It was good to see Ivan at The Gallery, well on his way to recovery, as he handed out the new Club shirts for their inaugural ride. Plus we had the bonus of Bryan back with us on yet another cold but sunny winter’s day. Café Talk was of riding the newly built (though not yet officially open) Sustrans path over the Dee Marshes and as some wanted a shorter ride, I volunteered to take one to Eastham Ferry. Martin led Bryan, Dave P, Jim, Keith, Liz P, Petar, Ray, Trevor & me down through his homelands to cross The Dee at the rickety rail bridge at Shotton. From there it was a mystery tour through Zone 3 of Deeside Industrial Estate to join the new cycle track across the marsh.
Photographs by Brian MacDonald
We stopped at the site of the old Hospital of St Andrews, where travellers to Ireland were given hospice at Denhall from 1231 to 1496; here Jim & Bryan were summoned home early. We eventually exited the marsh at the end of the cycleway by the best pub in Cheshire, The Harp at Little Neston. I like to dispel the rumours that The Wirral is flat, so next came the long drag up Bull Hill to Woodfall. From there we joined The Wirral Way through to Hadlow Road Station (closed 1956), where Trevor left us. Incidentally, The Wirral Way there was the UK’s first designated Country Park, in 1973 and is now the start of the very popular CTC Tuesday Evening Cycles (Free advert) from 7 – 9pm.
From Willaston we headed across the peninsula, through Eastham Rake and Carlett Park, and arrived at another excellent Marston’s pub, The Tap at Eastham Ferry. I’d wanted to bring CER here for ages, but it was not to be this time; The Tap only served toasties and crisps and as CER are a discerning bunch, we retired to the Eastham Ferry Hotel next door. The usual 2 for £10 meals were washed down with an excellent Pedigree, while conversation ranged from nuclear war with North Korea through to the problems caused by having a welfare state. So, CER members are gourmets and philosophers, as well as keen cyclists.
After lunch, Keith found a large hole in his tyre, which he quickly replaced with one of the many spares that Dave P carries, while the rest of us stood in the sun watching him. Our route back towards Wales took us past Hooton Park and The White Lion at Childer-Thornton. Now that is an excellent little pub to put on a future lunch stop. At Capenhurst, Brian abandoned ship, leaving the remaining six to find their own way back to Hawarden, to end a sunny and easy 37 mile ride.