With a windy day’s cycling in prospect Dave and Clive met for elevenses at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre. Dave had a route in mind and led off through Manley, Kingsley and Acton Bridge before crossing the Weaver Navigation heading for Antrobus and Arley via Arley House. Lunch of liver and bacon was taken in Great Budworth with the return journey made via Comberbatch, Little Leigh, Norley and Delamere Forest.
Distance from Chester and back about 55 miles.
Today we meet for elevenses at the Tudor House Café in Caergwrle. The café is already busy serving breakfasts when I arrive but Brian Mac has secured one of the larger tables. Within a few minutes there are five of us tucking into toasted teacakes and tea. Bryan suggests that as we are in Caergwrle he has in mind a short but hilly ride that should get us back to Chester in daylight and avoid the heavy rain forecast for later in the day. After considering the proposed route the idea is agreed and we leave the café just as Dave arrives bringing the numbers up to six.
Bryan leads off along the main road before taking the first left and we are immediately heading steeply uphill towards the top of Hope Mountain! This is not only steep but also unrelenting and it seems to continue on and on with no end in sight. But finally we are at the top taking a breather and admiring the views. After a brief rest we set off down the other side taking a sharp left half way down to Llanfynydd where we cross the main road and head uphill again to the Stone Zoo for another brief stop. Continuing west towards Graianrhyd we cross the main road and take a steeply descending lane down to the ford over the River Terrig. While Brian Mac struggles across, the rest of use the adjacent footbridge. Then its more uphill work until in Graianrhyd we head north up yet another single chevron climb towards Eryrys. Finally with the worst of the climbing behind us we can enjoy the fast descent down to the Maeshafn turn-off on a delightfully smooth newly tarmaced road. The Miners Arms is reached just as it starts to rain!
We settled down inside with pints of Facer’s Landslide to accompany the spread of food while discussing – no, not wheels, spd’s or gear ratios - but parsnips, beetroot and the advantages of raised-bed cultivation! By 2.00pm its time to leave and we emerge to find it still raining. The short route back to Caergwrle is chosen and we are soon heading down the back lanes to Nercwys and Leeswood where we stop briefly to admire the gates before pressing on to Pontybodkin, over the shoulder of Hope Mountain and onto the main road. Here the group breaks up, some heading back to Caergwrle, others to Hope while I head back to Chester through the Kinnertons to arrive back just minutes before the heavens open.
It’s a while since we did so many hills but despite the hard work I have to admit that I really love this area.
With light rain descending and showers forecast for the rest of the day I wasn’t expecting to see many members at the Ice Cream Farm so it came as a pleasant surprise to find a turnout of seven including Clive and Ivan joining us for a second time. Jim reported that Dave had been advised to keep his hand dry following last week’s injury and so wouldn’t be joining us. Where shall we go? With no strong views expressed today, the choice was whittled down first by general direction: south or east? East was chosen and we studied the map. The Dusty Miller at Wrenbury? What about the Bhurtpore in Aston? The Bhurtpore with its promise of a good selection of real ale was chosen and we were soon on the road with Bryan leading off towards Beeston. Mike suggested a gratuitous extra triangular mile for interest before Ray took the lead through Beeston, Peckforton and some new lanes to Brindley. Then with a right after the canal we tuned south through Ravensmoor to Sound. Although less than a mile from Aston it was still quite early so we headed on towards Audlem to pull in an extra loop arriving back in Aston from the south.
The Bhurtpore’s selection of ales more than met our expectations and we were soon sampling the many ales on offer whilst noting the even larger range promised for the coming week. Unfortunately it was soon time to leave and we headed back through Wrenbury, Cholmondeley and Harthill to arrive back at the Ice Cream Farm by 3.30pm just as the rain returned. With time in hand, and hoping the rain would pass, we were able to relax over coffee and cake before setting out on the final leg back to Chester in the continuing rain. We arrived back just as darkness crept in having completed another glorious day in the Cheshire countryside.