagging group then got itself confused on Whitehaven Lane.  Dave H was convinced we should go one way, I was convinced we should go the other, to the extent that I got the map out.  I was wrong!  After re-joining at Ravensmoor, we passed through Sound and into Audlem.

The Lord Combermere was looking welcoming, with lots of vacant tables outside under a marquee. Unfortunately, due to a group of customers inside, we would have an unacceptably long wait for food, so another plan was needed. Clive cycled off to see what other local pubs could offer, while David M went to the Old Priest’s House Café, which most of the group felt would be too small for us.  Clive had better news, that although the Shropie Fly was shut, the Bridge Inn was open and could accommodate us. I don’t think that CER has been here before, but it was very pleasant, sitting outside at the back with the canal alongside having our lunch. We should probably in current conditions always phone ahead to book. Meanwhile David M had been served quickly and passed by to say he would head back on his own. This left Dave H and myself to plot a route back.

We took the main road through Audlem to the east, then turned onto NCR552 towards Market Drayton, but not for long as we looped south of Audlem, to join the lanes heading north to Aston. Pausing briefly outside The Bhurtpore, we made for Wrenbury, but found road works (“delays up to 15 minutes”) on the way to the level crossing. Bypassing these to get to Wrenbury canal bridge, we continued to Chorley Bank where we said goodbye to Clive. By now talk had turned to another café stop, so we passed through Brindley and followed our outward route to Bunbury where we arrived at Tilly’s at 4pm, expecting that to be closing time. In fact, Tilly’s is now open to 5pm on Thursdays, and also Tuesdays and Wednesdays I think. Hot drinks were consumed and cakes for the indulgent few.

Steve Hu had already left us, but some debate was had over the route to take us home. Dave H, Steve T and George headed for the Tilston Bank and back to their cars in Utkinton, accompanied by Andy, while Alan and I separately made our own ways onward.

The total route distance back to Rose Farm was 53 miles. It had been a good day with fine, warm weather and little wind. Very enjoyable.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Saturday, 3 July 2021

1st July 2021 : Mostyn (brisk)

Riding out from Chester to Hawarden, I met up with John W and we rode on the greenway to Shotton then back along the Dee way to Queensferry then along Gladstone Way to the cafe. A quick cup of tea and, and as the brisk group is just the two of us, we set off along the usual ride via the main road to Ewloe and up to Northop.


Poppies in wheat field - indicative of a summer's day

Up through the green it’s the first of three climbs. Puffing and panting at the ride upwards and along the lane, the views are zero as we're in low cloud or mist. Exiting at Rhosemor, it is slightly clearer but damp. Over the Halkyns then passing through Rhes y Cae, we continue along quiet lanes. As I'd planned the route with the intention of getting the hills out before lunch, we're now heading for Babell. Dropping down the valley before the ride out at 17% is not too bad today. The last climb is from Glen Llyn then an awesome downhill into Rhuddlan.

Passing the castle, we ride through the town and join the cycleway before crossing over the River Clwyd and then joined the cycle path to Rhyl. It's now onto NCR5 along the sea wall to Mostyn stopping here briefly for a snack at a local Spa shop.

Out onto the main road at Ffynnongroyw, we've covered 50 miles from Chester and 2700 feet. Head down and we're spinning 25mph to Flint where traffic dictates a more moderate pace. We rejoin the greenway at Shotton and head for Chester rather than back to Hawarden.

The sun did emerge eventually, but an enjoyable ride none the less. John had ridden Dave M's Berwyns Audax 130 mile  with 9000ft of climb on the Sunday yet he was still a force to ride with today. The out and back route at Hawarden would be about 54 miles.

A good day out and 73 miles out and back to home and, as Bryan W always remarked, 2786 ft up  and 2771ft down equals a flat ride that was covered.


ID

1st July 2021: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Nine of us met at the Gallery, so we could all use the limited seating outside. Six mods, bravely choosing to follow me to the Eagle and Child. So Steve Hughes, Andy Barbour, Dave H, Steve Tan, Mike Dodd and myself (Alan), set off freewheeling down Gladstone way. My intention was to keep the climbing to the absolute minimum to reach our destination, after we had become used to the flatter Cheshire rides. Flintshire is a bit hillier!

At the busy ‘Asda’ roundabout we took the cycle path over it and then on to the ‘blue’ bridge over the Dee. Then following the coastal path through to Connah’s Quay docks, past the excellent Yvonne’s café (Sustrans volunteers meet there most Tuesdays  at 10). Then on to Flint trying to avoid the A548 as much as possible, then a detour along the ‘prom’ to have a photo by the castle.

Photo by AO

Back onto national cycle route 5 into Bagillt, the easy riding over, up the steady climb into Holywell. Andy and Steve Tan powering away out of sight into Holywell which, unfortunately was not the way I had in mind!  So Steve H kindly went off on a search and rescue mission and we all regrouped at Carmel.

