A magnificent turnout at Bellis heralded the first ride in the New Year with12 bikes and 13 riders. The suggestion of a route towards Chirk and a potential lunch stop at the excellent Greyhound at Street Dinas was approved and we set off via the back lanes towards the Wrexham Industrial Estate. There is no pretty way to get to Cross Lanes so an amble past the WDA sponsored businesses (some now closed!) brought us to Cross Lanes lights. Going straight across onto the B1530 we bisected the A528 and A525. At the A528 junction we went straight across into the quiet and occasionally icy Welsh lanes. Given the numbers riding, we stopped at the top of Bwgan ddu Lane to call the pub and after some hesitancy they welcomed us for lunch at around 13:00. Turning right out of Bwgan ddu Lane – which roughly translated by Google means “The specter of black (sic)”, we went straight across the B road and through Crabtree Green to come to a halt at the A539 Overton to Ruabon road. The leading pack of seven had taken a right turn just before the main road and unfortunately the trailing group was too far behind to see the turn and had gone straight on. Mystified why the second group had not appeared, phone calls were made and Ivan offered to ride off to try to find the group. After 15-20 minutes, the leading group decided that as the lunch venue as known (and it being only 8 miles away by main roads) we would ride on. Down through Ruabon, we took the Newbridge road and after slogging up the long slope from the new bridge over the Dee, we headed for Chirk. Taking the first lane on the left, we ended up near MacDonald’s just off the A5 at Halton. After 16 miles, the pub was very close now, only 2 miles as the crow flies but double that for these very small winding Welsh Lanes, and for good luck adding in a 20% gradient lane with running water, field debris and ice, no wonder most of us walked up this steep section. The Greyhound was welcoming and the food was promptly served. After lunch, we took a meandering sedate ride back through the lanes to Overton and cut right via Hollybush Lane towards Worthenbury for the traditional route back via Shocklach. Arriving back at Bellis for afternoon repast, we were reunited with the rest of the group. We had clocked up 41 miles and as the dusk settled three of us took the Churton Road back to Chester. The route from Bellis was 40 miles making it a 60 mile round trip from Chester.
See route map and/or gpx file download.
b. Overton Bridge
Deep in conversation as we progressed south from Crabtree Green the leading group had been out of sight for some time as the following group of six approached the A539. Not realizing that the lead group had already turned off the lane some half a mile back we expected to see them at the main road: but there was no sight of them. Which way had they gone: right on the main road or straight on? Surely they would have waited if they had turned right? So we headed straight on across the main road onto a lane I had not ridden before. After a further mile and still no sight of the others I was wondering where this lane led. Did Clive know of some short cut or was this a dead-end? The SatMap indicated a dead-end so we stopped and consulted a passing horse rider. “No it’s not a dead-end but it disintegrates into a potholed rough track which comes back onto this lane.” So it’s a dead end then!
By now it’s 11:45am so it’s back to the main road and left to Ruabon to try and catch the others, or right to Overton Bridge and the attractions of the Cross Foxes. By common consent the Cross Foxes had it and we rejoined the main roads and then the back lanes through Erbistock to Overton Bridge. Once inside we chatted away happily until it was time to leave and then decided on the scenic but short route back rather than the longer Worthenbury/Shocklach alternative. By 14:45pm we were back at Bellis ready for coffee and cakes having completed a 28 mile round trip or 50 miles in total from Chester and back.
Another great if interesting day with CER.