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Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

17th May 2012: Macclesfield Forest & Lyme Park (special ride)

It was grey, drizzly and not very warm at Redes Mere. The ducks seemed just as comfortable on the wet road as in the lake. Everyone arrived in good time: Clive, Liz and Ivan in the Landie, Jim and Trev together, George and myself in our own cars and mad keen Mike on his bike from Knutsford.
We were soon into the swing, chatting and cruising along the green undulating lanes, passing close to Gawsworth Hall before our first sharp climb to Sutton Reservoir. A ‘Quiet Lane’ out of Sutton Lane Ends had front wheels going light, and no breath for chat. Layers were removed at the top. There was no rain now, nor wind, and we were truly limbered up. Just as well as semi- serious climbs approached, including a hairpin past Haddon Farm. The Hanging Gate pub was perched attractively on the edge of the steep hillside: a desirable destination for a warm summer evening’s drive with the top down!  Left and steeply up into lovely territory, and then a welcome surge down with Ivan speeding and banking like Agostini as the narrow lane threaded between the hills.
Winding gently up, Wildboarclough is delightful as ever: sheltered, peaceful and remarkably easy riding amongst these severe slopes. The musical sound of the brook accompanies us towards our lunch stop at Bottom of the Oven. The Stanley Arms has a welcoming roaring log fire, but we settle snugly in the room reserved for us in the back. A lovely lady takes our photograph, for Cheshire Life I presume, but apparently she has just been persuaded to help us out! Food, friendliness and beer are spot on.
We are soon on our way again, with an immediate slog up to the main Macclesfield to Buxton road. We then hurtle exhilaratingly down past Lamaload Reservoir. If a car comes around the corner now, you’d need forearms like Popeye to brake in time. There are five arrows on the map for this short stretch; unfortunately the last one is up. We cross the B5470 and continue sailing downhill in the direction of Bollington, stopping to take in the fine views across Cheshire. White Nancy is perched like a penguin at the north end of Kerridge Hill, and beyond that, Alderley Edge. We turn right under heavy braking, and reach picturesque Pott Shrigley before long. This is bailout time for anyone suffering, as our proposed late coffee destination is about ten downhill minutes away. Everyone votes, somewhat surprisingly, (Jim and I can almost smell the coffee and feel the waiting soft sofas), to continue towards Lyme Park via the last long and hard climb of the day- through The Brickworks and onto Bakestonedale Moor. A short fast stretch around the hairpin at Charles Head follows, and then a high speed left in the direction of Disley.   
Photographs by Ivan Davenport

We enter Lyme Park via a rocky track and across a wooden bridge to reach East Parkgate. As we enter we see The Cage on a hill to our right and ride closely past a large number of beautiful deer. We reach Lyme Hall, the largest in Cheshire and the setting for the BBC’s adaptation of  Pride and Prejudice. Liz’s thoughts immediately turn to Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt! We leave down a wooded path to West Parkgate, and turn uphill with views over Stockport and Manchester. A stop to admire the old Coffee Tavern built as a library at the time of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Past Shrigley Hall, up round the corner, and right into a delightful ‘secret lane’ which ends by snaking steeply down a cobbled route between Bollington’s stone houses. 
Coffee and cake at the Waterside Café in the impressive former cotton and silk thread producing Clarence Mill, alongside the Macclesfield Canal.
We set off for the last lap, passing under the canal and then the impressive viaduct of the Middlewood Way, a disused railway cycle path which we must sample another time. It’s a good job I didn’t let the troops know that we could have substituted some undulations with a very pleasant, and more importantly, flat, few miles! Through wealthy Prestbury and up a final tough little climb, then lovely little lanes, past Henbury Hall and back to the cars.
It was a relief that we all coped, because it was a testing route, but everyone genuinely seemed to enjoy the ride, and I was really pleased that it had been worth their effort. I certainly appreciated the group’s support, and their excellent company on the day. A special thanks to Jim for his pre–ride scouting assistance and sound advice. 42 glorious, challenging miles. 

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