Then at last away from busy traffic, on peaceful lanes through Whitford, passing Mynydd y Garreg tower’, Maen Achwyfan cross and down to the delightful village of Llanasa.  Arriving at the pub the skies had darkened considerably, but, thankfully no rain.  So, with such poor visibility we skipped the extra half mile to the viewpoint, a shame as the mist cleared shortly afterwards.  After a nice lunch in the garden and admiring the impressive hanging baskets, it was off along a route well known to many CER riders.  Across the A55 then up to Halkyn via Babell, then down to Northop, where I turned off for Flint, the full loop to Hawarden 44 miles, more for some.  Mike gets to wear the yellow jersey this week with an extra 20 miles to and from Chester, even more, than ‘ard Andy!

See route map and/or gpx file download

AO


Friday, 25 June 2021

24th June 2021: Delamere to Peover Heath

 It was good to see John Wilkie and Dave Matthews, though John was doing his own circular ride, and Dave was busy organizing a cycling event, which was particularly demanding in these Covid times.

The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Alan, Roy, Clive, Mike Dodd and myself. I suggested The Dog in posh Peover Heath, and rang to book lunch. Our way out was by way of Norley Hall, Ainsworth and The Cliff to Acton Bridge. I knew that a couple of the lads had not covered some of these nooky lanes before, and it made for a quiet, scenic start. We entered Comberbach from Senna Lane having detoured around the discreet and impressive Cogshall Hall. From picturesque Great Budworth we passed through Pickmere where there was once a fairground on the side of the mere. We rode up the Roman Road route of the A556 in the direction of Plumley, sensibly sticking to the pavement. When we reached the A50, I decided to cut a northerly loop out to Ollerton and Marthall, so we arrived in good time after passing Barclays Radbroke Hall and cruising through the desirable location around Over Peover. You don't see too many polo clubs riding out from Runcorn!  Lunch and service at The Dog at Peover Heath were up to the usual high standard, although the prices would seem a little high if you normally ate out in Mold or Flint, or came from Barnsley.

 Clive expertly led our return, initially down the attractive narrow lanes to Goostrey. From here we made good progress to Lach Dennis, and were soon on the way into pretty Davenham. On climbing out of Hartford, Andy realised that he had lost the special long nut securing his rear brake. He did not fancy using cable ties to secure it, preferring to find a bike shop. The guys located G&B Cycles,  using their mobiles, and it wasn't too far back. Andy is independently minded, so it was a waste of time trying to change his mind. Alan suggested that he could take Andy and his bike at least to Flint if he rang him when he got back to his car at Delamere. I said, “Good luck with that one!” as I remember him declining a lift from Chirk in very poor conditions and fading light, and he probably would have his phone switched off anyway.  Thankfully, it all turned out fine: the bike shop had the correct bolt, fixed it right away, and refused any payment. Andy had his wife, Julie, write a glowing review for G&B Cycles who are based on the A599 main road into Northwich from Greenbank station. They have lots of great reviews. Clive completed the ride via Delamere Park, and passing Gary Barlow's former residence before taking Gallowsclough Lane into Norley and then on to Hatchmere. We covered 44 very enjoyable miles in warm and dry conditions. Andy managed more than 103 miles, had the gigantic Airbus Beluga pass close to his stubborn head, and got home about 7 pm.                                                                                                                                    

DH

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 18 June 2021

17th June 2021: Chirk to Harmer Hill

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 11 June 2021

10th June 2021: Tattenhall to Ellesmere

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

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

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

DH


 


See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 4 June 2021

3rd June 2021: Meadow Lea to Aston

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 3 June 2021

3rd June 2021 : Coppenhall (brisk)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ivan bravely cycling one-leggedly

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

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

Today's route is also here.

CA


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

Photo :JW

Sunday, 30 May 2021

27th May 2021: Loppington (mod)

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

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


Photo by Mike G

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

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

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

DH

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




Friday, 21 May 2021

20th May 2021: Marbury (mod)

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

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

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


Photos by Steve Hu

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

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

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

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Saturday, 15 May 2021

13th May 2021: Brimstage (mod)

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alan

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

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

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Thursday, 13 May 2021

13th May 2021 : Llandegla (brisk)

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

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

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

Wheel washing facility at Haford Lane

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

Necessary Calories 

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

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

Thanks to John for his continued support on Thursday rides.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos  : ID

6th May 2021: Little Bollington (mod)

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

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

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

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

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

DH


Saturday, 8 May 2021

06 May 2021 : Broken Cross (brisk)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Thursday, 6 May 2021

6th May 2021: Goostrey (mod)

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

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





The Tree of Imagination

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

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

Killing time outside the pub

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

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

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH (Photos by Mike G)

Friday, 30 April 2021

29th April 2021 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

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

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

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





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

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

Wikipedia Attributed: Dave Croker 2010

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

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

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

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos CA and JW

29th April 2021:Nesscliffe (mod)

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

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

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

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

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


Photos by Mike


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

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

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

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

ST

Thursday, 29 April 2021

29th April 2021: Burlton (mod)

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alan

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

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH